Bicnod's going to the G8 for you lot - come and post your thoughts, questions, ideas

(117 Posts)
Bicnod Thu 13-Jun-13 14:07:28

Right, so I'm off to the G8 Summit on Sunday representing YOU LOT as part of the IF Campaign. This is a Very Scary Thing.

Original thread here - I was chosen because I am extremely clever and interesting, and not just because Justine picked my name out of a hat <ahem>

I'll be there as part of the IF@G8 bloggers project - see here for mugshots - I'm the one at the bottom hugging a random child. I'm slightly unnerved by the blogging prowess of the others <faints>

The main point of the IF campaign is that there is enough food in the world for everyone, but not everyone has enough food. One in eight people go to bed hungry every night and over three million children die each year through malnutrition.

I think we're all agreed that this is not on.

IF the G8 leaders act now to increase aid, clamp down on tax dodgers, support small scale farmers and stop land grabs, then 2013 could be the beginning of the end for global hunger. More info on all the ishoos here

So what do you lot think? What do you want me to say to the G8 leaders if I get the chance? Are we still interested in biscuits or have we moved on? I can't remember if we ever got an answer from DC on that point.

Any opinions, questions, stories, general musings welcome.

I love MN by the way - I've been here since 2008. I first posted (different username) while on a work trip to Ethiopia. I found out I was pregnant with DS1 on the day I flew and needed some reassurance - I got it and have been here ever since.

I want to do you all proud so please pile in.


Solo Thu 13-Jun-13 16:52:12

Erm...good luck!

My small contribution to the IF campaign at Dd's school was to say that if every human in the country/western world gave just 1 penny, then there would be a lot of money to help the cause. I guess a £ each would be even better.

BIWI Thu 13-Jun-13 16:53:59

Nothing specific at the moment comes into my head, but I wanted to say bloody well done for being prepared to do this, and really good luck. I'm sure you'll do a brilliant job!

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 13-Jun-13 17:35:45

Thanks Bicnod for doing this!

IIRC most of the questions when I did the G20 were about Michelle Obama's arms <misty memories>

So - can you give us a rundown of which leaders are attending and what their spouses' arms are like

liveotherwise Thu 13-Jun-13 17:51:20

Hey there!

Fabulous stuff. Could you ask about transparency? How do we know that aid is actually going to the people it's supposed to help, and not just shuttling off into the pockets of corrupt officials, or companies who are doing their own thing. (This was brought up at the BigIF event by two campaigners from Tanzania and Congo, so I'm not just being paranoid and all that, though I can do that too ;) )

I wrote about that meeting but can't remember whether I'm allowed to link to my blogpost here or not? Doh.


RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 13-Jun-13 18:33:21


I wrote about that meeting but can't remember whether I'm allowed to link to my blogpost here or not? Doh.

We've checked and you're a lovely paid-up MN Blogger so yes, do feel free!

YoniMatopoeia Thu 13-Jun-13 19:16:11

Good luck bicnod. I don't have anything specific to add to the IF campaign, though I love the idea of something being done about tax havens.

taczilla Thu 13-Jun-13 19:55:01

Nothing of importance to add but this is my home town and it is very friendly and in a lovely part of the world. So my advice is make sure you visit Blakes pub and all will be well.
Have a really good time.

BerylStreep Thu 13-Jun-13 21:23:25

I think this is a great effort, but I really worry about it being overshadowed by violent protests rather than getting message across.

I know the event in Botanic Gardens, Belfast is being billed as a faith based family event, but I certainly wouldn't be bringing my family anywhere near it. It's a shame.

Bicnod Thu 13-Jun-13 21:24:03

Right, screamy DS2 finally asleep - I think he knows my mind is elsewhere [frazzled emoticon]

And breathe.

Thanks for the good luck smile I'll need it in spades

@RowanMumsnet - the core G8 member states and representative leaders are:

UK - PM David Cameron
USA - President Barack Obama
France - President Francoise Hollande
Germany - Chancellor Angela Merkel
Italy - PM Enrico Letta
Japan - PM Shinzo Abe
Canada - PM Stephen Harper
Russia - President Vladimir Putin

Here's a photo of them all arriving in Enniskillen for the Summit.

BTW a quick google image search reveals that Michelle Obama still wins on the arm front.

@liveotherwise - I was at the BigIF too smile

How can we be sure that aid reaches those who need it is a really good question <gets out pen and adds to list>

Transparency is one of the issues the IF Campaign is pushing the G8 for action on. They want governments and big companies to be more open and honest about the deals they make that impact on hunger - see here - but I don't think this quite answers your question.

I remember seeing a pretty good response on a Q&A recently so will have a dig around and see if I can find it.

@YoniMatopoeia - yes yes to something being done about tax havens. Have you seen this?

I'm very happy to shout loudly on behalf of MN and myself that the G8 need to clamp down on tax dodgers. I can't believe some of the stories I've read recently while in a state of panic that I know nothing where poor market traders in developing countries are paying MORE tax than big multinationals operating in the same town. Outrageous.

@taczilla - thanks for the tip grin

Bicnod Thu 13-Jun-13 21:31:51

X-posts BerylStreep

One of the other bloggers, Jack Monroe, wrote very eloquently about violent protest a couple of days ago - see here

LackaDAISYcal Thu 13-Jun-13 23:21:03

Nothing to add for you to raise as a global issue as I sadly know absolutely diddly squat about politics and even less about World politics, but wanted to wish you a very big MN best. You will be fine, I'm sure!

Oh, at a local level, why is it so difficult for supermarkets and food retailers tom give their surplus stock to charities? and if they can't give it away why are they so against people helping themselves to the stuff that is thrown away?

