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Interesting Events this January

By popular demand, I’ve put together another collection of events that have caught my eye. As always, lots are from OneWorld’s fantastic events list - but I have picked up a few from elsewhere too. I’ve added a few comments to a number of them on why I think they’re interesting, and also copied in the event summaries. Do add a comment or send me a mail if you plan to go to any of them, I haven’t got a hope of going to them all!

Friday 11 January

Close Guantánamo Bay demo - US Embassy, Grosvenor Square - assemble @ 9:30, start @ 10:30

Guantanamo continues to undermine the US and West in general’s position as countries with legitimate and responsible governments. It is a reminder that the West is perfectly capable of abusing its powers in horrific ways, and we must not be tired into acceptance. If you’re free on Friday morning, lend your voice to this human cause.

Population trends and their implications for human welfare - John Cleland - SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, WC1 @ 6pm

Population is known as the elephant in the room when it comes to discussing and responding to the environment and social pressures that are building in the world. We know beyond doubt that global resources are being used unsustainably, and that when resources run low it is the poor who suffer. The projected addition of another 2billion or more people over the next 40 years will only increase these pressures. Possibly depressing, but nevertheless a vital conversation to have.

Tuesday 15 January

Public Meeting on the Climate Change Bill - Joan Ruddock MP, Martyn Williams (Friends of the Earth) - Committee Room 10 in the House of Commons - @ 6.30pm

Hosted by the Big Ask, this will be a chance to directly hear from, and ask questions to Joan Ruddock - the minister for Climate Change. Coming along will also help pressure the government into recognising that the public takes the Climate Change issue seriously, and that effective policy is needed in order to bring about change.

Wednesday 16 January

Food and Climate Change: Food production, distribution and consumption in the context of climate change - Craig Sams, Jenny Jones, Tim Lang, Patrick Holden - Cecil Sharpe House, Regents Park Road, Camden - @ 6.30pm - £15

Food is becoming an increasingly important issue. We’ve been living in a fairyland for decades, with bountiful quantities of food available. Things are beginning to change - competition from biofuels, reduced crop yields due to increased night-time temperatures, decreasing availability of fresh water and other environmental pressures now mean that we no longer globally produce significantly more food than we consume. And even after years of excess 800 million do not have enough food, so what happens next? Perhaps this event will provide some foresight.

What Makes a Terrorist? - Sir David Omand GCB, Alan B. Krueger, Simon Israel - RSA London @ 19.00

With Professor Alan B. Krueger, author of What Makes a Terrorist? Economics and the Roots of Terrorism

Respondent: Sir David Omand GCB

Chair: Simon Israel Home Affairs Correspondent for Channel 4 News

“Many popular ideas about terrorists and why they seek to harm us are fuelled by falsehoods and misinformation. Leading politicians and scholars have argued that poverty and lack of education breed terrorism, despite the wealth of evidence showing that most terrorists come from middle-class, and often college-educated, backgrounds. In What Makes a Terrorist, Alan Krueger argues that if we are to correctly assess the root causes of terrorism, and successfully address the threat, we must think more like economists do.”

Thursday 17 January

Apocalypse Soon? Iran and the World in 2008 - Jon Snow, Ali Ansari, Kasra Naji, Ran Gidor - ICA, The Mall, - @ 7.45pm - £10/£9/£8,

“With the US funding arms to the Gulf Arab States and the rhetoric from both sides hardening, some see war with Iran as inevitable in 2008. But beneath the sound and the fury, what is really going on? Are America’s presidential frontrunners gearing themselves up for a historic shift in policy? What is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad planning in Iraq, and what will Israel do to stop Iran going nuclear?”

Thursday 17 January

Black Gold (film) - The Salmon and Compass, 58 Penton Street, N1 @

“Another bold documentary which asks us to think about what lies beneath, and beyond, our lives as prosperous Western consumers. The hilarious prices we pay for our skinny lattes in the coffee chains with the comfy sofas are a world away from the money that Ethopian coffee farmers actually get for their wares. Francis’s film is sober, discursive; it asks what can be done about these iniquities and talks about fair-trade initiatives. Its main achievement, however, is to ask us to recognize that coffee drinking is an unexamined domestic habit which is globally constituted and globally interconnected.”

