Achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals

This blog's purpose is to connect in an every widening and deepening manner with others across the globe in support of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals.

Let's be the first generation to end poverty by 2015 with the United Nations' Eight Goal Millennium Campaign.
1. End Hunger 2. Universal Education 3. Gender Equity 4. Child Health 5. Maternal Health 6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases 7. Environmental Sustainability 8. Global Partnership.

Learn more about what this weblog is trying to accomplish at the new PBworks Wiki.

Speaking Out for the Millennium Development Goals

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What If - Millennium Development Goals Ending Poverty 2015

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dec. 1st Bloggers Unite Blog for World Aids Day

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Bloggers Unite

Bloggers Unite is taking on another issue affecting millions.

On December 1st, 2008, BlogCatalog members will be joining with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of HIV/AIDS Policy's AIDS.gov for Bloggers Unite For World AIDS Day.

Their basic approach:

We Need Your Help!

As this campaign is directly related to the Millennium Goal No. 6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases, this blog will be taking a global perspective on this issue.

There are an estimated 33 million people with AIDS worldwide. It affects every country, city, and town in the world. And, the most frightening thing about it is that is going largely unchecked. In fact, that is one of the reason that worldaidscampaign.org is continuing its "leadership" theme, which it developed after learning that many leaders who promised to support AIDS were not keeping their promises.

Unlike most campaigns where we hope awareness led to action, this is one campaign where awareness is action! If even just 10 percent of our members get involved, we can reach an estimated 4 million blog readers. And if half of our members participate, we can reach 20 million. And if all bloggers participate, we can reach the entire world.

The BlogCatalog Team

BlogCatalog.com · 7162 Eckhert Road · San Antonio, TX · 78238

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Millennium Project on Trade Fair & Free

Sphere: Related Content Rav Casley Gera, late of the African Development for the Completely Bloody Ignorant blog, did a post on back on 1/28/08, which is about how late he has been. Rav provides policy suggestions from the U.N. Overview Report A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals section 3. Recommendations for the international system to support country-level processes. (pdf). I am paraphrasing here, as usual you can go to his article for more indepth information.

Rav recognizes what the UN argues in their 2004 report on strategies to meet the Millennium Development Goals that the "the slogan 'trade, not aid' is misguided." (p46). "Trade, not aid" is a common refrain used by conservatives arguing against increasing aid to Africa, but also by an increasing number of social entrepreneurs seeking to move beyond government foreign aid which is not sustainable. The debate is no less intense as two past posts from my other blog indicate. A Question of Nets Malaria and Social Aid A Question of Nets Malaria and Social Aid 2

Trade and aid are not mutually exclusive. Trading with other countries has helped transform Asian developing economies and slashed poverty. It is not the whole story and it is not a choice of either supplying aid to help keep people alive or compelling trade to force developing countries to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. First, you have to have boots.

The report is also explicit in its belief that, "in the long term, free trade is in everyone's best interest", meaning that both free trade and fair trade must be realized to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Putting these two concepts together in the same beaker may be more difficult than combining the concepts of private trade and public aid. Rav provides an example by pointing out that the UN report is at odds with the Commission for Africa, whose own report emphasized poor countries' right to protect their economies (pdf). I won't deny the need for poor countries to protect their economies, which is one of the premises of fair trade, the challenge will be in creating the correct balance, the argument will be on where the point of balance is.

Abolish agricultural subsidies. They are both expensive and harm poor countries by making exports from rich countries cheaper than goods grown at home! (p46). Rich countries are being neither fair nor free in their practice. For the first I will turn to to this Stigliz article from the Ghana Graphic Online and for the second to my favorite Libertarian-light economist Tyler Cowen – Kill the Farm Bill.

Manufactured goods made in poor countries when exported to rich countries face crippling import tariffs that make them too expensive to succeed. Because rich countries have agreed various free-trade initiatives through groupings like the EU, many place higher tariffs on goods from poor countries than on goods from other rich countries.

Barriers placed by developing countries are meant to prevent goods flowing in from rich countries, also act as trade barriers between fellow poor countries - preventing, for example, trade between neighboring African states, which could both help those economies grow, but also help reduce conflict between African states. The UN report calls for a quick reduction to zero of tariffs on imports of nonagricultural goods proposing a deadline of 2025 for the removal of their barriers for developing countries and 2015 for rich countries. (p46-7). Meaning that there is a ten (10) year gap before fair trade and free trade are effectively blended together. Prior to that time they are likely to be an admixture of competing policies and philosophies.

