Post your thoughts/ideas/musings on global poverty and climate change for Policywonk - Mumsnet's blogger at the G20 summit...

(188 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 18-Mar-09 17:08:45

Ok so hurrah, Policywonk is to be our Mumsnet representative inside the London Summit as part of G20Voice initiative - a group of 50 bloggers connecting the rest of the world with the G20 world leaders.

There is more information about the project at here but in short G20Voice has been organised by a coalition of non-profit organisations Oxfam GB, Comic Relief, and Save the Children with the support of the Blue State Digital and the UK Government. They have convinced the UK Govt to allow 50 bloggers into the summit with equal access to the mainstream media.

It's a 3 day programme starting April 1st the day before the summit and ending the day after. Day one will be about providing the bloggers with information and helping them get to know each other so that they can understand the issues they and their readers care about. It will be fairly unstructured along Barcamp/Unconference lines. We want the bloggers to decide the priorities and the questions they ask the next day.

The day of the summit will consist of a stream of people from the G20 delegations. They'll be asked to speak with the bloggers either en-masse or at round table discussions. People outside the summit can join in via Skype or phone lines.

The analysis day is about feedback from the bloggers and experts from Govt and NGOs on the decisions and announcements from the Summit.

All three days will be filmed and a video and audio stream will be available.

The main themes are global poverty and climate change/the environment but as they say on the website: 'This is the plan but in reality the event belongs to the bloggers. Everyone attending will have the chance to shape the schedule themselves.'

So anyway, that's the background and here's the thread for discussing your thoughts on global poverty and climate change in particular.

Fimbo Wed 18-Mar-09 17:13:16

Well done to Policywonk!! Yay!! grin

Rhubarb Wed 18-Mar-09 17:13:32

When will the government start slashing their own wages and stopping their own bonuses due to their mishandling of this country?

gizmo Wed 18-Mar-09 17:30:10

Hey Policywonk, nice one. This sounds like a very exciting gig!

I'm very interested indeed in plans for low carbon growth, particularly in the developing world.

For example, is there any discussion about how developing countries can exploit their renewable energy resources? North Africa is already identified as a potential site for solar concentrating plant that could be a significant exporter of energy to southern europe.

Of course, there are substantial technical and economic barriers to such schemes, are there any plans to deal with these or is this all too far off to figure on people's radar right now?

Rhubarb Wed 18-Mar-09 17:31:28

They could then use the money they take off themselves to help this country's poorest.

And if they stopped the second home allowance and tightened up expense claims, they could further plough money into the NHS and schools!

policywonk Wed 18-Mar-09 17:35:40

Thank you Fimbo!

Good question Rhubarb - noted. I suspect a lot of the real business at this summit is going to be about the financial crisis and its impact in the West. I'm all for prioritising global poverty and climate change, but can't help thinking that for the politicians, those aspects are going to be window dressing. (Hope I'm proved wrong obviously.)

That's interesting gizmo, thanks. Do you know whether any such projects currently receive any development aid funding, or does it exist only on paper at the moment? I remember seeing something about a giant solar energy plant somewhere recently but have a feeling it was in Spain.

policywonk Wed 18-Mar-09 17:42:05

I've given short, slightly hysterical consideration to this (the G20 Voice project as a whole) and here's what my brain thunk up: there's no way I'm going to be able to become an expert in so many areas of policy in the next two weeks. (Especially as my grandmother died today and I'm going to have to spend at least a couple of days next week in Wales at the funeral.)


If you have an interest or expertise in any relevant area and you're willing to give me a hand, it would be TREMENDOUSLY helpful if you could use this thread to post little bullets of information for me - so, not just questions you'd like asked (although of course those are welcome too), but digests of areas that you're familiar with, and the two or three most important questions/issues that arise from that.

Does this make any sense? I've had a very strange day. It would be bad to have a drink now, wouldn't it?


gizmo Wed 18-Mar-09 17:44:08

Yes, it's only on paper, I'm afraid. There are now a number of concentrating solar plants in Spain that produce a respectable power output, and North Africa has more solar resource, but it's going to take a substantial effort to get the transmission lines fit for exporting the amount of power we're talking about, plus as yet I don't think there are trading agreements that would allow Morocco, Algeria et al to export power commercially onto the European grid.

But technically all this is possible, so I'm interested in seeing if anyone is talking about putting the investment in to make it happen.

The same sort of comments would probably also apply to tidal/wave power on the west african coast.

gizmo Wed 18-Mar-09 17:46:44

I like your suggestion and shall try to flesh out my questions a bit more.

I also like your suggestion re drink <clinkety clink>

policywonk Wed 18-Mar-09 17:55:43

Thank you gizmo <glug> That's exactly the sort of thing I mean.

mimimyne Wed 18-Mar-09 18:37:12

Re global poverty and climate change, one thing I think would be a huge help would be increasing production of supplies of organic cotton and environmentally certified products in the developing world to sell in the developed world. A global body that would help match microproducers with small retailers (like myself) and that would authenticate them as either an ethically or environmentally sound organisation would be a huge help. There are a lot of different certifications for organic and for ethical: couldn't one body pull them together and help ethical retailers like myself find small producers in the developing world? It's very hard for retailers to authenticate products and the current certification systems are complex and involve costs and difficulties for suppliers/producers. Retailers usually end up paying middle men inflated prices. I've had advice from the Ethical Fashion Forum, and looked at various bodies that provide certification etc but still feel that a central body to pull together this information and create a simplified process would be a huge help to producers and retailers alike.

I hope this is useful: it's something I feel could do with publicising!

Thanks, Tabitha

policywonk Wed 18-Mar-09 19:22:53

Thank you Tabitha. Are there any comparable international certification systems - eg, is the Fairtrade mark globally recognised, and does it work along the lines you're proposing?

Is this something you think should receive government funding?

It might also be useful if we could outline, in a few sentences, whether/how organic production techniques contribute to poverty reduction. (I guess we can take it as read that they are a good thing, climate-wise.)

Sorry for firing questions at you!

policywonk Wed 18-Mar-09 19:35:08

Oh, and here's another thing my brain thought of: in an effort to distinguish ourselves from the other bloggers, would it be a good idea to pick one issue/area (I was thinking maybe infant and maternal mortality, ante- and post-natal care, infant feeding) to get particularly revved up about and try to think of some really killer questions/proposals?

When did G7/8 go large into G20 and who are the 20 nations involved?

Not sure that organic techniques necessarily are good climate change wise, if the consumers are half way across the globe. Avocados from Chile are great in Chile, but horrendous air miles, not to mention that crops are being used not for local people

gizmo Wed 18-Mar-09 19:47:40

Yes, that sounds interesting. Maternal/infant health is an obvious one, although I have no expertise in the area to offer! But also, how about women's education and economic participation? Again, I have no expertise, but surely there should be plenty on mumsnet.

Meanwhile, trying to put together a few more pertinent facts on renewable power in the developing world for you...

Tortington Wed 18-Mar-09 19:57:21

can we have a 'comb-over' tally?

policywonk Wed 18-Mar-09 20:05:02

Yes gizmo, the education of girls is another crucial one - and economic participation good too (micro-finance was a very hot topic a couple of years ago but haven't heard so much about it recently).

Ilove... - have a look at this page - the G20 is complementary to the G8, not a replacement. The aim is to include some 'emerging' states (Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico etc) alongside established advanced capitalist economies. It meets once a year or so. (It seems like a particularly big deal this year because the meeting is in the UK so we're hearing a lot more about it than normal.)

Re. the advantages or otherwise of organic crops and climate change - my understanding (which is quite vague and possibly wrong) is that these things are very difficult to quantify. For example, an organic crop that is shipped rather than air-freighted might still have a smaller carbon footprint than an intensively-grown crop that is transported locally - it all depends on the crop, the methods used, the mode of transport, distribution, etc etc. Very difficult area I think (but you're right to say it's not as cut-and-dried as organic = low carbon).

Your point about the use of agricultural land in developing countries for export crops is an interesting one. Any economists have views about this one?

[MNHQ: will introduce celebrity underwear chat soon, honest.]

policywonk Wed 18-Mar-09 20:07:50

Comb-overs - check.

We could probably devise some sort of international summit bingo:

Hush Puppies
rimless specs

morningpaper Wed 18-Mar-09 20:07:57

shit it's all a bit... hard isn't it?

policywonk Wed 18-Mar-09 20:10:53


I think MNHQ are (rightly) worried I'm going to be ridiculously worthy and dull. I need you all to keep me low-brow wink

I've been telling people that I'm going to be attending a Barack Obama press conference. Do you think there is the slightest possibility that this might turn out to be true?

ahundredtimes Wed 18-Mar-09 20:13:58

You're going to be marvellous PW. I'm so pleased you got the gig.

