Category Archives: Uncategorized

Credit to the debtors

There’s been so much going on in recent weeks and months that it’s easy to forget that over the last 5 months, Haiti has been trying to rebuild.

But SuperBadger was delighted to hear recently that more of Haiti’s debts have been cancelled! Both the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the World Bank have cancelled large chunks of debt owed to them by Haiti and made further funding available as grants, rather than loans, to aid the recovery.

Photo: Richard Hanson/Tearfund

On 22 March, the IADB cancelled debts of $441 million owed to by Haiti. The IADB is the largest source of development financing in Latin America, and was the largest creditor to Haiti. This cancellation will clearly make a huge impact on Haiti’s ability to recover in the coming years. On top of this, the IADB have also pledged over $2 billion in grants to Haiti over the next decade!

A week later, the international community came together at the donor’s conference and pledged $5.3 billion to fund the initial phase of Haiti’s reconstruction over the next 18 months. As part of this, the World Bank cancelled Haiti’s remaining debt of $39 million.  

SuperBadger hopes these will be precedents for highly indebted countries hit by disasters in future – many of them are prone to disasters, so this is a situation that’s highly likely to happen again.

All of this is fantastic news, and SuperBadger is hopeful that Haiti’s other creditors will  follow the lead of the IADB and World Bank, to ensure that the country’s recovery and reconstruction isn’t hampered by crippling debt repayments. You might remember that back in January, in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, we badgered the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to Tear Up the IOU and release Haiti from their crippling debts of $890 million, as well as also urging the UK government to cancel all outstanding debts. The IMF has agreed to cancel these debts, but we still haven’t heard the details of the deal. As soon as details are released, SuperBadger will let you all know. Hopefully it will be more good news!

Tea-totally unacceptable

Last month, hundreds of you badgered Typhoo, asking them to become an entirely Fairtrade brand. We know that Fairtrade is the only system that independently guarantees farmers a fair price for their products, whilst also helping communities to develop in a sustainable way. Big tea companies like Typhoo have the power to improve the lives of thousands of tea farmers all around the world, by investing in the local communities in which they work.

So SuperBadger wasn’t very happy when he received a reply from Typhoo a few weeks ago that suggested that Typhoo weren’t too keen on switching to being a Fairtrade brand any time soon. SuperBadger was particularly concerned that the reply stated that:

“we [Typhoo] also believe that our customers should be allowed the opportunity to freely choose between Fair-trade accredited products and standard products, which is why we offer both.”

As a number of SuperBadger’s friends have said on the discussion board, who would prefer to buy a product that has been produced in unacceptable and unjust conditions, when there is a Fairtrade alternative available?

Whilst SuperBadger welcomes Typhoo’s commitment to double the number of Fairtrade products sold over the next year, it’s a shame that they haven’t committed to working with Fairtrade to ensure that all their products are Fairtrade accredited. Rather than working within their own certification rules, why don’t Typhoo commit to working to achieve full Fairtrade-accreditation on all their products, accreditation that is recognised and respected world-wide, and helps thousands of people out of poverty.

As always, do visit http://apps.facebook.com/superbadger to see the latest actions you can take.

Here is the full response from Typhoo:

_______________________________________________________

Dear Customer

I am writing with regards to your recent correspondence requesting that Typhoo become a Fair-trade labelled tea. We fully understand your concerns and would like to highlight that, whilst Typhoo wholeheartedly support the Fair-trade movement and would endorse any initiatives that ensure that tea workers situations are improved, we actually operate differently from all of our competitors in how we source tea.

At Typhoo tea, we are committed to ensuring that we trade fairly with all the tea estates that we buy tea from. We are uniquely placed in the Tea industry and demonstrate our commitment through trading fairly with tea estates in two ways; firstly to support the Fair-trade foundation by using Fair-trade tea with our Ridgways brand; secondly to use our Typhoo certification scheme to monitor the tea gardens we buy from are continuously improving fair labour standards (measured against the ETI base code), health & safety, quality and food safety, and sustainable environmental practices.

An example of how our certification scheme works is in the Makandi estate in Malawi where we have worked closely with the estate to deliver significant benefits including the introduction of terms and conditions for workers, greater wage transparency, improvements to housing, sanitation and access to water, as well as a focus on the elimination of discrimination against women and illegal disciplinary practices.

Over the next 12 months we intend to double the number of Fair-trade products we sell, clearly demonstrating our commitment to the Fair-trade organisation for the long term. However, we also believe that our customers should be allowed the opportunity to freely choose between Fair-trade accredited products and standard products, which is why we offer both.

In addition to this, you have probably noticed recently on our packs that we are working very closely with the Federation of Disability Sport. We have developed a Typhoo Sports for All programme with them that provides community sports coaches with a qualification giving them the skills necessary to included disabled people in their coaching sessions. So far we have trained 1000 coaches across the whole of the UK which has given thousands of disabled people the opportunity to take part in the sports and games they love. So, you can see, that not only do we work closely with tea plantation workers around the globe; we carry out some very worthwhile activities closer to home too.

UNESC-UH-OH!

Normally, awarding a prize of $3 million to reward people for research and work that improves the quality of human life would be heralded as a great thing. However, the prize that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is supporting isn’t drawing the plaudits you might expect it to.

That’s because it is funded by the director of the oil-rich West African country of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang, who presides over an appalling record of human rights violations and corruption.

Equatorial Guinea has seen rising economic prosperity due to growing oil revenues. However, an increase in government revenue hasn’t led to a similar rise in living standards. This is due in large part to the corruption taking place in the country – a fact reflected in Equatorial Guinea’s position (168th out of 180) in the corruption index.

