Closing the Gap Between Vision and Practice: Understanding Emergent Strategies for Authentic Intersectional Organizing in the Nuclear Abolition Movement

Last Updated on May 22, 2024.

The nuclear abolition movement was once at the forefront of anti-nuclear weapons advocacy, building power for the struggle against nuclear armageddon by building deep connections between the movement for freedom from nuclear destruction with other freedom movements.

Learning from the past and updating effective strategies, as well as implementing new ways of thinking and doing nuclear abolition work, is needed in order to revive and strengthen the current nuclear abolition movement. Returning to an intersectional framework for nuclear abolition is key. The nuclear abolition movement must also return to a central focus of grassroots organizing to revitalize the people power necessary to bring about any sort of meaningful and lasting change when it comes to nuclear weapons or any other societal ill.

These core lessons from the past can be re-introduced to the field through the relatively new concept of emergent strategy. Developed by Black leaders and thinkers in other abolition movements, emergent strategy is “a strategy for building complex patterns and systems of change through relatively small interactions.” It calls for relational movement-building, creating effective networks of mutual accountability, non-linear goal setting, and a focus on shared efforts to imagine a better world.

Emergent strategies can help the nuclear abolition movement with the transformation it needs to build the people power imperative to manifesting a world free from nuclear weapons.

This report offers a summary of emergent strategy, and a detailed case for its applicability to this moment in recommendations for funders and organization leaders. It asserts that a first step in supporting the adoption of an emergent strategy framework by the nuclear abolition movement is facilitating opportunities to engage with emergent strategy thought leaders to gain insight on what it means to be an emergent strategist. As well, funders and organization leaders can work to redefine success and its metrics.

Visionary organizing is not conducive to the current grantmaking structure, which influences how organizations structure their work and how both organizations and funders subsequently measure success. By eliminating the restrictions posed by the current grant-making structure, funders can allow organizations more flexibility to engage in visionary organizing characterized by a nonlinear and iterative process.

Read more anti-nuclear weapons advocacy in Jasmine Owens’ report here.


May 21, 2024