Rav also looks at free trade in services being a controversial idea, "with many arguing that poor countries could be forced to sell off their remaining public services and to remove regulations on things like banking to fulfill the requirements of the World Trade Organization's GATS initiative". UNESCO has raised the issue of education, university quality and mobility in the past. The GATS initiative is another example of a practice I need to learn more about where developing countries struggle with their own economic engines, but developing countries get to write the owner's manual. I am not saying it is necessarily wrong just needs to be studied more. More on that and other issues raised by Rav in another post.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Darker Side of Biofuel

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Ending hunger is usually the first thing one thinks about when thinking about the Millennium Development Goals. Another important goal is environmental sustainability. What happens when they are put into conflict with each other?

Biofuels: Burning Food? via Allianz Knowledge / Latest Articles on 10/20/08 asks,

Are biofuels responsible for higher food prices and a growing number of hungry people? Terri Raney, senior economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), explains the links between food and fuel.

"Biofuels demand is likely to keep basic food commodity prices 10 to 15 percent higher than they would have been otherwise."

Terri Raney, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre on 10/20/08 introduced us to an even darker side with The Gates of Hell - Jungle takes a look at the lesser known side of the ethanol boom.

My task is to translate, photograph, film and get permission to accompany the Brasilian government's Mobile Group on a rescue mission to release men, women and children being forced to work in sub-human conditions...[by] unscrupulous land owners...since 1995, 30,000 slaves have been freed.
Other earlier posts from my blogs dealing with biofuels have included:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tear up the Myanmar junta's insurance

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This blog's latest online action was with the Bloggers Unite campaign in support of refugees. Another group that has had a number of worthwhile campaigns has been Avaaz. Here are some past campaigns supported by this blog Using the Web to take action is Change, Adding your voice to a cause is Change and What the world including me is saying to Obama. Burma has also been a topic for this blog with Refugees Across the Globe - A Millennium Problem, Open Architecture Network - Making a difference with the Web and Triangular Scale and with my other blog, Pathways to New Paradigms Even In A Digital World It Takes Real Heart To Make Change, Revisiting The Past Creating the Future and Burma Burning. Below is the latest action from Avaaz concerning Burma.

Dear friends, Myanmar

Burma is far from the headlines - but we've found a real pressure point, the insurers who prop up the junta's economic interests. Read the email and take action now!

A year after their crackdown, Burma's military dictators remain entrenched, propped up by dealings with Western companies. But the Burmese democracy movement has found a powerful pressure point -- many of the Generals' West-linked business ventures depend on one insurer: Lloyd's of London.[1]

Lloyd's is the world's oldest, most respected insurer, and cares a great deal about its global reputation -- by pointing out Lloyd's blameworthiness as key insurance deals come up for renewal, we can shift their cost-benefit calculations on support to the Burmese regime.

If enough of us email and call key decision-makers at Lloyd's this week, we could shame them into pulling out of this dirty trade, undermining the hardliners and creating pressure for human rights and the release of political prisoners like democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Follow this link to lend a hand to the Burmese people.

Lloyd's of London is the umbrella and overseer for hundreds of specialist insurance syndicates, and it can stop their dirty trade if it so chooses. Already many big global insurers have stopped insuring junta-linked businesses – after Lloyd's, the generals will start to run out of options. We'll ramp up the pressure by alerting the media to our campaign, specialist insurance publications included. Even the British government has begun to ask Lloyd's to cease its business with the Burmese military junta.[2]

If we win, the regime will be thrown onto the back foot, Burma's people will be immensely heartened, and the UN Secretary-General will have a greater chance of securing the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other prisoners this December.[3] Together, our individual small acts are becoming irresistible. We can't forget Burma.

With hope and determination,

Paul, Alice, Iain, Graziela, Ricken, Pascal, Paula, Brett, Veronique, Milena -- the entire Avaaz team

Sources:

1. The Observer: "The baron who holds Burma's purse strings", 2 November 2008

Reinsurance Magazine: Big insurers including Marsh, Swiss Re, AON pull out:

Arab Insurance Group and XL also pull out

2. "Foreign Office warns Lloyd's over Burma"

3. As Ban Ki-Moon prepares to visit, Asia-Europe summit in Beijing calls for release of political prisoners:


ABOUT AVAAZ
Avaaz.org is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Sydney and Geneva.

