Oct 26th, 2012 4:15 PM UTC
By Michael Healy
Yesterday ONE met with Business Minister Jo Swinson to deliver a petition of 161,918 people calling on the Prime Minister and other European leaders to pass strong laws that will help citizens spot corruption and ensure the money paid to governments is used to lift millions of people out of poverty.
The European Committee of Permanent Representatives is meeting to discuss this issue today ahead of formal ‘trialogue’ negotiations between member states and the European Union beginning next month.
Earlier this month, following a meeting with ONE’s co-founder Bono, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg pledged his support for the legislation and urged the European Union to match the tough rules set in the US by the Securities and Exchange Commission in August.
Business Minister, Jo Swinson said:
“We have a unique opportunity to introduce changes that will help combat corruption in the world’s resource-rich countries, boosting economic growth and improving the lives of millions of people. I passionately support EU action to dramatically increase transparency in the payments that extractives companies make to foreign governments, and I will be pushing the EU to adopt a reporting regime that reflects the new rules agreed in the USA.
“The UK Government is working constructively with industry, the NGOs, and with others across Europe to secure agreement on a progressive, robust and workable package. This is an active debate, but we are optimistic that we can achieve the best possible outcome. Europe is close to a historic first step in lifting the lid on financial mismanagement in developing countries, and I want to make sure we take it.”
Adrian Lovett, ONE’s Europe Director, said:
“For African countries this law could be transformative. In the 20 most resource rich African countries, extractive revenues in 2010 were five times larger than aid flows. Africa is has great natural resources, and this law will allow its people to follow the money and help them pull themselves out of poverty.
“We welcome Jo Swinson’s strong support for a European transparency law that really works for citizens in developing countries.
“It is important that this involves project level reporting, a strong definition of project and the removal of anything that could incentivise secrecy laws in autocratic countries. We urge the UK to work with allies in Europe to win support for a law that at least matches the US version.”
Oct 19th, 2012 9:35 PM UTC
By Lauren Pfeifer
We were pleased to hear UK Cabinet Office Minister Frances Maude, a major champion in the fight for good governance in the UK, support the efforts of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) this week in London. As of September 26, the United Kingdom became the leading co-chair of the OGP, an organization that aims to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance through increased citizen participation.
The open government movement is a key part of what ONE sees as the future of development. It allows citizens around the world to have the ability to participate in their own development and hold their leaders to account.
ONE Executive Director Jamie Drummond participated at an event called “The Future is Open,” where Mr. Maude gave a keynote speech about the UK’s role in the OGP. In a Telegraph article published yesterday, Mr. Maude called on the world’s media to hold governments’ feet to the fire with the fruits of open government.
He writes, “Transparency is risky, difficult and uncomfortable for governments – it also sticks. Once you start, you can’t go back. This government has put transparency at the heart of its agenda. As the new lead chairman of the Open Government Partnership, we will promote transparency all over the world.”
OGP is a fairly young partnership (initiated in September 2011) that now has 57 member countries covering one-third of the world’s population. The UK’s co-chairmanship comes at a critical time. With the presidency of the G8 in 2013 and the Prime Minister’s role on the UN High Level Panel, the UK has a unique opportunity to put openness, transparency and accountability at the heart of the global development agenda.
The wave of support for open data and transparency resulted in support for a broader concept of open government, and later, OGP. The UK government has shared its vision of open government, but it should go beyond open data and transparency to include citizen participation and accountability. The UK OGP Civil Society Network is currently discussing how to ensure that UK engagement goes beyond data.
Broadly, the UK should articulate that open government is a vision incorporating many elements, from access to information and citizen participation in policy making, to anti-corruption initiatives and work on corporate transparency and accountability.
And open government needs to be about democracy as well as about prosperity. Participation isn’t just a way of promoting prosperity, it’s also a means to deepen democracy and improve service delivery. The public should have access to information that is useful, with freedom of information loopholes closed and robust protection for whistle-blowers.
These tools will enable citizens to participate in the fight against corruption, at home and overseas, and efforts to ensure greater accountability – around aid, around budget processes and around the extraction of natural resources.
The success of OGP will be judged by what happens on the ground, but the energy and enthusiasm that both governments and civil society have shown in the first year of OGP is testimony to the initiative’s potential. As leading co-chair, UK has important responsibility to ensure that OGP realises its potential – and to be transparent about the progress that is being made against the UK’s own commitments.
ONE is keen to ensure that the UK takes advantage of the amazing opportunities that 2013 offers (OGP, G8, HLP) to put openness, transparency and accountability at the heart of the global development agenda, so that people in developing countries are empowered to hold their governments to account for the effective use of public resources – following the money, tracking results and holding governments to account.
