The international program, Ambassadors for Philanthropy, aims to encourage philanthropy by giving philanthropists a voice. Started by Dame Stephanie Shirley, who was appointed Britain’s first ever Ambassador for Philanthropy in 2009, the program aims to engage philanthropists in countries all over the world. Their starting the conversation, literally, on November 7 with their first Mashup Monday – conversations via social media. Join them.
Solar Panels Are Easy, Cooperation is Hard: Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall on the Challenge of Transition
His argument that eating puppy meat is little different to eating pork may have riled a few people, but celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has done more than most to promote conscious, sustainable eating habits. From his advocacy for more sustainable meat, through his vocal Fish Fight campaign for better seafood, to his recent adventures in eating mostly vegetarian, he has documented and disseminated the cultural shift to a more connected food system. But food is just one part of the puzzle. And he has just written a foreword to the new Transition Companion book, arguing that we need to reengage and reinvigorate almost every aspect of our lives:
The practical aspects of this the solar panels, the vegetable beds, the low-carbon buildings are the easy bit. As Rob says, “If we wait for the governments, it’ll be too little, too late; if we act as individuals, it’ll be too little; but if we act as communities, it might just be enough, just in time.” It is the working together, rediscovering how to build community and to support each other, that is the harder thing to get right.
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If you volunteer for Oxfam in a shop, a fundraising or campaigning group and you live not too far from Newcastle, Oxfam Live is for you! Tonight Oxfam supporters will be gathering to celebrate their achievements, the progress done since the Oxfam shop in Gateshead changed its sign- and most importantly find out more about what Oxfam is doing in Malawi with Naile Salima, Oxfam project officer . And the forecast torrential rains and floods will not stop us from having a good time and fuelling our enthusiasm to fight poverty.
If you cannot make it to beautiful Newcastle, you are welcome to take part to Oxfam Live by tweeting @OxfamNorthEng and also Facebooking our Oxfam North of England page- and you can follow the event live here:
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October 24, 2011
MCo to Power 300 Stores by Wind
Fashion retailer MCo is to develop enough wind turbines to power each of its 300 U.K. shops, the Press Association reports.
Mackays Group, which trades as MCo, has launched a subsidiary company to develop sites of between one and three turbines. The sites will have capacities of between 500kw and 5MW, according to the PA.
The firm has estimated that subsidiary MEG Renewables will need to develop up to 20MW of capacity to power its shops. Once completed, MEG will also manage the wind farms.
According to the PA, MCo said that, rather than using supply contracts with third-party wind farms, its shops will be buying electricity directly from the MEG sites, the PA reports.
In August, furniture giant IKEA’s U.K. arm purchased a 12.3MW wind farm in Scotland and announced plans to power all of its stores from renewable sources.
The wind farm, in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland, consists of seven turbines, each generating 1.75MW. The farm can produce 24,700,000 kwh of electricity per year.
At that time, IKEA also announced plans to to install 39,000 solar panels on the roofs of its stores.
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Global Domination a Facebook Phenomenon, Not a Conspiracy
The team, led by S. Vitali of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, used a method of analysis often applied to connectivity in the internet. Called the “bow-tie model,” the method assigns companies onto the parts of a bow-tie.
Inter-connected companies sit on the knot of the bow tie shape. All of the companies in the knot have control relationships to other companies in the knot and are themselves controlled by other companies in the knot. Companies which control those in the knot, but are not themselves controlled in return, are visualized on one wing of the bow-tie. And companies controlled by those in the knot, but not themselves controlling, are on the other wing of the bowtie.
The fact that a small number of companies are highly connected in the knot does not prove unbalanced control; after all, it is normal in networking that everyone wants a connection to the powerful few, who connect out to those who can offer something in return. But by combining the bow-tie topology with a control ranking, the team came to an amazing conclusion.
Less than 1% of Companies in Control
The team found a core of 1318 companies (mostly financial services companies) with an average of 20 control links each amongst themselves. These 1318 companies represent only 0.7% of the TNCs but 18.7% of the revenue of all TNCs. When one adds in the 59.8% of the revenues from companies on the wing of the bow-tie controlled by those in the knot, these companies control almost 80% of the global economy.