Surely an organisation set up to collate and distribute the "on it's date" stuff would make a huge difference to the World's hungry?

or is that incredibly naive? As I said, I don't really know enough about politics, to m,y shame blush

MmeLindor Fri 14-Jun-13 09:29:53

Bookmarking to come back and reply properly when I have time

johnworf Fri 14-Jun-13 09:38:54

Ask David Cameron why he isn't doing more about wealth inequality and in particular, those at the bottom being more and more less well off and driven into poverty. My suggestion is that large companies in UK should all put 5% of their net profit into a social fund for those who are struggling.

And well done Bicnod. Wish you luck and send hugs. smile

Salbertina Fri 14-Jun-13 09:42:32

Have PMed you, Bicnod! Good luck!

Salbertina Fri 14-Jun-13 09:47:46

Oh and agree re transparency being key objective. Corruption derails much aid effort. Keeping it local as far as possible also helps. Working with NGOs with local, frontline links so mother tongue communication and much lower overheads. Need to link to local/national gov tho (however corrupt) as access to distribution channels plus often provide crucial subsidies without which much activity would not be sustainable.

PennieLane Fri 14-Jun-13 09:57:44

Hello logging in, am currently in the country with limited reception but will give this some though.

I think the biggest thing is corporation tax and tax havens, if someone was done about this then the sums raised would more than be enough to lift those out of poverty, I think this is particularly important and something that leaders could engage with as although its a worldwide issue, this would also stamp out poverty in own countries as well.

liger Fri 14-Jun-13 09:59:42

Hi Biconod!

You're doing great! I hope you are less frazzled this morning! Hey we have something in common - I also realised I was pregnant with DS1 on a work trip to Ethiopia, how spooky is that! But mine was in 2005
BA lost my luggage, so I ended up running a workshop in the highlands in the one ( linen) outfit I travelled in - I had to wrap myself in blankets for dinner and breakfast !!

SacreBlue Fri 14-Jun-13 10:02:17

Hi Bicnod, thanks for the invite grin

You may find the pre conference interesting, it's on now but you can watch later too

I will have a think and come back in a bit smile

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 10:05:54

Morning lovely people smile

Just getting my head together and will read through thread and respond.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 10:14:53

@LackaDAISYcal - thanks for the MN best.

That reminds me, I need to work out what to wear <shallow>

Good point about supermarkets/food retailers giving surplus stock to charity. Will add it to the list. The IF Campaign is about stopping hunger worldwide, and that includes the UK, so very relevant.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 10:19:11

@johnworf hugs gratefully accepted <clings dramatically in state of panic>

When you say wealth inequality and those at the bottom being driven into poverty do you mean in the UK specifically?

liger Fri 14-Jun-13 10:24:57

The issue of transparency is tied up in issues of accountability and governance.

There are several different types of Aid.

When the uk government gives to NGO's it's very tightly monitored and funds move through systems that are in independant of the country where works take place. Any problem with funds being misused would be at the very local level and be small in the scheme of things. NGO's have lead the way in developing monitoring and evaluation techniques - many of which are now used across local government In the UK.

When the UK government gives to the UN it is also fairly rigorously monitored and separate from the government coffers in the recipient country. A separate question here would be the value of the enormous bureaucracy of the UN system in relation to the quality it offers in some areas if it work.

When the UK government gives aid money directly to another government in terms of a bilateral agreement ( where misapropiration of funds is more possible) you run into issues of accountability. The UK government are accountable to us as taxpayers, but the recipient government is only accountable to their taxpayers. In many countries with serious poverty issues these chains of governance are weak, we can only attempt to influence them and support them in achieving good governance. They have no obligation to account to us for the aid that we give them.

So I personally think a key question for the G8 is about the future of bilateral aid, and whether breaking down trade barriers would be more appropriate in its effect in lifting people out of poverty, especially after DFID got their fingers burned in Rwanda and Ethiopia where they had big bilateral agreements over the first half of last decade.

liger Fri 14-Jun-13 10:28:13

Typed that Essay on phone whilst boobing DD <collapses>

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 10:31:12

@Salbertina - thank you for your PM smile You clearly know a lot about this stuff. You mentioned education as being key and I totally agree. I know that one of the IF campaign aims is to have more Aid directed towards nutrition specifically so will find out what that actually means and if that includes nutrition education etc.

I also agree about transparency being a crucial issue. What do we want the G8 specifically to do to ensure this is addressed?

The IF Campaign is pushing for the UK government and big companies to be more open about their actions that affect people in developing countries, but what could be done to ensure developing country governments are themselves more transparent and therefore more easily held to account by their own people?

Salbertina Fri 14-Jun-13 10:37:49

Just to add from my (urban) SA perspective, vast numbers of people are moving away from rural areas to the cities due to lack of employment, poor schools etc. don't honestly think initiatives to support small scale farmers wd do much to stem this tide unless massive subsidies, land reallocation etc etc involved.

Better in the short to medium term to help the many who have relocated to learn the skills to tend their small front yard (if they are lucky enough to have one!) set up community allotments etc

Innovations like this -

are also key- its labour intensive and often unsafe to cook in a shack which limits how much cooking is done at home. Cooking on paraffin stoves is the primary cause of the many home fires here.

Salbertina Fri 14-Jun-13 10:40:32

Thanks, Bicnod! Guess priority should be to get key decusionmakers from such countries as guests to the G8 table

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 10:40:55

liger - xposts - you're a multi-tasking goddess smile

Thanks - that's really really useful.

Your question is pretty humungous and my brain is a wee bit fuddled.

So you are asking if it would be better to stop bilateral aid altogether and focus on removing trade barriers with the countries we want to support instead? Is that right?

I know diddly squat about trade barriers - can you give me some examples?

Salbertina Fri 14-Jun-13 10:46:06

Agree- concept of "dead aid" -

By Damisa Moyo, a Zambian economist

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 10:47:33

@PennieLane - yes yes to stopping the tax dodgers.