I will hand out biros to everyone, with logos on.

I'll go and check the link in a minute - are we supposed to be lobbying? Or are you reporting? Or what.

Is all very exciting. You are going to be great.

gizmo Wed 18-Mar-09 20:14:18

Well, if you have a chance of witnessing B.O. (sorry but that has just made me giggle childishly) in the flesh you can forget the detailed intellectual analysis and focus on the real issue de jour: 'Barack Obama: cute ass - or no?'

That should lower the tone nicely. Not sure it will be quite so effective with the undersecretary for lanolin production from Kazakhstan, mind you.

morningpaper Wed 18-Mar-09 20:24:07

Is there any chance you will bump into Bob Geldof? Could you pass him my phone number?

ahundredtimes Wed 18-Mar-09 20:29:16

Right, okay, have read. I understand it all a bit more now. Right. Okay. Am going to go and focus mind, I don't have any expertise in this area though.

<scatters biros>

morningpaper Wed 18-Mar-09 20:30:02

is that your BEST TRY?

ahundredtimes Wed 18-Mar-09 20:31:08

I said I'm COMING BACK <adjusts spectacles> I've got to go and erm - focus my thoughts.

onebatmother Wed 18-Mar-09 20:43:11

LOL at G20 being a bit hard, and Obama's barumba.

I think that the education of girls would be a great focus. The extent of female education seems to impact, or at least be intrinsically linked to, many of the areas that interest us as a group, doesn't it?

I recently saw some astonishing statistical differences - across a whole range of subjects - between areas where female education is sanctioned/possible, and areas where it's not.

Gah, where was it? Will look.

Habbibu Wed 18-Mar-09 20:58:11

Are you going to have a badge saying PolicyWonk: MumsNet?

Agree education of girls; don't have any relevant areas of expertise, except for some HE links with transition economies.

Habbibu Wed 18-Mar-09 21:10:38

Women/girls also affected by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (have just been studying it!) a lot in developing countries because of smoke from cooking fires. Practical Action really good on this.

onebatmother Wed 18-Mar-09 21:15:51

I'm intrigued - no, disturbed - by MP's Geldof-shaped achilles heel.

PW, do you have any similarly fatal weaknesses which we should know about? If you reveal them in advance we may be able to help, but it will be quite difficult to retroactively explain away a sudden and international-incident-sparking lunge at, say, Angela Merkel.

policywonk Wed 18-Mar-09 21:41:05

Oh hello 100x. Thank you for your calming words. Of COURSE people don't need to be experts in anything to participate in this. God knows I'm an expert in nothing except freakishly extended breastfeeding (d'ya think it'll come up?)

Will add sexual harrassment of heads of state and ageing rockers to my to-do list. I don't think I fancy any current statesmen. I used to have a thing for Lord John Russell, but who didn't?

OBM, those statistics would be good if you can unearth them (and also that email contact I asked you for earlier?)

COPD/other pathology arising from biomass fuels (I think - animal dung isn't it?) - yes, good one. Will have a look at that link.

I think I have to go to bed, I'm a bit overwhelmed. Also I have to take a photograph of myself tomorrow for putting up on the site, so I need about 16 hours of sleep. I look forward to reading about the solutions to global poverty that you will all have posted here by tomorrow morning. xx

onebatmother Wed 18-Mar-09 21:48:21

email sent pw. Will look for stats, will you remind if I don't do it?

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 18-Mar-09 21:50:35

PW (and everyone else): you might like to have a look at this re work being done and needing to be done to prevent infant/maternal mortality.

(and no, we don't think you're ridiculously worth and dull!)

onebatmother Wed 18-Mar-09 21:51:04

Pol I've realized that I'm having trouble sending mail, which seem to be taking an hour to arrive.

pooter Wed 18-Mar-09 23:27:33

Hi PW. I just wanted to say good luck - you sound like you will cope with it all admirably. I've been racking my brain but haven't been able to come up with a solution to global poverty/environmental catastrophe sad. Maternal health and female education would be a great start though.

good luck

AitchTwoOh Wed 18-Mar-09 23:35:43

ROFL at angela merkel lunge.

please keep a comb-over tally. rimless, yes, hush puppies, yes. what else? i'll only be reading it for the tallies, being just an girlish woman.

onebatmother Wed 18-Mar-09 23:44:48

in my book of important insights into global politics, it says merkel is intrinsically funny because of it's proximity to mirkin.

an girlish, my dear? Extension of the posh English an hotel? Or perhaps from the gaelic?

onebatmother Wed 18-Mar-09 23:47:06

<acknowledges MNHQ's audible shivers of profound relief at their choice>

AitchTwoOh Wed 18-Mar-09 23:58:09

oh yais. it was in my best jean brodie voice.
am irritated with self that i can't think of better tallies.

dandruff on dark suit. there's one. there will be a lot of 'ruff i think.

onebatmother Thu 19-Mar-09 00:17:00

Could we broaden hush puppies to slip-ons, perhaps? Extra points for grey?

Policywonk -- There was some nice sounding sensible man on the Today Program this morning at about 08:00. Must have been right before Prayer for the Day...

Anyway, nice sensible man who put John Humpheys in his place by being polite, suggested that water supplies were the key in global poverty, in addition to agricultural techniques where apparently a large amount (60 - 70%?) were wasted in the developing nations...

Hello policywonk,

Am glad you are on the case (and not taking the role too terribly seriously!!)

I'll keep posting as my thoughts/ dcs allow, but here are my personal bugbears:

1. FGM (female genital mutilation -- very complex issue, bring it up and watch the room scatter)
2. EPZs (export processing zones, often employing primarily women in substandard conditions -- the discussion is far more complex than to label them all sweatshops, as often they provide opportunities to women in less tangible ways, but still need to be regulated)
3. education for young women
4. sex education for both sexes
5. provision of adequate healthcare, especially ante- and post- natal
6. sigh

Monkeytrousers1 Thu 19-Mar-09 08:45:54

Fab news. Congrats Politywonk! Best choice!!

I guess I would want to know what the political agenda is behind pushing only one hypothesis for environmental issues in the media - is it the media doing their own thing and ignoring an alternate so's not to confuse readerships or is it something else. I mean the whole 'incnvenient truth' issue. There are a lot of inconvenient truths about it, not least that its main function seems to be keeping Al Gore's profile up and netting him millions on the speech circuit.

The alternate hypothesis is about redirecting resourses into local environments to help people on the ground develop flood defenses, and facilitate organised migration away from flood zones, something that Kyoto and such agreements wouldn't help. People like Bjorn Lomberg who propose these arguments are't nutters, nor are they climate change denialists, they are offering alternate hypotheses about resourse distribution - crucially a less centralised system such as Kyoto, and this is the reason many countries, including the US, didn't sign the Kyoto agreement, not because they are climate change denialists (tho they exist of course).

Why are the public not being given a fair precis of these arguments in the media? Envieoinmentalism is a humanitarian cause that seems to have been hijacked by politics, with the result that we, the public, aere not being given the information we need to make informed choices.

The issue on the role of the media passing on unbiased informnation so we can all make informed choices based on facts not opinions, is pretty central to all issues - poverty included. The government has expereience of this itself, as we all get our politics via the filter of the press. With such a huge influence on people, isn't it time that the self-regulation of the press is seriously invesitgated? Political reporters now think themselves peers of politicians. It's a ridiculous state of affairs.

The freedom of the press should always be protected, but we also need a body set up specifically where people can go to get information before it is spun? A well funded, highly visible body. There are no mechanisms within the press to guard against human foibles as there are in science and, a lesser degree, politics. This is a massive oversight in view of the massive influence the media has on society, isn't it?

<if you can pick the bones out of that PC>

Oh, and don't forget the hope factor now that there is an articulate human being in the White House!

When does Kyoto get renegotiated? Will the US take a protectionist stance or be at the heart of environmental policy?

ahundredtimes Thu 19-Mar-09 09:15:49

Has anyone mentioned Nestlee in the Third World yet? Surely that's a MN area of interest?

Maiakins Thu 19-Mar-09 09:35:22

Hi policywonk - good luck! It sounds like it will be a really amazing experience, although slightly scary!

I agree that issues like maternal/infant mortality and girls education are angles that Mumsnet has a natural interest in.

I'm concerned that with the global financial crisis that G20 countries will be looking to cut their development aid budgets, so I would be looking for a commitment that won't happen ... and can the leaders of the G20 commit to ringfencing more money within their aid budgets so that it goes to infant/child mortality and girls education?