With ONE’s focus on poverty reduction in Africa, we are excited to see the UK harness the energy of OGP for poverty reduction as well as prosperity, and to see the UK work with African members of OGP to bring more African countries into the conversation.
Oct 18th, 2012 11:30 AM UTC
By David Cole
One of the challenges we face when talking about overseas aid is that people routinely over-estimate how much we spend and under-estimate the results.
But by how much? ONE recently interviewed people across the UK to find out.
Here’s a new infographic that shows what we found:
What do you think your tax money spent on? Calculate how your tax is spent by the UK government with our tax calculator tool.
Oct 17th, 2012 5:41 PM UTC
By Saira O'Mallie
This job certainly throws up a few unexpected opportunities, but turning my hand to pop-up restaurant organiser has to be the biggest challenge yet.
I had to get permission from four different offices, find talented chefs to give up their time, recruit volunteers to help man the stand and get the whole thing set up, running and dismantled again in about 5 hours. Phew!
But we couldn’t let World Food Day pass without a bit of a celebration, and it was a great opportunity to engage the public and MPs with our work on nutrition, particularly the humble (and delicious) sweet potato.
ONE’s Saira O’Mallie with David Miliband MP
If you’ve missed it, here’s why it’s important:
Being just across the road from the House of Commons it was easy for MPs to pop across and say hi, and while they tucked into sweet potato cakes and soup we told them more about the campaign. Many wished that our pop-up food van would become a regular feature!
In fact, as I packed up I chatted to a policeman who asked if we’d be coming back every day. Not sure my nerves could take it! But hopefully we’ll be back on World Food Day 2013.
Oct 12th, 2012 2:23 PM UTC
By Saira O'Mallie
It started at 5am on Saturday morning. I took the train to Melton Mowbray and set up a stall at the East Midlands Food Festival. I met our wonderful supporter Greg Hewitt, my ever helpful sister Shehnaz joined us later, and together we spread the word about sweet potatoes… apparently a local favourite.
If you missed it, our partners Hello Fresh helped us promote the campaign on Tuesday, meaning that hundreds of people across the UK will get a special delivery on World Food Day (16th October) featuring a delicious sweet potato recipe.
Another early start on Wednesday, but luckily this time I just had to make it to the opposite end of the Victoria Line to help run our Lifesaver event at the station, this time asking people to help protect the EU aid budget. (And they did, in their hundreds).
Tonight, I’ll be getting the sweet potatoes out again at Street Feast in Dalston. Please come down and say hi!
And all this time, two of our fabulous ONE Mums have been in Ethiopia, learning, living, writing and sharing, supported by many more ONE Mums in the UK.
Let’s face it, I may have had a busy week, but their stories are the ones you’ll want to hear.
So here they are:
Oct 11th, 2012 4:01 PM UTC
By Katherine Sladden
“Sometimes great things happen when nobody’s looking.” That’s what Bono said today after sitting down with the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister and Business Minister to discuss the campaign for an EU-wide law requiring oil, gas and mining companies to publish what they pay to governments around the world. ONE is part of a coalition of over 650 civil society organisations worldwide calling for greater transparency in the sector.
European leaders are currently negotiating the details of the new law and in a statement following the meeting Nick Clegg confirmed the UK government would fight for strict rules that will best enable the world’s poorest people to benefit from their countries’ natural resources. The French Government also said yesterday it supports strong rules.
This is great news for ONE members who have been campaigning for many months on the issue. Over 160,000 European members have signed the petition calling on European leaders to deliver strong laws, and thousands sent personal messages to key MEPs to ensure they recently voted the right way on the European Parliament’s position. This follows a successful campaign by ONE members in the US to pass a similar law.
Following the meeting with ONE co-founder Bono, Nick Clegg said:
“For far too long, the world’s poorest people have seen no benefit from the vast natural resources in their own backyards.
“It is time to end the injustice where ordinary people are silent witnesses, left to suffer without basic services, as the profits from their countries’ assets are hidden and plundered by corrupt regimes.
“There need to be strict new rules about how payments to developing countries from the oil, gas and mining industries are recorded. Shining a light on where this money is actually going will help people hold their governments to account over how this money is actually spent.
“The United States Government has raised the bar by publishing tough new rules that will apply to US listed companies. The European Union must now follow suit and the Coalition Government will be pushing for those rules to be matched in Brussels.
Business Minister, Jo Swinson said:
“Millions of people in developing countries languish in poverty while their corrupt governments squander or hide large payments from foreign companies.
“Strong EU action to create a new global standard for transparency in the extractive industry can help these citizens hold their governments to account. I’m determined that the UK will play a leading role within the EU to make the most of this opportunity.”
Nick Clegg also praised ONE members for their continued efforts in the campaign. He said:
“I would like to pay tribute to ONE, to Bono’s energy and leadership and to the thousands of ONE members across the world who have campaigned tirelessly to keep this issue on the agenda.”
