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.)

SO

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?

<clink>

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:

comb-overs
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

grin

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?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now