The third world debt crisis: facts, causes and solutions

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Third world debt

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It was AGM time again last Saturday as the World Development Movement hosted their annual meeting and conference in Leeds. The conference theme was timely, entitled 'Not the G8: A real agenda for global justice', two days before the G8 meeting started in Northern Ireland. There was a vibrant mix of attendees from long time supporters and WDM group members from all over the country, to local university students and lecturers.

There was a great line up of speakers. We hosted the personable Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved; Dorothy-Grace Guerrero, the climate justice programme co-ordinator for Focus on the Global South who travelled all the way from the Thailand; and self confessed geek, anti-austerity and debt campaigner Luís Bernardo from Attac Portugal. Further contributors to our workshops were Ray Bush, professor of African studies and development politics at the University of Leeds; Richard Solly, co-ordinator of the London Mining Network; Matti Kohonen from the Tax Justice Network...

Ahead of the Rio+20 summit, Asian social movements have put together this statement on the fake Green Economy being pushed at the talks. It also outlines what they will be calling for at the summit.


Fight for Our Future! No Price on Nature!
 
We are movements and organizations from Asia, waging struggles on various fronts and arenas to defend our rights, resist policies and projects that cause harm and destruction, and to fight for immediate priorities and demands, as well as profound transformation of our societies.
 
We envision a social and economic system:

  • that is aimed at providing for the needs of people and aspirations for a humane, empowering and liberating life in a manner that respects the earth’s capacity to regenerate, and to sustain life based on the integrity of natural systems;
  • that is based on and promotes equity, parity, solidarity and mutual respect among people and nations regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, capabilities and class;
  • that promotes sharing of land, water, forests, atmosphere, eco-systems and territories  based on the principles of stewardship and not private ownership, and the rights of all people to equitable and responsible...

Speculation in basic foodstuffs is a scandal when there are a billion starving people in the world. We must ensure markets contribute to sustainable growth. I am fighting for a fairer world and I want Europe to take the lead on that."
-Michel Barnier, european commissioner for the internal market

Banks, hedge funds and pension funds are betting on food prices in financial markets, causing drastic price swings in staple foods such as wheat, maize and soy.

A woman tossing black beans

These markets were originally developed for the benefit of those involved in the production of food, yet over the last 10 years they have changed almost beyond recognition. Deregulation has enabled speculators to dominate, causing drastic spikes and crashes in prices. 

Effects of rising food prices

Massive food price increases are catastrophic for people in poverty in the global south, who spend most of their income on food. This results in:

  • Increased hunger as food becomes unaffordable.
  • Malnutrition as smaller quantities of expensive foods such as fruit and...

WDM was founded in 1970, by bringing together a number of groups which had been campaigning against world poverty during the late 1960s. We broke new ground by focusing on the causes of poverty and demanding policy changes rather than charitable giving. Since then, WDM has evolved into a democratic, politically independent organisation, with 15,000 supporters and a network of 60 local groups across the UK. Read more about our campaigning successes below.

WDM protesting about the arms trade

  • 2013 After more than three years of campaigning by WDM and allies across Europe, the EU agrees legislation to introduce limits on financial speculation on food and other commodities and to improve transparency.
  • 2013 Two years of concerted campaigning by WDM results in Barclays, the UK’s biggest player in food speculation and one of the top three globally, announcing that it will no longer trade in food for speculative purposes.
  • 2012 Following a prolonged campaign by a coalition of Scottish NGOs and local pressure groups including WDM Scotland, plans for a new coal-fired power station...

Whilst rich countries are responsible for most of the emissions pumped into the atmosphere it is the poorest communities in the world that are being hit the hardest by climate change. But rather than providing compensation for causing climate change rich countries are using it to trap the world’s poor into new and dangerous climate debt. WDM is campaigning for climate justice for developing countries.

What is WDM doing?

Change the politics, not the climateWe want to ensure that the UK pays its climate debt instead of locking poor countries into further unjust debt by providing loans to help deal with climate change.

Read more

Ecological debt is the next frontier of social economic justice"
- Wahu Kaara, Kenya Debt Relief Network

WDM is campaigning in solidarity with our allies in the global south to ensure the UK fairly pays the compensation it owes for causing climate change, instead of using it to reinforce existing global inequalities, by propping up the World Bank and forcing new loans onto developing countries.

Reparations for climate debt, not burden sharing

We are calling on development secretary Justine Greening to stop pushing climate loans on developing countries, loans that will only lock countries into new debt and increased poverty. The UK must end its support for the discredited, undemocratic and unaccountable World Bank, and instead support funds through more democratic institutions such as the UN Adaptation Fund. Finally, we are also calling that the UK uses new money, rather than diverting money from the aid budget as they are currently doing.    

The UK’s World Bank climate funds are set to create hundreds of millions of pounds of new Third World Debt for some of the world’s...

Jonathan Stevenson, Jubilee Debt Campaign

JDC campaigners protest against Greece's unjust debt

As Eurozone finance ministers sat down in Brussels to decide on Greece's future, across town a well-timed University of London conference was underway to try to learn lessons from Latin America's own debt crisis in the 1980s and '90s. Eurozone ministers would have done well to attend because what happened in Latin America three decades ago bears a striking resemblance to what is currently taking place in Europe. 

Then the International Monetary Fund and World Bank lent money to dozens of countries which would otherwise have defaulted, in order to keep the debt repayments flowing back to the banks of the rich world who had created the crisis by their own reckless strategies. They then insisted those countries adopt a set of structural adjustment policies which saw industry privatised, money freed from government control and markets ripped open to competition with...

A new climate change finance package, announced today by Chris Huhne, will push up developing countries’ debt, say campaigners from the World Development Movement.

At least £235 million of the money announced today by UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne will be in the form of loans rather than grants, going through World Bank climate lending programmes that have already pushed some of the world’s poorest countries deeper into debt. 

£150 million, the largest part of today’s announcement, will go to the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund. UK money previously given to this fund helped finance private sector projects including a wind farm in Mexico which violates the rights of indigenous people and does not increase energy access, instead selling all of its electricity at a discounted rate to US multinational Walmart.

But campaigners welcomed the announcement that £10 million would be given to the UN Adaptation Fund, to directly help people in developing countries cope with the effects of climate change. The UK has until now given no money to the UN fund, which is threatened with closure if contributions from developed countries do not increase...

UK money will be used for a ‘climate loan’ to Jamaica, increasing its already heavy debt burden, following a decision by the World Bank this week.

Campaigners have condemned the loan, which will drive the Caribbean nation deeper into poverty. Jamaica’s foreign debt stands at $2,500 per person, and the country spends $1.2 billion a year on debt repayments. The government’s foreign-owed debts are 55 per cent of national income, making it's debt burden one of the heaviest in the world.[1]

The $10 million loan agreed this week is intended to help Jamaica adapt to the effects of climate change. But campaigners say countries like the UK should give climate funds as grants rather than loans.

Jubilee Debt Campaign spokesperson Tim Jones said today:

Debt has devastated lives across the world, bringing economic collapse and diverting money from essential public services. The Jamaican government already spends $450 per person annually on debt repayments, more than on education and healthcare combined. The World Bank and UK government should be cancelling Jamaica's debt, not adding to it with new unjust climate loans."

...

Next week, Jubilee Scotland is holding a ‘people’s debt tribunal’ at the Scottish Parliament. Lidy Nacpil, who will be coming to Glasgow to speak to WDM supporters about climate debt the following day, will attend as an expert witness from the Philippines, calling for her country’s debt to be cancelled.

I spoke to James Picardo (JP), campaigns director at Jubilee Scotland to find out more about the debt tribunal and how debt campaigners from the global south are linking the need to cancel unjust debts with climate justice.