This is one issue that really makes my blood boil. Developing countries lose more to tax dodging than they receive in aid each year. That is CRAZY.

I read a story recently about a small market trader in Ghana who actually pays MORE TAX than the huge multinational (SabMiller BTW) next door. It's just wrong.

And you're right - this is completely relevant in our own country as well as in developing countries.

liger Fri 14-Jun-13 10:51:53

Yes you got the right end of my rather long stick smile I'm writing as much to contribute the the thread not just overload you with thoughts.

The IF campaign is saying the system is broken, transparency is one of their key stances. Trade barrier work to negate and advances gained through bilateral aid. It should be questioned I think. I will get back to you with some specifics.

I also want to write more about the role of women and mothers in tackling hunger and malnutrition - especially as we are Mumsnet. I need to do some stuff in the real world but ill be back.

You're doing great Biconod!

liger Fri 14-Jun-13 10:52:50

'Any advances' - not 'and advances'

liger Fri 14-Jun-13 10:58:15

Cross posts with Salbertina on dead aid

Also agree hugely with the tidal wave of urban poverty that is not being addressed.

But also the lack of investment in agriculture in Africa over the last 30 years. There is huge untapped potential in food production across the vastness of Africa, much is due to conflict, but much is to do with lack of access to markets and lack of support for innovation.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 10:59:53

@liger - HA! Just noticed our Ethiopia connection. That is spooky.

I found out I was pregnant with DS1 a few hours before I was due to fly out. Had a huge panic about malaria tablets (I didn't take them - I rerouted my trip to be low risk instead) and no time to think at all.

Spent three weeks collecting stories and photos on the food crisis to bring back for the fundraising team to use to raise emergency funds. I wrote a very small blog while I was out there - couldn't send much back as very little internet access - will see if it's still up on the website.

Most of the time I was completely cut off from home (limited internet/phone didn't work) - it was a weird bubble to live in.

That trip was one of the reasons I care so much about this stuff. I spoke to devastated mothers who couldn't feed their children and saw malnourished babies in clinics who probably wouldn't make it. Heartrending stuff. And all the time knowing, that by pure accident of birth, my little bean would grow up to have everything he needed and more besides.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 11:16:21

x-posts again liger

Thank you - it would be really helpful to have some more info on the trade barrier issue.

Yes yes to the role of women and mothers in tackling hunger.

One of the IF Campaign aims is for the G8 to ensure more aid is directed towards supporting small-scale farmers, the majority of which are women, to grow their own food to support their families.

There's also the issue of land grabs which hasn't come up yet: big companies (usually multinationals) buying up acres and acres of land and chucking small farmers off with little or no compensation. This disproportionately impacts on women as the majority of small-scale farmers are women, and their rights to land ownership are often severely lacking.

What do we think about that? I think land grabs sit quite nicely with the transparency ishoo - companies should be forced to be honest about how their actions are impacting on local people. Then maybe they wouldn't do it, or at least local people would have more opportunity to demand adequate compensation.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 11:21:06

@SacreBlue - thanks for the heads up - will watch it later. Probably over dinner instead of EastEnders. Now THAT is true commitment and self-sacrifice.

Or you can give me a beautiful synopsis in layman's terms of what was said?


Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 11:26:49

@Salbertina - it's really interesting to hear the urban perspective.

So some of the pledged aid needs to be targeted towards supporting people in urban areas to grow their own food, not just focused on small-scale farmers in rural areas.

Also a very good point about getting leaders from developing countries to guest at the G8.

It's a bit of an odd line up actually isn't it?

johnworf Fri 14-Jun-13 11:54:43

Bicnod I mean primarily in this country but hey, there are so many people around the world in the same situation then yes, it should be a global matter...and I'm not just talking about the 3rd world countries either. It's everyone.

There is enough wealth in the world to feed and clothe those in need. Get it trickling down to them.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 12:24:25

Thanks johnworf - you're absolutely right, it's a worldwide issue.

As I understand it, when the IF Campaign talks about ending world hunger it means for everyone everywhere, so very relevant.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 12:26:07

Right - off to deal with some RL stuff. Will be back to check on thread later.

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed so far - you're brilliant and I love you all. Mwah.

liger Fri 14-Jun-13 13:32:52

On the trade vs Aid debate I have found some concise bits of info for you. The guardian article is an up update overview of the debate happening at the G8 global level.

And I found this 2 minute video which sums up the trade barrier argument better than I could

Also related to the above and the IF campaign focus on Transparency of companies is the way many developing loose out on trade as the processing of the raw goods they produce is done elsewhere. It is the processing which adds the value, and therefore the bulk of the financial gain made from producing goods sourced from the developing world does not trickle back to support the communities that produced them.

liger Fri 14-Jun-13 13:36:44
liger Fri 14-Jun-13 14:49:10

I would be very interested to see the photos from your 2008 trip if they are still up. Big yes relating to your passion for these issues. I have numerous times been in tears breastfeeding one of my babies, imagining how it must be for a mother who can no longer breastfed her baby because she prioritised the meagre food she had for her older children. Having to hear her hungry baby cry.

I remember the mother I talked to at a food distribution on that highlands visit in 2005. She had walked for 8 hours up hill from the valley to collect her monthly rations. It was a morning distribution. She was going to be carrying the large sack of grain home.

I have stark memories of a therapeutic feeding centre in one of the displaced camps outside Khartoum in Sudan. Listless children, smaller than their years from stunting.

It's the powerlessness of the mothers in these situations that breaks my heart as much as the children themselves. It is so important that mumsnet raises a voice at the G8 on behalf of mothers everywhere including the UK as we know what it is to make decisions for our children on a daily basis and how it would feel if circumstances made that impossible. If the mothers I have met across the world were empowered they would make the decisions that meant the next generation was best provided for. Our world needs to sort out its systems that stop them from doing that

I doubt any of the G8 leaders have had to think where their next meal is coming from for a long time, or needed to be intimately concerned with providing for a growing family for a very long while.

