Environmental efforts are failing to change the course of economics and politics underpinning development as usual. Positive precedents have taken place – through voluntary and legislative actions that promote environmental and climate targets – and yet our economies have never been so unsustainable. Natural resources are overly exploited, our energy systems are harming the global climate and urban pollution hurts millions of people. Corruption and inequality lie at the core of escalating street unrest and exasperate a generation of youth facing a future of unequal opportunity. Abstentionism is on the rise as citizens reject governments for their inability or unwillingness to fight for the public good. While voter dissatisfaction is not new, the difference is that today citizens are leveraging social media to defend their rights and to demand accountability in politics and business. The combination of public mistrust and citizen empowerment requires new approaches to integrating sustainability into national decisions. Now is the time to spur new coalitions among voters, citizen groups, social and business entrepreneurs, activists, low-carbon innovators and progressive thinkers. So what comes up next? Nivela’s response is to contest conventional wisdom, work with others advancing new thinking on development that works for people and the environment.
What does our name mean?
Inspired by “nivelar” – to even out in Spanish and Portuguese – Nivela captures our commitment to foster an even debate between the environment and the economy, social and environmental goals, local and global dynamics, and the long and the short term. We also want to stimulate a balance between the perspectives coming from developed and developing countries.
What do we do?
We produce analysis and political strategy. We build alliances. We offer alternatives through our writing and work on the ground, locally and internationally. We operate through a strategy group made of senior experts and advocates who are active domestically and are part of regional or international networks. (See our “People section”). The strategy group defines the direction and a small executive team manages the operations. We engage associates whose analysis scale up our work by bringing additional regional, political or generational diversity. In 2014, we launched our first work stream on national elections and their silence on climate and sustainability issues.
The articles published in our website express the individual’s opinion. Nivela is non-ideological and non-partisan.
We produce analysis and political strategy; we build alliances, offer alternatives, and are active in political debates on development in our countries.
Who are we talking to?
Because of fast urbanization and large young populations, Nivela is conceived to have a strong urban identity. We aim to break the traditional mold that focuses the analysis on public officers almost exclusively. Instead, we provide analysis and insights for a broader audience because our goal is to help advance bigger and broader alliances that advance development proposals in the public interest. Our output and activities offer ideas on why and how to reshape local debates on development and the future of our nations. We aim to form opinions among informed citizens that work in areas that related to good governance which is essential (for example anti-corruption groups or citizen initiatives to advance climate action), entrepreneurs in policy, business and in the social sector who enable positive change, journalists, especially young professionals in the media who cover public-interest stories and sustainability. We will deliver special reports on economic and political economy that speak to mainstream economists and political analysts who still downgrade sustainability to a second- or third order priority in policy and politics. Finally, we also reach out to experts and decision makers working in public office.
We expose our audiences to the thinking emerging from other developing countries in other regions to tackle the bias in today’s online outlets on sustainability and climate: the ideas and research comes mostly from developed country authors which tends to deepen prejudice that efforts to protect the environment are a “northern” agenda to keep us poor and uncompetitive.
We will write to our audience about the direct linkages between clean development and quality of life going beyond “carbon” and “mitigation” as the hook for public debate. Such narrow emphasis fails to capture the public’s imagination. In many of our countries, wealth co-exists with widespread poverty, modernization thrives while safety nets falter, and open economies do not yet mean open societies. The implication is that people must be at the center of efforts to promote environmental and climate objectives to win public support. Nivela promotes a forceful re-framing of sustainability and climate action that win the hearts and minds of the people.
How we work
Nivela is lean, virtual and pragmatic. We want our team members to stay in their countries doing domestic work while leveraging Nivela’s international reach. From the diversity of experiences on the ground, we distill common patters and offer lessons on what works and what doesn’t. Our goal is to channel most of our resources toward content-generation and strategy work and to keep the operations team as small as possible. By having virtual operations, we seek to avoid the costs of running an expensive office. We also seek to keep our carbon footprint down by promoting virtual meetings to the extent we can. Our goal is to publish 40–50 articles in 2014 and make them available for reprint under a Creative Commons license. We seek to work with at least 10 permanent partners in order to reproduce our articles widely. We will actively promote our content in national and regional online outlets, local newspapers and magazines and the active use of our Newsletter, Facebook and Twitter.
Our website and first series was launched on 12 March 2014. In December, we plan to host an international launch of Nivela in Lima, Peru where we will also announce our Board of Directors for 2015.
In 2013, we received a grant contribution from the European Climate Foundation's International Policy and Politics Initiative (IPPI) to fund the design and Nivela’s first series on climate and elections. ECF supports the independence of our work, and does not influence our analysis and strategies. We also benefit from the pro-bono work by some partners and guests authors and friendly fees by services providers who support Nivela’s mission. Further philanthropic contributions are needed and will be sought this year.