Tell me a bit about ‘the people’s debt tribunal’. Where did the idea come from and how will it work?

JP: The idea of the debt tribunal has been around as long as the debt campaign. Many debt campaigners believe that some kind of 'debt court' will be needed to resolve the many historical cases of illegitimate and unjust debt. Until one exists, people's tribunals are the debt campaign's best form of 'direct action'.

The format is that we will have a representative of a debtor country asking for their country's debt to be cancelled, then a representative of a creditor saying why it shouldn't. Independent experts will feed in and be available for questioning by the audience. At the end people will vote on whether...

In Climate loan sharks, the World Development Movement and the Jubilee Debt Campaign reveal that the UK is pushing $1.1 billion of climate loans, via the World Bank, on some of the poorest countries in the world.

For example Grenada’s debt is already 90 per cent of GDP, yet it is to be lent a further $22 million, over 3 per cent of the country’s GDP. Lending to such debt burdened country is at best irresponsible and at worst wilfully dangerous.

The UK, and other rich industrialised countries in the global north, owe a debt to countries in the global south as compensation for the devastating effects of climate change they have the primary responsibility for creating. A key part of this compensation is providing finance to poorer countries to help reduce the negative impacts of climate change on their lives and livelihoods. 

The report finds: 

  • The UK is providing most of its climate finance for adaptation in the form of capital that can only be dispersed as loans through the World Bank’s Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR). Of the capital that will be given out as loans via the PPCR, 97 per cent comes from the UK. 
  • Of the...

Between 1994 and 1998, WDM worked on a number of arms trade issues.

WDM tank

Export credits and arms

In November 1994, we launched a campaign to stop the use of export credits to support arms sales.  This campaign alerted many other organisations to the issue.  The chancellor of the Exchequer announced a ban on the use of export credits for ‘unproductive’ expenditure (which includes arms sales) for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) in 1997.  This ban was extended to over 50 low income countries in January 2000.

For further information on on this issue contact:

For information on the current Ilisu Dam Campaign contact:

EU Code of Conduct on Arms Sales

Together with Saferworld and the British and American Security Council (BASIC), WDM helped promote an EU Code which drew on all the voluntary agreements EU countries had signed up to.  The EU...

Emma Rubach. This article originally appeared in The Big Issue

There’s been a lot in the press recently about the fact Britain’s aid budget is one of the few areas of public spending not facing cuts. Despite detractors wondering how we can spend money overseas when we don’t seem to have much to spend at home, the government has been vocally proud of its commitment to helping poor countries out of poverty and to reaching the Millennium Development Goals.
 

Unfortunately, a recent report by campaign group World Development Movement (WDM) suggests that while we’re giving with one hand, we could be taking away with the other, thanks to the decision to offer climate adaption loans to poor countries through the World Bank. Much like the payday loan companies who target vulnerable people in need, desperate countries on the frontline of climate change will be offered cash to help adapt to the problems climate shifts create. The World Bank appears to be offering a kindly leg-up in a time of need – but as we cash strapped folk well know, all loans have to someday be paid back.
 

As WDM points out, it’s unfair to expect developing countries whose emissions could fit into a thimble to pay for the...


By Emma Rubach, collumist for The Big Issue

There’s been a lot in the press recently about the fact Britain’s aid budget is one of the few areas of public spending not facing cuts. Despite detractors wondering how we can spend money overseas when we don’t seem to have much to spend at home, the government has been vocally proud of its commitment to helping poor countries out of poverty and to reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

Unfortunately, a recent report by campaign group World Development Movement (WDM) suggests that while we’re giving with one hand, we could be taking away with the other, thanks to the decision to offer climate adaption loans to poor countries through the World Bank. Much like the payday loan companies who target vulnerable people in need, desperate countries on the frontline of climate change will be offered cash to help adapt to the problems climate shifts create. The World Bank appears to be offering a kindly leg-up in a time of need – but as we cash strapped folk well know, all loans have to someday be paid back.

As WDM points out, it’s unfair to expect developing countries whose emissions could fit into a thimble to pay for the damage rich countries have done to the atmosphere – a little like a rude...

Here are pictures from this mornings' 'Climate loan sharks' protest outside the Department for International Development. Campaigners from WDM and the Jubilee Debt campaign propested against the World Bank being involved in climate finance and giving loans instead of grants for climate change adaptation.

Read the full report, 'Climate loan sharks: How the UK is making developing countries pay twice for climate change' here

Protestors outside DfID

Protestors highlight $1.1 billion in new debt being pushed on developing countries to deal with the effects of climate change. Copyright: Immo Klink/WDM | Download high-res version

Shark protest outside DfID

 

...

Today, decisions are due to be made on new World Bank ‘climate loans’ to Cambodia, St. Lucia, Mozambique, Nepal and Zambia. To protest against these new loans and say no to the World Bank being involved in climate finance, WDM and the Jubilee Debt Campaign gathered outside the Department for International Development in London. 

A line of people outside the DfIDF office

We were there in solidarity with over 50 civil society groups from the 13 countries due to receive UK sponsored loans through the World Bank’s climate funds. At the end of the protest, two 'intrepid sharks' went in to hand a copy of a statement signed by these groups to DfiD staff to pass on to international development secretary Andrew Mitchell.

A person dressed up as a shark

The UK...

This statement is from civil society groups from countries that have been chosen as recipients to the World Bank’s ‘Pilot Program for Climate Resilience’ (PPCR) which is being supported by the UK government. The countries include: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Tajikistan, Yemen, Zambia, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga. 

Protest against World Bank loans for climate finance in Indonesia

June 2011

To Andrew Mitchell MP, UK secretary of state for international development and Chris Huhne MP, UK secretary of state for energy and climate change. 

Dear Andrew Mitchell MP and Chris Huhne MP,

The changing of the world’s climate, primarily caused by the rich industrialized countries, is already having a devastating impact on the lives of individuals, families and communities around the world. As people from countries who are the first recipients of climate loans, we are already seeing lives being destroyed. This is especially true for people from poor and marginalized social groups such as farmers...

Don't have time to read the full Climate loan sharks report? This easy to follow presentation explains the key elements of the UK's disastrous approach to climate finance. Click 'more' to view it in fullscreen.

...

Tim Jones, Jubilee Debt Campaign

Thanks to Keanu Reeves stealing historical figures for a history project in 1989, the one quote I think I remember from philosophy is from Socrates: ‘wisest is he who knows what he does not know’.

At a World Bank and Swiss government organised debt conference in Berne, there seemed a need for more acknowledgment of what we do not know.

Now that 32 countries have had some of their debts cancelled there is an emphasis on monitoring government debts to help prevent new crises in the future. Not that this monitoring has necessarily achieved its aim. We are told how 6 out of 25 African countries which have received some debt cancellation are at “high risk of debt distress” and a further 18 at “moderate risk”. To put this in context, a government can be spending 20 per cent of its earnings on debt repayments and still be considered at “low risk”.

One government official tells me he is outraged that some countries which had debts cancelled a few years ago are now seeing increased debts again. Especially as, in his view, the top lenders to these countries are the IMF and World Bank. He says when he challenged one World Bank official on this fact the response was “Are we really the largest lenders, I didn’t know that...

Adebisi Alimi has been involved in LGBT advocacy in Nigeria for over a decade and started 'The Independent Project', now the strongest gay group in Nigeria. He had to flee his home in Nigeria after a BBC World Service interview meant his life was threatened and now works with Naz project in London as the African MSM sexual health worker.

Horace G. Campbell is professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University where he directs the Africa Initiative. Concerned with issues of conflict resolution, he has been an activist and a scholar for over forty years. His most recent book is Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA.