Often aid budgets (including the UK's Department for International Development) are channelled through general 'budget support' whereby large sums of money are given to the governments of recipient countries but it isn't targeted at specific issues or projects and can easily get swallowed up by other things.

oopsagain Thu 19-Mar-09 09:38:11

PW, i'm in a bit f a rush and may be able to come back later..
a few weeks ago there was 1 dya of news about somehting that i think was absoltuelt monumental in terms of world health/politics

one of the big big drug companies decided to relax the pricing for third world countries... to a level that really was ver very helpful. the company was asking other drug companies to do the same.
then i heard nothing more....

it was one day about a month ago- or maybe a litle longer.

and echo the nestle problem,
female education,
infnt and maternal mortaily,
seat shops.. women and kids and
will think of more.

and congratulations, i think you'll be fab grin

Monkeytrousers1 Thu 19-Mar-09 09:47:21

< I mean PW>

morningpaper Thu 19-Mar-09 10:12:11

It would be worth checking out the Millenium Development Goals which is something that is probably going to go to shite in the light of the financial crisis

WilfSell Thu 19-Mar-09 12:37:51

REspect to the Wonk! and envy that I have no life to have been up for this...

justaboutback Thu 19-Mar-09 12:38:43

oh this is all so scary and I am not even going. policywonk, you are dead good at all of this and I think that from my experience on the Reluctant Worshippers thread it's OK, you can write whatever you like as long as you make occasional Fruit Shoot jokes grin to keep people awake. Also you should get morningpaper along as a double-act to say rude things occasionally, then you can be all worthy and she can make us snigger.

Will have a proper think - I DO think you focusing on one or two issues is a very good idea

WilfSell Thu 19-Mar-09 12:39:46

PW, you know there's only one solution to global poverty.

Which is steal from tax the rich to give to pay the poor.

Habbibu Thu 19-Mar-09 12:59:14

I have some scary stats on water somewhere - will try to find them.

COPD not just animal dung - it's all smoke from indoor cooking with insufficient ventilation, etc - affects children and women primarily, and is very debilitating.

(In midst of an OU course, hence the odd assortment of knowledge!)

Monkeytrousers1 Thu 19-Mar-09 13:14:59

Have I missed the link about animal dung? Is it being licenced and marketed by British American Tobacco?

Rhubarb Thu 19-Mar-09 13:24:31

I'd like to know how America and the UK can justify bombing the shite out of Iraq, alledgedly so they could bring democracy to that country, yet they will sit back and do nothing about Zimbabwe. People are dying whilst their leader lives it up. He has drained that economy dry. Soon there will be no-one left to populate Zimbabwe.

What are we, as a country, actively doing atm about this? Because from where I'm sat, I can't see a right lot going on.

Rhubarb Thu 19-Mar-09 13:30:53

And don't get me started on China. A country that still enforces the one-child policy, forcing many women to have abortions up to their term date, many more abandon their unwanted children at the side of roads on in rubbish heaps. The majority of abandoned children are girls and those with special needs. The orphanages are a mess - think Dying Rooms. They have an appauling human rights record. Many people were made homeless as their homes and land were demolished to make way for the Olympic Stadium. Their country is responsible for 25% of world mercury emissions and 12% of CO2.

34.9% of it's people live on less than $1 a day.

What are they going to do about it?

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 13:56:27

Hello all

Just wanted to say I can't get much done until this evening but thanks very much for all of this - will sit down later on and have a proper read.

Bramshott Thu 19-Mar-09 15:15:33

Ooh, is Policywonk one of the "10 high profile and eclectic bloggers"?!? grin

<<Bramshott shuffles off to think of a more relevant, less over-excited comment to add>>

Well done Justine and Co for getting in on this!

Bramshott Thu 19-Mar-09 15:19:28

Sorry to hear about your grandmother Policy.

ArcticLemming Thu 19-Mar-09 16:01:15

Sorry to hear about your grandmother.

Maternal mortality is still a real issue. Each year half a women die during pregnancy and childbirth. In some countries the risks are enormous - for instance in Niger a woman's chance of dying in childbirth during her lifetime is 1 in 7. This compares with about 1 in 8200 in the UK (and even lower in many other European countries).

In addition there are also many more woman who suffer long term disability such as obstetric fisula (which leads to incontinence and often ostracisation from the community).

The main reason is lack of access to care - in particular skilled care at delivery, but also antenatal and post-natal care. Even when care is available it may be unaffordable.

The long term economic and social affects are enormous - families are plunged into debt due to the cost of seeking care (a ceaesarian may be a years wages for many), orphaned children are more likely to die and have poorer life chances. There are frequent reports from parts of Africa of women being "imprisoned" in maternity hospitals until they have cleared their debts.

Sorry, it's turned into a bit of a lecture. If you could do anything to highlight this or bring out any discussion it would be great. I can get you any further info you want.

mistlethrush Thu 19-Mar-09 17:21:14

Lots of things that previous people have said - but also, in terms of Co2 etc - more money needs to be put into setting up proper scale production of small energy schemes - which will reduce the cost to a level where it would be cost effective for a lot of us to contemplate ground source heat/solar/small turbines, then on a slightly larger scale, combined heat & power on a neighbourhood, leading up to a district wide level. If all of this sort of technology was considered properly now it would be possible to build a lot of the new houses that are planned to a specification that there would be an easy modification to allow the residents to tap into such schemes when they become available.

And how about street trees/trees in urban areas, trees generally (in developed countries) - they can help to reduce temperatures by several degrees in hot weather - carefully planned services would allow more street area to be used for tree planting etc.

cloudwalker Thu 19-Mar-09 17:40:59

I'm going to be attending the G20 summit as a freelance press photographer, (I'm working it for some agencies and a daily newspaper). Are there any specific shots that you're after? I might be able to help you out.

oopsagain Thu 19-Mar-09 18:08:59

sorry, not SEAT shops sweat shops

{worries that i'll get world of leather into trouble... but actaully if i do- they ahd it coming]

And also -i'm sorry abut your grany, that must be tough sad

KayHarkerIsPlayingWithMitchell Thu 19-Mar-09 18:16:17

Seconding Rhubarb's excellent post about China.

stuffitllama Thu 19-Mar-09 18:37:09

Good luck PW.

I feel so cynical about it all. Same old same old. Can you try to give us a feel of hmm what do I want to say.. of whether you gain any sense of hope, rather than a lot of suits talking the talk without much intention of walking the walk.

Also -- to what degree it's possible for a bystander to pick up of deep background corporate lobbying.. for example when it comes to GM food and so on.

I will be very interested in the vibes you get yourself much of the rest of it will be in the public domain.

Thank you my dear.

longwayfromhome Thu 19-Mar-09 18:49:53

Cristina (president of Argentina) is quite glamorous and should be in London for the G20 if the blog is going to include a fashion section.

Do you get a chance to ask questions? I would probably second suggestions to choose quite simple issues - maybe related to maternal and child health (ArcticLemmings suggestion about maternal mortality or obstetric fistula sound pretty good to me) that will be relevant for all the countries participating.

Cervical cancer screening is another area that might get some interesting responses from different perspectives.

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 20:04:57


I've started collating stuff posted on this thread under various headings.

Looking into maternal and newborn health (MHN: welcome to abbreviation city) - if you look at the link HelenMNHQ posted last night, it turns out that Sarah Brown is Global Patron of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood

That could work in our favour, right? Gordy is a decent sort when it comes to development issues, and the press likes Sarah (a bit)

Wonder whether we could persuade her to meet us?

Stop me if I seem to be getting maniacal and swivel-eyed.

You are officially a delegate -- ask!

Oh, and be sure and ask her if it annoys her when he does that thing when he pokes his tongue in his mouth when he finishes a sentence... hmm

Spidermama Thu 19-Mar-09 21:07:21

The government says it plans to slash carbon use by 80% over the next, whatever it is. FAB! How brave.

BUT it's all talk. How can a new coal fired station at Kingsnorth and the expansion of our airways possibly fit in to such a claim?

Ask him if he has seen the film The Age Of Stupid and whether he intends to see it.

gok Thu 19-Mar-09 21:15:49

Policywonk: Remember its the first day of spring tomorrow so take your flask and all of your notes in your summer bag.

<exits with a twirl>

Rhubarb Thu 19-Mar-09 22:13:53

And eat beans beforehand. Then you can do really smelly farts and look disapprovingly at the bigwigs, shaking your head.

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 22:30:11

Do you know, I did actually spend some time today wondering what bag to take. <kicks self hard>

Still stuck on MHN. Lots of stuff on that White Ribbon site.

There's a very good fact sheet here from a US campaign called 'Mothers Day Every Day'.