The actions of Teodoro Obiang contradict and seriously undermine what UNESCO stands for, and the good work that it is doing all over the world. Continued support of this prize also sends the wrong message to leaders in a similar position to Obiang, suggesting that they can get away with poor records in their countries if they support such initiatives

This is a really important opportunity to make a stand against corruption, human rights violations and the dictators who allow them to happen. Badger the Director of UNESCO to cancel the prize, and ensure that in the future, award donations are given the proper scrutiny needed.

As always, you can check out the latest badger actions by visiting http://apps.facebook.com/superbadger – Happy Badgering!

No More Vultures!

Yesterday was a day for celebration. You may remember that last month, SuperBadger blogged about ‘vulture funds’, companies that buy up the debts of poor countries, and then sue in court to reclaim the full amount – diverting money that should have been spent on health and education!

Yesterday the UK became the first country in the world to legislate to stop vulture funds profiteering off the debts of the poorest countries in the world. This is fantastic news. Thank you to all of you who took action to badger Alistair Darling and George Osborne to ban the vultures – you played a vital part in this!  

Last week, it looked like the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill was dead. But, thanks to ongoing campaigning by the Jubilee Debt Campaign and the determination of a few MPs, the Government agreed to select this measure for the ‘wash up’, a process of passing a few laws quickly, with cross-party support, at the end of a Parliamentary session. In explaining why, Harriet Harman, Leader of the Commons, said it was because the Bill had “considerable support in the country”.

This victory should mean that we never again have to see a country as poor as Liberia or Zambia sued in a UK court on the basis of a debt which dates back to the 1970s and has been bought by a vulture fund for pennies in the pound.

Why not celebrate with a visit to the Jubilee Debt Campaign website for more reaction to the passing of the bill?

Thank you again for being part of the huge wave of support for this bill – your campaigning has helped bring justice to millions of people in countries like Uganda, Mozambique, Liberia and Zambia. Isn’t that just wonderful news?!

Carbon Fast Countdown!

Dear Carbon Fast Diary,

We have reached the last week of the Carbon Fast! For almost six weeks now, my Superbadger friends and I have been taking daily actions to reduce our carbon ‘paw prints’ for Carbon Fast 2010! It’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be and guess what…

Carbon Fast has gone global!

The fantastically green Lent idea has swept across the nations, and it has become quite a talking point! Looks like it’s not just churches and individuals in the UK who are taking part this year.

Everyone has been talking about the Carbon Fast!

Superbadger is also excited to hear that our Tearfund counterparts in Australia and The Netherlands are encouraging people and churches to reduce their emissions.

Promoting the Carbon Fast in the Netherlands

Tear Netherlands have even challenged some churches with ‘green graffiti’, where volunteers jet wash pavement graffiti and spell out ‘green’ messages in its place!

In Australia, church groups are doing the Carbon Fast course to think about underlying reasons for acting to tackle climate change.
Superbadger would love to hear UK and international stories about your Carbon Fast journey, and what your church, family or workplace is doing to take part this year.

Send us an email at campaigning@tearfund.org or comment below!

Now, we’re circling the vultures

More than a decade’s campaigning has gained over $88 billion of debt cancellation for many of the world’s poorest countries. Uganda used this money to abolish primary school fees so poorer children could get an education, and Mozambique immunised hundreds of thousands of children against life threatening diseases. That’s the kind of thing Badger loves to hear. It makes his furry heart go all tingly!

But now it seems ‘vulture funds’ have started trying to get their claws on some of this money. They buy up poor countries’ debts cheaply, and then sue in court to recover the full amount, diverting money that should have been spent on health and education.

At least 54 companies are known to have taken legal action against 12 of the world’s poorest countries in recent years, for claims amounting to $1.5 billion.

A Bill is going through Parliament to stop UK courts being misused in this way. But it probably won’t have time to pass into law before the election.

So here’s how we can help:

We’re asking both the current Government and the Conservatives to promise to bring the Vultures Law back in the new Parliament if they win, so that countries like Uganda and Mozambique can carry on doing great things for the good of their populations.

Darling should give those vultures a right good telling off!

We can’t let those scavengers feed on the vulnerable! Badger Alistair Darling and George Osborne to ban the vultures today!

If you’d like to know more, the experts at www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk  have excellent videos and briefings

Dear Carbon Fast Diary…

I’m sorry that I haven’t written to you in a while, but I’ve been busy trying to reduce my carbon ‘paw-print’ through Tearfund’s Carbon Fast. The Fast is all about doing your part to reduce carbon emissions and help protect poor people from climate change.

We’re two weeks into Lent and I’ve already done so much to reduce my carbon footprint – and it’s been great fun!

Checking my Carbon Footprint!

I kicked off my Carbon Fast by finding out what my current carbon ‘paw-print’ is, using a nifty calculator called My Global Impact – you can find out yours at www.tearfund.org/mgi

Anyone for apples?

On Day 2 of the Carbon Fast, I decided that I should eat more vegetarian meals, as the livestock industry contributes 18% of global CO2 emissions. I decided to get stuck in straight away, tucking into a delicious bowl of fresh fruit!

The highlight of my Carbon Fast so far was definitely the candlelit meal I had with my good friend Holly on Day 8 of the fast – I saved lots of energy by turning out the lights and using candles instead!

Enjoying the ambience of a candlelit meal

 I’ll have more updates for you in the coming weeks, but until then, why not visit the Carbon Fast website for more information about how to join in.

And if you’re doing the Carbon Fast – let me know how you’re getting on, either by commenting on here, or via my Twitter page! (But don’t do it on Day 20 – that’s the technology fast day!)