The One World Trust is looking to recruit a new Director as Michael Hammer is leaving after seven years to join Intrac.
The One World Trust is looking to recruit a new Director as Michael Hammer is leaving after seven years to join Intrac.
We are seeking to recruit the following:
- A Projects Intern to work across our portfolio or research and consultancy work, including our work on climate change governance and civil society self-regulation. Responsibilities will include:
- A Fundraising Intern to work in support of our grant fundraising and project acquisition. Responsibilities will include:
For more information please go to the Jobs section of our website.
The bid for the Olympics was strongly committed to benefit British people by providing them with a legacy, transforming people’s lives through regeneration, and inspiring a new generation of athletes. Whilst some of the promises have already been fulfilled, other vital issues regarding the long-lasting benefits for East Londoners in particular are not yet settled. New affordable houses, jobs, and infrastructures, along with a more intangible renovation of East London’s mood and flair, are at the core of the regeneration, but concerns about the actual realization of such a high-flying plan are far from being silenced.
There has been a mixed reaction to a new transparency initiative put together by the people behind Political Innovation. The Who Funds You? project has asked some of the UK’s leading public policy think tanks to reveal details on who funds their work and how much each organisational or individual donor provides. On the plus side the project shows that the majority of the UK’s think tanks have taken steps towards better funding transparency. It also raises important ethical questions about the level of disclosure that we should expect of organisations that aim to achieve access to policy makers and influence on the democratic process.
Most of the participating think tanks and interested commentators/journalists have welcomed the initiative. It has been recognised that transparency is important for a sector that can wield significant influence over government policy – both directly through lobbying and more widely by shaping public opinion.
Others have dismissed the relevancy of transparency to think tanks (Adam Smith Institute, Blogger Guido Fawkes). They offer two main objections: firstly, that donors should have the right to anonymity, and secondly, that research quality is the only thing that matters.
On the first objection, there may be some instances where anonymity is justified such as protecting research participants, especially in instances concerning personal safety. However, just as there are limits to transparency, the right to anonymity should not be considered absolute. As Who Funds You? states:
Such organisations have a very different purpose to that of, say, a charity for people with a particular medical condition. As think tanks increasingly take an important role in formulating government policy, it is important for a strong democracy that they are transparent about their own agenda and where their funding comes from. This is particularly the case in light of increased scrutiny of political party funding.
On the second objection, principles of transparency are now considered by academic institutions and other research standard-bearers to be an integral component of research quality, undercutting the claim that quality can be achieved independent of transparency. This can be observed in the key role that transparency plays in the standards of ethics that govern academic research, such as the Economic and Social Research Council’s framework for research ethics. This framework refers to transparency in two of its six key principles: “1.Research should be designed, reviewed and undertaken to ensure integrity, quality and transparency”; and “6. The independence of research must be clear, and any conflicts of interest or partiality must be explicit”.
Similarly, The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) is also explicitly in favour of transparent funding. Their guidelines – to which most major academic publishers have signed up to – states that:
Conflicts of interest arise when authors, reviewers, or editors have interests that are not fully apparent and that may influence their judgements on what is published. They have been described as those which, when revealed later, would make a reasonable reader feel misled or deceived. They may be personal, commercial, political, academic or financial. “Financial” interests may include employment, research funding, stock or share ownership, payment for lectures or travel, consultancies and company support for staff. (Guidelines on Good Publication Practice, 2003)
The One World Trust has always recognised the dual nature of transparency. Whilst it is perhaps the most essential issue, ethical considerations are not the only reason for pursuing a more transparent organisation. It is also a means of helping an organisation meet its goals. All research depends on the confidence of the public and other intended research users. It stands to reason that transparency can be an effective tool in achieving this ideal.
Details of our funding can be found in our annual audited accounts. The latest accounts (2010-11) can be found here. For previous years, please see our organisational documents. To read more on our work on accountability in research please see the APRO project.
We are recruiting a Finance Officer to support our research team and the Director. The job is based in London / Farringdon. For more information about the role please go to www.oneworldtrust.org/jobs where you will be able to find the job description and person specification.
By Tim Silman
Wednesday 20th June marked the first day of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, commonly referred to as Rio+20 as it seen as a successor to the Earth Summit that took place in the same city in 1992. The draft agreement presented by Brazil, the host country to delegates as they arrived at the conference has been greeted with dismay by civil society groups who believe that it “does not reflect [their] aspiration.” Senior NGO representatives have since requested that the opening paragraph be amended to remove reference to the “full participation of civil society”.