Jali Fily Cissokho, vocalist and kora player, is regarded as one of the great Senegal griots. His UK appearances have included WOMAD, Glastonbury and Larmer Tree and he has recently worked with A R Rahman, composer of the score for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

Deborah Doane is director of the World Development Movement an organisation campaigning UK-wide for global justice. She’s on the board of the Fairtrade Foundation and has a long history of campaigning for corporate accountability.

Dele Fatunla...

Download the full timetable here 

Africa from exploitation to resistance

The perception of Africa that many people in the UK have is dominated by starvation, corruption and tribalism. But while Africa is at the sharp end of corporate exploitation, the story of ordinary Africans organising against injustice remains largely untold. This session will explore the African social movements who are writing their own history across the continent.

  • Njoki Njoroge Njehu, Africa Jubilee South
  • Firoze Manji, editor in chief, Pambazuka News
  • Horace Campbell, director of the Africa Initiative, Syracuse University

Africa beyond aid

Most African countries receive more than 10 per cent of their GDP in aid. This creates huge problems, including making governments more accountable to donors than to voters. Would cutting aid make things worse or better? Some big charities are currently campaigning to defend aid spending. This session will consider whether that’s the right priority, and what else we should be doing.

  • Yash Tandon, Ugandan author of Ending Aid Dependence
  • Jonathan...

All over the world, diverse groups from community activists to schoolchildren, small businesses to faith-based networks, are starting to take action on climate change. Big business is following suit, but often with tactics that bring their integrity into question. Climate change is being used to create a new kind of brand identity, without any of the fundamental changes needed to tackle the root causes of the problem itself – the use of fossil fuels.

This report, written by environmental campaigners Platform with the help of WDM, takes the case of the Royal Bank of Scotland, an international bank with interests across the fossil fuel sector that is promoting itself as a genuine actor in climate change efforts. Using Bloomberg data this report compares RBS’ environmental rhetoric with the bank’s financing of coal companies around the world in the last three years, and examines the efforts of civil society to date to pressure the bank to adopt more climate-friendly policies.

RBS was recapitalised by the UK taxpayer from 2008 onwards, following major losses due to their reckless financial practices. Now, in 2011, the British public faces massive spending cuts. The taxpayers’ money used to bail out the banks could have...

A woman walks through flood waters

Today is the final day of the 13th UN Adaptation Fund meeting in Bonn. This is the UN fund set up by the main UN climate negotiations to help the poorest countries in the world adapt to the effects of catastrophic climate change, by channelling funds from rich countries into adaptation projects. While it sounds somewhat techy, WDM has a keen interest in the outcomes of this meeting.

When we learned last year that the UK would only give funding to World Bank loans for climate adaptation, we thought we would raise our concerns to DfID, by showing the public’s support for the UN adaptation grants. Our supporters even offered to put their own money towards UN grants. The consequent “send-a-pound” action resulted in over £1500 being given to DFID to help pay for the grants.

Unfortunately, DFID didn’t take us up on our generosity, and actually told us that it was against the law for them to take the money. So they asked us to come and take the money back, or they would donate it to a ‘local charity’.

After some debate with DfID, we reluctantly agreed to take the donations back, deciding that we would send this money...

Decades of increasing emissions have meant the UK owes a massive climate debt to the world’s poorest people to compensate for climate devastation already caused. With every ton of carbon dioxide released, crops continue to be destroyed, water becomes scarcer, disease continues to spread at an unprecedented level, and weather related disasters become more common. Ultimately, more and more lives are wrecked, and the climate debt continues to increase. 

When I speak with campaigners from the global south about climate debt, it quickly becomes apparent that whist they believe paying the debt is critical, it is also essential that the debt does not continue to grow. This is why WDM played a critical role in campaigning for the Climate Change Bill, which became an Act in 2008. Together with our allies around the UK, we pushed for, and won, the strongest climate change legislation in the world. What made this such a powerful piece of legislation was that it was supported by all political parties, not only the ruling Labour party. 

During his time in opposition, David Cameron spearheaded the Tories in speaking out on climate change. He revamped his party’s image and boosted his green credentials by campaigning...

Use your electricity bill to fight climate change - switch your energy supply to Ecotricity and WDM will receive a donation of up to £60.

Wind turbines

Image: Patrick Finnegan/Flickr

Ecotricity is different from other energy suppliers. Their mission is to change the way electricity is made, using the money their customers spend on gas and electricity to build new sources of renewable energy such as windmills. No one else will invest more of your bills in new sources of green energy.

People power is at the heart of what Ecotricity does. The more customers they have, the more green energy they can generate. They also promise to match the standard tariff of the ‘big six’ energy suppliers, so you won’t pay any extra for going green.

It’s free and easy to switch, simply go to www.ecotricity.co.uk/wdm or call 08000 302 302 and quote ‘WDM’.

If you would like more information about our partnership, or would like to promote Ecotricity to your friends or family please contact Angela on 020 7820 4900 or email...

Kirsty Wright, climate campaigner

Today, WDM campaigners joined other organisations from the UK and around the world for a day of action targeting the World Bank. Actions were done outside World Bank offices from Washington and Paris to South Africa and India. The day was called because of concerns about the Bank’s lending for fossil fuels, which has been increasing even at a time of climate crisis, and in spite of the Bank’s lobbying to become the institution responsible for climate finance.

Despite the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change for the world’s poorest people, over the last five years World Bank funding for coal-fired power stations has soared 40-fold to hit a record high of £2.8 billion in 2010.

 

About a quarter of the world’s population, over 1.5 billion people across the global south, have no access to electricity. They have no light in the evening, limited access to radio and communications, no modern power for their work and no way to store medicines safely. This lack of energy is keeping people trapped in poverty. However, despite the World Bank’s pro-...

Press release, 28.02.2011

  • Government aid spending plans criticised by World Development Movement
  • Government accused of fighting terrorism, instead of poverty, with the aid budget
  • 0.7 target only reached through double counting of aid and climate money

The Department for International Development will tomorrow announce changes to the way aid money is spent. Aid for ‘fragile’ states will be a priority, as will maximum value for money and the UK's national interests. It will also cut aid to UN agencies that support agricultural development in favour of emergency relief programmes. The news has been met with criticism from anti-poverty campaigners, the World Development Movement who criticised the government for 'fighting terrorism, not poverty, with the aid budget'.

Julian Oram, head of campaigns and policy at the World Development Movement said:

Defence spending has been cut and it's clear that the government is looking to plug the hole by raiding the already tiny international development budget. The government will be fighting terrorism, not poverty, with the aid budget. This is shameful because aid is supposed to help provide health care and education to the poorest countries in the world, not...

With only a week to go until 6 Billion Ways, we are busy getting the final preparations ready and there is a definite buzz of excitement among WDM supporters and staff.

There’s a huge range of workshops, debates, films and event art, but some will be of particular interest to those engaged in our campaigns.

Kirsty Wright, WDM’s climate justice campaigns officer, will be chairing a session on climate justice with top-line international speakers.  Lidy Nacpil from Jubilee South in the Philippines, Ricardo Navarro from CESTA in El Salvador and Larry Lohmann will be looking at ‘climate debt’, false solutions such as carbon trading, and how climate change is an economic justice issue.

One of the highlights of the day will be a panel discussion about reclaiming the global food system. WDM director Deborah Doane will join Arthur Potts Dawson from the grocery co-op The People’s Supermarket (recently featured in a series on Channel 4) and Kirtana Chandrasekaran from Friends of the Earth International in examining the problems caused by the globalised food system and how we can...

Several civil society organizations focused on climate justice have compiled a set of briefing papers to help government delegates, advocates, journalists and members of the public understand various topics being discussed at the climate change negotiations and their real world impacts.

