Berlin – ESI workshop on policy advocacy

23 June 2022
think tank lab​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Photo: Think Tank Lab

ESI’s Gerald Knaus was invited to give a workshop on policy advocacy at the Think Tank Lab organised by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).

Gerald presented a realist approach to the topic of “Advocacy”. He outlined that the most important thing is to grasp the reality of giving policy advice: attention is scarce, politicians do not necessarily wait for advice and there are in general too many experts. This realisation should be the starting point for any thinking about advocacy.

During the workshop Gerald explored how it is possible to have an influence in such a setting. He explained that preparation is the key. If we accept the fact that almost everything that we hear will be eventually forgotten, it becomes obvious that policy advocacy needs to work with memorable concepts, narratives and arguments that stick. It requires motivation, commitment, and the right timing. Policy advisors should be able to present their ideas verbally or in writing – in a way that an intelligent fifteen-year-old could understand the proposals. Also, an analysis of relevant people in the field is crucial for building a network of dissemination.

Gerald emphasised that advocacy is something one can learn: In order for it to have an political influence one must prepare for it.