These disappointments, felt by NGO representatives who had higher hopes for Rio+20, point to mixed expectations between delegates and NGOs over the role of NGO consultation in improving the quality and accountability of the final agreement. When the initial draft, entitled “The Future We Want” was published on 16th June, civil society responded with “The Future We Don’t Want,” an e-petition deriding the draft and calling for “transitional actions for global sustainable progress.” The lack of substantive CSO input into the draft highlights the struggles civil society faces in affecting the course of negotiations, despite its involvement in the preparatory process. This reflects the continued inequitable distribution of power in global governance with respect to climate change and sustainable development. Whilst progress has been made vis-à-vis increasing the voice of developing countries since the 1992 Earth Summit, these benefits have accrued to the dominant emerging economies, as evidenced by the significant role of Brazil in authoring the draft. However, civil society and the least developed countries remain on the fringes. Given the lack of NGO participation in preparing the draft it is unsurprising that their representatives requested the paragraph claiming such be removed.
One key issue that demonstrates the limited input of civil society to the draft document is the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, which are estimated at $400 billion by the International Energy Agency and up to $1 trillion by Oil for Change One of the challenges in promoting increased uptake of renewable energy sources is their high price per unit with respect to energy from fossil fuels. That fossil fuels prices are kept low by subsidies means that this price difference is to some extent artificial: a removal of subsidies would make renewable energy more competitive and reduce demand for fossil fuels. In this way, subsidies provide economic incentives for environmentally damaging behaviour and contribute to climate change. The initial draft did acknowledge this issue but only tentatively, supporting the eventual phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies and agreeing to their gradual elimination. There followed a high profile Twitter campaign in addition to explicit demands from numerous civil society groups to pledge swifter and more decisive action on this issue. The negotiators did relent and inserted further paragraphs concerning subsidies but these were tokenistic, enabling them to claim that attention had been paid to the demands of civil society without actually fulfilling them. On 19th June the text was amended to reaffirm pre-existing commitments to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, whilst merely “inviting” countries that do not yet have such commitments to “consider” introducing them. There is still therefore no clear plan or binding agreement to end this practice. Whilst there have therefore been some changes to the draft on this issue, the primary goal of CSOs of an end to fossil fuel subsidies is nevertheless unlikely to occur in the short or medium term in the absence of clear, binding commitments.
From this example, it can be seen that the expectations of civil society regarding Rio+20 may have been misplaced. Hopes were high among some actors given their participation at all stages of the preparatory process of the conference, their mass presence at the summit itself including representation at the High Level Roundtables and the political will of certain key delegates such as EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard for a firm agreement. However, the result as it stands is more a recognition of the challenges facing the globe rather than a clear plan as to how to surmount them. The scepticism created by the first draft that binding agreements would not be reached was prescient, as the final text recognises the process of negotiation towards such targets without setting them out. Although the final draft does include the line “with the full participation of civil society” this occurred against the wishes of NGOs, and it therefore remains unclear what influence civil society would have deemed adequate to accept this insertion. Whilst a more equitable global governance regime that takes account of at least some of the demands of civil society is certainly desirable, it may be counter-productive for NGOs to distance themselves from all but the perfect agreement. More explicit conditions for their approval would go some way to bringing about a more inclusive document.
At both the national and global level, policymakers have historically found it near-impossible to strike a balance between knowledge as a commodity and knowledge as a public good. In an increasingly knowledge-driven global economy, matched with a tightening of private intellectual property rights (IP), the tension between the two sides has never been stronger.
Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights perfectly encapsulates such tensions at the highest level of international law:
- Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
- Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
It goes without saying that such matters are crucial for economic and social development. With the increasing disillusionment with aid within the 0.7% debate, it could be argued that global governance and development is beginning to shift its focus onto new areas including trade regulation, which of course would include matters of IP. In the arena of global health issues, we have, of course, already seen such a debate unfold concerning the WTO’s TRIPS agreement and AIDS drugs resulting in a number of IP concessions to developing countries.
The IP debate has featured prominently in the news recently with two bills – Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) – circulating within the US Congress. The bills have proven rather explosive, with much backlash from internet-based communities and organisations as diverse as Google and Wikipedia who broadly fear for the future of internet freedom.
Whilst the global patent system in most areas appears to be tightening, campaigners can see a chink of light emerging with regards to access to academic knowledge – after decades of academic journals being something of a closed shop.
Academic publishing has long since developed into an oligopoly that has readily exploited academia and barred the public. By-and-large, publicly funded academics produce, part-edit and peer-review articles (often without pay) which is submitted to a narrow band of publishers who then, in effect, sell it back to academia for a tidy sum.
It is not just the public that are left behind a paywall – the cost of up to £16,500 per year, per subscription is beyond the reach of many students and researchers in developing countries, which clearly has huge implications for southern-led development. Some initiatives such as the UN’s HINARI Access to Research in Health Programme have had some success in opening up access in the global South, but in reality only nibble at the problem.