The goal of the briefs is to connect some of the ideas and energy of the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia (April 2010) with issues on the table at the UN climate talks. Please feel free to use these as a resource and to distribute them further. We hope you find them useful.

Links to the briefing papers follow, please note that these materials have been produced by a number of different organisations listed in full on each brief, but the content of each is not endorsed by all the contributors

We demand that developed countries assume their adaptation debt related to the impacts of climate change on developing countries by providing the means to prevent, minimize, and deal with damages arising from their excessive emissions.

Tim Jones, Jubilee Debt Campaign

Activists in Bangladesh and Nepal speak out against new debt, whilst a Nepalese parliamentary committee has said the country should ask for grants rather than loans.
On Saturday 19 February a human chain was formed in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, protesting against World Bank climate loans.

The protest was organised by seven civil society organisations, including Jubilee South members, Equity and Justice Working Group. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury from Equity and Justice said the Bangladeshi government’s decision to accept loans for dealing with the impact of climate change contradicted previous official statements that the government would not take loans.

In November 2010, the World Bank and governments such as the UK agreed to lend Bangladesh over $500 million for projects to help the South Asian country adapt to climate change, for instance making housing more resilient to increasing floods. In contrast, just $50 million is being given as a grant. The UK government has given over $150 million as loans for the projects.

Repaying foreign debts already uses up 10 per cent of Bangladeshi government revenue, more than is spent on healthcare.

Meanwhile, 12...

The World Social Forum (WSF) took place all last week in Dakar, Senegal. It is now a whole decade since the first WSF took place in Porto Alegre, Brazil, as a people's alternative to the annual World Economic Forum - the meeting of political and business elites in Davos, Switzerland.

Although there is some intense debate about the future of the WSF, it continues to be a useful place for movements for economic, social and environmental justice from all over the world to meet. For more detail read Jubilee Debt Campaign's blog from the event. A call was also issued from Dakar to mobilise for the G8 and G20 summits in France this year, which you can read below:

Put people, not finances, first

Call from Dakar to Mobilize for the G8 and the G20 in France in 2011

For the G8, May 21 and 22 in Deauville
For the G20, from October 31 to November 5, 2011 in Cannes

Gathered together here in Dakar during the Convergence Assembly for Action against the G8/G20 at the World Social Forum, we - the social movements, trade unions, international solidarity associations, women and men from all continents - are calling for...

Rosie Rogers, campaigner

It’s been two months since the first WDM pig piñata went to the public slaughter. Since then, the World Bank piggy banks have been smashed (or held in custody!) in Brussels, Cancun and over a dozen cities and towns across the UK.

The piñatas (which were made with lots of love, care and creativity) were smashed in public to represent our demand that the money for developing countries to combat the impacts of climate change should be controlled by the United Nations Adaption Fund and not the undemocratic World Bank. The homemade World Bank piggy banks were filled with fair-trade chocolate coins and then smashed so all could see the coins cascade into a box labelled ‘United Nations Adaption Fund’. The stunt was a new way for supporters to introduce the climate debt campaign to the public.


After the smashing success of the pig stunt for WDM supporters across the UK, the pigs went global.

December 8 saw the world-wide launch of the campaign ‘World Bank out of climate finance’ which is supported by...

At the conclusion of the climate talks in Cancun, UK-based anti-poverty campaigners from the World Development Movement say that no real progress has been made since last year’s meetings in Copenhagen in terms of tackling emissions due to rich coutnries  feet-dragging. But although they cautiously welcomed the establishment of a new ‘Green Climate Fund’ to help poor countries cope with climate change, they raised strong concerns over the level of finance and potential role of carbon trading and markets.

Dr Julian Oram, head of policy of the World Development Movement said:
“In terms of making serious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the foot-dragging by developed countries has resulted in a text with little difference from the Copenhagen Accord. A year later, and 300, 000 more people have died from climate change related impacts, and still no more binding commitments have been forthcoming. The best that can be said is that it keeps the Kyoto process limping along until next year’s meetings in South Africa."

On the Green Fund
Dr Julian Oram, head of policy from the World Development Movement said:
“The establishment of a new Green Fund represents probably the only real breakthrough here in Cancun, but even on this big issues remain....

Julian Oram, used to be head of policy and campaigns

Apart from the strong-arm tactics being deployed by rich countries in the formal negotiations, another form of maneuvering is taking place in side events against developing countries here in Cancun.

A side event on Monday afternoon was particularly revealing. Lined up on the panel were seven representatives from the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), nominally reflecting on the ‘lessons learnt’ from their involvement to date in climate finance. Sadly, the event was more one of public relations than of honest evaluation.

Much was made of how these institutions were uniquely positioned to mobilize and coordinate new sources of climate finance; and how they have already massively expanded their portfolio in this area. But there was no assessment of their track record of debt-creation, dirty development, and economic policy conditionalities that harm the poor.

Nor was there any reflection on the appropriateness of forcing the world’s poorest nations to pay twice for a problem they did little to create by taking on new loans for climate adaptation. And there was no discussion about the lack of democratic accountability implicit in the channeling of climate finance through donor-controlled...

Catherine Negus, used to be WDM intern

WDM members and supporters from Dorset, Brighton, St Albans and London turned out in the freezing cold on Saturday to join the National Climate March and send the message to the UK government that the action being taken on climate change is appallingly insufficient.

The march coincided with the COP16 (Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) meetings in Cancún, Mexico, where world leaders have congregated (in theory) to thrash out a deal to tackle climate change. Activists worldwide are calling for decisive action. ‘We’ve come here in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable of the world’ declared Phil Thornhill from the Campaign Against Climate Change.

Despite the disruption caused by snow, the turnout was strong enough for one thousand marchers to arrange themselves into a massive ‘2030’ in Hyde Park, to highlight the march’s key demand of a ‘Zero-carbon Britain’ by the year 2030. The atmosphere was convivial yet resolute as we left Speakers’ Corner to upbeat music from blaring sound systems. The march closed off roads down Park Lane, up Piccadilly and Lower Regent Street to Trafalgar...

This morning, as I was trying to locate the bus to take me down the long mangrove lined road to the building that was host to the COP16 (short hand for the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), I met Gopal who had traveled from Nepal to be here. Gopal showed me the way to the bus, and we started talking about his work in Nepal. He was an expert in adaptation, researching local, community-led solutions to enable people to adapt to the impacts of climate change. His main focus was in considering how this locally driven knowledge could be shared, replicated and built on.

He talked about the issues now facing Nepal; melting glaciers, increasingly unpredictable rainfall, a net decrease in food production and a huge falls in the level of ground water table that has already forced a notable migration. I asked where his organisation got its funding from, and he reeled off a list of government departments for international development from across Europe.

I then asked how they found working with these donors. At first he was a little hesitant to sound critical, saying that he didn’t work with them directly, that was someone else’s job. But after I probed a little he went on, "The thing is with these donors" he said "is...

Kate Blagojevic, used to be press officer

I was invited to speak on a panel organised by our allies Equity and Justice Working Group in Bangladesh looking at the issue of forced migration as a result of climate change. I agreed, but hastened to add that I am not an expert in migration, but my knowledge comes from my spare time activity with asylum seekers in the UK rather than detailed knowledge of climate forced migration. Reza who was organising the panel promised it was no big deal. Imagine then, my alarm when Kumi Naidoo, the Chief Exec of Greenpeace International and the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh joined me on the panel.

As ever WDM had done some number crunching, which I could rely on! We estimated that the UK could be responsible for creating 10 million migrants over the next 40 years because of inaction on the climate change that the UK is causing and has caused historically. That is 250, 000 people each year, in the vast majority, these will be people from developing countries who will be forced from their homes through no fault of their own.

