Rianne has moved on from her work with Islamic Relief and adding new courses to her Open University work, including Exploring the boundaries of international law. Locally, she has started to set up a Transition Solihull page.
In March she was in Baghdad ‘looking at durable solution for internally displaced people for the Danish Refugees Council’. More about this work may be seen here.
News of her experience was recorded on this blog; we include a few points here.
The majority of the internally displaced people (IDPs) fled their homes due to the sectarian conflict which erupted in 2006-7, though seeking employment, or better economic opportunities also affected people’s motivation to move.
In an informal settlement in Ur, Baghdad, 4,000 families were living in makeshift houses (unfinished or affected by the war) with very poor living conditions (I’ve seen sewage inside the houses), poor quality water (no legal access to water mains, open sewage on the paths, couldn’t really call them roads), and power supplies, very limited access to education (two schools for the whole settlement) and poor health care as the doctor has to see over 100 patients a day every day).
People are illegally taking water and electricity and sometimes squatting the land owned by others, as a coping mechanism or last resort as they are stuck in a situation where they have no other alternative.
The Government is very reluctant to provide any infrastructure support, out of fear of formalising the situation as reality on the ground, where this would definitely create much bigger and more complicated future problems (e.g. discouraging people to return, affect overcrowding).
The local government, the UN and NGOs are trying to support them on an ad hoc basis, but without any vision of sustainable and durable solution as they are considered squatters and unofficial occupiers of the land so impossible to think ahead.
Unfortunately the trip to the settlement was affected, and later meetings with the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) and the UN were cancelled due to several explosions around the capital city and Eskanderiya (Babel) Governorate, killing an estimated 50 people. Besides of course being a tragedy for those killed or wounded, it also makes things very difficult indeed for others to achieve much as planned; everything takes longer than expected (have only seen a single working traffic light, many traffic jams), there are constantly changing plans (due to changing security situation and more), cancelling appointments (due to one or other party being stuck in traffic or otherwise for security unable or unwilling to move).
Fleming, second left, discussing the working of an experimental rocket stove – to capture heat with clean combustion – at Transition Town Louth, Lincolnshire (The Times)
“Is the priority to expand world trade, to push ahead with the global market, or to build on the resilience of communities, to protect them from the turbulence of the global market and to improve their food security?
“The former head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mike Moore, writes persuasively about the benefits of free trade in A World Without Walls; (2003). He shows that the lowering of trade barriers has stimulated growth, that the countries that have been the most open to trade have enjoyed the most economic progress and the greatest rise in the incomes of the poor. And, as former prime minister of New Zealand, he has the experience of making that country a pioneer of free-market agriculture, with benign effects across the economy. How, then, can there be doubts when he argues that the anti-globalisation movement, if successful, would bring catastrophic consequences, not just for the poor in developing economies, but for all of us?
“Can Mr Moore and the anti-globalisation protestors really be talking about the same thing?”
Fleming continues with the opposing argument which states that globalisation, in the form of free trade, opening up small-scale production in the non-industrialised countries to competition from multinationals:
- leads to unemployment and dispossession;
- makes agriculture dependent on imported energy;
- devastates soils, ecosystems and communities;
- raises incomes in part by destroying local subsistence and forcing people into the cash economy;
- and is supported by the governments of the affected countries
- not least because of the debts into which they have been lured.
“Food security, with higher overall yields and greater diversity, less damage to the soil and higher real local incomes, would be more fruitfully sought by helping farmers to make the best use of their own skills applied to local conditions”.
Both sides beg the question: they are each correct if their premises are accepted: if the priority is to expand world trade, to push ahead with the global market, Mr Moore’s conclusions naturally follow; if it is to build on the resilience of communities, to protect them from the turbulence of the global market, and to improve their food security, his critics are correct.
The begged question is the one thing they should be talking about.
“Just returned from ill deserved holiday in Oz and other bits of Asia, gave talks re Birmingham and Green New Deal in Sydney and Melbourne. I met Christine Milne, head of the Greens there in Canberra – all were very impressed with what’s being done in Brum – or at least about my version of it!!!
“Also got some pension people together in Sydney to try and push pension investment in energy efficiency”.
He is to attend the second networking event of the London Cleantech Cluster (LCC) at 5.30pm on Tuesday 23 April at Taylor Wessing, 5 New Street Square, London, EC4A 3TW.
1. Our first Diamond Member, JA Kemp, and the new IP Signature Special Interest Group which will be launched on 19 June
2. Low Carbon London
3. Range of activities and organisations supporting early stage cleantech businesses in the region
4. Update on the International Outreach Programme
5. What is happening to support the deployment of sustainable solutions throughout the region
6. Latest additions to the founding supporters of the LCC
7. Mentoring programme
8. A specific London regional initiative to support sustainability
Further details of the event are set out at http://www.londoncleantechcluster.co.uk/events-2/agenda/
“As yet another high-profile report (this time from the European Parliament) concludes that “the transition to a post-oil society is inevitable”, the dominant response to the tripling in oil prices over the past decade seems to be the desire to move to even more carbon-intensive fuels, such as coal, tar sands and methane hydrates.
”Meanwhile, new satellite data confirms that Arctic sea ice volume has reduced by 80% since 1980, and voices as unexpected as U.S. Forces Admiral Samuel Locklear – Commander of America’s military in the Pacific – are stating that climate change is the greatest threat we face, and the UK public are strongly supporting activists who go head-to-head with the big energy companies in protest at the emissions produced in supplying our electricity.
”A little joined-up thinking would go a long way. It is clear that we cannot continue scraping the barrel of dirtier and dirtier fuels – that we must instead accept the need to curb our energy demand, and strive to do it in the fairest, most equitable way possible.
The new TEQs team
With this in mind, our big news is that we are looking to ramp up our advocacy for TEQs.
A new Board has been formed (although we are still seeking one or two additional members with complementary skills), and we plan to bring in new staff over the coming months. Full details on these organisational developments in the next update, but if you might be interested in an internship with us, take a look at this piece inviting interest, that went up today on the Sheila McKechnie Foundation’s Campaign Central website.
Full update – including news of recent relevant academic and NGO publications available online at: http://www.powerswitch.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=22715)
A significant milestone?
The BBC produced a video, with a commentary by Robert Peston entitled “How do Banks Work?” which sought to explain the principles of banking and the role played by banking in relation to the global financial crisis. The video gave a misleading impression of the way banks work by failing to note their role as creators of money, and this role in leading up to the crisis.
One of Positive Money’s supporters, Conrad Jones, decided to take action and complained. The process was tedious (as you can read below) and it took perseverance and a lot of patience…
…but at last it resulted in BBC admitting that the video “left a misleading impression of how banks in fact work, and of the impact of the working of banks on the economy at large.” and the video was removed from the website.
The item was a video extract from a BBC3 programme directed at a young audience. In the video, the BBC’s Business Editor sought to explain, in appropriately simplified terms, the principles of banking and the role played by banking in relation to the global credit crunch. A viewer complained that it gave a misleading impression of the way banks work (by failing to note their role as creators of credit) and of the causes of the global financial crisis.
Though highly simplified, the item did not give a misleading impression of the immediate causes of the global credit crunch (as distinct from the period of extensive lending which preceded it). In relation to the principles of banking, however, it was simplified to the point of suggesting that the amount a bank could lend was limited to the sum of its deposits. This left a misleading impression of how banks in fact work, and of the impact of the working of banks on the economy at large.
The video was removed from the website following the ECU finding.
The process was described as tedious but Conrad’s account is not! We recommend it.
New readers may read more about Ben here.