Influence of project to date

Our Moving towards sustainable security project has had a substantial impact on the debate about the future of security and has begun to make real progress in promoting our thinking on alternative global security strategies in the following areas:


The most obvious place we have influenced public debate has been in the media. Since publication, our report, Global Responses to Global Threats, has been covered by nearly 70 media outlets in over 25 countries. So far the book, Beyond Terror, has been covered by well over 100 media outlets that we know of. In addition a Google search currently reveals nearly 700 websites that mention the report - mostly media, NGO and blog sites - and over 2,000 that mention the book. This is all the more remarkable given the difficulties experienced by think tanks in getting conceptual changes to bite in the media.

In the week the book was published, it was covered by outlets as diverse as the BBC, ITN, CNN, Al-Jazeera, Sky News, Esquire, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, as well as news agencies such as the Press Association, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. The authors were interviewed on numerous national and international radio stations and TV news bulletins, and for various newspapers and magazines from across the world.

This coverage of both publications is still continuing, despite being published some time ago.

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Our sustainable security work has had, perhaps surprisingly, a reasonably good impact in political circles - though this is something we would want to develop much further over the next year.

In terms of UK politics, we understand that the Liberal Democrats are taking our analysis very seriously in relation to their emerging foreign and defence policies. The Labour Party think tank, Compass, are also taking it on board as part of their review of defence and security. We also submitted the report and book to the Conservative Party's National and International Security Policy Group. In the House of Lords, Lord Judd, Lord Garden and Baroness Stern, in particular, noted our report with interest. In the region of over 100 MPs, Lords and civil servants have so far requested or been sent a copy of the report.

We understand that it has been read with interest within the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), and ORG has attended an informal roundtable at the FCO to inform the then Foreign Secretary's engagement with the issue of the security implications of climate change. Most impressively, the FCO requested nearly 40 copies of the book for use at UN Security Council debate on climate change and security in April 2007.

After publication, the German Parliament requested several copies of the report for the MP's library, and one of the authors was invited to address a group of senior German MPs in the German Parliamentary Green Party. This included several members of the foreign affairs and defence committees, as well as a former environment minister, and it is hoped that the Party will use our analysis further within the German political system. The report was also read with interest within the German Foreign Ministry and we are hoping to build on this through links at the German embassy in London. At the invitation of the embassy, ORG took part in a workshop on "Towards a Sustainable European Energy Policy", organised to help inform German policy during its presidency of the EU.

Perhaps the most striking influence we have had has been within Spain. Following the translation of the report into Spanish by FRIDE, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Zapatero attended a presentation two of the authors gave to journalists, civil servants, embassy officials and analysts in Madrid in October 2006. Since then, the report has been used as one of the key background documents within Zapatero's team. For example, the Prime Minister himself specifically referred to our approach to global threats in his speech to the Conference of the Iberoamerican Community in Uruguay in November 2006. This is an example of where ORG's work has directly influenced the leader of a major European country.

In October 2007, Paul Rogers played a central role in a two-day European Commission workshop on the global challenges which need to be addressed by research on a global scale. ORG was asked to open the first day of this workshop following the publications of Beyond Terror.

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In early 2005, Oxford Research Group was commissioned by Greenpeace International to undertake research into the likely causes of future conflict, based on our sustainable security work. This research then formed the central part of the internal review of their peace campaign, which resulted in a new Greenpeace 10 year strategy. The first fruits of this are the Greenpeace UK's "Oil and Peace Don't Mix" campaign and their major new report, Over a Barrel: Reducing the UK and Europe's oil dependency, published in December 2006.

In this way, ORG's project has been able to influence a major international organisation, which is now campaigning based on an understanding of the links between oil, climate change and conflict that we promoted to them. We have also influenced many other smaller groups. Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Instituto de Estudios Transnacionales (INET) and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), are just some of the groups that we know of who are using our report to frame their debates on future strategic direction. We see this as an extremely important part of our work - promoting our thinking to others, so that they might apply it to their own work and develop it further.

The report was reprinted by the International Relations and Security Network, the Human Security Gateway, Relief Web, Policy Innovations and the Global Policy Forum. As a result of the publication we were invited to become a Principal Partner of the International Relations and Security Network, funded by the Swiss Government. It was also circulated by Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) and People & Planet, among others. John Sloboda addressed the annual conference of Scientists for Global Responsibility in October 2006, and spoke at the IPPNW AGM in April 2007.

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Our report is now required reading for the MSc. International Relations course at the University of Bristol and is on the reading lists at the University of Nottingham and the University of Bradford in the UK, the Torcuato Di Tella University in Argentina, and Thammasat University in Thailand. The report has also been circulated to students and lecturers who are part of the Network of Activist Scholars of Politics and International Relations (Naspir), the US International Studies Association, and the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews.

When published, People & Planet placed our report on their website as the key document in their global perspectives section. Members of ORG then gave a workshop on "Global Responses to Global Threats in the Here and Now" at the People & Planet student conference in November 2006. Following that, we were invited to address the staff team at their offices in Oxford. People & Planet are the largest student network in Britain campaigning on issues of poverty, human rights and the environment. With local groups in over 130 universities and colleges across the country, this is a very good link for our work.

We have also given talks on these issues at universities in Keele, Buckingham, Bologna, Liverpool, Kent and Bradford.

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Military and law enforcement

So far we have not focussed our attention specifically on the military, focussing instead on politicians and journalists in particular. Despite this, the report was well received by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) were particularly interested, as it links in with some of the work they are doing on strategic trends. The MoD also requested a PDF of the report to store on their intranet. In December 2006, ORG participated in an "Expert Practitioners Workshop on Development, Climate Change, Energy and Security" organised by E3G in order to feed NGO research into various government departments, including the MoD.

The report is being used in the MSc. Global Security course at the UK Defence Academy in Shrivenham, which delivers higher education to serving members of the UK Armed Forces and MoD civil servants. It also formed part of two short courses on terrorism run for the MoD over 2007 by the Department of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford.

In November 2007, Chris Abbott addressed the Australian Federal Police international conference on the issue of climate change and security. The conference delegates included senior government ministers, as well as representatives of law enforcement organisations from around the world, members of a range of research and policy organisations, academics, policy representatives of NGOs and members of the military.

More recently, ORG has also published a briefing paper by Chris Abbott specifically on the security implications of climate change, entitled An Uncertain Future: Law Enforcement, National Security and Climate Change (January 2008). This report was aimed at policy-makers, law enforcement professionals and military planners. The author has so far spoken to British MPs and Police Commissioners from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji on the issue, as well as given an interview to British Forces Radio.

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The public

In many ways much of our sustainable security work to date as been aimed at a specialist audience of politicians, civil servants, analysts and journalists. However, Beyond Terror was produced by Random House as a mass market publication in order to expose our analysis to a much wider audience. Written for a general readership, it clearly explains the ways in which ordinary people can really make a difference.

It is currently selling extremely well, and is now in its third print run. In the UK it has already been the Blackwell's book of the month, the openDemocracy book of the week, and in the top ten of the Scotland on Sunday bestsellers list. At one point, it event made it into the top 500 books on (out of nearly 7 million titles). It is also selling well outside of Britain, with the Portuguese edition published in July 2007, the Dutch edition published in October 2007, and German and Spanish editions planned for spring 2008.

This shows that our work, when presented appropriately, can be used to influence the general public, not just policy-makers and other specialists.