While the international community is now talking of a triple global crisis – food, climate and economic - a weeklong session of the World Social Forum (WSF) is coming to a close in Dakar, Senegal.
Washington seems rather uninterested or at least unconcerned with what Europe, collectively as the European Union or country by country, could do in its relations with the rest of the Americas. In reality, this attitude is a reflection of a drop in US interest in what lies to its south as a result of the urgency of action in other areas, like the Middle East and China, and terrorism in general.
After weeks of negotiations, the conclusion of the United Nations High Level Conference on the Financial and Economic Crisis (24-26 June) was a huge disappointment. The summit was our opportunity to continue lobbying our demands after the Doha Conference on International Financing.
The Doha Financing for Development Conference is over and many are now wondering how it went and what really happened. Sylvia Borren, co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), was there.
These days I feel like my four year old niece who used to ask me every few minutes, “What´s happening Sylvia?”. Financial crisis, rescue plans and thousands of billions are being shouted at me by the media. There is strong leadership being shown to save banks, but without apparently much knowledge about cause and effect. The top of ‘the pyramid' needs to be saved with our hard earned tax money, we are told, otherwise we will all perish together in economic recessions, writes Sylvia Borren, Co Chair of the Global Call to action Against Poverty (GCAP) Alliance. Simultaneously, there appears to be little concern, and insufficient committed leadership shown towards the bottom of the pyramid. We need around one percent of all the money that governments are now suddenly spending on saving the banks to tackle poverty. Money that can make the difference between real life and death: an emergency food fund, seeds to plant, clean water, health and education. All poverty in the world can be solved ten or twenty times over with the amounts of money so surprisingly available now.
Sylvia Borren was executive director at Oxfam Novib from 1999 until Feb 2008. Before that she was programme director.
Sylvia Borren is one of the three co-chairs of GCAP, together with Kumi Naidoo (Secretary General of Civicus) and Ana Agostino (Member of GCAP's Feminist Taskforce).
Today\'s world faces an existential choice between armed security and human security, writes Sylvia Borren, Executive Director Novib/Oxfam Netherlands. In this article, the author writes that armed security means the elite of the world defending its privilege with guns, gates, and walls against the great majority of the world who live in abject poverty. Three figures give us a clear indication of where we are heading: 50 billion dollars a year are spent on aid, 350 billion dollars on agricultural subsidies in rich countries, and 900 billion dollars or more spent on arms. Borren calls for building a deeper democracy and local leadership; creating a national governance system which creates an enabling environment; and providing global justice, coherence, and stability. The Millennium Development Goals can actually be met quite easily if we approach them in a rights-based and gender-based way, eliminating agricultural subsidies and dumping, freeing indebted countries from debt, increasing development to 0.7 percent of GDP, and a number of other actions.