Click here to learn more about Avaaz's largest campaigns.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite For Refugees Aftermath

Sphere: Related Content Bloggers Unite for RefugeesBloggers Unite For Refugees

On Monday November 10th, the BlogCatalog community came together like never before. According to BlogPulse, blog posts about refugees nearly doubled. According to Google search, more than 12,000 bloggers wrote about Bloggers Unite For Refugees. More than 2,500 included our program partner Refugees United (refunite.org), which provides refugees with an anonymous forum to reconnect with missing family.

This was my first time participating with this group. They are now featured as a permanent widget on the right-hand column. Aira of the blog It'll be alright organized the majority of the posts under one thread and tied the whole affair together rather nicely in her own post.

It seems a small thing, I know. But the net itself is made of small pages, like mine and like the web pages of the over 10 thousand bloggers part of the Bloggers Unite. Ten thousand stories and thoughts for giving voice to 40 million refugees, for making known an association that help people for real. And to put in practice an expression I read on the Refugees United’s page and – with its simplicity – seemed to me such fundamental: spread the world.

I have signed up both with the current group and for an invitation to be part of the launching of Bloggers Unite as it's own social cause event site where bloggers and social cause organizers will be able to communicate and rally around causes. These efforts do have an impact.

Bloggers UniteWith the average contributing blogger reaching 200 readers, the plight of refugees may have reached as many 2.5 million readers, many of whom took action on Monday by writing letters to government officials and making donations to several worthwhile nonprofit organizations. The volume of posts also attracted the attention from Ode Magazine in California to the blog of Raju Nrisettiof, who writes for the The Wall Street Journal in India. This excludes the ongoing coverage of refugees by traditional media, which has been covering the estimated 100,000 refugees currently trapped in the Congo.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Despite current economic climate Science moves forward Will USA provide leadership for a better world?

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One reason for maintaining my support for the free enterprise system despite the current economic crisis, which I blame on what I am calling uber-capitalism, is that I still see free enterprise as the best means of fueling innovation, including scientific innovation. That may be in part why SciDev.Net calls for the United States to take a lead role in advancing science as a means of addressing the challenges of the Millennium Development Goals.

SciDev.Net says that according to an editorial in Nature,science is on the rise. "Science and innovation continue to grow in developing countries, despite the current economic climate."

Quotes:
Science on the rise, despite current economic climate - SciDev.Net
  • According to a report published by TWAS, The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, even smaller countries such as Chile, Malaysia, Rwanda and Vietnam are prioritising investment in higher education and technology.
  • Whereas countries borrowing from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were previously told to cut back on government spending, now there is talk of rebuilding and strengthening public institutions. And this is likely to be the case for both richer and poorer nations. Read more »
The same SciDev.Net makes the case that the world's poor deserve better US leadership. Not just more funding, but the vision of leadership. "The US election has implications for science and foreign aid policy, and so for the poorest people across the developing world."

Quotes: The world's poor deserve better US leadership - SciDev.Net
  • Enhancing efforts to tackle global poverty will be particularly important; not just by providing direct assistance like food aid, but also by helping poor countries improve their science and technology capacities.
  • The more that the United States becomes identified with such efforts, the less it will be accused of merely pursuing its own commercial and military interests. And the more that such countries generate sustainable economic growth, feed their people and create new jobs, the less they will become breeding grounds for fundamentalist-driven protest. Read more »
To do this the US science office must promote global collaboration according to SciDev.Net."The White House science office must boost science and technology for international cooperation on many fronts, says Rodney W. Nichols."

Quotes: US science office must promote global collaboration - SciDev.Net
  • In November 2008, a report from the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC (OSTP 2.0) outlined best practices for global responsibilities in the OSTP. These include: leading international S&T policy and activities in organisations such as the G8, World Bank, and all major bilateral and multilateral S&T initiatives; and working with the State Department and USAID, as well as other parts of the US government, to put S&T at the heart of development strategies.
  • In the United States, as in most developed countries, tight science budgets are subject to increasingly stringent tests to justify their contribution to national wealth or productivity — leading to international cooperation being seen as either "giving away knowledge" or a "humanitarian luxury". Such scepticism is unwarranted. A rising tide of international research collaboration — for example to develop safe and reliable nuclear power — will help lift all the national boats of economic development. Protectionism and hyper-nationalism are the enemies of the world's scientific progress. Almost all private companies — from General Electric to Microsoft, from Intel to Pfizer — realise that cross-national collaboration in research, development, manufacturing, marketing and distribution is essential. It is time the government does too.