Paying our climate debt doesn’t just mean slashing emissions and compensating developing countries with climate finance, it also means that we...

Today, we joined Reza, one of our allies from Justice and Equity Working Group in Bangladesh to pay a visit to the World Bank's stall at COP 16. Reza was asking the Bank’s representatives why they were giving loans to a country like Bangladesh, which already has high levels of debt.

Credit: WDM / Kate Blagojevic

Of all countries, Bangladesh certainly shouldn’t be the one shackled with more unfair debt in the name of coping with the impacts of a climate crisis which it wasn’t responsible for causing. One World Bank official started answering his questions, trying to justify the loans by saying they were optional, that countries had chosen to accept them. But Reza wasn't going to be fobbed off with this pathetic justification of something that was clearly hugely unjust, and went on to explain passionately about what the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh meant for the lives of people living there. Clearly, he said, the people were so desperately in need of funds that they had no choice to accept the loans. The Bank official gulped, looking increasingly embarrassed, and in the end refused to answer any more...

Gary Dunion, used to be food campaigns officer

The financial crisis has exposed the power of unregulated financial markets to wreck the real economy most of us depend on. And the bailouts and bonuses have shown that when bankers get it wrong, they aren’t the ones that suffer the consequences.


The credit crunch was infamously caused by gambling on derivatives, complex and shadowy financial instruments that in this case were based on ‘sub-prime’ mortgage debt. When gambling on mortgages is out of control, people lose their homes – so what happens when the gambling is on food?

Welcome to Human Blackjack.

Bankers betting on food caused the crisis of 2008 that took the number of hungry in the world above 1 billion people. And they did it again this year when the price of wheat shot up 40% in a single month.

It’s dangerous, it’s immoral and it’s easily preventable. They can only get away with it as long as people are too confused by financial jargon to understand what they’re doing. To stop them, we only need to let everyone see exactly what goes on behind the doors of the casino.

Any time from midday to midnight on Friday the 26th of November, we invite you to...

Rosie Rogers and Kirsty Wright, used to be climate justice campaign

Yesterday people from all over the country descended on the Department for International Development (DfID). We were there to ensure that the Secretary of State, Andrew Mitchell and his department didn't ignore our message that we are against countries being forced into deeper poverty with World Bank loans for climate change. As part of WDM and Jubilee Debt Campaign’s (JDC) No New Debt campaign, people have been sending pound coins to DfID, asking for them to be given to the UN Adaptation Fund as grants and calling on the UK government to honour its pre-election promises that it wouldn’t force countries into new unfair debt.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCQ1PjON4-8

DfID not only refused to accept our donations, but threatened to send them to ‘a local charity’. They also confirmed that they would be supporting loans through the World Bank, in spite of Andrew Mitchell’s empty words of support for the UN Adaptation Fund to which his government have not given a single pound. Read more about DfID’s response here.

In...

Rich countries and corporations have grown wealthy through a model of development that has pushed the planet to the brink of climate catastrophe. They have over-used the planet’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide. Drastic measures now have to be taken to prevent runaway climate change, making it impossible for poor countries to grow their economies in the same way.

This is a joing briefing with the Jubilee Debt Campaign.

In a joint effort by WDM and Jubilee Debt Campaign, this briefing outlines how in the run up to Cancun, the government has given over one hundred million dollars in loans to low income countries to ‘help’ them deal with the impact of climate change.

It outlines how the government is backtracking on their pre-election promises relating to climate finance and how these loans will lock countries further into poverty.

 

I completely support WDM’s campaign to urge the government to provide sufficient resources as grants, not loans, to developing countries in order to help them adapt to climate change…"
- Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion


At the heart of WDM sit its fifty-two local groups. Our groups are made up of people who are committed to campaigning against global injustices and targeting the government and business policies which are keeping developing countries locked in poverty. Through their actions and campaigning efforts, these groups are instrumental in winning our campaigns. One of the ways in which they do this is by lobbying their local MPs.

When our Brighton group met with Green Party MP Caroline Lucas recently she offered full support for our climate debt campaign. She also promised to find out from Andrew Mitchell what’s been happening with the pounds WDM supporters have been sending to DfID for the UN Adaptation Fund.

WDM groups around the country have been lobbying their MPs on both our climate debt and our...

Last week BBC London news reported that a small protest outside a library in Shepherd’s Bush was prevented by Westfield Shopping Centre security, for no better reason than the fact that particular strip of publicly accessible pavement happened to be owned privately.

Sadly, this story is all too familiar.

Recently released video footage shows of a group of campaigners at the Birmingham Bullring shopping centre attempting to collect petitions. Private security intervened just 38 seconds after the petitioning began.

Right to campaign curtailed from Felix Gonzales on Vimeo.

 

The right to protest has stealthily been curtailed as once-public areas have been bought by private companies. Birmingham’s Bullring is a case in point. This is a historic city centre market place. However, now that it is owned privately, the current law of trespass allows the owners to discriminate between different viewpoints expressed on their property, and to prohibit any activity that does not make a profit.

The area in front of the Churchill...

Campaign Update: send a pound

At the start of September, the World Development Movement (WDM) and the Jubilee Debt Campaign (JDC) launched our 'send a pound' action as part of our no new debt campaign. The response we have received from the Department of International Development (DfID) has been confused and disappointing. First they have refused to accept the donations, and they now seem to be refusing to take the public's opinions into account.  This goes against Andrew Mitchell's expressed desire to take the opinion of the public into account in decisions around how the UK's development money is spent. It is also very surprising that the government is turning away funds at a time when devastating cuts are being imposed on UK public spending.  

'Send a pound' asks people to send a pound to Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, requesting that he deposits it with the UN...

Adriane Chalastra

Last Monday, several WDM representatives attended a seminar entitled “Mobilising the UK Bangladeshi Community for Action on Climate Justice”, where Tim Jones, WDM’s recently departed policy officer was one of the speakers. The event took place at the new City Hall building on Queen’s Walk. It was organised by the Bond Development and Environment Sub-group on Bangladesh and Climate Change, who organised the seminar to raise awareness about the issue of climate change and its impacts on Bangladesh, with a focus on how the Bangladeshi community in the UK can be mobilised to take action.

Bangladesh is one of the countries most seriously affected by climate change (impacted by nearly every effect of global, such as droughts, floods, and cyclones – really everything except for glacial ice melts!), yet it is one of the countries least responsible for causing climate change.

This seminar was held at an appropriate time, as just this week the World Bank’s Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) released a new report for their strategies to integrate “climate resilience considerations into national development planning and implementation that are consistent with poverty...

Dan Iles, used to be activism and events intern

Wednesday 20 October was a day marred with the realisation that we face the biggest threat to our welfare state in decades. With this concern in mind a large contingent from the World Development Movement offices left early from work to join the Coalition of Resistance’s march to Downing Street. From the perspective of an intern new to office life, it was a hugely inspiring feeling to be part of a workplace where so many of my colleagues came along to a political rally. If only every office in the country had this amount of political consciousness!

The rally itself was host to a decent and diverse collection of left wing organisations; students, anti war groups, black activists, public service trade unions, socialist and green parties, and anti-fascist groups. In particular there was a good turnout from the international development NGOs like us, the Jubilee Debt Campaign and War on Want. Inspiring speeches from the likes of John McDonnell, Caroline Lucas, Tony Benn and Jessie Jackson made a very commendable challenge to the dominant Tory dogma that ‘there is no alternative’.

However, in terms of building a big enough movement to challenge these cuts, it is clear that we are some way off. With notable...