17 January 2008

Combating corruption in post-war settings - Martin Tisné, Alina Rocha Menocal - ODI - must book

I’ve recently been reading Paul Collier’s “The Bottom Billion”, in which he argues that war is one of the most important poverty traps (no surprises there). He also refers to evidence that a large proportion of countries escaping civil war return to violence within 10 years, so it is vital support is provided to post-war nations. Combating corruption and rebuilding political structures is fundamental to avoiding the regress to war. Perhaps this session can offer some incites into this topic, here’s the official blurb…

Attention to corruption has not typically been a programming priority in post-war settings. Between the exigencies of securing peace, responding to humanitarian crises, large-scale public institution-building and economic development, fighting corruption has either been seen as secondary, or as an obstacle to peace. A growing body of national and international policy-makers is now debating how anti-corruption measures in these settings may be most effective. Corruption can be a major destabilising factor, but so can anti-corruption measures gone wrong.

“At this ODI event, Martin Tisné [Programme Director of Tiri] will review integrity reforms that have been undertaken in post-war settings, put forth some recommendations about those best placed to succeed in these environments, and present an analytical framework that can tip the balance in favour of positive recovery.

Over the past two years, Tiri, an independent non-governmental organisation that works with governments, business and civil society organisations to find practical solutions to making integrity work, has led a team of researchers from eight post-war countries to study factors that may improve the chances for and quality of post-war recovery.”

Saturday 19 January

Change the World, Fabian new year conference - Timothy Garton Ash, Shirley Williams, Polly Toynbee, Margot Wallstrom, Ed Miliband, Hilary Benn, Shami Chakrabarti - £35/£20.

This collection of speakers definitely demands some attention:

“Fabian NYC will bring together more than 700 delegates with 50 leading thinkers on foreign policy and global issues from the UK, Europe and beyond, to start a year of new ideas. Will Timothy Garton Ash agree with Shirley Williams about Europe’s strategy towards Iran? Do Will Hutton and Robert Cooper share the same vision of the rise of China? Could Polly Toynbee learn something about the Europe debate from Quentin Davies MP? What does Sir Christopher Meyer think America will be like after President Bush? Answers to these questions and many more at perhaps the biggest ever UK public conference on global politics.”

Tuesday 22 January

Perspectives on Trade and Poverty Reduction - Jonathan White, Chris Stevens - ODI, 111 Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 - @ 1pm

” The United States and Europe account for significant shares of global trade and foreign aid activities with developing countries, and can heavily influence economic opportunities for the world’s poorest. At the same time, their level of global economic engagement can be shaped by public perceptions of trade, jobs, foreign assistance, and security at home.

The annual Perspectives on Trade and Poverty Reduction survey, carried out by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, polls Americans and Europeans on these critical issues to gain a better understanding of the public perceptions influencing policy climates in the United States and Europe. It explores views on trade and aid, and their ability to provide shared prosperity, global stability, and democracy in developing countries. Do Americans and Europeans believe that lowering trade barriers with Africa could help with addressing modern threats like unstable states? How do they view the impact of trade on jobs at home and what can we do to help workers who may lose their job due to trade? Can a transatlantic marketplace with deeper trade and investment ties help our own economies?”

Turning the welfare state inside out, Simon Duffy and the story of in Control - Matthew Taylor, Dr Simon Duffy, Caroline Tomlinson - RSA, 8 John Adam Street, WC2N 6EZ - @7pm

Welfare State reform is a pressing topic - changes within the NHS are moving us towards privatisation, and away from treating everyone according to need rather than private financial interest. Duffy developed the individual budgets system for social care that is now being implemented by the government, this is your chance to hear the arguments from those who devised it, and responses from those who have been affected.

Thursday 24 January

Humanitarian Intervention: Who Does It Help? - Clare Short, Geoffrey Robertson, Jonathan Steele, David Chandler - ICA, The Mall, SW1 @ 7pm - £10/£9/£8

“After the war in Iraq and with pressure growing on Western governments to take action in Darfur, a panel of experts from across the political spectrum debate whether armed humanitarian intervention has ever really helped the vulnerable, and what agendas lie behind the much-vaunted “responsibility to protect” “

Tuesday 29 January

Perspectives on Global Health - Dr Tachi Yamada - South Kensington Campus, Imperial College @ 5.30pm

This is a fantastic chance to see how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the world’s biggest philanthropic organisations sees Global Health. (Dr Tachi Yamada is the President of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations Global Health Program).

Posted in Events.

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