This why Mumsnet being in Eniskillen is so important. We can remind them of what real life is. What is important. And why the decisions they make matter.

Salbertina Fri 14-Jun-13 15:15:31

A hearty hear- hear, Liger!

Your moving post on the plight of rural women bearing/feeding/carrying children reminded me, ironically of the huge gap in provision around birth control and sexual health. Needs to be much more extensive, more explicit and networked into schools.

Oh and Sanpro!!! Please, please mention- so often drops off the list as a low priority but even in SA, by no means the poorest of African countries, it is estimated that at least 25% of teenage schoolgirls miss 1 week of school EVERY month as they lack enough pads/tampons. This results in many girls never graduating from high school! If this could be treated seriously for once, it could have a positive effect on these girls' life chances. Reusable sanpro to be given out along with food, via schools??

Salbertina Fri 14-Jun-13 15:27:37

Oh and Bicnod, meant to say you're obviously doing a fab job! Hope you're enjoying it and not too much work?

Another point, i remembered that UK recently announced ending of aid to South Africa so pls view my remarks in that context. Sorry, should have said earlier!

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 15:42:02

<rushes in - frazzled again>

Just dashing in as had to some work <shock> and now off to pick the boys up from childcare.

@Liger your post made me cry actual tears. YY it's all about empowering women, particularly mothers. If you reach the women you reach the children.

Thank you for the links - will reply properly later.

<rushes out>

Salbertina Fri 14-Jun-13 15:43:55

SANPRO!!!! Sorry to shout and to disturb you from your work... wink

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 16:20:52

I have pm'ed you, Bicnod.

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 16:35:09

As an aside, why isn't this thread showing in my "Threads I'm On" list ?

and why haven't HQ stickied it/multiple-posted in high traffic areas for maximum exposure ?


Salbertina Fri 14-Jun-13 16:43:15

Indeed, bump!

Salbertina Fri 14-Jun-13 16:49:55

Please, more contributions! Bicnod's been slaving away at this and we really need to exploit fully the opportunity for MN/women/children to have a proper voice at G8.

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 16:50:37

bump (goes to check active convos)

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 16:52:13

Right, what is going on ?

This thread isn't even in Active Convo's < presses report >

Salbertina Fri 14-Jun-13 16:54:46

Is it your settings, AF? Showing in both my active convos and my threads... (On smartphone if makes a difference)

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 16:56:17

My settings are no different than they were yesterday.

have reported to HQ, to see if the problem is my end, thanks x

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 14-Jun-13 16:57:57

AF, it's stickied in Active? Have you looked up there? grin

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 14-Jun-13 16:59:17

(Anyone else finding that it's not showing in Threads I'm On?)

letsgoflyakite Fri 14-Jun-13 17:09:30

Hey Bicnod.

I don't have much to add (I think a lot of important points have been raised) but good luck!

Have you managed to set up any meetings with anyone? Press involvement whilst there? Are you on twitter? Follow all the G8 big-wigs and get in there with their hashtags. It's an awesomely poweful platform when utilised correctly.

Have fun, smile lots and wear your mumsnet scaf with pride ;)

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 17:12:14

Yes, Rowan. I can't see it stickied and I can't see it in Active Convo's. I have to navigate directly to Site stuff to see the thread. I

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 17:19:35

Oh my goodness, I am not worthy at all. I know zilch about this stuff. I am in some feminism groups though so will give them a shout and a link to your thread.

It's already been said on your thread about women being the key, and how even in developed countries women (and children) as a group bear the brunt of austerity measures, benefit cuts, poverty and reducing living standards. Mumsnetters see that connection and apply it across the board.

You are very impressive, chuck. What to wear ? Don't suit up. Wear loose pants, heels if you want to, linen/silk t shirts and soft jackets or a cardigan to keep the air conditioning chill off your arms. Do you have stuff like that ? If not, borrow or make a quick trip to H+M if you have time. No pencil skirts and trussed up blouses/jacket combo's would be my advice. I am not a style guru though, just my personal choice

All the best, and BE YOURSELF x

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 14-Jun-13 17:19:57

Hmm, that's odd

Could you have hidden it by mistake?

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 17:51:18

Am on my phone now, so I dunno

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 17:51:19

Am on my phone now, so I dunno

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 17:51:19

Am on my phone now, so I dunno

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 17:51:19

Am on my phone now, so I dunno

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 17:52:30

Fgs, sorru

AnyFucker Fri 14-Jun-13 17:54:04

sorry, am on the M6 on a shitty phone

<slinks off>

Salbertina Fri 14-Jun-13 18:26:10

Agree with AF's point- in many
areas women-led households are the norm with fathers away working in mines, for example, or completely absent.

Also, increase in child-led households esp where HIV/Aids also taken hold.

Rural rape v widespread and brings shame upon the victim and familyangry hence massive under-reporting.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 18:39:10

In middle of bathtime so can't stop but just wanted to say ARF at AnyFucker grin

Back when boys are in bed to be extremely serious.

SacreBlue Fri 14-Jun-13 18:48:39

<hopeful> indeed grin the streaming was disjointed and I hadn't factored in time to watch it all - or I would have just went to the actual thing - including the wine reception right about now ;)

I'll see if the on demand viewing is any better.

My main thoughts are on transparency, tax avoidance and land grab - and how the current banking crisis demonstrated a lack of transparency, governmental inability to reign in and regulate large financial insitutions and a general (first) world reluctance to address how our need/greed adversely affects the poorest members of every society.

How do the G8 leaders plan to learn from and implement actions they were reluctant or unable to do so during the banking crisis - e.g. International corporations avoiding tax - the same arguements of loss of revenue (should they pull out of a country) applies should one country insist on transparency and corporate tax regulation as was mooted for the banking industry - what measures or controls will be put in place to ensure talk becomes action in these cases?

