What Oxfam is doing
While Oxfam has the capacity to do high profile advocacy directed at certain industries, we are equally committed to finding constructive partnerships with private sector leaders. When governments abdicate their duty to regulate the private sector, citizens must work to hold companies accountable; but where companies have recognized their impacts and responsibilities and are prepared to take constructive steps, Oxfam can play a collaborative role in supporting change.
Oxfam's work with the private sector includes the following:
- Advocacy – Oxfam works with partner organizations around the world in calling for reforms to certain industries and practices. Oxfam grassroots campaigns have engaged coffee retailers, extractive industries, pharmaceutical industry, food suppliers, apparel manufacturers, and supermarkets and general retailers. For example, in 2007, Oxfam launched an international media campaign and worked with Oxfam supporters, allied organizations and Starbucks investors to raise awareness and encourage the coffee giant to sign an agreement acknowledging Ethiopia's right to ownership of the regional names of its fine coffees. Starbucks and other retailers came to agreement with the Ethiopian government recognizing the country's intellectual property rights and giving poor farmers a chance to earn a greater share of the profits.
- Collaborations – Where opportunities for innovation exist, Oxfam works with leading companies to pilot to business models and progressive reforms, which also offer opportunities to strength Oxfam's regional programs and humanitarian work. These collaborations have included designing new products and services focused on helping the poorest communities access financial services. In 2008, Oxfam began coordinating a project to develop a ground-breaking weather insurance initiative supported by more than a dozen partner organizations, including Swiss Re and Columbia Earth Science Institute, which will help some of the world's poorest farmers insure themselves against climate risks.
- Normative standards – In the absence of legislation, companies and stakeholders have increasingly come together to develop best practice standards. Ideally, these standards become common practice and influence relevant regulations. Oxfam is engaged in a wide range of normative initiatives around labor practices, water, agricultural products, human rights and lobbying. Oxfam is an active member of more than a dozen multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) aimed at developing best practice standards for industries and has worked closely with the UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights in his efforts to develop a UN-sanctioned human rights framework for companies.
- Public policy – The private sector commands tremendous influence over public policies at the national and global levels. Working with industry bodies and major brands, Oxfam seeks to have companies put their political influence behind pro poor legislation and public policies. We believe this can help companies and poor communities, through issues such as: foreign aid reform, climate change adaptation, and revenue transparency. In 2009, Oxfam sponsored a Capitol Hill briefing that brought together companies such as Nike and Levi-Strauss to promote government policies to help poor communities adapt to a changing environment.
To contact Oxfam America's Private Sector Department, please email email@example.com.