In a move regarded as a huge progressive step towards a more open research, the UK’s largest funder of biomedical research, the Welcome Trust, has this week proclaimed a new open access initiative. This includes the announcement that it is to publish its own open access journal, and a move to “get tough” with scientists who publish in restricted-access journals. The move comes after the UK government announced last December that it hopes to pursue attempts to prompt open access to publicly funded research.
Earlier this year, another bill passing through US Congress, the Research Works Act, appears to have thankfully reached a dead end. The bill’s primary purpose was to quash the National Institute of Health’s public access policy that stipulates that taxpayer-funded research must be freely accessible online.
Unsurprisingly, the bill and its supporters received a backlash from the public and academics alike. The most prominent supporter of the bill, Elsevier, drew the largest share of criticism after (to date) 10,000 academics agreed to boycott their services to the company. The Cost of Knowledge campaign against Elsevier is arranged by academic campaigners critical of the company’s apparent use (abuse?) of its prominent market position, which has resulted in an extortionate pricing structure, coupled with a clear aversion to open access. Given its profit margin in 2011 of 37% on a turnover of £2.1billion, it is not hard to see why Elsevier was keen to perpetuate the status quo. But, under clearly immense pressure, it dropped its support for the Act.
It is to be hoped that more private and charitable academic funders follow the Welcome Trust’s lead in demanding open access. As IP debates intensify, at the very least we should agree that publicly funded academic research is a common public good, and thus we should demand the statutory right to open access.
The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness took place in Busan from 30th November to 1st December, bringing together over 3,000 delegates from donors, governments and civil society. Amidst the buzz surrounding the event, the high-level delegates, and the elaborate ceremonies (which drew at least two comparisons with the Oscars), what was really achieved?
This is something that we will not know for a while, perhaps for years, according to Jonathan Glennie at the Guardian. The fact is, while Busan has charted new territory in its acknowledgement of the complexities and diverse nature of actors involved in the modern aid and development infrastructure, there is little in the outcome of the conference that can be counted as perceptible progress yet.
Consider the case of civil society participating in Busan. The inclusion of civil society as full and equal partners in development at Busan was a milestone- a highly significant step in acknowledging the importance of civil society organisations (CSOs) and the work they do across the world. The Busan outcome document, the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, underscores this with mention of the need to create an enabling environment for civil society , and endorsement of the Open Forum’s Istanbul Principles and International Framework for CSO Development Effectiveness. These relate to some of the key proposals of civil society in the run-up to Busan, and their presence in the outcome document points to the more inclusive direction the High Level Fora are taking.
While these are positive developments that are very supportive of civil society’s work, much more had been expected from Busan. In the Final Civil Society Statement, CSOs had collectively asked for several key points to be addressed, including, amongst others: correcting the failure (mainly on the part of donors) to meet commitments made at Paris and Accra, particularly untying aid and improving transparency and accountability; committing to a rights-based approach to development; and ensuring private sector engagement be accountable and observe international human rights law. As many commentators, including aid expert Owen Barder, NGOs such as Oxfam, and civil society coalitions the Open Forum and BetterAid, have noted, the outcome at Busan fell largely short of any significant commitments on these points. Especially disappointing was the retreat from any time-bound commitments to ensuring the implementation of the Paris Principles, as well as pushing back the creation of a monitoring framework for overseeing implementation of the promises made at Busan to June 2012. Many also felt that a last-minute caveat that makes adherence to the Busan agreement voluntary for emerging donors, undermines the point of a global commitment to making aid more effective.
So while some of civil society’s battles were won at Busan, with significant victories such as Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of the Istanbul Principles and discussions of involving civil society formally in many UN procedures, tangible progress on the ground remains to be seen. As with so many things in the complicated world of development, only time will tell.
The secrecy surrounding financial payments made by multinational companies to many governments in exchange for access to natural resources continues to pose a barrier to those seeking to hold their governments to account over their financial agreements. Too often, communities are denied the financial benefits – such as investments in local services – which they should be seeing as a result of the exploitation of their country’s natural resources. A lack of transparency concerning the financial dealings between many multinational companies and national governments means that, all too often, the flow of royalties, taxes and other payments that are made to governments cannot be traced by outside observers.
Ensuring transparency and accountability is crucial to guaranteeing responsiveness to the needs of a country’s population; by allowing the public to access financial information regarding such payments, citizens are better able to hold their governments to account. Through making this information publicly available, local communities, businesses, politicians and anyone else with an interest in the needs of a particular community or country, are able to assess whether they are getting their fair share of the profits which are being generated from the exploitation of their country’s natural resources.