What time scale is in place for the members of the G8 who do not currently meet the expected standards of transparency agreed at previous summits? How will multinationals in private hands be encouraged to participate in transparency? And how, since some G8 members themselves are not acting transparently according to their own agreements, do they expect to bring on board non G8 members and private multinationals to be transparent?

In the issue of land grabs - who will be responsible for the large scale buying (or trading) of land or natural resources and thus responsible for ensuring the inclusion of those living on the land or otherwise affected by it's development (the country of the land, the registered country of the corporation buying/vying for the land, a.n. other international body) how will the voice of the people's living on or otherwise affected by the land grab have an equitable voice and power of action when dealing with multinational corporations and an entire government (or 2govts)

Am sure there will be loads of x posts as I have just written, deleted, re written and deleted another three paragraphs blush have them saved in notes just in case

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 19:36:30

Right, I'm back. Both DC in bed and snoring. Phew.

Will read back up thread and respond to posts now.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 20:10:30

@Liger - thanks for the trade vs aid links, both really interesting.

I haven't really thought about trade vs aid since I finished my Masters back in the day, it's just not something that's particularly come up in any work I've done, thank you for flagging it as of course you're right - it's a really important question.

I think that in the context of the IF Campaign, the main link to this debate is around transparency. Ensuring companies, and governments, are more open and honest about their actions and how they impact on the world's poor.

There's a pre-G8 'Open for Growth' event happening tomorrow (see here) to discuss trade, tax and transparency. I'll report back on the outcomes of that event if I get the chance - could be very relevant to this line of thinking.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 20:23:31

@Salbertina - SANPRO!!! right back atcha wink

Yes - definitely a really big issue. So how to link it to the hunger agenda?

I guess it all comes down to education doesn't it? If girls are provided with SANPRO!!! (sorry, can't help doing that now, you started it), then they are less likely to drop out of school, therefore more likely to hear the important messages around nutrition, health and sanitation, therefore more likely to survive and more likely to get jobs where they can earn money and feed their families. Is that it in a nutshell?!

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 20:26:22

Oh, and yes yes I'm enjoying it grin

but still absolutely petrified

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 20:40:23

@liger - I've had a dig around on my old work's website and found some of my blog from Ethiopia (here) if you're interested. Not sure what happened to the rest of it, or to the photos/case-studies I brought back, but it was nearly five years ago now so I'm pleasantly surprised any of it is still there!

ZuluWarrior Fri 14-Jun-13 20:43:09

Ooh Bicnod, you're doing such a good job.
My only (meagre) knowledge in this area is from DH's family who live in Zimbabwe. Their main beefs (as lower middle class white Zimbabweans so appreciate not quite the hungry) are that 1. Aid money does not often filter down to those that need it (mostly due to corruption) and the local church organisations end up bearing the brunt and doing what they can, 2. As always, not enough education about contraception, sanitation, nutrition.
And my own tiny experience as a just about to graduate doctor in Kenya a looooong time ago: seemed to me that it was the lack of simple things that cause most of the morbidity/mortality. Nutrition. Mosquito nets. Clean water. Basic education.

So, anyway. What are you going to wear?

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 20:51:35

Oh and liger just tweeted a quote from you grin

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 20:53:14

<bundles Zulu> - helloooooo my fellow April Mum!

Got to go and eat dinner or I'll get into trouble - back later....

shoofly Fri 14-Jun-13 20:55:06

You've had far more informed and eloquent posts than any I could contribute. I can help with the trivial grin. Enniskillen is where I grew up (I'm currently just up the road outside Belfast) Fermanagh is a truly beautiful place and the Lough Erne resort is amazing. It is currently chucking it down outside (there is a reason Ireland is lush and green) Julian Fowler the BBC correspondent in the west says you need 3 things for the G8 - sunscreen, insect repellant and an umbrella. If you get a chance, have a drink in Blakes of the Hollow.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 21:10:30

Ok, I'm back <indigestion>

Where was I...

@letsgoflyakite - I'm ashamed to admit I don't own the MN scarf blush does that mean I can't go now?

I am on twitter - quite new to the game - and will be tweeting from the G8. Come and find me @SarahRobinson78

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 21:12:58

AF - yes yes to women being the key and also bearing the brunt.

And arf again at your spamming the thread grin

MiniTheMinx Fri 14-Jun-13 21:23:59

Hi Bicnod, you will be great, will be thinking of you. I'm off to find out more about the IF project and will read all the interesting posts on the thread later. (trying to play catch up with work)

I think the problem with aid given directly to governments is that all to often the aid is offered on the basis that those governments allow the multinationals in. The money comes with strings attached and is basically a bribe to force neo-liberal reforms through in developing countries. Aid is not given to countries that refuse neo-liberal reform and privatisation, who will not use the money to make the countries tax situation and infrastructure, employment laws and trade agreements hospitable to corporations.

Countries that insist of following a course that benefits the people offering free education, free health care, a greater share of the national wealth to the working people, refusing to privatise oil or other natural resources are not generally offered aid.

Developing countries are rich in resources and multinationals seek cheap labour, lack of environmental protections and easy tax avoidance. These countries are not under developed but over exploited. This isn't new. I think we like to think that Africa and the middle east is backward but this hasn't always been the case. We have appropriated their resources to enrich us.

The land grabs are ensuring that displaced people can not feed themselves, becoming economic migrants in search of diminishing jobs, only to find that capitalist expansion and need for investment opportunities displaces them again. The slums are cleared at almost the same rate that the agricultural land is appropriated to private profit seeking agri-businesses. The profits from this exploitation of the land, made greater by tax avoidance must be reinvested into?????? well building flats and gentrifying the city. Again not something that benefits ordinary poor working people.