  • Modern research and development (R&D) toward socio-economic goals absolutely demand global links, and this need intensifies every day.
  • The government's next big hurdle is reforming the entire ensemble of US foreign aid, which totals almost US$25 billion, to infuse S&T into all goals aimed at improving the lives of people in the developing world. Read more »

Obama best for the Globe according to Europe

Sphere: Related Content The following two articles from EurActiv.com are both from before the election, but they still indicate where we now stand in relation with Europe on the global stage. According to the first article, Obama seen as best to deal with global woes, "both Americans and Europeans agree that Barack Obama is better suited than his rival John McCain to addressing global issues such as the financial crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a new study shows ahead of US presidential elections on 4 November."

Quotes:
EurActiv.com - Obama seen as best to deal with global woes
  • Obama is seen as the better candidate, both by Americans and Europeans, to deal with the financial crisis and its impact on the economy, which both sides cite as the most urgent issues the new US president should address, ahead of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But Americans are far more concerned about their own economy (85%), while Europeans instead worry about the global situation. Read more »
One point of possible contention could be trade and globalization. I still lean towards globalization in my views but with Fair Trade policies enacted. Whether that is actually doable is another matter. It was some of Barack Obama's early perspectivies on Free Trade that sealed my support for him. He did change the rhetoric during the campaign, but as John Glenn of the German Marshall Fund told EurActiv in an interview, Barack Obama is unlikely to convert his protectionist rhetoric into concrete policies.

Quotes: EurActiv.com - Scholar: Obama protectionism mere 'election talk'
  • But I think that it would be a mistake to see him as sort of traditional Democrat who is driven by concerns over, say, the vote of trade unions and would be dramatically different because I think that we are really talking about a different person than say, President Clinton, who really shifted the Democratic party in terms of trade. I think this is a difference of degree over a hardened approach to trade rather than a fundamental approach. Read more »

What the world including me is saying to Obama

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Hi, I have sent a message to new US president Barack Obama which is going up on the Avaaz's Global Message-to-Obama Wall in Washington DC-- people all over the world are sending messages and photos.

Dear President Obama:

As citizens across the world, we congratulate you on your election, and celebrate your campaign commitments to sign a strong new global treaty on climate change, close Guantanamo prison and end torture, withdraw carefully from Iraq, and double aid to fight poverty. No one country or leader can meet the world's most pressing challenges alone, but working together as one world in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation, yes we can bring real and lasting change.

In just the first 24 hours, over 150,000 people (make that now over 220,000) from 189 countries (make that now 224 countries) have signed and sent a message for Barack Obama to our huge global wall in the centre of Washington DC, and it has been covered on CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and in the US on front pages of two of the biggest newspapers and on the evening news!

If you haven't already, follow the link to see the Wall and send your message to friends and family who might want to join in:

With hope,

Ricken, Graziela, Iain, Brett, Paul, Alice, Milena, Paula, Ben, the whole Avaaz Team and tagging along with millions of others Brian Dowling.

Here are some key campaign promises made by Barack Obama:
  • - Reduce the US's carbon emissions 80 by 2050 and play a strong positive role in negotiating a binding global treaty to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol
  • - Withdraw all combat troops from Iraq within 16 months and keep no permanent bases in the country
  • - Establish a clear goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons across the globe
  • - Close the Guantanamo Bay detention center
  • - Double US aid to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 and accelerate the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculoses and Malaria
  • - Open diplomatic talks with countries like Iran and Syria, to pursue peaceful resolution of tensions
  • - De-politicize military intelligence to avoid ever repeating the kind of manipulation that led the US into Iraq
  • - Launch a major diplomatic effort to stop the killings in Darfur
  • - Invest $150 billion over ten years to support renewable energy and get 1 million plug-in electric cars on the road by 2015

Monday, November 10, 2008

Refugees Across the Globe - A Millennium Problem

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The last few days have been filled with more learning, studying and research (as well as "real" life work) than in actually writing anything in either of my blogs. Today, however, is the 10th of November and I had committed to creating a post on Refugees on behalf of BloggersUnite. Their work is focusing on Refugees Unite. My post is going to tie this issue with that of the Millennium Development Goals.

There is the question of how many in the world are now refugees because the Millennium Goals have not, and in many of those countries more likely to have refugees populations, are not close to being met.