A “super-entity” of 147 companies, or 0.3% of all TNCs, holds control over fully 40% of the economic value of TNCs. In the words of the authors:
4/10 of the control over the economic value of TNCs in the world is held, via a complicated web of ownership relations, by a group of 147 TNCs in the core, which has almost full control over itself.
The Danger: Conflict of Interest and Stability Risk, Not Conspiracy
This study is a sitting duck for those who want to twist the results to prove a huge conspiracy theory. But that would risk seeking the wrong solution, because this strong connectivity stems from a natural organization of entities in networks, not from conspiracy.
But as those who occupy everywhere loudly make known, when less than 1% are in control, the risk of instability is too high. “Too Big to Fail” arises when too few control too much.
Additionally, there are conflicts of interest inherent in the strong interconnectivity found by this study. Although this core may not be conspiring, it would be naive to suggest that the end effect does not suffer from the same economic downsides that governments and financial regulators attempt when preventing monopolistic practices. Or that this level of inter-connected, concentrated control does not harm fair trade, the environment, and other causes essential to sustainability but secondary to free market capitalism.
Observers have derided the Occupiers for not having a plan for change. But effective change requires understanding the outset conditions. This study proves what we have all suspected, and offers some powerful tools to begin to address the risks of instability and lopsided power intrinsic in the current global economic system.
The authors suggest that new regulatory mechanisms will have to extend beyond national borders. They are almost certainly right.
The Top 50 Control Holders*
- BARCLAYS PLC (GB)
- THE CAPITAL GROUP COMPANIES INC (US)
- FMR CORP (US)
- AXA (FR)
- STATE STREET CORPORATION (US)
- JPMORGAN CHASE CO. (US)
- LEGAL GENERAL GROUP PLC (GB)
- THE VANGUARD GROUP, INC. (US)
- UBS AG (CH)
- MERRILL LYNCH CO., INC. (US)
- WELLINGTON MANAGEMENT CO. L.L.P. (US)
- DEUTSCHE BANK AG (DE)
- FRANKLIN RESOURCES, INC. (US)
- CREDIT SUISSE GROUP (CH)
- WALTON ENTERPRISES LLC (US)
- BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON CORP. (US)
- NATIXIS (FR)
- THE GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP, INC. (US)
- T. ROWE PRICE GROUP, INC. (US)
- LEGG MASON, INC. (US)
- MORGAN STANLEY (US)
- MITSUBISHI UFJ FINANCIAL GROUP, INC. (JP)
- NORTHERN TRUST CORPORATION (US)
- SOCIÉTÉ GÉNÉRALE (FR)
- BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION (US)
- LLOYDS TSB GROUP PLC (GB)
- INVESCO PLC (GB)
- ALLIANZ SE (DE)
- TIAA (US)
- OLD MUTUAL PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY (GB)
- AVIVA PLC (GB)
- SCHRODERS PLC (GB)
- DODGE COX (US)
- LEHMAN BROTHERS HOLDINGS, INC. (US)
- SUN LIFE FINANCIAL, INC. (CA)
- STANDARD LIFE PLC (GB)
- CNCE (FR)
- NOMURA HOLDINGS, INC. (JP)
- THE DEPOSITORY TRUST COMPANY (US)
- MASSACHUSETTS MUTUAL LIFE INSUR. (US)
- ING GROEP N.V. (NL)
- BRANDES INVESTMENT PARTNERS, L.P. (US)
- UNICREDITO ITALIANO SPA (IT)
- DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION OF JP (JP)
- VERENIGING AEGON (NL)
- BNP PARIBAS (FR)
- AFFILIATED MANAGERS GROUP, INC. (US)
- RESONA HOLDINGS, INC. (JP)
- CAPITAL GROUP INTERNATIONAL, INC.(US)
- CHINA PETROCHEMICAL GROUP CO. (CN)
*according to the scientific paper The network of global corporate control
More on Transnational Corporations in Control:
Occupy Wall Street Plans Mass Close-Out of Chase Bank Accounts
Guerilla Sticker Campaign Sticks It to Barclays on London’s Rental Bikes
Should the Poor Be Insured to Shoulder the Burden of Climate Change?