So my question would be, Mr Cameron can we stop using aid as a bribe to corrupt puppet dictators, can we stop using aid as a bribe to advance corporate interests and why is it that struggling countries that prefer to follow a more socially just democratic path are denied help and usually subject to trade embargoes (at the very least !)

I don't believe that our governments are totally transparent and I feel very strongly that my tax money is being used in such a way that it exploits the poor in developing nations and funnels my money into the pockets of wealthy share holders.

Government aid is not an act of good will but politically motivated to advance capitalist hegemony and greed.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 21:36:28

@SacreBlue - thank you for your post, it's really helped to organise my thoughts a bit more.

Good point about how they will turn talk into action re: tax avoidance. I think some of this will be discussed at the Open for Growth event tomorrow so will be interesting to see the outcomes from that.

One of the main thrusts of the IF Campaign is to clamp down on tax havens as much as the corporations themselves. 1 in 5 of the world’s tax havens is controlled by the UK government and nearly all of the UK's biggest companies are using tax havens. Summary of the action the IF Campaign is calling for the G8 to take here

Did anyone in London see the tax haven pop up on the South Bank today?!

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 22:05:16

@SacreBlue again - transparency is a huge issue so big it makes my head explode - it links into so many areas of the IF Campaign.

As I understand it, the IF Campaign is calling for G8 countries to enshrine in law that companies have to report on the full impact of their business (environmental, social and human rights), so that they can be held to account for their actions.

Also, as you say, for G8 countries themselves to lead from the front and commit to being more open about their own budgets etc, and encourage developing country governments to do the same.

This is an issue I struggle to get my head around (can you tell?) - it's so mahoosive.

It seems to link neatly with the issue of land grabs as well. So if multinational companies are forced to be more open and honest about their actions in developing countries, e.g. land grabs, then the poor people adversely affected by those actions will have more opportunity to call them on it and demand adequate compensation, or stop it happening at all.

Does that sound about right?

I've just read in the G8 summit briefing that the IF Campaign is calling for G8 countries to make it mandatory for any investments involving land deals to document processes ensuring free, prior and informed community consent.

Sounds good but how that works on the ground I just don't know.

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 22:15:16

@Zulu - thank you for coming to play smile

Yes yes to corruption being an issue. I think the IF Campaign transparency (oh god, that word again) agenda links to this.

And also yes to it being the simple things.

I spent a bit of time in northern Uganda and the difference basic hygiene and sanitation education made to children's health was massive - just stuff like washing hands after going to the loo. So obvious to us, but really not that obvious if you've never been told why it's important.

And mosquito nets. Did you see the 'Mary and Martha' Richard Curtis film that was on the beeb in the run up to Red Nose Day?

What were you doing in Kenya by the way? <nosy>

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 22:18:51

RE: what am I going to wear, I was asked if I have a MN t-shirt shock

No. I don't.

But I am going to be wearing jeans I think. I like jeans. They can be smart. It's going to be bloody freezing and I like jeans.

Tell me jeans are ok?

MiniTheMinx Fri 14-Jun-13 22:34:49

Are you suggesting that people in developing countries all need to be told to wash their hands? hmm It really is buying into the idea that the west is the civilised saviour of these people rather than the truth. That encourages the idea that people in developing countries are all backwards and inferior. The same discriminatory ideas that have been used for hundreds of years to justify their exploitation. Racism isn't an idea, it's a justification that serves to make their "underdeveloped economies" look natural rather than created by us. IMO

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 22:35:07

@MiniTheMinx - thank you so much for your post. You are clearly very passionate and knowledgeable about this issue and I want to get a fuller understanding of it.

Do you have examples of countries where aid has been offered with strings attached? Also, countries where aid hasn't been offered because the recipient government felt the cost outweighed the benefit?

Do you think the IF Campaign aim of securing greater corporate transparency would address some of these issues?

And also, presumably greater transparency in our OWN government of how aid is distributed and on what terms?

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 22:43:17

@MiniTheMinx - xpost.

No! Not suggesting people in developing countries all need to be told to wash their hands at all. That was one small anecdote from a trip to a very rural part of northern Uganda where basic hygiene and sanitation education was making a difference.

But there's obviously more to it than that.

I agree with you that developing countries have been exploited for years and that a lot of the problems they are facing have been caused by the actions of developed country governments and businesses.

However, the point of all this (i.e. the IF Campaign) is what can be done about it now? In particular, what can the UK government, and the G8, do to help end hunger, and how can we get them to do it?

Bicnod Fri 14-Jun-13 22:50:55

@shoofly - trivial is good. I like trivial at 10.50pm grin

You're the second person to recommend Blakes - I will have to mention this to the people organising my life at the G8.

I'm going to sign off now and head for bed. Will be back in the morning to check in.

G'night all smile

Leenypies Fri 14-Jun-13 23:03:36

Hey Bicnod (I know yer real name, ner ner ner ner ner...)

What I'd like to know is why countries like the UK are not self-sufficient in the food department. We have tons of unproductive farmland laid to fallow. Don't we need to start ditching the idea of global trade in food?? Why are our green beans grown in Kenya? Why shouldn't they grow and keep their own, rather than air-freighting it to Waitrose (much as I like it), which also contributes to climate change (which affects less developed countries more than western countries)? Food miles and self-sufficiency is where it's at...

Good luck at the G8, you'll be great, looking 4wd to hearing all about it over a builder's next week xx

MiniTheMinx Fri 14-Jun-13 23:16:05

Off the top of my head, The U.S have invaded Haiti 4 or 5 times. The last time they invaded the U.N security forces introduced cholera. It killed thousands of people. They didn't die because they don't have good hygiene! They slaughtered all the livestock belonging to small farmers and confiscated their land. Imposed free market reforms and gave aid money that was channelled into the coffers of "American" multinationals.

