Identifying Pressure Points

In this section, you will learn what a pressure point is. You will also learn how to assess the strength of different pressure points by investigating the specific actors and relationships in the investment chain and the external factors that affect them. Finding pressure points can help you target your advocacy to most effectively influence the behaviour of different actors, and ultimately the project on the ground. This increases the chances of achieving your advocacy goals, such as protecting land rights, avoiding negative environmental impacts or seeking remedies for violations and harms that have already occurred.

Identifying Pressure Points

What Is a Pressure Point?

Pressure points are the actors and relationships in an investment chain that can be targeted in advocacy to influence the design, outcome and impacts of a project. They can also be targeted to obtain remedies for harms. A strong pressure point is responsive to advocacy and has the ability to influence the business managing the project and what’s happening on the ground.

When a community is harmed by a project and is seeking redress, or if a community wants to benefit from the design of a project, it is necessary to influence the behaviour of the business managing the project. But if the business itself does not respond positively to advocacy, you can try to influence other actors along the investment chain, which in turn can use their leverage to change the behaviour of the business managing the project. In order to assess how to do this most effectively, you need to identify the strongest pressure points along the investment chain.

Once you have a basic map of the investment chain – even if there are still gaps – you can start identifying pressure points along the chain and consider how strong each one might be. This will inform your advocacy strategy.

A strong pressure point:

  • Is responsive to advocacy. For example, it might be bound by relevant laws and policies, or it might be vulnerable to reputational damage; and
  • Has the ability to influence how the business is managing the project on the ground. For example, it might be a major investor or lender, a powerful government agency, or a major buyer of a raw material being produced by the project.

Analyzing Pressure Points

All of the information you’ve gathered so far and recorded in Worksheet 1 and Worksheet 2 will help you understand what kinds of actors are in your investment chain. Using this information and digging further, you can now identify pressure points and assess their strength. This information will help you decide what advocacy strategies will be most efficient and effective, taking into account your time, resources and capacities.

Many of the sources you identified and included in Worksheet 1 and Worksheet 2 will also be useful to understand the relative strength of the pressure points. Otherwise, use the same research techniques and sources already discussed to do further digging. For example, company websites and annual reports will usually list the CEO of a company, its country of registration, its revenue, its shareholders and sometimes even the banks from which it has received loans. Information about government agencies is usually best found online through Google searches and the websites of these agencies.


Following are key questions you need to answer to identify and understand the strength of pressure points in the investment chain. Answering these questions will help you assess each actor’s likely responsiveness to advocacy and their ability to influence the business managing the project. You can summarise your answers to these questions using the table in Worksheet 3.