Fellows meetings in 2011
The global corporate grab and the rise of the 99%
TNI held two Fellows meetings during 2011: in Amsterdam in June and Durban South Africa in December. In Amsterdam, Irish, Spanish and Syrian activists linked the Arab Spring movements with the growing tide of protest against European austerity measures. In Durban, TNI fellows Praful Bidwai and Susan George packed out a local bookshop as they presented their latest books.
AMSTERDAM, 3-4 JUNE 2012
Arab Spring: its movements, the political economy and global response
Salwa Ismail, Shaheer George, Kamil Mahdi, Mehdi Lalou, Phyllis Bennis
Two prominent pro-democracy activists from Syria and Egypt reported from the front lines of the Arab Spring, sharing the daily experience of humiliation people faced in the repressive states, the turning points in the resistance that led people to believe in the possibility of change, and the complex political terrain that movements now have to navigate as they seek to undermine years of militarised rule. The struggles for democracy take place in a region with stark inequalities across the region and within countries. The Middle East also has very high food and water insecurity that is likely to fuel future conflicts. Meanwhile the revolts have caught the US and EU elites completely off guard as it poses a fundamental challenge to their policies of supporting repressive regimes in the region to maintain stability, support Israel, control oil and enforce migration control. http://www.tni.org/multimedia/understanding-arab-spring
The global grab: land, water, energy and air
Jun Borras, Mary Ann Manahan, Ben Hayes, Nick Buxton
As a prominent German government conference framed it in November 2011, food, water and energy have become the 'nexus' for global public policy as states and companies battle out to control perceived scare resources. A huge demand for minerals since 2002 has led to a new scramble for Africa with most of the revenues leaving the continent and communities suffering the brunt of environmental damage. The conversion of water from a common good to a tradeable commodity is facilitating a new trade in virtual water, hidden from view as it is mainly exported in the forms of biofuels and agroindustrial production. Meanwhile the World Bank's myth of “unused land” ripe for agricultural investment is creating the perfect conditions for growing landgrabs involving domestic, regional and transnational companies who exploit divisions within rural communities and dispossess rural landholders. As conflict inevitably arises from these 'grabs' – and in the context of climate change which is likely to exacerbate tensions – food, water, energy and climate change are all being framed in terms of security. This has the danger of increasing the likelihood of militarised responses, rather than a language of sovereignty that looks at how communities can maintain democratic control over their key resources and protect human and environmental rights. See: http://www.tni.org/multimedia/road-rio20-green-economy-debate
Throughout the TNI fellows meeting, Dutch development magazine, The Broker, did a series of short interviews that can be seen on their channel http://www.youtube.com/user/thebrokeronline/featured
DURBAN, 9-10 DECEMBER 2011
Politics of Climate
Praful Bidwai, Patrick Bond, Edgardo Lander
Politicians seeking to protect national self-interest, an obsession with economic growth, and an addiction to fossil fuels and false solutions such as carbon trading have brought us close to tipping point on climate change. The climate crisis is also profoundly a development crisis: caused by the North which will be felt most severely in the South. Yet nations like India and South Africa have a responsibility to act rather than collude with the North, and must do so to protect their own populations suffering from their own high carbon polluting industries. Meanwhile under the guise of a 'green economy' corporations with UN institutional backing are looking to expand commodification of all natural resources
EU and US hegemony and the rise of the 99%
Susan George, Phyllis Bennis, Brian Ashley, Hilary Wainwright, Vish Satgar
The US hegemony is still intact: its economic and military power still outweighs any potential opponents. However there is undoubtedly a sense of decline, and a growing sense of insecurity shown in rise of xenophobia, political paralysis and the idolisation of ignorance in the Republican Party. In Europe, decades of social advances have been undermined by a massive shift of power and money from labour to capital, increasing dismissal of democracy, and an unshakeable neoliberal belief in saving the banks above protecting people. In both the US and EU, the rise of occupy and indignado movements has transformed the conversation from examining indebtedness to looking at inequality. However it is still unclear how they can transform policies, while at national level politics of austerity, neoliberalism and imperialism continue unabated.
Rise of the South
David Fig, Nicolla Bullard, Achin Vanaik
The political notion of the South that emerged in struggle against colonialism (Bandung Conference 1954) has been replaced by the emergence of a few dominant nations (notably India, China and Brazil) competing with their Northern counterparts and splitting the old Southern block. Their arrival has created new complex networks of power between them, with other Southern countries and with the North. Yet in the context of the triumph of liberalised capital their arrival on the global stage has done little to challenge neoliberal policy or progress alternatives to institutions such as the WTO, IMF or World Bank.