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“The Great Wall of China may have survived the Huns and Mongol hordes, but widespread neglect, underfunding, and mining means that it is now falling down,” The Telegraph reported earlier this month, citing photographs that show “huge holes…punched through the wall in some areas” and entire sections up to 100 miles long in ruins.
Mining Operations Largely Unregulated
“We have no idea how many enterprises are engaged in mining along the Great Wall,” the British newspaper quoted Guo Jianyong, an engineer from the provincial architecture protection agency, as telling the People’s Daily.
The stability of the centuries-old wall is threatened by prospecting for copper, iron, molybdenum, and nickel, with some mining operations coming within 100 meters of the famous structure, Reuters reported. It said the country’s Land Resources Bureau is not required to consult with the Department of Cultural Heritage before issuing mining permits.
Villagers in Hebei Province told the Chinese state-run Xinhua News Agency that “about 700 meters of the wall, which was built during the reign of Emperor Wanli during the Ming Dynasty (1573-1620), had already collapsed, and more walls and even towers are likely to collapse if the mining continues unchecked.”
According to both The Telegraph and Reuters, maintenance of the wall has focused on the most-visited segments near Beijing, with other parts neglected and left to fall into disrepair. Xinhua quoted an engineer as saying that resources are so limited, many segments of the wall are only inspected once a year.
“There was a regulation to protect the wall in 2006, but the wall is so long it is hard to enforce… And the general awareness of the wall’s problems is low,” Dong Waohui, the vice-chairman of the Great Wall Association, told The Telegraph. “People just think of the famous sections and assume that the rest of the wall is in the same condition.”
More On China And Mining
Mongolian Mining Battle Heats Up With Herder’s Death
China Shutters 1600 Dangerous Coal Mines
Toxic Spill at Chinese Copper Mine Kills Nearly 1900 Tons of Fish
China Tightens Grasp on Rare Earth Metals Vital for Green Technologies
China’s Coal Industry: The Waste Has Us Gasping
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Enterprise demand to monitor and report greenhouse gas emissions will push North America into the global market lead for carbon management software and services by 2013.
In a new report, Pike Research forecasts the North American market will be over $1.1 billion, or 41 percent of the global market in 2013.
Total worldwide spending on carbon management software and services is predicted to be $5.7 billion by 2017 – an upgrade to a previous Pike forecast of $4.4 billion by 2017 published in the first quarter of 2010.
Pike Research senior analyst Marianne Hedin stated, “an overwhelming majority of Fortune 500 companies are voluntarily measuring, managing, and reporting on their carbon emissions,” despite the inability of the U.S. Congress to pass a climate and energy bill.
Significant drivers for companies to purchase software and services include an emphasis on energy efficiency, supply chain mandates, and building brand equity for shareholders and consumers.
According to the report, “Carbon Management Software and Services,” services, as industry segment, are growing at a faster pace than software purchases, increasing from 55 percent of the total market in 2010 to 67 percent by 2017.
Pike Research noted that a large number of organizations — especially small-to-medium enterprises — have yet to automate management processes with outside software. Many organizations still rely on Excel spreadsheets or homegrown software applications.
As the list of players offering carbon and energy management solutions grows, the marketplace is becoming more diverse and fragmented.
Big name service providers such as Accenture, Deloitte, IBM, Infosys, and SAP, top the list of market leaders, as do well-established enterprise energy management players like Siemens, Schneider Electric, and Johnson Controls. “Pure plays” in regulatory compliance and sustainability performance management, among other niches, are playing an important role as the industry evolves.
Pike Research offers tactical recommendations for companies wanting to compete in the fragmented market:
- Clearly articulate the business case for carbon management
- Use a comprehensive systems thinking approach to understand the GHG emissions reduction implications of the entire value chain, including direct and indirect emissions
- Develop a fully integrated management system that builds on what an organization already has in place and allows organizations to enter, analyze, and roll up data enterprise-wide and worldwide, supported by a multi-language user interface
- Conduct data management and analytics, as organizations are becoming responsible for reporting ever-larger and increasing amounts of data that must be analyzed in greater and greater detail
Accounting software photo from Shutterstock.