*A woman dies from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes every minute of every day
*Childbirth is the leading killer of young women worldwide
*Infants of mothers who do not survive the delivery are more likely to die within two years
*When a mother dies, enrolment in school for younger children is delayed and older children often leave school to support their family.
*Children without a mother are less likely to be immunized, and are more likely to suffer from malnutrition and stunted growth. The implications for girls tend to be even greater.

Millennium Development Goal #5 is to reduce maternal mortality rates by 75 per cent by 2015. And guess what? It's the MDG that has seen the least progress in the last decade. Global maternal mortality decreased by less than 1 per cent between 1990 and 2005.

The interventions that are needed are relatively low-tech and inexpensive: trained birth attendants/midwives at the local level, and obstetric care for emergencies. In Sri Lanka, maternal mortality was halved within one decade by introducing such measures.

Basically, from what I can make out, DFID has a fairly good record in this area; the country that needs to take a big lead is (inevitably) the USA. Its funding for maternal health programmes has consistently declined.

Essentially, the aim is to secure $3.9 billion per year for the next ten years (based on a World Health Organization estimate). This would enable significant progress towards providing universal access to maternal and newborn care.

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 22:34:09


(in an effort to break up my enormo-post)

what are we pushing for?

Assuming we get some sort of access to an American at some point, are we going to ask them what sort of budgetary commitment they would be prepared to make? (Of course we'll get fobbed off, but...)

And how such funding should be ring-fenced?

I'm going to ask MNHQ what they think about contacting Sarah Brown - seems only fair as we'd be using the MN brand.

ArcticLemming what do you think? What should we ask for?

In a way, the more specific our goal, themore likely we are to make progress - yes?

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 22:42:25


Bob Geldof's number
Argentinian President's views on the Boden spring/summer catalogue (is the new Fun Skirt just too much fun?)

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 22:44:40

'They've all gone, Percy.'

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 22:51:12


good list

FGM. Fuck. What should we ask? Does it take place at a significant level in any of the delegate countries? I'm guessing not but could be wrong.

If not, we're up against a dreaded 'cultural' issue.

What action should a civilised government take on FGM?

Export processing zones: that sounds very interesting. I know nothing about it. Could you post some sort of digest and an idea of what action you think ought to be taken?

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 23:02:23

Wow, MT. I gotta say that seems like an eccentric post to me. I could argue with you about it all night but this isn't about what I think I guess <grrrr>

So let's throw it open to the board! Yes I know I sound like David Brent. If there are other people on here who mistrust the information we're being given about climate change, and they want to post here to let me know about it, then we'll try to come up with something.

Your point about resource distribution is interesting, but you know there's no one central body that is directing resources to deal with climate change. There are just individual governments, local and national, making a bloody big hash of things. You say conspiracy, I say cock-up.

The suggestion about having a central source of unspun information... I just don't see how that would work. I don't believe it's possible to present information in an entirely bias-free way.

Erm, sorry if this reads like pissing on your chips. It is genuinely interesting to read other points of view.

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 23:13:38


As far as I can make out, there's no one big successor to Kyoto: there's just an ongoing process of negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. There seems to be a meeting every year. The next big one will be in Copenhagen in December.

I guess the simple question to ask of the US would be: are there any plans to ratify the Kyoto Treaty? (The US has signed it but never ratified it.)

The US has always insisted that it will accept binding targets only when such targets are also applied to developing nations, and particularly to China. Obama seems to have said that he will accept binding targets, but I'm not sure whether that's conditional on China having binding targets too. Maybe that's what we need to ask?

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 23:21:41

100x I've been waiting for someone to mention Nestle - you're the first!

As I understand it, the difficulty lies in getting the Code enforced. It's not law in most countries (although it is backed up by legislation in the UK). Campaigners seem to be targeting the WHO and UNICEF to enforce it.

I can't quite see how we would shoehorn this one in to a governmental conference, though I'm open to suggestions.

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 23:27:28

Hi Maiakins

Good point about ring-fencing funds for education/health

Is it really the case that we just hand over the money to governments with no say in how it's spent? Doesn't quite a lot go to development orgs/NGOs on the ground?

Would you say that more should be done to ensure that the funds go where they're suppose to go?

This is an interesting issue - on the one hand, lots of people are rightly concerned about rampant corruption/kleptocracies. On the other hand, it's infantilising to say 'here's some cash, but we're going to tell you exactly how to spend every last penny of it.'

I don't know much about this issue though so would love any insights or more informed opinions.

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 23:31:35

Hi oops and thanks for the vote of confidence grin

I know the article you mean - it was GlaxoSmithKline. You're right, haven't heard anything since.

Interesting issue, but again, how to address it at governmental level? Maybe governments should give incentives to drug companies to follow suit?

What question would we ask?

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 23:33:16

Hello wilf. Yes, absolutely.

'Mr Brown, do you agree with mumsnetters that we should tax the rich until the pips squeak?'

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 23:35:48

Habb will look at that COPD link

MT - animal dung is a common fuel for indoor cooking fires in developing countries and its effects on air quality are particularly awful (edited an article about it once and it's stuck in my head ever since).

Policy, I think the question should go something like this:

"President Obama stated in his inaugural address that the American way of life won't be changed. Was this in reference to: a) terrorism b) the environment c) his choice of puppies in the White House hmm"

Also, is it right that countries such as Australia per the Kyoto Protocol, have increased their carbon emissions as a target, or should countries attempt to reduce as a target?

Lastly, should environmental crimes be prosecuted as criminal?

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 23:46:48

Right then Rhubarb - determined to cause an international incident as ever grin

My understanding of the Zimbabwe situation is that it has been firmly handed to the African nations to deal with. Handily, South Africa and the African Union will both be represented at the Summit, so if we get some access to them we can ask them something about it. Basically, Mugabe is just about power-sharing with the MDC now, but obviously the country is falling apart and everyone's waiting for Mugabe to die, I think.

Anyway, what question do you think we should ask?

China - quite agree with you in principle. I think the answer to 'What are they going to do about it' would probably be 'Our economy is growing like a runaway train and all of these problems will be solved in the medium-to-long term'.

If you can get me some links to specific info. about the orphanages (oh God that's going to be upsetting isn't it) then maybe that would be a good one?

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 23:48:30

Crikey ILove, you startled me there grin

Good point about what he said in the inaugural address - could definitely work that one in.

policywonk Thu 19-Mar-09 23:52:01

Hello Bramshott and thanks

I must admit I've stared at that list of blogger categories and I can't imagine which one I'm supposed to fall into. I'm waiting to find out who the others are so that I can locate myself a bit more. Because it's all about meeeeee

Or you could just ask about Aretha's hat smile

Apparently the Smithsonian Museum asked for Michelle Obama's dress, and the children's dresses; to have on display for historical purposes.

And Aretha Franklin was asked for her hat. Rumor has it that she said, 'no' on the basis that she, as an African/American wanted to look at that hat every day as it was a reminder of how far the African/American people have progressed... grin grin

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 00:04:52

OK folks

Can anyone find me a contact email for Sarah Brown? Don't want to go through the Downing St site really, it would probably take ages to get through to her and we don't have long.

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 00:05:49

Aretha's not a woman to argue with, is she?

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 00:11:55

Thank you mistlethrush, that's interesting.

cloudwalker - don't know whether Justine and co have any budget for photos. I was planning on bringing my own camera to take snaps to post on the blog. But if you want to meet up while you're there, feel free to email me -

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 00:14:39

Hello stuffit - I'm quite cynical myself. I'm sure most of the business done will be about the West's economic crisis - everything else will be firmly sidelined I expect.

I will try my best to convey some of the atmosphere.

Deep corporate lobbying sounds interesting - do you know much about it/any links?

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 00:18:26

Hello spider - good point.

I don't know much about the Kingsnorth issue. Is it a carbon capture scheme? Doesn't the government claim that it will help the UK to achieve its carbon reduction targets? I'm not saying that the government is correct - just that we want to ask questions that don't allow room for stock responses.

Can anyone fill me in?

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 00:19:44

Hey, look at that! I've finished my homework.

Contact for Sarah Brown pleeeeease. C'mon, this site is stuffed with journos.

Lemontart Fri 20-Mar-09 09:02:28

sorry no personal mobile numbers for Obama, Sarah Brown or Terry Wogan but just a quick (and unhelpful) post to say:

1) Good Luck and hope you really enjoy it.
2) Don’t worry too much on the general issues everyone will be reporting/blogging etc and try to focus on the "mumsnet" angle and soaking up the nuances and atmosphere - much more interesting and revealing than the bleated standard statements the pollys usually spout.
3)Take plenty of photos if you are allowed grin
4)Totally agree that a lot of it is likely to be about the same few statements "fiscal stimulus" "not our fault, it is a global downturn" and "safely steering us through difficult times" but hope that the smaller talk sessions and the informal discussions might give you the opportunity to draw them away from the bigger, vaguer topics and onto more specific issues
5) Did I say have fun?

