It was not totally unexpected, but it was a shock anyway. With a new blog entry dated March 18th, Wiser.org’s Executive Director Peggy Duvette made it official and final: “After many months of reflection and extensive feedback from Wiser.org members, editors and our board of directors, we have decided to close and archive the Wiser.org website. The archiving of the site will take place on April 10th 2014“.
In a way, this is a coming of age for social networks. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest… social networks today gather around more than two billions users worldwide, and by 2017, this number could rise up to 3 billions people. Yet, at a time when social networks are expanding and are gaining more users than ever, some of them deserve a special mention. Some show more solidarity to weaker members of society, some are more responsible and ethical, and they offer an alternative to the giant corporations. This was the case of Wiser.org, an acronym for “World Index of Social and Environmental Responsibility”.
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Wiser.org was conceived as a social network and collaborative global exchange for NGOs, businesses, governments and individuals who work to safeguard the environment and fight against inequality (climate change, poverty, war, water-pollution, hunger, social justice, protection, human rights, and so on..).
Wiser.org aimed to help these individuals and organizations to connect, share and pool their resources and develop partnerships. The platform allowed them to communicate and cooperate and also helped them to respond to the challenges more effectively, to create a more just world and to participate in a more sustainable development.
Launched on the occasion of Earth Day 2007, Wiser.org was founded by Paul Hawken, social entrepreneur, American ecologist and writer, who, after traveling the world, wanted to highlight the most interesting initiatives in the field of sustainable development and social justice. He had the aim to consolidate and enhance gestures, actions and actors of international solidarity.
“I knew that if we could strengthen the links and visualize the magnitude of global efforts to promote social and environmental justice, we would experience the largest movement the world has ever seen. Thanks to Wiser.org people are gradually starting to realize how powerful these movements are” says Paul Hawken.
Wiser.org was available in eight languages (German, English, Chinese, Spanish, Indonesian, Italian, French, Portuguese). Since its launch, the structure of this site has evolved. It began an international directory listing agents of change in the world. It was able to offer means of collaboration, networking tools and collaborative working groups.
It basically worked like a wiki where everyone could edit and enrich the database and related organizations. One could add events, create or participate in newsgroups and share resources.
Wiser.org was able to gather almost 80,000 members, about 3,000 working groups and more than 100,000 organizations (associations, NGOs, social enterprises and actors of sustainable development, social and environmental ) worldwide.
It was instrumental to solve many problems such as the lack of collective platform and unnecessary duplication of effort. Better communication between activists helped make their job easier.
But what is going to happen now?
Board members at Wiser are currently working to finalize a strategic direction. Other partners (Guidestar, TechSoup Global, Founding Family, Earth Deeds, Amp) will build upon Wiser.org’s data set, but the one thing we are certain of is that it has been a great journey and Wiser’s spirit will live in the field.