WDM's network of groups and activists taking action on climate justice in their local communities:

Brighton & Hove WDM with their World Bank pig
Brighton & Hove WDM with their World 'piggy' bank and loan shark

Brighton & Hove WDM with their World 'piggy' bank
Brighton & Hove WDM show that climate finance should go through the UN Adaptation Fund rather than the World Bank.

Manchester WDM
Manchester WDM with their World 'piggy' Bank

Bexhill & Hastings WDM
Bexhill & Hastings WDM members smashing the World 'piggy' Bank

WDM Coventry taking part in a march against EON
Coventry WDM taking part in a march against E.ON

...

The World Development Movement reacted critically to the announcements saying that for 30 years developing countries had faced the same austerity measures which led to more poverty and more injustice for the poorest people. It also said that it was deeply deceptive that climate finance and the Green Investment Bank were being touted as 'good news stories' by the coalition government.

 Deborah Doane, director of the World Development Movement said:

 Resisting austerity: lessons from the developing world

"The experience of austerity measures imposed on developing countries should sound alarm bells for us all. These measures are not a new innovation; they were cooked up by Thatcher and Reagan in the 1980s and forced onto developing countries by the IMF and World Bank. The effects were devastating: inequality, poverty and injustice increased as public services and welfare spending were slashed.

 "Recently, such policies have been completely discredited; even the World Bank and IMF held their hands up and said they got it wrong. Countries, like Malaysia and Vietnam, that resisted the austerity measures remained far less vulnerable than those that had to succumb to these failed economic prescriptions. If we don’t resist this illogical...

In a characteristically brilliant article, George Monbiot today argues that the cuts that George Osborne will announce tomorrow as a result of the comprehensive spending review is a classic example of what Naomi Klein calls disaster capitalism:

In her book The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein shows how disaster capitalism was conceived by the extreme neoliberals at the University of Chicago. These people believed that the public sphere should be eliminated, that business should be free to do as it wants, and almost all tax and social spending should be stopped. They believed that total personal freedom in a completely free market produces a perfect economy and perfect relationships. It was a utopian system as fanatical as any developed by a religious cult. And it was profoundly unpopular. For a long time its only supporters were the heads of multinational corporations and a few wackos in the US government."


Essentially, disaster capitalism works by exploiting a situation when ordinary people are disoriented and confused – a financial crisis, for example – to push through unpopular policies like deregulation,...

WDM often takes life and campaigning very seriously. And why would we not, the injustice in the world is staggering - the people who caused the problem rarely pay. This precedent seems fixed from the cuts in the UK to the people affected most by climate change - it's always the people who are least able to cope who get hit first and worst. 

WDM has worked tirelessly for 40 years fighting for justice for the world's poorest people, and we have had some great successes, including stopping Kingnorth coal power station, the third runway at Heathrow, debt cancellation, rolling back water privatisation and speaking out against the World Trade Organisation's nefarious trade deals.

But this Thursday, we are going to kick-back and laugh in the fine company of some great, up-and-coming comedians.

The line-up includes, the superb Liam Mullone who contributes to BBC Radio 4's the Now Show and Arthur Smith lectures, hard-hitting Francesca Martinez, Aussie stand-up Kent Valentine, musical comedienne Hils Barker, Matt Kirshen, co-writer of BBC Radio 4's Bigipedia and the always entertaining Charlie Talbot.

Because we know that times are tight, we are running a competition to win discounted tickets. Come...

The progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals is being discussed at a summit in New York. The goals were set in 2000 with a target of meeting them by 2015. Ten years later, it's clear that progress in many areas is slow, espeicially for countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where over half the population continues to live in abject poverty.

Deborah Doane, director of UK based, anti-poverty campaigners, the World Development Movement explains why:
“With only five years to reach the Millennium Development Goals, leaders of rich countries need to get beyond inspirational speeches, and pledging more aid money that never arrives. Heads of State are delivering rhetoric but little else.
 

"They need to address the root causes of poverty that simply aren’t being mentioned: including an unfair trading system, unjust debt burdens and the biggest elephant in the room: climate change. If governments continue to dodge these thorny issues, then ultimately, MDG project will be doomed to failure.”
 

The World Development Movement believes that the lack of progress can be attributed to three central failures by rich countries which are neglecting people in sub-Saharan Africa in particular, but are also failing to address inequality between...

The UK government has come under fire for delivering 75 per cent of its climate finance for developing countries as loans, which WDM warns threatens to reverse decades of hard-fought progress on debt relief.

Rich countries claimed a key success of the Copenhagen Accord was the announcement of $30 billion of new climate finance that would be given over 2010 - 2012 to developing countries. But WDM argues that the UN Adaptation Fund, set up specifically to manage climate finance, has received just one per cent of money committed so far by donors, leaving it with insufficient resources to respond to the urgent need of countries to adapt to climate change.

Pakistan has applied to the UN Fund for financial help so that it can improve drainage systems to help cope with events such as the devastating floods currently ravaging the country.

The campaigners say the UN is struggling to provide assistance to countries like Pakistan because rich countries are channelling finance through the World Bank, which has received 40 per cent of the funds committed by donors so far.

The UK comes in line for particular criticism from the campaigners because so far 90 per cent of the UK’s climate finance pledges have been channelled through the World Bank. The World Bank is...

This briefing provides answers to a range of questions related to climate debt, including:

  • Why does the UK owe a climate debt?
  • Why is the climate debt campaign important?
  • How can the climate debt be paid?
  • How is the UK government using climate finance to reinforce existing inequalities?
  • How much does the UK owe?
  • What's so bad about the World Bank?
  • How can we pay our climate debt in a time of austerity?

Download the briefing (PDF format)

With only five years left to meet the MDGs, WDM has analysed where progress has been made. It is striking that people in Sub-Saharan Africa are being neglected. WDM believes that this worrying trend is at least partly due to a post 9/11 preoccupation with national security interests at the expense of poverty alleviation strategies. This is likely to be entrenched by the UK still deeper if you read between the lines of recent comments by Nick Clegg and Andrew Mitchell that the UK will increase aid for fragile and conflict ridden countries. 

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty

The flagship target of the MDG programme is that the number of people living on less than $1.25 per day is halved. We appear on course globally, but Africa is being left behind. Sub-Saharan Africa is now the only region where more than half of the population still live in extreme poverty.

Conversely, no progress was made in reducing hunger between 2000 and 2007. Since then we’ve seen the 2008 food price spike, during which, for example, the price of maize meal in Nairobi more than doubled. The result is that hunger topped 1 billion in 2009 and although some of the latest figures show that there has been minimal progress, current high food prices are likely to set...

Climate change is like eating a slap-up meal then handing the bill to the world’s poor
- Ricardo Navarro, El Salvador

Climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity. But it is not just an environmental issue, it is a development issue, and a global justice issue.

It is our excessive carbon emissions that are driving climate change. Rich countries are responsible for almost three quarters of global emissions. But it is poor countries that are bearing the brunt of the impact. Hundreds of millions face drought, floods, starvation, disease and death.

WDM is calling on the UK government to take action to reduce the UK’s emissions and show the rest of the world that it can be done. WDM is campaigning to stop climate injustice.

For more info all of our climate change briefings and reports are also online.

The impacts

150,000 people are already dying each year because of climate change. The poorest in the world are the most affected by climate change yet they are the least responsible.

Flooding: Vast areas of land will become submerged as sea levels rise with increasing...

Clean up the banks - WDM Scotland's priority campaign

 Demonstration outside the Royal Bank of Scotland

As taxpayers, we own over 80% of the Royal Bank of Scotland but continue to invest in projects that threaten the climate. Join our campaign to clean up the bailed-out banks.