Cargo bike prototype designed by Clever Cycles. Photo: A. Streeter.
Filmmaker Liz Canning wrote an article for a local Marin, California, cycling activist organization and realized the first stirrings of a revolution were happening – a revolution of regular people who simply wanted to drive less and bike more, and were being drawn to cargo bikes in order to do that with their stuff, their daily errands, and their children, and pets.
Canning found that the addition of twins (a boy and girl) to her life in 2008 and the huge hill leading up to her house threatened to put an end to the bike commuting from Marin to San Francisco that she had done. She started with a trailer for the kids on her regular bike, but soon grew to dread the rides.
Canning bought a custom-made Shuttlebug from Joe Bike in Portland, outfitted with an electric-assist motor, and concurrently discovered that Portland, with its Clever Cycles and Splendid bike shops in addition to Joe Bikes, (not to mention Oregon Manifest’s utility bike challenge this year) has become the epicenter of cargo innovation.
Yet Canning is convinced that this cargo biking revolution is not just a European and West Coast phenomenon, and she’s asking filmmakers and cyclists from around the country to send in footage of their cargo biking experiences.
Unfortunately, reliable sales figures to demonstrate the strength of the cargo bike’s incursion into North American bike culture do not exist. As John Pucher has pointed out, demographic studies show it is men 25-64 that form the backbone of biking’s resurgence, not mid-career moms on bakfiets.
We do know that 9 million American consumers will buy a bike this year – and Canning is trying to get those that are moving to a cargo bike to document their experiences for her film, which she expects to release next year. To get involved, watch the trailer above.
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Last week the European Commission (EC) set out its ‘future
approach to EU budget support to third countries’. This was the product of
a year-long consultation process and will eventually shape policy with Council
As one of the biggest
providers of budget support, any policy changes by the EC will not only affect
the budget support landscape but may also drive changes in many of its Member
States. The EC has been a great champion of budget support, but some States are
increasingly critical about the merits of budget support and want to see a greater
There are many laudable features
of the EC’s new approach. These are not particularly contentious and involve
either reinstating commitment for current action or implementing new activities
where a considerable consensus already exists.
- The Communication reconfirms the EC’s commitment to the aid effectiveness principles, such as support to government owned development strategies,
predictability of funding, increased transparency and accountability, and a
greater results focus. Transparency and oversight of the budget has been
introduced as a fourth eligibility criteria (the others relate to
macro-economic stability, public financial management and national and sector
policies). This reflects DFID’s
additional partnership commitment concerning strengthening domestic
accountability, which includes transparency of the budget. A more
coordinated donor approach is advocated, with the proposal of a single EU
development contract, and the Communication recognises that budget support is
not just a ‘blank cheque’ but a package of support (financial transfer,
performance assessment and capacity-building based on a partnership approach)
necessary to ensure that systems are strengthened and money is spent
efficiently and effectively.
- It will allow flexibility, by continuing to apply dynamic criteria
to eligibility and refraining from establishing global targets for EU budget
support. The latter can be seen through two lenses: flexibility to allow for
the development of an optimal portfolio of aid instruments that reflect country
needs rather than specific instrument requirements, versus the loss of a
credible commitment to prioritise budget support (the EC has dropped its
commitment to provide 50% of its government-to-government assistance through
country systems) and the incentives that lock in.
- The EC will strengthen its risk management framework
for EU budget support, in response to calls from the Court of
Auditors and parts of the development community that are increasingly aware
have often been inadequately measured, managed or mitigated in budget support
- The Communication responds to growing concerns about establishing appropriate exit strategies,
by explicitly building in a stronger focus on domestic resource mobilisation
(including from natural resources). It
will continue to support the strengthening of technocratic governance, such as
public financial management and administration – including the fight against
corruption and fraud, macroeconomic stability and fiscal sustainability, the conditions
for growth and development of a ‘green economy’.
However there are two significant changes that have
considerable implications for the EC’s future approach to budget support – the
first could be a real ‘game changer’ and the second simply a ‘name changer’.
