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Leadership change at Oxfam

Leadership change at Oxfam

Barry Coates, Oxfam’s New Zealand Executive Director since September 2003, has announced that he will leave the organisation in March 2014. Recruitment for his successor has been launched today.

Barry Coates commented, “It has been a great privilege to have been able to build and lead a fantastic organisation making powerful change for the most important of causes – tackling global poverty.

“I am proud of Oxfam’s contribution and my own, in making changes that have created opportunities and hope for vulnerable people over the past decade. There are challenges ahead, but we have put in place the foundations to further strengthen Oxfam and our allies, and to create the transformative change that will enable us to reach our vision of a just world without poverty,” concluded Coates.

The following are some of the highlights from Barry’s ten years at Oxfam New Zealand.

Fair trade
• Initiated a partnership with Trade Aid in 2004 to bring fair trade into the mainstream and form the fair trade movement in New Zealand
• Promoted fair trade through speeches, public events and the media, so that public awareness has grown from 2% to 72% over the decade, and New Zealand’s fair trade sales have grown 300 fold, the fastest growing fair trade market in the world
• Served on the Advisory group to former Trade Minister Phil Goff and campaigned for fair rules on international trade at WTO Ministerial meetings and in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)
• Led capacity building for civil society, research, lobbying and campaigning that strengthened the Pacific’s role in negotiations with Australia and New Zealand (PACER Plus), the European Union (EPA) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO)

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Ethical and sustainable business
• Persuaded multinational food company Dole to drop their misleading “Ethical Choice” label and take action to protect the rights of banana workers through research in the Philippines and dialogue with the company, combined with media coverage and consumer campaigning
• Mobilised people in New Zealand in support of Oxfam’s global campaigns that influenced chocolate companies to support women in their supply chains and persuaded soft drinks brands to stop land grabs that have evicted local people
• Built strong links with the Sustainable Business Network (including annual awards judging), the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia and progressive companies to support stronger business action on sustainability, climate change, human rights and poverty reduction

Climate change
• Attended Ministerial meetings from Bali to Cancun and developed public understanding that climate change is about impacts on poor and vulnerable people, not just polar bears
• Served as Chair and then Board member of the Global Campaign for Climate Action, the international movement that helped mobilise 15 million people prior to the Copenhagen Ministerial in 2009
• Raised awareness about the risks of climate change for the Pacific and built Oxfam’s community work and campaigning to support poor and vulnerable communities across Pacific countries
• Joined with progressive businesses, NGOs and groups across New Zealand civil society to strengthen New Zealand’s policies on climate change

Supporting the wider Pacific to set its own direction
• Focused Oxfam’s work strategically on the poorest communities in the wider Pacific (including Timor Leste and Papua) and on the themes of supporting livelihoods, clean water and sanitation, emergency response and ending violence against women
• Led the Oxfam programme that has built the capacity of small scale farmers in the wider Pacific (Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, PNG, Papua and Timor Leste) to supply domestic markets and participate in higher value supply chains through processing, fair trade and organic certification
• Developed the highly effective “Oxfam Water for Survival programme”, which has enabled thousands of people in the Pacific to have access to clean water, toilets and hygiene education, while reducing waterborne diseases, improving health and removing the burden of water collection for women and girls
• Built Oxfam’s capacity to respond quickly and effectively to disasters affecting the Pacific, including earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones and floods in PNG, Solomons, Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga, as well as supporting responses including the Indian Ocean tsunami, drought in Africa and typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
• Supported courageous Pacific partners to tackle tribal fighting and violence against women, enabling them to build broad support and demand reform of government policies and institutions
• Formed close relationships with Pacific civil society, governments and regional agencies to strengthen the Pacific’s focus on poverty reduction, sustainability and human rights, including effective advocacy at annual Pacific Islands Forum events and regional meetings

Effective aid and the fight against poverty
• Initiated and chaired the Make Poverty History Aotearoa coalition, which mobilised 50,000 people to take action and helped reverse the decline in the government aid budget
• Served on the Ministerial Advisory Board on aid for the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, and lobbied for aid to support the needs of the Pacific’s poorest people, rather than New Zealand’s interests
• Engaged with New Zealand government officials on a range of aid and development issues, and influenced development thinking and policies on education, health and economic development
• Served as Chair and Board member of the Council for International Development , and represented the sector frequently in the media and policy debates

Peace building and disarmament
• Built support in New Zealand, the Pacific and internationally for the signing of a historic UN Arms Trade Treaty in 2012, through a decade of lobbying and campaigning with partners Amnesty International and the International Alliance on Small Arms
• Supported an international agreement to ban cluster bombs in 2011 through lobbying and campaigning by Oxfam, together with Human Rights Watch and international allies
• Helped build coalitions in Papua New Guinea that highlighted the need for community peace-building and stronger controls over the proliferation of guns

Educating and engaging the public
• Launched Oxfam Trailwalker in New Zealand in 2005 – over the next nine years it grew to attract 1200 people each year who overcome physical challenges and raise $1 million to support Oxfam’s work
• Introduced the concept of giving unusual gifts for Xmas – goats, condoms and a human rights defender kit are Oxfam Unwrapped gifts that benefit poor communities and restore real generosity to Xmas giving
• Led the development of youth-oriented events to engage the public, including the Make Trade Fair campaign and Oxfam’s Morning Tea which has promoted fair trade in thousands of workplaces and communities across New Zealand
• Spread the message about the important role that New Zealand can play in tackling global poverty and being a good global citizen through hundreds of speeches, workshops, articles, media interviews and meetings across New Zealand

Oxfam and change
• Built Oxfam New Zealand into a well-respected organisation, focused on supporting people in the wider Pacific, credible and influential with decision-makers, and supported by 60,000 people each year
• Played a leading role in governance of Oxfam International as it has transformed to become a powerful global network that mobilises the power of people against poverty


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