Most U.S aid commits the recipient nation to buy U.S goods at U.S market prices, incl military spending.........In keeping with its commitment to capitalism the U.S government does not grant assistance to state-owned enterprises in third world nations, only to the private sector.....Most foreign aid never reaches the needy segments. A lot of it is used to subsidize cash crops exports (keep food cheap for us) at the expense of small farmers who can not compete or forced off the land. This has two effects, unemployed workers compete for work cutting wages, hungry previously self sufficient people must now buy food.

Aid is a powerful political tool because it is withheld when poorer nations dare to make social democratic changes that disrupt the flow of money to corporations and wealthy individuals. Any country that pursues reforms that benefit the poor are cut off from aid. Chile is a perfect example of this.

The world bank is a big problem too.

I kind of feel uncomfortable with the idea that for over 200 years we have exploited the third world but now we are invited to see ourselves as saviours.

MiniTheMinx Fri 14-Jun-13 23:19:08

Jeans are great. Sleep well. Can't wait to read some of the up dates.

wonderstuff Fri 14-Jun-13 23:32:33

Just wanted to say good luck, its great that you are doing this. We need more voices of the people, advocates of the unheard.

I really think that tax havens and corruption would be the thing I would like spoken up about. It is just criminal that the wealthy are able to avoid paying into society, leaving the poor without basics for life.

Women's education is so important in all this I think. Women seem so often to be passengers, without a voice, subject to the whims of the powerful. Criminal that their education is seen as less than vital.

ZuluWarrior Sat 15-Jun-13 07:43:19

the people organising my life at the G8

Oooh get you - you have people now!

Kenya? I did my medical elective there in a wee rural hospital in Meru district. We basically staffed the A+E overnight. It was terrifying (but I haven't been scared like it since in 12+ years of working in the NHS grin). I have since had a nosy in a couple of Zimbabwean public hospitals which seemed a bit better (all relative of course). Obviously none of the white people would go there - they can afford the nice clean private ones. Some things never change in Africa I think.

Salbertina Sat 15-Jun-13 08:38:11

Morning! Mine of info on here.
Just wanted to comment on the Malaria film Richard Curtis did (for Comic Relief?) Well, sat badly with me and my NGO friends here - all Africa needs is kindly American/British folk to fund malaria projects??! And Africans mere passive recipients to be "done to" as ever?! angry
To be honest, i was appalled.

Aid efforts will go nowhere if local people's skills/knowledge is not harnessed and developed to mainstream and sustain initiatives.

Ktay Sat 15-Jun-13 09:22:04

Very best of luck Bicnod! You will be brilliant. I will be thinking of you and reading all your updates.

I have nothing constructive to contribute apart from the practical matter that when I try and access this thread (to read the constructive contributions) through the iPad/iPhone app I get chucked out of mumsnet every time. Doesn't happen with any other thread. I guess this must be happening for other users too - is it something Tech can sort out? sorry if it has been mentioned upthread and I've missed it...

Bicnod Sat 15-Jun-13 09:52:49

Morning smile

Hmmmm. My head is buzzing. I woke up very early thinking about climate finance... something we haven't talked about on the thread yet but I think is really important.

Anyhoo... need to go and spend some time with my boys but will be back later to read and respond.

@Zulu - I literally have no idea what I'll be doing over the weekend. IF Campaign dudes are organising everything.

All I know is I arrive late Sunday night and have to be up to leave hotel 6am Monday shock at least DS2 means I'm used to getting bugger all sleep wink

@Salbertina - totally agree about the angle of the Mary and Martha film, it was very swoop in and save.

It was the numbers I found staggering. I knew malaria was a huge issue but I hadn't realised quite how big until I saw that film.

liger Sat 15-Jun-13 11:08:40

I've been tweeted ! grin. A first for Liger!

Good luck Bicnod! I'm now typing from a field as am camping, so my input will be limited until tomorrow pm, but I'll sneak a peak every now and then x

Bicnod Sat 15-Jun-13 15:26:51

Right then, I'm back. DC off to shops with DH so I've got some time.

Will read back up the thread and respond to peeps.

Thanks to everyone who has posted so far - it's getting close now, I fly tomorrow night (eek!)

confused <<-- how I'm feeling (double eek)

Bicnod Sat 15-Jun-13 15:44:07

@leenypies - hello my lovely - and yes to a cuppa next week. Assuming I'm still here, of course, and haven't imploded into a mess of jellified anxiety.

Interesting point about UK self-sufficiency. Article [[ here]] which suggests a lot of UK farmers have been put out of business due to supermarkets paying so little for their produce and UK consumers wanting the cheapest possible prices.

I can't see a Tory government, or realistically any government, forcing supermarkets to pay more than the market value for food produced in the UK.

Hmmmm. I don't know much about this at all - interesting topic though.

Anyone else got any thoughts? Also, how would increased UK self-sufficiency impact on poor people living in the developing countries we trade with?

Bicnod Sat 15-Jun-13 15:44:56

Link fail - must learn to preview. Here

Bicnod Sat 15-Jun-13 16:10:27

@MiniTheMinx - thanks for your post.

I remember when the cholera outbreak in Haiti started in 2010 and that there was a debate around the source of it. It's all a bit hazy (DS1 was not a good sleeper at that point!) but I'm going to read up about it as your post has sparked my interest.

With regards to Aid, I think it's important to differentiate between Aid from governments and Aid from NGOs.

The NGO I used to work for (ActionAid) is all about empowerment: working with communities over long periods of time to strengthen their own efforts to lift themselves out of poverty, as opposed to the swoop in and swoop out tactic employed by some other organisations, particularly in emergency situations.

They work with local partners, local staff and each country programme operates independently under the umbrella of ActionAid International - whose headquarters are in South Africa - see here.