First, the EC proposes that budget support becomes a political
instrument – ‘The new approach should strengthen the contractual
partnership … between the EU and partner countries in order to build and consolidate democracies,
pursue sustainable economic growth and eradicate poverty’. This is the first time that western models of political
governance have become an explicit objective of EU budget support and included
in general policy guidance. Although historically budget support has been
vulnerable to deterioration in political relations, with many examples of
disbursements being withheld for such reasons, this formalisation of political
conditionality is new.
It’s not difficult to
see where the momentum for this reform has come from. Donors seem to be increasingly sensitive to
the reputational risk of giving budget support to countries that don’t appear to
mirror what the EC defines as fundamental principles – democracy, human rights
and rule of law. This is illustrated by Andris Piebalg’s
comments at a recent Oxfam/ODI
event, and positive responses from Member States about tying EU budget
support to fundamental principles.
Many may welcome this as
a positive step forward. Yet, there are
several reasons governments should be cautious about approving such an approach:
- Budget support already serves many purposes and this overburdening has
hindered performance to date. Adding another overarching aim will undoubtedly
spread the instrument even more thinly.
- Analysis of the EC’s Governance
Incentive Tranche illustrates that political governance conditionality
is unlikely to be more effective than policy conditionality, and,
if anything could demonstrate the contrary. Unless conditions are
mutually agreed by both the recipient government and donor(s) (as well as
amongst themselves), conditionality
will do little to facilitate performance; so, will budget support really
be able to drive political reform?
- How will deviations from good performance be measured? Donors differ in
how they define and categorise governance, so if the benefits of greater
EU donor coordination (as laid out in the Communication) are to be
realised, an agreed set of principles as well as examples of deviations
from them will need to be agreed in advance. Positively, the EC proposes
to set up senior regional teams to navigate these complex terrains.
- Do we know that adhering to fundamental principles will in fact
facilitate greater improvements in growth and poverty? Historically there
are only a few cases where democracy clearly preceded growth. What is
the credible theory of change that underlies this shift?
Second, as with DFID, the EC will change the name of their budget support instruments to
better reflect their objectives. General Budget Support will become ‘Good Governance
and Development Contracts’ – promoting human rights and democratic values, improving
domestic resource mobilisation, and improving financial management,
macroeconomic stability, inclusive growth and the fight against corruption and
fraud. Sector budget support will become ‘State Reform Contracts’, and support to
fragile states, small island developing states and overseas countries and
territories will be coined ‘State-building Contracts’. The term ‘budget support’ will be no more. According to the Communication this will ‘enable greater
differentiation of budget support operations, allowing the EU to respond better
to the political, economic and social context of the partner country’. Yet, put
crudely, the EC has moved from two budget support instruments to three, and introduced
additional conditions to one of them. It is difficult to see how this equals greater
For the first time EU
budget support operations will be formally tied to political governance processes.
Yet, it remains to be seen whether this approach will sufficiently shield
donors from perceived
reputational risks – a force that appears to be driving this change – whilst
at the same time support the underserved. This can be better achieved if the EC
formally implements a portfolio-based approach, with the flexibility to adapt
aid modalities to reflect changes in risk.
The building blocks for this approach already exist, e.g. ‘State Reform
Contracts’ can be used even where the political governance conditions do not permit
the use of ‘Good Governance and Development Contracts’, so, to a degree, the
former can be protected from deteriorations in political governance. In order
for this portfolio approach to work effectively, guidance is needed at the
portfolio level not just the instrument level. In addition, it is likely that a
greater differentiation of budget support operations will be needed, and the
EC’s new risk management framework for EU budget support should explicitly lay
out which instruments will be affected by performance changes associated with
Arguably, another preferable
solution would be to unbundle reputation issues from development
assistance, so that deterioration of political governance would not affect the
provision of aid in the short run. However, is this really ‘sellable’ to Member
further information on the latest thinking on budget support please see ODI’s
expert meeting series on budget support (March to October 2011).
www.Pampers.com for advice, child development, moms and dads? For more information about their child’s level of society from Pampers education network, which consists of the advisory board of specialists in children’s ages and stages of development. Look at this video clip visit the Pampers Village and other useful information about the development of children.