Really excited for you!

ArcticLemming Fri 20-Mar-09 09:11:18

Hi PolicyWonk. Thanks for picking up the MNH think - and yes, the N is really important - I should have said. The White Ribbon Alliance are excellent on advocacy - would certainly be worth contacting them so you could maybe hitch your star to their wagon. Email for Katy Woods at the UK office is kwoods at whiteribbonalliance dot org
If you said you had access to the Mumsnet millions I'm sure they'd be interested to hear from you. They're very busy at the moment with the "million mums" campaign so may take a few days to get back to you.
As you rightly say, Sarah Brown is their patron, and in fact is very active in the global safe motherhood movement (both in that capacity and more independantly). She's knowledgeable and committed on the issue. I'm afraid I don't have her contact details though.
Best wishes
In terms of what to ask for - greater commitment to, and more funding for MNH. However, to maximise effectiveness this will require a review of funding strategies and the developement of innovative funding channels, where, for instance, different donor countries can pool resources for individual countries or regions.

There also needs to be concensus on the central importance of skilled attendance at delivery. Many countries continue with traditional birth attendant training, but there is unfortunately no real evidence of effectiveness. What's needed is a strong midwifery profession with skills to manage normal deliveries and identify complications, supported by inpatient facilities to deal with emergencies (e.g. c sections, blood transfusions).

Cost is a huge issue - services need to be affordable to all (which in many countries will mean free at point of use).

Other areas that are worth considering (which will also indirectly reduce maternal mortality) are increased access to contraception, and development and enforcement of legislation on age of marriage (in some countries marriage in girls under 15 is common, and they have massive risk of mortality if they give birth). There is also a very strong like with female education - educated women tend to have babies later, and make better use of services.

Sorry for the epic! Do let me know if you want any more info.

ArcticLemming Fri 20-Mar-09 09:48:19

errr.. a random "best wishes" appears to have arrived in the middle of the text....

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 09:50:53

Hi Lemontart - thanks grin

My head is still spinning and I am WILDLY over-excited so I freely admit that my plans are probably grandiose in the extreme.

One of the reasons I'm asking for information on all of these different issues is so that I can feel thoroughly prepared. I don't imagine I'll get a chance to raise every single one of them - or possibly even most of them - but at the moment I just don't have the faintest idea how this thing is going to work, or which issues are likely to come up. So I want the security of feeling that I've got some reliable info at my fingertips about the major issues, just in case.

I'm sure you're right that the really interesting stuff will take place at the low-key sessions. I'm guessing that the more junior the person we speak to, the more likely we are to have an interesting conversation!

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 09:53:27

Arctic that is great, thanks. I have emailed Katy Woods. If you know her, you might like to contact her to explain that she's going to be getting a slightly random email from a mumsnetter.grin

That info is brilliant. I'm off out for a walk in the sunshine but I will sit down and go through it properly later on.

And best wishes to you too.

Threadworm Fri 20-Mar-09 10:20:17

I like this article on the felt need for international/global regulation of banking.

When the credit crunch first hit, it seemed like a massive step back for globalisation of financial systems -- because an internationalist banking system was having to be bailed out and consequently (more tightly) controlled by national governments. ( "global banks are global in life, but national in death".) States seemed important again.

But over the last few weeks it has become evident that national controls are so inadequate to the task that future banking regulation will have to be undertaken internationally -- by the IMF.

So the failure of international finance will have done as much as its success to undermine the sovereignty of the nation state.

Do global institutions like G20 make individual people stronger or weaker? Do they make national citizens more powerful by allowing their elected governments to tackle international issues in partnership? Or are they an acknowledgement that nations -- and national electorates -- are feeble?

OhBling Fri 20-Mar-09 11:21:47

Policy- the press office at 10 Downing Street should be geared up to handle this kind of query. I would call them as I would imagine that Sarah Brown's standard approach would be to direct any queries to her directly back to the press office - I cannot imagine that there's an open chatty dialogue between her and any journalist who calls.

<possibly teaching you to suck eggs but...> when you call them, emphasise what you're writing about, why it's of interest to her, who (and how big) your audience is and then, of course, the tight timeline. If MN has PR people, they might also be able to help out.

OhBling Fri 20-Mar-09 11:27:14

Oh, and on Zimbabwe, I'd like to know why they all think it's Africa's problem - no one thought Iraq was the broader ME's problem! I'm tired of SA being blamed for Zimbabwe and would like to know what the rest of the world is planning to do or really think.

[on a lighter note, can you ask some questions about what the male partners of female delegates will be doing during the summit? I am always fascinated as the lady partners of the men always seem to be off looking at houses or whatever but what happens to the husbands?]

Oliveoil Fri 20-Mar-09 13:25:13

I have just returned from a BBQ at my neighbours house in sunny Oz.

He has built himself a woodfired pizza oven and I have partaken (if that is a word) of several bluecheese, garlic mushroom and rocket pizzas

How many dolphins/climate change doodars/ozone layers have I put at risk?


Rhubarb Fri 20-Mar-09 13:33:36

Policywonk, on the issue of China, here are some links for you to look at.

Good Rock

British Medical Journal

BBC In this one, dated Sept 2007, the Chinese government have rejected calls for them to relax the one-child policy and have even declared it a success!

Rhubarb Fri 20-Mar-09 13:48:36

Oh and on the subject of Zimbabwe, could you ask what they are doing to help Aid agencies struggling to deliver aid to these countries.

And now that some of the banks are state-owned, will they stop them financing Mugabe's regime, like Barclays were doing?

OhBling Fri 20-Mar-09 13:53:10

Rhubarb - I have just purchased "Dead Aid" by Dambisa Moyo. Apparently a very interesting take on the ineffectiveness of traditional aid to Africa. I am planning to make a start on it this weekend. You might also find it interesting.

Rhubarb Fri 20-Mar-09 13:54:49

Cheers, will give it a go!

Monkeytrousers1 Fri 20-Mar-09 16:50:34

Um, I didn't say conspiracy! I don't think there is a conspiracy, just a possible ineptness. Though people do mistrust Rupert Murdoch, but strangely not the media he controls...odd. But I digress!

I just mean people are not being given equal opportunity to examine other hypotheses in the media - the fact you think my post eccentric (deviating from the norm?) might simply demonstrate this, I dunno. Its my expereince that people don;t know why many countried were not supporters of the Kyoto protocol, and were given the impression in the press that objections were from the nutty David Belamy brigade only - this isn't an accurate representation at all. Because if this, we are affectily disemopowered from making informed choices. I'm not promoting any freaky conspiracy just highlighting a discrepancy with the flow of information and yes, maybe saying, it isn;t impartial all of the time. It shouldn't be a suprise that this happens when so much money is involved - it would be very unusual for corrunption not to be attempted somewhere. I wopuld just like to see some skeptical (read, not cynical, do not preempt the answers) questions asked. So much is at stake here especially for people living in flood zones that they need more practical help than Kyoto would offer. Kyoto more and moire seems like an abstract discouyrse to salve werstern guilty conscioulsnesses - but again, I dunno. I'm just asking questions about the information that we are being fed.

The Al Gore scenario is interesting indeed. I will dig ourt some stuff for you to read if you want. You don;t have to agree with it, but it will serve you and us better if yoiu know both sides of the debate??

Monkeytrousers1 Fri 20-Mar-09 16:58:33

Re animal dung - (sorry, but just playing devils advocate again) - what are women supposed to use other than dung, which is a freely available and recyclable resourse for them? Why do women in developing copuntries who have hard lives already have to worry about air pollution? Yes, I know it might not be great for their immediate environments, but if it's a question of trade offs (which everything is) providing your family with food and warmth from sustainable local resources must be the priority. mustn't it? Humans have been burning dung for energy for millenia. If we are worried about the respiratoiry health of developing countries, shouldn't we be targeting British and American Tobacco rather than women simply tyring to survive?

MT - animal dung is a common fuel for indoor cooking fires in developing countries and its effects on air quality are particularly awful (edited an article about it once and it's stuck in my head ever since).

aviatrix Fri 20-Mar-09 17:07:35

Well done PW, glad that you are doing this - you will be brilliant.

So Gordon Brown won't say sorry for the credit crunch because it did not originate here and no-one saw it coming. If one accepts that, will he be saying sorry in years to come for the havoc wreaked by climate change? Because in this case everyone sees it coming so he has no excuse not to act a bloody sight more decisively than he is now.

Yes we need a global concensus, but that should not stop countries, particularly rich ones, leading the way.

Oh, and remind me, what was the justification for the third runway?

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 17:18:09

Thank you for that link thready. I like your last paragraph a lot.

