Mar 17, 2020
In episode 68 we talk to Danny Sriskandarajah, Chief Executive
of Oxfam GB about philanthropy, inequality and power in global
civil society. Including:
Philanthropy & Inequality
- What is the core role of philanthropy within society which
differentiates it from either state or market provision?
- What should we make of arguments that philanthropy is a
distraction from the need to focus on ensuring that the world’s
elites are taxed appropriately, and may therefore be holding back
efforts to address global inequality?
- Is there a danger that models of philanthropy are
paternalistic, and too often about decisions being made about
communities rather than by them?
- Are some philanthropist willing to challenge & seek change
to the systems that made them wealthy in the first place?
Power & Structure
- There is a lot of focus in global philanthropy and civil
society at the moment on “shifting power” ─ from funders to
recipients, from the global north to the global south etc. –
by supporting grassroots orgs or using participatory approaches.
How is this informing Oxfam’s work?
- Are there practical challenges when it comes to shifting power?
E.g. in the relationship between formal organisations and
movements, and the dangers of “movement capture”?
- We are seeing more focus on the idea of decentralised or
non-hierarchical governance models for social change movements - do
you think this will filter into wider civil society? What
opportunities and challenges might this bring?
- Is declining trust is an issue for civil society? If so, is
this merely part of a wider decline in trust in traditional
institutions, or do charities and CSOs face particular challenges?
And how can they reverse this trend?
The Climate Emergency
- Does Oxfam view the global climate emergency as primarily an
environmental issue or a social justice issue? What bearing, if
any, does that have on the approach you take to addressing it?
- Is there sometimes a tension between taking the action
necessary to address environmental challenges (climate change,
biodiversity loss etc.) and respecting the rights and freedoms of
local communities around the world? How does a major funder like
Oxfam navigate that tension?
- Do you generally take an optimistic or pessimistic view of the
impact of technology on civil society?
- Do you worry that CSOs and funders are not getting to grips
with either the challenges or opportunities of the fourth