Refugees face all of the problems that the Millennium Development Goals endeavor to address. Those problems are made far worse because these families are without a country. Getting essential help to refugees is at a minimum difficult, because they are in remote and isolated locations often decimated by natural causes or war, and is in many cases dangerous.

I decided that for this post that I would see what was available from the resources I have connected to this blog. My research did find some successes as in this article from IRIN NEPAL: Bhutanese refugees find new life beyond the camps

Thousands of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal have been successfully resettled in seven countries, including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Canada, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
In other news from Business and Human Rights PricewaterhouseCoopers donates $4 million to educate Darfur's refugees. SciDev.Net cites the work of International Organisation for Migration
The IOM was established in 1951 as an intergovernmental organisation to resettle European displaced persons, refugees and migrants.

The news, however, is usually catastrophic as in this International Tribune story Congo refugee camp hit by cholera outbreak. Unlike many migrants in the world today, refugees did not make the choice to leave their homes, it was forced upon them. Sometimes by nature, but all too often by malignant force, IPS writes on the crimes against humanity including refugees by the Myanmar Junta.

An increasing number of refugees have been crossing over to northern Thailand from among the Karen ethnic community, the second largest ethnic group in Burma, or Myanmar. Many of them live in the mountainous Karen State, the territory where South-east Asia's longest --and largely ignored -- separatist conflict is being waged between Burmese troops and the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU).

''Myanmar's troops are overtly targeting civilians; they are actively avoiding KNU military installations. That is why we are describing the attacks as 'crimes against humanity','' says Benjamin Zawacki, South-east Asia researcher for Amnesty International (AI), the global rights lobby. ''The violations are widespread and systematic.''

We must also look to ourselves when blaming others for the blight of refugees. The Overseas Development Institute posted last year on the blight of Iraqi refugees.

The United Nations deals with these problems around the world. Thousands of refugees from Darfur remain along volatile border, Chad: UN distributes aid to refugees left homeless after camp, (more results from www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp), UNRWA: palestine refugees, or What's Going On?: Child Refugees in Tanzania are just a few examples.

There are dozens of more examples that could be found. What is made obvious is that these tragedies are prevalent across the globe and persistent in their nature. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, which though consisting of 8 goals are seen interrelated and requiring comprehensive action, refugee crises seem to be seen as separate problems. If the world were a human body, the problem of refugees would be analogous to the symptoms of a disease such as cancer, but the challenges of the Millennium Development Goals would be analogous to the underlying disease itself. If you treat only the symptoms you will never address the underlying cause. If the Millennium Goals were now in place so that disasters and war were not as capable of pushing countries beyond the brink of disaster, then would that make the problem of refugees in the world so much easier to prevent and to address.

Monday, November 3, 2008

November 10th, Bloggers Unite for Refugees

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I received the following e-mail from the folks at blogcatalog.


This Nov. 10, all eyes will be on BlogCatalog members and bloggers who participate in Bloggers Unite For Refugees. Will you be one of them?

Ever since we started helping bloggers unite for different causes, we've proven that a little good can go a long way in making the world a better place.

This time, because of our work to increase human rights awareness, many members chose to go one step further to raise awareness for refugees — people who are impacted by these issues. So, on Nov. 10, thousands of bloggers will write about the various challenges faced by the 11 million people who have no country to call home and the 40 million more who have been displaced because of war and natural disasters.

*YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE*

By writing just one post for this cause, you can help raise awareness about refugees and help our partner, Refugees United, connect with local non-government organizations (NGOs) to help refugees in their search for lost loved ones. Their goal is to reunite children with parents, husbands with wives, and family members with friends.

Participating is easy and you can learn more about this event at http://unite.blogcatalog.com. There, you will find action badges, source material for blog posts, and more information about these people who have no country to call home.

With you help, I know we can encourage thousands of more bloggers to get involved and make Bloggers Unite For Refugees as successful as our last event with Amnesty International. It's one of those events that even if we reunite just one family, then we have made an immeasurable impact on the world. Thanks so much for your continued support! We really look forward to reading your posts and the posts of your friends on Nov. 10!

Thanks,
The BlogCatalog Team

-------------------

P.S. We are launching a whole new Bloggers Unite in the coming weeks, make sure to stop by http://www.bloggersunite.org/ and sign up to be notified when it launches!

The site also offers some good resources.

Millennium Bloggers (more at the Wiki)

Global News Sources

The Other Blog - My Pathways to New Paradigms

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