Thanks also for that advice OhBling - I'll try it tomorrow.

Re. Zimbabwe - I see the point you're making. What's the alternative though - sending in UN troops to force Mugabe out?

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 17:20:10

Yes, good point about the husbands grin

I must say I think Dambisa Moyo's argument is extremely strange (but I've only read a potted version of it). I'm sure it will come up at the discussions.

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 17:21:50

Thanks for those links Rhubarb, will have a look later.

Good question about the banks and Zimbabwe - does anyone know the extent of international banks' involvement in the regime?

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 17:26:40

MT, sorry for misinterpreting the conspiracy aspect. Can you give a precis of the Lomberg arguments? I'm pushed for time and I'm not going to be able to read whole books.

Re. the dung - it's not about penalising the women for using it (as you say, it's a perfectly sensible and sustainable resource) - it's about the fact that it tends to have disastrous consequences for the respiratory health of the women and children in the home. So the idea is (I guess - haven't looked at Habb's link yet) to provide alternative fuel sources, or alternative cooking areas, that won't have such terrible health effects.

policywonk Fri 20-Mar-09 17:28:34

Thank you avi grin and good question about the apology!

OhBling Fri 20-Mar-09 17:33:12

Well, I'm not anti troops in Zim grin

But more seriously, on a personal level, I'm interested in why they see Zim as Africa's problem vs Iraq being a global problem. I concede that possibly I am losing sight of the bigger picture but it makes no sense to me and I feel if I could understand that I might better understand the decision making process re International Relations.

I haven't read Dambisa's book yet but I assume the point is that Aid doesn't really get to where it needs to nor does it address the fundemental issue that led to the need for aid in the first place. It's all very well to provide medical care today, but what are you doing about improving understanding of health overall? Or I guess - give someone a fish and you feed them for a day but give them a net and you feed them for life? I would be interested if it came up but I am not sure it would right now?

And thanks on the husbands! wink

Monkeytrousers1 Fri 20-Mar-09 20:58:30

PW, here is the sleeve notes on Lomborg's most recent book 'Cool It', which gives a better precis than I could give;

"Bjorn Lomborg argues than many of the elaborate and expensive actions now being considered t stop global warming will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, are often based on emotional rather than strictly scientific assumptions, and may very well have little impact on the world's temperature for hundreds of years.

"Rather than starting with the most radical procedures, (he) argues that we should first focus our resources on more immediate concerns, such as fighting malaria and HIV/AIDS and assuring and maintaining a safe, fresh water supply - which can be addressed at a fraction of the cost and save millions of lives within our lifetime. He asks why the dabate over climate change has stifled rational dialogue and killed meaningful dissent."

He has written his own precis in Comment os Free,

It really is worth looking at the sensible counter arguments in this as so much is at stake. As well as Cool It there is also an interesing little book called ( Billion to make the world a better place

As far as Al Gore is concerned, he is fast becoming known as a charlaton who is simply jumping on the best band wagon to keep his profile (and earnings up). As a lefty liberal, I was as shocked as anyone to discover this.

Monkeytrousers1 Fri 20-Mar-09 22:44:38

God (tho obvioulsy I am skeptcal (not cynical) about god, I hope I haven't killed a sticky thread!

GLaDOS Sun 22-Mar-09 16:56:35

Where is everyone? Are you all reading Bjorn Lomborg?

policywonk Mon 23-Mar-09 09:51:59

I think I might have bludgeoned the thread into submission by my schoolmarmishness blush

Thanks for those links MT, I will have a read.

I think I might try to get some of the anti-capitalist protestors to put forward their POV on the blog. These are the questions I thought I might ask - anyone have any comments or suggestions?

** Can you envisage any circumstances in which some good would come of the G20 summit?

** What is your opinion of organisations, like Oxfam and Greenpeace, which proceed on the assumption that lobbying delegates at such summits might have some purpose?

** What do you hope to achieve with the protests you have organised around the summit?

** Some people are saying that the anti-capitalist protest movement is making a comeback after several years in which its activities were largely unreported. Have you noticed an increase in the number of people becoming active in the movement over the last year or so?

** Do organisations like Schnews have a codified belief system or set of objectives to which its activists subscribe, or does each activist have his/her own set of beliefs and objectives? Are there any aims around which most activists coalesce? Would it be correct to characterise the anti-globalisation movement, broadly speaking, as anarchist – or are you creating a new political philosophy?

** If the aim of your movement is, essentially, the overthrow of capitalism, do you accept that the achievement of this aim would result in short-to-medium term chaos in the G20 countries (accepting that chaos, impoverishment and starvation are already the order of the day in the majority world)? Do you believe that such a correction is both necessary and inevitable? And if so, can you envisage any circumstances in which the populations of the G20 countries could be persuaded to sign up to the anti-capitalist programme voluntarily?

GLaDOS Mon 23-Mar-09 11:39:45

Oh, that last one sounds like the 'you have to break eggs to make an omelette' argument. Which basically translates to 'people will have to die if our cause is to succeed' - the tyrants charter! <shudder>

policywonk Mon 23-Mar-09 12:02:14

Yes, I think some of them do think like that. OTOH, you could say that people are dying all over the world at the moment because of the way the current system 'works' (or doesn't work)... and runaway climate change, if it's allowed to continue, will kill millions more.

Anyway I'm interested to see what they'll say, if they respond at all.

justaboutback Mon 23-Mar-09 13:58:57

Oh, this is excellent stuff PW, keep going.

Bramshott Mon 23-Mar-09 14:34:54

One thing I was mulling over last night was the question of why / how it is that now that the war in Afghanistan is going badly, suddenly all the talk is of 'dialogue' with the Taliban, despite their appalling record on womens rights and the closing down of girls schools etc. I mean, either they are an evil regime deserving of regime change, or they're not, surely, they can't be one thing in 2001, and a totally different one today (given that their beliefs and ethos have not changed at all).

Policy - that's not a question for you to 'answer' (!), more a general musing for the thread!

GLaDOS Mon 23-Mar-09 17:28:29

Hmm. Actually this is one of the main issues - over stating the nagative effects. Climate change will also save many lifes from cold deaths. It's in all the Lomborg stuff.

And it's very a different thing to introduce measures, like the welfare state, and analysie pros and cons, and what is working and not working, than indtocucing 'revolutionary' chganges that are from the off, guarenteed to bring huge loses. That's why marxism, communism, etc always brought totalitariansm whereever they were implicated. Ideologies should never go before people.

policywonk Mon 23-Mar-09 17:38:40

grin is that you, MT?

Good point, Bramshott.

I like the questions for the anti capitalists...I'd be interested to know how exactly capitalism can be dismantled (or whatever verb they use) in, it's clear (to me) that current system is hugely damaging and I can envisage, just about, some more localised, sustainable, just economy...but how to get from here to there?
I mean, what are the steps???

GLaDOS Mon 23-Mar-09 19:52:07

Doh! Has my spelling given me away!

Opps I mean, no, I am GLaDOS; Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System grin

Another point though that might be relevent - there is little point fighting global warming if people aren't prepared to fight for their way of life per se, meaning fighting for the presevation of liberal democracy.

The thing is, these other systems have been tried and have all lead to untold corruption, tyranny and mass slaughter. Liberal democracy is not perfect by any means, but by god we enjoy a better standard of living than has ever been achieved in history.

Maybe we have been so lucky that we forget what politics is for - that we have mortal enemies in the world who don't care if we sympathise with their aims. They want us gone basically.

I don't want to do deals with despots. I want my son to grow up in liberal democracy, in reletive stablity compared to the rest of the world. I don;t want him to be oppressed by anyone, especially anti-capitalists!

GLaDOS Mon 23-Mar-09 19:57:49

but by god we enjoy a better standard of living than has ever been achieved in history without the tyranny, I should have added

mmm but what is meant by 'standard of living'?
increased affluence has simply lead to more junk, not more happiness or health. And that affluence is bought at a huge price, which we're not paying.

GLaDOS Tue 24-Mar-09 20:45:49

What do you mean by 'junk'?

And not more health? Do you know how mush more the average life span is today than it was even 100 years ago?

There are always costs. Life is not cost free. I would rather juggle with the costs and balances of liberal democracy - which, as it happens, is not a static entity and so is not an 'ideology' - than having those costs dictaed to me for the good of..what..Oceania? No thanks.