With such considerations in mind, the European Parliament and member states will be considering a proposal to amend the EU’s Transparency and Accounting Directives over the coming months. The proposal, which was put on the table on 25th October 2011, advocates the introduction of European legislation which would require extractive companies listed in Europe to publish details of payments that are made to national governments. This proposal has taken its initiative from the US Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The Dodd-Frank Act, which was brought into law in July 2010, requires that oil, mining and gas companies registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission report the payments that they make to governments.
This piece of European legislation, if introduced on a sufficiently rigorous basis, could make a significant contribution to ensuring an increase in development investment for many low-income countries. It would build on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a voluntary initiative of which Ghana (our country case study for the Global Climate Change Governance project) is already a member. However, for the EU legislation to be effective, it must take into account both listed and non-listed firms, as well as ensuring that no exemptions are in place which would jeopardise effective reporting of payments by European firms.
Recent coverage of the situation in Colombia has helped to highlight the need for such legislation. The Colombian government demands that mining companies pay royalties in order to access the country’s natural resources; although 80% of these payments are supposed to be invested in development projects in the producing region, local communities are unable to access any information regarding the status of these payments. If rigorous legislation on reporting by EU companies were brought into law, local communities and decision-makers in developing countries could hold their governments to account over the status of such payments.
Our Global Climate Change Governance project is assessing the accountability policies and quality management systems of key global institutions, as one way of understanding how responsive they are to the needs of citizens in the face of climate change. In the same manner, the need for greater accountability and transparency concerning financial transactions between companies and governments is critical to ensuring that communities in some of the poorest countries benefit from natural resource extraction. We hope that the new EU legislation, when passed, will go some way to achieving this.
This Wednesday, The Guardian leaked the World Bank’s draft ‘Mobilising Climate Finance’ report, which is due to be presented to the G20 finance ministers in November. The report, which has been commissioned by the G20 finance ministers, explores avenues for scaling up climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2011/sep/21/mobilising-climate-finance-report-g20, p.5) by outlining the Bank’s proposals for leveraging climate finance for developing countries. Given that this report is intended to provide a basis for the UN climate talks, which are due to continue in Panama next week, the proposals may prove critical in either initiating or hampering effective global action on climate change.
There are certain aspects to the report for which the Bank can be congratulated, namely the proposal for removing subsidies for fossil fuel use. Total fossil fuel subsidies for Annex II countries are estimated to lie somewhere between $40-60bn over recent years. The funding of fossil fuel projects in the name of development has long been a controversial issue at the Bank, not least because subsidising high carbon infrastructure is in stark contradiction with the Bank’s climate change objectives (an issue which we have explored in previous blogs). Moreover, in 2010, just over 20% of these subsidies went directly to oil, gas and coal companies, rather than to supporting consumers in developing countries. (See http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2011/sep/21/mobilising-climate-finance-report-g20, p.21.) The proposal by the Bank to remove fossil fuel subsidies is therefore a surprising (and welcome) turnaround.
Yet while the Bank’s proposal to remove fossil fuel subsidies suggests a positive move away from providing finance to highly polluting industry, other features of the report are more concerning. The heavy emphasis on carbon offsetting, carbon trading, and using the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to achieve emissions reductions, for example, suggests a worrying move towards redirecting ‘climate aid’ money (which has already been pledged to developing countries) towards private markets that have been criticised as being ineffective.
There is a firm emphasis on leveraging climate finance from the private rather than the public sector, with the report praising the role that carbon offsetting can play in ‘catalysing low carbon investments’. Yet carbon offsetting has often been criticised for failing to achieve actual emissions reductions. Likewise, the Clean Development Mechanism has been criticised for allowing rich nations to avoid meeting their emissions reductions targets as it has, in some cases, allowed rich countries to gain carbon credits by funding low carbon projects which were already in the pipeline.
The report also discusses the potential for increasing low carbon investment by stimulating carbon markets. However the reliance on the private sector and on bolstering carbon markets is a high-risk strategy. Carbon markets have consistently failed to deliver; the EU Emissions Trading Scheme for example has been largely ineffective at delivering any substantial reduction in emissions across the EU. Furthermore, even within the report there is an acknowledgement that capital flows from offsetting initiatives have so far gone to a relatively small number of middle income countries rather than developing countries. Using public funds to support carbon markets therefore risks both diverting funds away from developing countries, and failing to achieve the climate adaptation and mitigation improvements that are needed.
Therefore despite the welcomed drive away from fossil fuel subsidies, many of the proposals being forwarded by the World Bank fail to offer a low carbon development path which will integrate developmental aims. Moreover, as accountability advocates, we also need to be asking questions about which actors were involved in developing this proposal, and whether citizens and decision-makers in developing countries in particular feel that their views have been accurately reflected with regards to global climate finance issues. How to reconcile climate change mitigation and adaptation with issues of development is no easy task, and will require the balancing of conflicting stakeholder views in the quest for a fair solution.