005: Empowering the Powerless and Changing The World From The Bottom-Up – Natalie Bridgeman Fields
The Impossible Network

00:00 / 00:41:37

Guest Overview

This week’s guest is Natalie Bridgeman Fields, a fierce advocate, and pioneer in international human rights, environmental law and founder of Accountability Counsel

With parents that instilled in her a deep sense of the inequity in the world, her ethical foundation was formed at an early age

However, it was in 1998 that her journey and fight for social justice was sparked by a serendipitous siren call to action from witnessing a group of indigenous women in Chile being arrested while peacefully resisting the construction of a dam on their critical water source.

Since then Natalie has dedicated her career to hold the companies and institutions behind harmful projects, like mines, agribusiness, and wind farms, accountable for abuse.

After spending a decade as an attorney for, and partner to communities around the world, Natalie founded Accountability Counsel in 2009 to empower communities to defend their rights through a unique avenue for justice.

In the last ten years, Accountability Counsel has worked with nearly 40 communities around the world – from farmers in northeast Haiti to nomadic herders in the Mongolian South Gobi desert, to fisherfolk in coastal Kenya.

In addition to providing direct legal support to communities, Accountability Counsel works to address the systemic problems that perpetuate harmful projects through policy, advocacy, and research.

Knowing that they cannot tackle such a complex problem alone, the organization is also a leading voice in the global movement for accountability in international finance. The impact of Accountability Counsel’s unique model has been recognized through awards from Echoing Green and the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation.

What we discuss

In this interview Natalie and I discuss:

  • The serendipitous events that set her on her social justice journey
  • Parental influence on her awareness of social inequities
  • Her human rights litigation training ground
  • How Accountability Counsel and its offices create systemic change
  • Its three pillars of community programmes; policy initiatives, and research
  • Their theory of change
  • Their use of technology and data to offer better, systematic information delivery for policymakers, investors and communities.
    • How it allows more effective measurement
    • How it makes institutions more accessible for communities
    • Provides better legal services and community advocacy support
  • Their evaluation criteria
  • How they organize disparate communities to address language, literacy and gender barriers to participation in negotiations
  • Their network including the 140 member international advocates working group they formed
  • How they are flipping the global elites model of change through a more democratic, grassroots process of change that starts with engaging communities about what they need to improve poverty and address human rights abuses
  • Their work in the American communities v.s. the rest of the world
  • Natalie’s leadership approach
  • Their independent, funding model and how they avoid conflict
  • Their impact investing initiatives
  • How Natalie remains motivated and grounded
  • Her 29029 challenge
  • How she applies creativity and  accesses ideas
  • Natalie’s expectations for the next 10 years
  • Her parents influence on Natalie’s willpower
  • How they deal with Unknown Unknowns

And of course….

  • Natalie’s Impossible advice
  • The book she wants us to give for the best comments

Where to find on social

Links in show


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