By junk I mean things like 100 different types of washing powder...frozen mashed potato...'pentapeptides' for your hair/skin or whatever....hard to know what to pick really.
If you look at increase in life span over last 50 years rather than last 100, you see a different story. Yes, life span improved by improved sanitation, improved diet and vaccination. Once those improvements are in place (and these are the improvements that everyone is entitled to, IMO) there isn't much more gained by the increased affluence, for the majority of the population. Rather we start to kill ourselves by over eating, smoking, drinking too much and not taking enough exercise.
So, to get back to the G20, while I do value living in a democracy, I don't think capitalism is either necessary for democracy or an efficient way of acheiving well being for all. It's just chance that I'm born here, why shouldn't everyone have clean water, enough food, education, a midwife etc?

GLaDOS Tue 24-Mar-09 22:51:33

Do you really think a made up marketing ploy like pentapeptides is a threat to anyone?

Take your pick? Only if you are determined to see the worst on everything. I am on the side of people and politics any day. Never ideologies or 'anarchists'.

Great that you value living in democracy. Look at the small print in the Socialist Worker however. They are after revolutiuon not efficiancy or humanitarian reorganisation. Back to breaking eggs to make omelettes..

policywonk Wed 25-Mar-09 14:40:44

I do think liberal democracy is the worst government system, except for all the others (ta, Winston). I absolutely believe that there's never been a better time or place to be a woman that in developed nations in 2009 (despite the fact that we still have a long way to go to achieve true parity).

But nevertheless, something like one-third of the world's population lives in absolute poverty. Liberal democracy isn't doing much to change that.

What advanced capitalism (of the almost untrammelled sort practised in the UK and the US) and liberal democracy seem to do, in tandem, is to concentrate wealth (which is pretty much analagous to power) in ever-smaller groups of people. It also encourages levels of consumption that most people think are unsustainable.

And we have a huge moral problem, as MLE points out, in that we're enjoying all the benefits, and other people in the world are bearing most of the cost.

GLaDOS Wed 25-Mar-09 14:48:28

The worst? Than what?

Liberal democracy might eventually help poverty. Its certainly not a good idea for us to forsake our provledges (and hence our responsiblites) becasue other people suffer in the world. What kind of self hatred is that?

policywonk Wed 25-Mar-09 14:51:49

No no no. The worst except for all the others. It's a famous Churchill quote, you ponce grin

Look, if you view the world's resources as finite (and I think you have to really, given the second law of thermodynamics), then it's absolutely logical to say that in order for people in absolute poverty to have more, obscenely over-indulged people in the West are going to have to make do with a little less. It's either that or pitilessly mine the Earth until every single resource is utterly extinguished, and then hope for a seat on the last spaceship out of here.

GLaDOS Wed 25-Mar-09 16:04:53

Doh! lol

GLaDOS Wed 25-Mar-09 16:06:07

PW, don't you remember my conspiracy theory from ages ago??? It had a spaceship in it!

policywonk Wed 25-Mar-09 17:50:12

Nooooo, don't remember the spaceship <settles back for some advanced craziness>

By the way folks (cos there are thousands of you reading this, aren't there?), I've set up an MN blog now for the G20 stuff. I'm going to put some links up on there to some of the people and sites that look interesting.

Just like to say that anyone who knew me in RL would now be ROFL at the thought of me and SW!
It is possible to critique the current state of affairs without proposing such crude solutions. That's why I'm interested in the anti capitalist stance, to see if they have an actual route map for getting out of this mess.
I don't think it's self hatred to be prepared to countenance a more modest life style. Current european consumption is only possible for everyone on the earth if we had 3 earths to live on....which we clearly don't...and I don't see what entitles us to more than our fair share.
That, plus climate change is the pressing problem.
that's all!
off to check out your blog, pw.

pointydog Wed 25-Mar-09 19:27:55

just seen this - good for you, wonks

policywonk Wed 25-Mar-09 19:45:40

Hello pointy. Ta. grin

Look at the blog, look at the blog... la la la

pointydog Wed 25-Mar-09 21:58:58

where is the blog?

(you don;t think I have read this whole thread, do you? )

policywonk Wed 25-Mar-09 22:21:24

In the MN blogs bit.

I wouldn't advise reading the whole thread tbh. Do let me know if you have a personal message for Barack though, as obv. I'm going to be spending a lot of time with him.

justaboutback Thu 26-Mar-09 10:08:09

Can you tell us if Barack's bum is really as cute as his face

(justabout recognises she has lowered the tone AGAIN)

morningpaper Thu 26-Mar-09 10:12:48
morningpaper Thu 26-Mar-09 10:14:08

someone needs to teach you to do LINKS on that blog of yours

policywonk Thu 26-Mar-09 10:15:51

YES PLEASE. Am total blog ingenue.

I think you'll find Barack's ass has already been, um, covered, justa.

Do you know, I don't fancy him. Should I see my GP?

morningpaper Thu 26-Mar-09 10:18:05

nah he's too young and skinny for me

policywonk Thu 26-Mar-09 10:22:09

Aren't you going to tell me how to do links, MP? <whimpers>

I was a bit stunned to find we moderate posts on our blogs. I'd got so used to MN's free-speakin' ways that I wasn't expecting it. Was rather expecting legions of people to leave me rude messages.

morningpaper Thu 26-Mar-09 10:24:56

trouble is, people will go on there offering you garden-gnome-goes-with-donkey porn so you have to moderate

I've forgotten how to do links blush

policywonk Thu 26-Mar-09 10:29:57

Well you've got to hand it to those donkey-porn people, at least they take an interest.

justaboutback Thu 26-Mar-09 10:42:09

This is not going to degenerate into a donkey porn thread I hope..

(glares at classroom)

policywonk Thu 26-Mar-09 13:48:39

Hey! We've been re-stickied!

Everyone look busy.

justaboutback Thu 26-Mar-09 17:09:43

No more donkey porn anyone, we're in the front row now

toddlerama Thu 26-Mar-09 19:48:29

I really, really want you to bring up the Nestle thing. Try and shoe horn it in with reference to the UN Declaration on Human Rights cos they've all signed it.

^Article 25.

* (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
* (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.^

Soooooo the govs that allow Nestle in to distribute have to pay to keep providing the milk in a particularly desperate interpretation of Art 25(2), or just not let them distribute in the first place.

A baby could fall into subsection 1 as possessing a lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control and therefore has a right to security re. food.

Anyway, if you want to bring it up, there is a signed declaration there to wave in faces stroppily.

Please, please, please do a comb over count.

toddlerama Thu 26-Mar-09 19:49:24

Sorry my italics didn't work. I don't know why.

policywonk Thu 26-Mar-09 19:52:45

Depressing story today that the US Congress is going to be reluctant to sign up to the climate change treaty due to be negotiated in Copenhagen towards the end of this year. It seems Obama's not prepared to risk too much political capital on it.

Some European countries had actually been hoping that the US would pass some carbon-reduction legislation before Copenhagen, but that's looking very unlikely now. US Democrats are more interested in passing legislation to promote alternative energy sources, but without any binding targets.

policywonk Thu 26-Mar-09 19:53:27

Oooh hello toddlerama. Will have a look.

policywonk Thu 26-Mar-09 19:55:14

(Italics - you have to put the chevrons either side of every single word you want to italicise - can't do it for big blocks of text unfortunately.)

Sputnik Thu 26-Mar-09 21:31:15

Congratulations on getting this job Policywonk, I look forward to reading the blog.

I would really like to know to what extent it's going to be business as usual at the summit in the light of recent economic upheavals, and how far the need for tighter regulation is going to be recognised.

And I can't read the discussion here of Bjorn Lomborg go without putting in my 2 pence worth: what really, really annoys me about his view is, why does it have to be an either/or argument? C02 emmissions need to be addressed now on all fronts, but why should that stop us from addressing malaria, AIDS, planning for relocation etc etc?

When you look at what has been spent on Iraq (to protect supplies of C02 producing fossil fuels) the resources required to properly fund research into clean energy, or burying C02, or, for that matter, mosquito nets to protect from malaria, look like peanuts. What is lacking is political will, and people like Lomborg only provide policy makers with another excuse not to address global warming.

Lomborg's work has also been found to be full of factual errors.

policywonk Thu 26-Mar-09 22:06:36

Thanks sputnik. I agree about either/or and political will.

I'm going to be away from the computer tomorrow but will be back to check the thread on Saturday.

noopska Sun 29-Mar-09 02:36:48

wanted to go demonstrate in london today but dp reluctant so got on with the washing up..

for a minute considered putting the dds in nursery on weds and heading to a 'street party' outside the bank of england instead of going to work..

accepted the fact that demonstating in person is not easy with two kids (i thought it was just dancing that was a thing of the past!)

read this thread (its 2.34am), feel better...nice one policy wonk - its great to know we have an insider!

think focus on maternal health is excellent btw love the potent combination of low and high brow issues

FiveGoMadInDorset Sun 29-Mar-09 16:02:51

Do we really need a third runway at HEathrow,in the light of the fact that routes are being cancelled and people are flying less.