“Sometimes great things happen when nobody’s looking. That’s what happened today. Nick Clegg and Jo Swinson have thrown Britain’s weight behind strong EU transparency laws, at least matching the new US legislation. This legislation says – let the daylight in. Transparency is the best vaccine against corruption.”
Oct 10th, 2012 11:33 AM UTC
By Peter Taylor
Between 2004 and 2009, aid from the European Union helped enrol more than 9 million children in primary education, vaccinate 5.5 million children against measles, and connect more than 31 million people to clean water. All this was achieved with a tiny part of the EU budget.
Yet right now, EU aid is under threat. Europe’s leaders are in the midst of crucial budget negotiations over EU development assistance. Cuts proposed by some leaders to these life-saving programs—which only cost citizens €15 per year—would have a devastating impact on the world’s poorest people.
We need your help to defend aid and help millions of people around the world. Today ONE is calling on everyone to tell EU leaders that they want to continue being a #lifesaver.
This week across some of Europe’s busiest places we’re launching a series of events that will beam the pictures of lifesavers like you onto gigantic jumbotron displays for the world to see!
You can see it for yourself at Victoria station in London, Parvis de l’Hôtel de Ville in Paris and Whashingtonplatz in Berlin.
If you can’t make it in person you can take part online and join our lifesaver campaign, by telling EU leaders you want to continue being a #lifesaver.
Oct 9th, 2012 10:25 AM UTC
By Katherine Sladden
Today, as the new Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening addresses the Conservative Party Conference, a new poll shows the majority (61%) of UK adults agree with next year’s planned increased spending on overseas aid.
When asked for views on next year’s planned spending on aid, two in five (41%) think that the Government’s plan to spend 1.6 pence in every pound of government spending on international aid is about right, and one in five (20%) even think that this rate is too low. Only a third of people (34%) think that it is too high.
The research commissioned by ONE and conducted by ComRes, shows that 63% of people over estimate the amount the UK plans to spend on international aid next year. Nearly half (46%) think that the UK plans to spend more than three times what it will actually spend on overseas aid. 1 in 5 people (22%) think the government is planning to spend more than 20% of its national spending budget on international aid.
Adrian Lovett, Europe Executive Director of ONE, said:
Justine Greening may have a tough time today to convince some, but this poll shows the majority of the British public are behind her and support the international aid budget.
People routinely over-estimate how much we spend on international aid and under-estimate the results. Our aid budget is little more than a penny in every pound of government spending. In the next four years this will put 15 million children in school, provide over 80 million children with vaccines against life-threatening diseases and help more than 44 million people participate in freer and fairer elections.
Our aid is making a difference, and we should work to make it better still. The UK aid budget is saving lives around the world and is helping countries like Ghana plan for a future in which they don’t need aid. Now would be the worst possible time to cut back.
Oct 8th, 2012 2:52 PM UTC
By Peter Taylor
This Wednesday, ONE will be at London’s Victoria Station to launch our new campaign to protect lifesaving aid. And we’d love you to join us!
From 7am to 7pm we’ll be showing London commuters that they, and others across Europe, are lifesavers of the century by supporting European aid.
If you pass through Victoria, work nearby or are just curious and have a few minutes to spare during your day, please pop by, say hello and help us get the message out.
We’ll be between the main ticket office and the Gatwick express platforms. Just look out for the ONE logo and keep an eye on the big screens!
We look forward to seeing you there!
Sep 27th, 2012 3:58 PM UTC
By Adrian Lovett
You may have seen lately that there have been a number of stories in the news about the UK aid budget. I was on BBC’s Newsnight this week talking about this very issue. And it’s important the public know what their investment is delivering for the poorest people in the world.
Nobody is saying that there aren’t problems with some aid, and of course we want it to be better. But the fact is that smart aid is working. It provides a route out of poverty by helping to create the conditions for economic growth, a healthy and educated workforce, better infrastructure and more effective governance.
In the financial year 2009/10 alone, UK aid paid for nearly 5 million people to be vaccinated against measles, delivered 9 million antimalarial bednets, provided over 1.5 million people with clean water, and ensured over 15 million people had enough food to eat.
From 1999 to 2010, education enrollment rates for primary school increased by 50.7 million in sub-Saharan Africa as a result of African leadership on education, backed by debt cancellation and increased aid, including from Britain.
Of course one question is – how much does this cost?
The answer is just over a penny in every pound of government spending. But if you want to know what that means to you – how much you have contributed towards these remarkable achievements – we have put together a handy tax calculator for you to try out.
Simply pop your salary into the calculator (don’t worry, that information doesn’t go anywhere!) and it will tell you how much of your tax went towards the aid budget in 2010-11 and what it will have achieved.
You might be pleasantly surprised.
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.