For this first #Sustainable blog post, we are looking ahead to the future of Public Affairs. In a conversation with Erik van Venetie, a well-known Dutch Public Affairs scholar and adviser, Willem looks into the future of lobbying and what can be done to transform it into a ‘socially responsible’ model.
In 2012, Erik published what is now known in the Netherlands as the ultimate lobbying handbook: ‘Het Grote Lobby Boek’. To this day, he continues posting on his own blog, together with Professor of Public Affairs Arco Timmermans: Het Grote Lobbyen.
Het Grote Lobby Boek is not only a fantastic guide for anyone who wants to learn the rules of the lobbying game – it also features a more personal story about my father, who was working with Amnesty International at the time. Facilitated by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, he successfully "lobbied" the Nigerian government to annul the death sentence it had imposed on Amina Lawal for adultery.
More recently, Erik has been publishing on the need for "maatschappelijk verantwoord lobbyen" – or "socially responsible lobbying”. Especially in the context of the Covid-19 crisis, he sees a gap opening up to re-shape the public affairs sector towards a more socially responsible model. At any rate, with ‘more government’ as result of this crisis, there will be a greater need for public affairs to represent businesses and citizens’ views to the elected officials.
Erik notes that there is now more appreciation for social and environmental values. This means the new political agenda emerging is no longer only about the priorities in policy, but also about the way in which interests are represented. He concludes that policymakers must primarily make room for advocates who have the public interest in mind.
At #SustainablePublicAffairs we share these views but it is not only us – it is also our great clients who see the necessity for this type of more value-based advocacy. And there are more and more of them every day.