How the global affects the local and how the local can affect the global

It's no great secret that we live in an increasingly globalised world. For some this is a cause for great celebration, for others it is the source of great anxiety. The reality is, at least in Australia, everyone benefits from some aspects of globalisation and other aspects have negative effects.

When it comes to advocacy, Australia is uniquely insular. Somehow the vast majority of advocacy campaigns have managed to ignore the global by focusing on the local. However, this means that some things will necessarily be overlooked - now more than ever.

Globalisation is both a process and an event which has meant that everything is now more connected. Thanks to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) we are much more connected, whilst increased transport efficiencies means that trade has ballooned and with it has come a massive increase in international financial transactions.

All this has, of course, affected the way we see the world, so we have put together this short help sheet to get you thinking about how the local affects the global and how the global affects the local.

How the global affects the local

If it's cheaper to undertake logging operations in Indonesia due to cheap labour and less stringent environmental standards, globalisation means that logging companies will shift their operations there. Among the results is that there will be fewer jobs for Australian forestry workers.

This connection is pretty straightforward. However, globalisation has also had other more subtle effects on our day-to-day lives and therefore our advocacy.

Due to an increase in connectivity, globalisation has led to what is commonly called the 'ripple effect'. What may seem like a relatively minor decision in one country may have effects in another country - the loss of a job, or the flow-on effect of an environmental disaster.

Moreover, associated with globalisation is a particular model of economic development known as the Washington Consensus. This has meant that a lot of countries are under pressure to do a range of things that include privatising public industry and relaxing environmental regulations.

Taking these international pressures into account can only strengthen your campaign and provide avenues for international collaboration. It will also mean that you are advocating for longer-term change that may have an effect on more communities than just your own.

The reality is that you need to address both the local and the global. The balance you choose will depend on your specific situation and what it is you wish to achieve.

How the local affects the global

It would seem, then, that the bigger and harder task is to have the local affect the global, considering that the globalised economy is such an enormous amorphous mass that it seems to have a life of its own.

However, the interconnected world that we live in means that ripples go further than they used to - much further. The effect of one campaign was once quite isolated, but now can have global repercussions.

Local struggles often lead to changes which affect the global system. By simply winning a battle with regards to something like quarantine for your own localised reasons, you may have affected entire trade programs. In the long term, this could change the practices of other countries in order to gain access to Australian markets. Hence the local has affected the global.

The plight of someone in one country may get a lot of publicity in the global press. This may then lead to others fighting similar battles, drawing on this person's inspiration.

Keep these things in mind while your are campaigning. International coverage can be a particularly powerful thing and lead to ripples around the world - not to mention international pressure, which can be quite persuasive.

In terms of the effect that the local can have on the global (and vice-versa) there are very exciting day-to-day interactions amongst activists which can have particularly positive outcomes for your campaign.


As we mentioned above, globalisation has been facilitated by (and has facilitated) a boom in ICT. This means that activists have an opportunity to hear the stories of other activists around the world and make contact with them to share ideas.

The fact that someone else has won a similar campaign means that it's possible to win your campaign. If you then make contact (usually through the wonderful world of email) then you can exchange ideas and tactics to ensure that you have a better chance of winning your case.

International networking can also lead to some remarkable collaborations. An international network of organisations will be much more effective than you on your own, and you'll be able to advocate on many more fronts.

The possibilities here are endless. International coalitions are becoming more and more common - and more effective - even though the only contact between coalition members is electronic. These tools can be priceless (and they're usually very cheap, too).

Globalisation is Malleable

Globalisation can provide some amazing opportunities - many of which we have taken advantage of. Many have argued that globalisation is inevitable and that the future can really take only one course. Our Community believes that globalisation is malleable - you can change it. The future is not fixed.

So reclaim globalisation and use it to build stronger, more vibrant communities.

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