Anifrangapani Sun 29-Mar-09 17:57:38

I don't know if it has been mentioned.... but farming subsidies screw up the developing economies.

Tinned tomatoes illistrate this point really well. European farmers are paid to produce more tomatoes than the local population need. The excess are shipped to poor countries at a knock down price, undermining the prices of local farmers so the economy stagnates. Food aid has a similar effect - making developing economies reliant on foreign aid hand outs. Several poor countries are now refusing food aid as in the long term it reduces their economic viability - making poverty more prevelent and long term.

However in the present economic climate it would be a very brave polititian who scrapped subsidies as it would harm the farmers who elected them. Much easier to dress it up as doing good and keep your electorate on side than acctually assist the developing world economies.

Jojojoy Sun 29-Mar-09 21:21:20

Hi Policywonk
congratulations on getting this official blogging role - am very pleased that there's going to be a female voice as a blogger at the summit as there's precious few amongst the politicians there

Loads of good ideas about what you should be looking out for already (environment, better consideration of maternity issues etc.) the thing that I'm interested in is what the role for women will be after all the headless-chicken crisis stuff is over.

Seems fairly obvious that the post crisis economy needs to be greener, but what about accepting the reality that happy people work better?
By that I mean work-life balance and realising that more-time-at-work-count-yourself-lucky-to-be-in-a-job approach might not actually be getting the best out of people?
In any case, some of us (with children, with parents that need care etc.) still have brains and skills and would love to use them, but find it hard to do so in traditional work patterns. I know too many mums who were professionals before they had kids but have had to take a much less professional and/or well paid job in order to be around for their kids.
What about more encouragement for business in making this a reality so that employing people with young children is less of a risk and the right to ask to work flexibly is not just answered with "no"?
Oh, and normalising fathers also taking time out to look after children might also make it easier for women and men to fulfil their potential at work, keep families together more, and therefore better for society in general?
Would love to know if anything like that will actually come up - keep us posted!

policywonk Sun 29-Mar-09 22:21:13

Thank you for these.

They want each of the bloggers to host a round table discussion on his/her 'area of expertise'. Heck. It seems the freakishly extended breastfeeding will be getting an airing after all.

policywonk Sun 29-Mar-09 22:34:26

They want me to set up RSS feeds and pipetubes. They've all been blogging for hundreds of years in between working for the World Bank and running successful campaigns to address global poverty or carbon capture. HELP

noopska Sun 29-Mar-09 22:50:35

deep breath

You will be brilliant
You are not alone
There is plenty of expertise amongst the mumsnetters i've been very impressed with all the info they've posted on this thread

you have to prioritise the issues you want on the agenda. have you got an idea of what you think you should focus on (as there are so many many issues)?

who is to be on this round table?
B.O. perhaps?

I'm interested in what countries make up the G20 (it may help with getting together some comparable statistics - ie infant mortality).

noopska Sun 29-Mar-09 22:52:13

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and also the European Union

policywonk Sun 29-Mar-09 23:03:07

Thank you noopska.

I am genuinely having a small anxiety episode - I just feel I haven't got the time to prepare for this properly.

Will just have to accept that I'm going to be the slightly foolish, capering generalist.

The round tables are only with the other bloggers (there are 50 of us) - but OMG some of them seem really impressive.

I think I will definitely lay most emphasis on the maternal and newborn health issue.

Would like to do something about education of girls, if anyone has anything about that...

I like gizmo's question about the use of sustainable energy sources in Africa

I want to find out what the US plans to do re.Kyoto/Copenhagen climate change treaties

Lots of people are concerned about China, so it will be interesting to see what we can achieve there

Lots of people concerned about the third Heathrow runway

erm... those are the things that I can remember off the top of my head - I will have a proper look through this thread the night before and try to make notes on everything.

Part of the problem is that we won't know who we're meeting (in terms of politicians/delegates) until the day itself, so there's a limit to the preparation we can do.

I'll have to run on here and bark 'MEXICO!' at you all and get you to tell me what to ask.

noopska Sun 29-Mar-09 23:47:49

this link illustrates importance of educating girls/women in rural africa

(the least we can do is surf on your behalf!)

policywonk Mon 30-Mar-09 11:11:29

Good site noopska - thank you

Bramshott Mon 30-Mar-09 13:13:17

Interesting article by Ruth Sunderland in yesterday's Observer about how the credit crunch is effecting women and girls in devloping countries: here

Don't worry PW - you will be fine! It is also fablously interesting for the rest of us if you go, and listen, and report back, without feeling you have to shout about loads of things and that you've somehow 'failed' if you haven't shouted about them!

Don't forget to count those comb-overs!

policywonk Mon 30-Mar-09 14:41:02

Thank you for that, Bramshott. Duncan Green (from Oxfam) is one of the other bloggers and he's been publicising that report on the blog site.

There's also a very powerfully-argued (but long grin) speech here about women's empowerment in developing countries - particularly wrt the interplay between education, economic empowerment and sexual/reproductive rights.

gizmo Mon 30-Mar-09 17:01:18

<Gizmo wakes up with guilty snort>

What? eh? Oh, PW, I promised you some bite sized bits of info then vanished without trace. That was not helpful. I'm sorry

Here, then, is a summary of the most well thought out plan for exploiting Africa's solar resource. If you look at the section marked 'status quo' it will give you, for about 10 minutes reading, a working understanding of the policy changes that need to happen.

If you want to go further on the subject of renewables in Africa this presentation is helpful in dividing up the territory by technical and market potential, and The Global energy revolution report has an interesting and specific suggestion in chapter 2 on a model that would support smaller scale, distributed generation in the developing world, while providing a disincentive to produce CO2 for the OECD countries.

And I am sure you will be terrific. I'm mightily excited by the idea of having an inside voice here!

gizmo Mon 30-Mar-09 17:08:24

Inside voice here?

What am I talking about...sounds like I have a small person in my intestines. I meant inside voice there

choc14 Mon 30-Mar-09 17:11:27

Hello Policywonk,

I wondered if you would like to come on BBC Radio Five Live to talk about your experiences at the G20 on Thursday. My colleague Jenny (we job share the role of politics producer at Five Live as we're both mums)will be at the summit and will be looking to speak to people with different perspectives. You can contact us direct on Tel 0207 973 6151 or by email Thanks, Alison, BBC Five Live

policywonk Mon 30-Mar-09 17:47:06

Aaaargh! The mothership is calling me home! (Big Five Live fan) Will email you.

gizmo, you are cutting it fine but you make up for it by being fantastic.grin Thanks.

Habbibu Mon 30-Mar-09 21:26:55

FiveLive? PW, I had you down as a right-thinking R4 woman.

<shakes head, scales fall from eyes>

Habbibu Mon 30-Mar-09 21:29:37

FWIW, there's a lot to be said for being a generalist in a room full of specialists - means you can listen and look for the bigger picture and connections - that's difficult as a specialist, as you can't help but here what rings bells for your own area.

And you have wonderful clarity of thought and expression - you'll be great.

policywonk Mon 30-Mar-09 23:20:43

Thank you habb, you're a darling. I suppose it could work to my advantage in some ways...

Radio 5 - I just love Simon Mayo's afternoon show (on its way out, it's rumoured sad). I used to spend hours listening to the sports coverage, but that was BC. Also, 100x and I have a childish game in which we try to get on Five Live phone-ins (to make perfectly sensible points, I should say in my own defence). You have to say that your name is Stephanie and that you come from a smallish town (mine is Northampton). (Don't read that bit, Alison.)

mimimyne Mon 30-Mar-09 23:45:58

Hi policywonk,

I may be too late for this, but yes indeed Fair Trade is globally recognised but doesn't cover the eco criteria, only welfare/pay of producers. For some people this may be enough but for me it's not as it doesn't cover issues like the exposure of workers to toxic chemicals and the degradation of the environment through their over use. As organic farming is usually more labour-intensive it does create more jobs for workers but not all organic cotton production (this is what I'm mainly talking about here) is Fair Trade. Ideally all production would be Fair Trade and organic, but that's a long way away.

Hassled Tue 31-Mar-09 17:30:24

At the risk of lowering the tone, the Guardian has done a handy feature:
Those key G20 questions answered.

policywonk Tue 31-Mar-09 20:16:29

Thank you for that, Hassled. I was thinking about carrying it about prominently at the summit in the hope that it would make me seem more credible grin

I've just received the Media Handbook for the summit. It says there'll be complimentary soup and sandwiches! This is fantastic news. Will post more details when I have them.

What is Michelle wearing? It's fabulous!

<sorry for being so superficial blush>

policywonk Tue 31-Mar-09 21:31:04

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