ActionAid is just one example of an NGO doing it, IMHO, the right way.

Bicnod Sat 15-Jun-13 16:12:06

@MiniTheMinx - yes to jeans. And yes to boots as well to be honest - weather not looking great...

Bicnod Sat 15-Jun-13 16:19:26

@wonderstuff - thank you for the luck smile

YY to tax havens - that is definitely on the list. And the corruption/transparency issue as well.

The Open for Growth: trade, tax and transparency event is happening right now so will report back later with any news from that.

Totally agree about women's education as well. Women often bear the brunt of providing for their families in developing countries at the same time as losing out on their right to education, to land, to their own bodies.

Bicnod Sat 15-Jun-13 16:21:30

@Ktay - thank you grin

It's all Ktay's doing that you've got me by the way - she was the one who suggested I nominate myself. So if it all goes horribly wrong she's the one to blame wink

Bicnod Sat 15-Jun-13 16:23:34

Right - I'm off to see what's happening at the Open for Growth event.

And then I've got to get ready for a friend's 1970s themed 40th birthday party grin

Must. Not. Get. Drunk. confused

Bicnod Sat 15-Jun-13 17:25:43

Quick update...

It looks like there has been movement on the tax dodging and transparency issues at the Open for Growth summit today - see BBC news article here

In a nutshell (and somebody please correct me if I've got this wrong - I am definitely not an expert!) UK controlled tax havens have signed up to the OECD's Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters. I think this means they will be willing to assist other signatories investigating tax dodging companies.

The UK also plans to establish a register of beneficial ownership, showing who owns which company, but there are still questions over whether this register would be private (not transparent) or public (transparent).

The IF Campaign response is that the register needs to be public. Also, that there needs to be a deal on global information exchange so that developing country governments have access to the information they need to hold companies operating in their countries to account for the taxes they owe.

Phew. My brain hurts.

I have two screamy children who need their dinner so have to dash - back later...

MmeLindor Sat 15-Jun-13 23:16:24

Great thread and some fab ideas.

I'm not an expert in this area, and you've had so many brilliant tips and suggestions so I'll just add a few general comments and tips.

I found using Twitter as a note taking device was helpful - tweet with the hashtag and you can go back later and read what your first response to the speaker was.

Easier to do that than try to live tweet and write notes

Forget about writing anything longer than a tweet or v short Mumsnet post while there. Everything moves fast and you won't have time

You probably won't get near the big names but do chat to other bloggers and attendees - we got to sit in while DC and Melissa Gates talked to some youth activists but weren't allowed to ask a question.

Have a question ready in case you do meet someone big, if possible one that you can adapt to anyone - and that is a bit MNetty

Write down as much as you can and try to make your notes so that you understand them later. I can recall sitting in a hotel room studying my notes, thinking 'WTF does that mean?!'

Take phone charger and plug phone in when not using it.

If you speak one-on-one with someone, think about using phone to record or film the interview. Much much easier than trying to decipher notes.

Feel free to email me or DM me via twitter (am following you)

Good luck. Have a fantastic time.

Oh, and ask about connection of this campaign with others such as GirlEffect and ChimeforChange - targeted at girls and women.

With regard to transparency, maybe ask about crowdfunding such as - which directly funds projects that benefit women and girls.

Bicnod Sun 16-Jun-13 12:14:53

@Mme - thank you thank you thank you really helpful advice.

Getting nervous now. Flying tonight.

This will be the longest I've ever been away from my boys shock

Must start packing...

Bicnod Sun 16-Jun-13 16:52:27

Boys have been dispatched to GPs with DH <sob>

Bags are packed.

Airport taxi coming in 10 minutes.


Will start a new thread in the morning when I'm there, but feel free to carry on posting questions/ideas/musings on this one in the meantime.

Double eeek!


SacreBlue Sun 16-Jun-13 16:56:03

First off GOOD LUCK BICNOD!! have a safe and relaxing, as much as it can be, journey and a good nights sleep tonight.

Secondly don't bother reading any of the following if you are feeling overloaded and want to relax..

Just a little more on the big picture of the difference between what is said and what is done re transparency I think it is necessary to have incentives for compliance with transparency and clear and actionable sanctions for non-compliance.

The importance of how to give weight to local voices re land grab is crucial because I have seen time and again how 'information' is hidden or at least not easily and widely accessible, therefore informed consent is not possible as potentially very few people/agencies have seen the information, 'consultation' goes the same way if all they do is 'consult' then totally ignore concerns.

Even where information is widely disseminated, communities are encouraged to consult and their concerns are noted in final reports etc - if the major power holders refuse to address those concerns adequately or action recommendations made then essentially the process is a tick box exercise and a waste of money.

So some actionable enforcements must be available to ensure the type of involvement by local communities affected by land grab is not just 'lip service'

Bicnod Mon 17-Jun-13 00:23:40

Thanks SacreBlue - totally agree that without a way to ensure companies actually take community consultations into account with regards to decision making it is just box ticking.

Bicnod Mon 17-Jun-13 00:27:37

So I'm here - I've met the other bloggers and drunk my first pint of Guinness (not ever you understand, just on this trip). It was good.

Tomorrow morning far too bloody early we pick up our press passes <squeeee> and head over to the media centre to see what's going on.

Will start a new live at G8 thread now - please come and play on that one or I'll get lonely grin

Night all.

SacreBlue Mon 17-Jun-13 07:16:41

Morning smile light drizzle here but nice and fresh - how's Enniskillen? Hope you've had time for a big fry to keep you going grin

Pop a link up to the new thread when you get a chance and we're all behind you - like in that unison ad cough <small earthquake>

BIWI Mon 17-Jun-13 08:55:36

Good luck, Bicnod!

Bicnod Mon 17-Jun-13 09:04:50

Ello ello - I've made it through security smile

New fred here

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