Climate Debt

Climate debt graphic depicting the earth in chains 

Britain owes compensation to poor countries for our historic and continuing over-use of fossil fuels.  Find out more

Food Speculation

Woman spreading grain

Banks are earning huge profits from betting on food prices...

Your payment is now complete and will appear on your bank statement as the 'World Development Movement'.

Got another few minutes to spare?

If you have a couple of more minutes to spare, please help us by sending an email to Andrew Mitchell, demanding that any future climate finance is given as grants, not loans.

WDM's climate debt campaign

Through our climate debt campaign we want to ensure the UK fairly pays the compensation it owes for causing climate change, instead of using it to reinforce existing global inequalities, by propping up the World Bank and forcing new loans onto developing countries.

Find out more about the campaign

 

 

 

Support our appeal and help us achieve another forty years of campaign success by donating now

Join WDM in celebrating forty years of successfully fighting for justice for the world’s poor. With your help, we have exposed injustice, held corporations to account and stopped harmful government policies; winning lasting change for the world’s poorest people.

From our famous victory in the 1994 Pergau Dam court case, which forced the government to stop conditional aid spending, to spearheading the campaign that led to debt cancellation for many of the world's poorest countries, WDM has always punched above its weight.

WDM campaigners during the historic Pergau Dam campaign

Four decades on, WDM’s work remains vital. Over the last 20 years globalisation has slowed economic progress in many developing countries, benefiting the few while millions still live in poverty. Recently, the financial crisis and rising food prices have driven...

The September issue of our monthly newsletter for WDM groups and activists, Think Global, is out now! Find out the latest on all our campaigns here, including new actions for our 'climate debt' campaign and full event listings for the autumn. 

If you would like to receive Think Global by post or email every month, sign up here

 

WDM objects to Ayrshire Power's planning application to build a new coal power station at Hunterston in Scotland. Scotland's climate debt to developing countries will only worsen.

A coal fired power station

Scotland owes a huge climate debt to countries across the world which have had, and continue to have, far lower emissions than us. It is vital that Scotland stops increasing this debt by making large and quick reductions in its own emissions. Building a new power plant at Hunterston will increase Scotland’s climate debt and is the wrong thing to do.  The proposed 1600MW power station, capturing only 15-25 per cent of its emissions, would have horrendous impacts on the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people across the world through the climate change it would cause.

Read our objection here

By Tim Jones

Politicians break promises. We are told it is naïve to think otherwise. However, society can only function through the making of promises. It is how we collectively agree to work together.

In campaigning, we often have to comment and make judgements on promises rather than actions. During the general election campaign, we rated each opposition party based on what they said they would do. There was nothing else to go on.

Today we learnt that, rather than trying to be the ‘greenest government ever’ the coalition has dropped its pledge to introduce a limit on emissions from new power stations. An ‘emissions performance standard’, if set at the right level, would have prevented new dirty coal power stations from being built, such as Hunterston in Ayrshire or Kingsnorth in Kent.

The promise to introduce an emissions performance standard was made not once but over and over again by both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. This...

Tim Jones

Politicians break promises. We are told it is naïve to think otherwise. However, society can only function through the making of promises. It is how we collectively agree to work together.

In campaigning, we often have to comment and make judgements on promises rather than actions. During the general election campaign, we rated each opposition party based on what they said they would do. There was nothing else to go on.

Today we learnt that, rather than trying to be the ‘greenest government ever’ the coalition has dropped its pledge to introduce a limit on emissions from new power stations. An ‘emissions performance standard’, if set at the right level, would have prevented new dirty coal power stations from being built, such as Hunterston in Ayrshire or Kingsnorth in Kent.

The promise to introduce an emissions performance standard was made not once but over and over again by both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. This culminated in a...

Yesterday afternoon, James, Kiama Kaara from Kenya Debt Relief Network and I drove to Thika, a medium-sized town 40km north east of Nairobi along a bustling road lined with traders, construction workers and shops for a meeting with Zachary Makanya from the PELUM Association.

PELUM, which stands for Participatory Ecological Land Use Management, are a network of civil society organisations and NGOs working with small-scale farmers from East, Central and Southern Africa. Their vision is an inspiring and humbling one and what Zachary told us was very clear. Kenyans are still not seeing an improvement in their quality of life despite decades of aid money being poured into the country by mostly good-intentioned by often ill-informed and patronising donors and NGOs. The effects of aid dependency and the legacy of colonialism mean that the urgent process of ‘decolonising the mind’ must now start in earnest if African nations, Kenya included, are to resist the fierce and bullish march of globalisation and industrialisation, which is already wiping out traditional knowledge, languages, indigenous communities and the natural environment.

...

Welcome to the July issue of Think Global.  This month's newsletter contains the all the latest on some campaign successes in trade and climate debt!  Plus there is full information on how you can take action in our new food speculation campaign. 

 

 

Tim Jones, used to be policy officer

Some of us may have been surprised to wake up this morning to hear that a hosepipe ban may be introduced soon in north-west England following a lack of rain. For the past few years the ‘weather story’ in the UK has been one of cold, wet summers. Those unable to distinguish between ‘weather’ and ‘climate’ have used this story to spread absurd falsities about climate change, such as the Conservative MEP who told me “the world has been in a cooling phase for the last ten years”.

Maybe the lack of rain in the north-west of England will open the mainstream media’s eyes to the true climate story which continues unabated. The decade just ended was the warmest ever recorded. 2010 is so far on track to be the warmest year ever.

Across the world we continue to see how these changes in climate affect real people. India has been suffering from a heat-wave, with temperatures reaching almost 50°C. The monsoon has made a stuttering start, after one of India’s worst ever droughts last year. Over 2 million people have been displaced from their homes by extreme floods in China.

But there...

Baffled by 'derivatives'? Do you know your 'over the counter' from your 'hedge'? Food speculation is an issue that can get quite technical but here's our jargon busting glossary which will help steer you around the murky waters of financial markets.

Clearing exchange

A clearing exchange acts as the intermediary between the buyer and seller of a derivatives contract. So instead of the buyer and seller interacting directly, the clearning exchange becomes the buyer to each seller, and the seller to each buyer, of a contract. The clearing entity makes the payments to each side of the deal,
covering the buyer and seller from the risk of the other side defaulting. This in turn provides financial stability by insuring both parties against default.

In contrast, derivative contracts which are sold directly between two parties (see over-thecounter derivatives below) can be defaulted on as either side may not deliver either the goods or the money. It was non-payment of derivatives
contracts (not traded through clearing exchanges) which contributed to the 2007/08 financial crisis.

In return for being protected from default, buyers and sellers pay a fee to clearing
exchanges. This protects traders from default by the other party and creates a...

Here is our letter to the Royal Bank of Scotland following the meeting with him after the RBS AGM that was attended by our Scottish coalition to clean up the banks which includes ourselves, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Amnesty International, People and Planet & SEAD.  Also present at the meeting were two representives of Canadian First Nations who are being directly affected by the current tar sands operations...
17 May 2010

Dear Sir Phillip,

Thank you for meeting us at the end of last month in Edinburgh, and for your clear commitment to take our concerns and suggestions to the Board of RBS, and to Sandy Crombie as the senior independent director and chair of the Board's sub-committee on sustainability.
We are now writing, as agreed, to set out specific suggestions and proposals to address some of the concerns we have about the practices, policies and governance of RBS. These reflect the different competences and remits of each of our organisations.
Our concerns about RBS, especially as a primarily tax-payer owned bank, relate to the severe environmental consequences of financing projects and companies involved in exploitation of fossil fuels, and particularly tar sands, as well as to human rights abuses, and other social...

Last night, I met with Marcos from CIPCA, an organisation working with small farming communities around Bolivia, looking at the impacts of climate change and how to deal with it, at both a practical and policy level. We were discussing the Cochabamba cumbre and the resulting Cochabamba Accord, 'The People's Accord', that will be submitted to the UNFCCC.  


