No gong for Cameron’s Hunger Summit

Participation, Power and Social Change Research at IDS

Naomi Hossain

Two global food crises in 5 years is a misfortune; three looks like carelessness. So yesterday’s Global Hunger Summit was a golden opportunity to tackle the causes of global food price volatility – without doubt the single greatest threat to nutrition in the 21st century, and with equally little doubt, the result of chronically malfunctioning food markets exacerbating climate change (see e.g. what the clever people at the New England Complex Systems Institute say about the 2012 food crisis).

So what did the Global Hunger Summit propose to do about the malfunctioning markets and commodity speculation behind upward fluctuating food prices? Not a lot. The joint statement the PM issued with the Brazilian VP Michel Temer acknowledged climate change, with an emphasis on science-y solutions like drought resistant crops and ‘evidence-based’ policies. But while nobody expected a full-on attack on profit-motivated food commodity speculation, there was…

View original post 384 more words

Why predict a riot?

Participation, Power and Social Change Research at IDS

Naomi Hossain

Like millions of Indonesians, I watched the protests against the fuel subsidy cut as it was debated in Parliament last week. They were at it (debating, not protesting) into the wee hours; in the end, the protests were big and ugly enough for the opposition and coalition partners to hold the ruling party to ransom. They fudged it, agreeing that if the global fuel price goes up a lot, they will act. Result? Unruly politics – 1; responsible fiscal policy – 0.

Technocrats and policy types all agree the fuel subsidy is A Bad Thing. It cost US$18bn last year- more than half of spending on education (US$£32bn). The Iran situation will increase global fuel prices. 60-70% of the fuel subsidy benefits the richest 40% of Indonesians. But because fuel subsidies are so economically irrational, technocrats and policy types fail to analyse the political responses and easily discount…

View original post 426 more words