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Message from the Director

Fiona Dove - Executive Director, Transnational Institute

For all of us who believe in building a more just and sustainable world, these are times of profound change and challenge. In 2015, TNI took stock of these shifts and dynamics as we looked to focus our work in the coming five years, making the best use of our limited resources. We believe TNI’s capacity to bring together unique constituencies of academics and activists, thinkers and doers, dreamers and practitioners will be critical to confront these challenges and build a better future.

Stepping back to look at the ‘big picture’, TNI identified the following trends that will shape our work:

  • Democracy under threat. Neoliberalism and the unprecedented concentration of financial and corporate power is increasingly undermining public sovereignty as the underpinning of modern democracy. This is not only resulting in widespread alienation from politics, it is also fueling the rise of reactionary forces.
  • A new scramble for natural resources. The insatiable appetite of our ‘growth’ and consumer-based economy is leading to ever more displacement of people and environmental destruction through mega-development projects, agro-industrial development, mining, and fracking.
  • The rise of the security state in an age of permanent war. The unending war on terror, the increased instability in the Middle East, and the need to ensure unimpeded corporate expansion is leading to ever more militarisation, repression, surveillance and curtailment of civil liberties. Those at the sharp end of violence are often the most vulnerable – migrants, producers of prohibited crops, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities – as well as social movements determined to resist.
  • Geopolitical flux worldwide. While the US maintains its global dominance, largely through its military power, China has emerged as a global actor, forging alliances largely on the basis of increased trade and infrastructural investments. Europe continues to stumble close to the brink of multiple crises.
  • Corporate power and impunity. Corporations continue to increase their power and influence over public policy, politics, media, cultural life, and trade and investment policy. As a result, they escape censure for financial crises, human rights and environmental violations, tax avoidance and much more.
  • Climate change will change everything. Our failure to act decisively and quickly to confront the fossil fuel industry and facilitate a rapid just transition will have serious impacts worldwide, affecting many impoverished and vulnerable people. Moreover, corporate-led false solutions to the crisis are already exacerbating this situation.

Yet despite these formidable obstacles, we at TNI remain hopeful – most of all because this time of flux is leading to ever more public awareness of the roots of our systemic crises and ever more dynamic social movements of resistance and transformation.

As this annual report shows, even in our own work in 2015, we won significant victories by working collaboratively with movements. To cite just a few:

  • Bringing the negotiations for the controversial EU-US trade treaty, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to a virtual standstill, with a rising tide of voices from all political spectrums condemning the deal
  • Pushing the European Parliament to launch its own enquiry into land grabbing in Europe as a result of the EU’s land and agricultural policies
  • Sustaining the momentum for reform of repressive drug laws by building a powerful coalition of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe advocating for drug law reform

TNI will build on these positive trends, bringing our unflagging dedication and unique practice of scholar activism to bear on the challenges and struggles we and our allies face in the years to come.