“What do you think of the Bolivian concepts of Vivir Bien ['living well'], and Mother Earth Rights that are being put forward to the UN,” he asked, “What do you think people in Europe think of them?” I paused before answering, wanting to be honest.
 
“To me, the concepts seem instinctive, but, truthfully, I think people in Europe find them hard to take seriously, they snigger – in part because of the name. I think for many people it has connotations of new age hippies," I tired to explain, "Which of course is ridiculous given that the concept of Pachamama has been around through the history of indigenous people.”
 
Marcos nodded, knowingly, “I think the easiest way to understand it is to think about...

To the 'people of the world' gathered in Cochabamba, its becoming increasingly clear that climate change is not just an environmental issue but a matter of justice. This week, hearing the testimonies of people from across the world where the impacts of climate change are already pervading into daily reality, has been incredibly powerful. But climate justice is not just about the impacts of climate change, but also impacts from the causes of climate change; the deforestation that destroys the way of life for forest peoples, extraction of fossil fuels, all too often being pushed through the neo-liberal policies of institutions like the World Bank, and mined by transnational corporations, with no concern for the impacts of local people. Even many of the solutions being proposed and implemented are pushing people into displacement and deeper poverty. As I heard one African speaker said today, “As long as they keep pushing false solutions, the climate debt continues to increase.”

Namoi Klein talking on panel

This morning I saw Naomi Klein...

Since the failure of the Copenhagen climate talks to both reach an outcome or even to ensure the voices of people who are going to be most effected by climate change were being represented, the Bolivian government have called a people’s conference to create space for the voices of the people – The People’s Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights

The importance of this conference at this time cannot be underestimated. Last weekend, the climate negotiations resumed at the headquarters of the UNFCCC in Bonn.  Here, more blatantly than ever before, rich countries were responsible for bullying and bribing the countries, that were standing up in opposition to the weak Copenhagen Accord – ironically not only the most affected but also the least responsible for causing the problem in the first place. One senior African diplomat told The Guardian that the UK, France, EU and US have told poor countries they would “suffer” if they did not back the Accord. WDM first revealed the bullying and bribery tactics of rich...

Alex Wood, used to be Campaigns and Policy Assistant

On Thursday 8 April, the World Bank Board approved a $3.75 billion loan to the South African energy giant Eskom. The loan was opposed by an international coalition of 200 civil society groups lead by 65 South African social and environmental organisations. Despite a huge amount of green spin from the World Bank the core element of this loan is $3.05 billion for the completion of the 4800 MW Medupi coal-fired power station which will be the fourth biggest coal power station in the world.

The loan comes at a time when it is imperative that the world cuts its addiction to carbon and especially coal. South African civil society is resisting the loan as it will increase South Africa’s already high level of debt by 5 per cent. This debt is especially problematic as, being in dollars, it leaves South Africa further exposed to the perils of exchange rate fluctuations.

Civil society is also protesting that the loan will further entrench Eskom’s monopoly which has allowed it to provide below cost energy to some of the biggest corporations in the world, while the poor pay around four times as much per unit of energy. There are also serious corruption allegations that the ANC will receive millions of dollars...

The UK today banned 'third world debt profiteering' by so-called vulture funds. The Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill is the world’s first law to restrict the ability of vulture funds to sue some of the world’s poorest countries for full repayment of debts that they have bought up cheaply.

WDM strongly welcomed the bill which our friends over at the Jubilee Debt Campaign have campaigned heavily for. The bill became law today after passing in the House of Lords during the ‘wash-up’ at the end of the Parliamentary session.

Last November two Vulture Funds were awarded $20 million in the High Court from Liberia – the second poorest country in the world - for a debt dating back to the 1970s. This law is expected to make that verdict unenforceable.

There was an outcry last month after the bill was blocked at third reading by an unidentified Conservative MP – thought to be backbencher Christopher Chope. But the government made time for the Bill in the wash-up, after securing cross-party agreement with a sunset clause which will mean the law has to be reassessed to be made permanent in a year’s time.

International support for the bill has been expressed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and President...

Patrick Bond and Desmond D'Sa

It is very important for Brits to not only keep the coal in the hole at home, as so many activists are doing. It's also the responsibility of the British citizen to watch your tax monies, and if via the World Bank they fund climate destruction, poverty and privatisation, to please speak out. 

The World Bank’s fossil fuel portfolio is the world's largest, and in 2004 the Bank board rejected its own internal Extractive Industries Review mandate to 'phase out' oil, gas and coal investments. Now, Bank president Robert Zoellick - a neoconservative ideologue (central to the Project for a New American Century) who served as an Enron advisor, Goldman Sachs official and US Trade representative (when he wrecked the WTO's Doha Round) - claims he is building a 'Climate Bank'. 

Zoellick will undermine any such claim on April 8 when the Bank Board is expected to approve a $3.75 billion loan to the South African electricity utility Eskom, to build the world’s fourth largest coal-fired power plant, Medupi.

Repaying the finance for Medupi and the next coal-fired plant (the world's third largest) will require a 127% real electricity price increase through 2012...

Welcome to the April issue of Think Global.

Read the latest news on our climate debt campaign, including an update on the People's Conference on Climate Change, being held in Bolivia in April.

There's been lots going on with our Clean up the Banks campaign, find out more below, and plan a media stunt during our week of action at the end of the month.

Finally, don't forget to book your place at our exciting activist gathering on 19 June, find out more here

A window of opportunity

In the run up to the general election, we have a window of opportunity to get politicians to listen to our call for justice.

We need your support to mobilise local activists around the country to demand that potential MPs commit to action on global poverty.

Please will you give £50 today, or however much you can afford to help us mobilise local activists at this crucial time?

  • £30 could help pay for briefing reports for local campaigners about what a financial transaction tax could achieve.
  • £50 could pay for materials for stunts, such as the hire of a JCB to highlight RBS' investments in destructive energy projects like tar sands.
  • £150 could help us found a new campaigning group in the UK.

Watch this short video to find out what you can do:

...

A window of opportunity

In the run up to the general election, we have a window of opportunity to get politicians to listen to our call for justice.

We need your support to mobilise local activists around the country to demand that potential MPs commit to action on global poverty.

Please will you give £50 today, or however much you can afford to help us mobilise local activists at this crucial time?

  • £30 could help pay for briefing reports for local campaigners about what a financial transaction tax could achieve.
  • £50 could pay for materials for stunts, such as the hire of a JCB to highlight RBS' investments in destructive energy projects like tar sands.
  • £150 could help us found a new campaigning group in the UK.

Watch this short video to find out what you can do:

...

In solidarity with campaigners in South Africa, WDM has joined a call to the UK government to say no to a World Bank proposal to provide a $3.75 billion loan to South African energy giant Eskom. The project, which Eskom want to use as an excuse to raise rates for people living in South Africa, would increase energy poverty and cause environmental destruction that would hit the poorest people in South Africa hardest.

The project would also increase debt for South Africa which would fall most heavily on the poorest people. Furthermore, the proposal highlights why it is completely hypocritical for the World Bank to be involved in administering funds provided to help tackle climate change. 

WDM are calling for the UK, which is the biggest single donor to the World Bank, to vote against this loan. Below you can read our joint letter asking that Douglas Alexander votes against World Bank funds going towards Eskom’s venture.

Read more about the campaign in South Africa


Dear Secretary of State

Re: Proposed World Bank loan to Eskom, South Africa

We are writing to urge that the UK vote against the proposed $3.75 billion loan to Eskom for the Medupi coal-fired power...



Stop the sell off - find out more