Activism

Jun 13, 2013

Jun Final countdown to the G8 Summit

13
2013

Today, I’m packing my bags and heading off to Enniskillen in Northern Ireland for the G8 Summit. 

The annual gathering of the ‘Group of 8’ - the club of some of the world’s most powerful nations – always attracts protesters and the global media, and concludes with a grand statement and the obligatory family photo.

This year will be no different, but it’s been eight years since I have witnessed the spectacle. Oxfam will be in Enniskillen to deliver one message to the G8 - that it’s time to put an end to the scandal of world hunger. 

Above: G8 leaders (well, the Oxfam 'Big Head' versions) arrive in Northern Ireland ahead of the G8 Summit on June 17th and 18th 2013. Check out this Flickr gallery for more photos from their trip.

Whilst the G20 may have overtaken the G8 as the biggest show in town, this year’s G8 Summit has been given a higher billing than the last few years. It has also sparked interest from a coalition of over 200 charities across the island of Ireland and in Britain, who have formed a major campaign on hunger called IF.

For the 2013 Summit, the UK is sitting in the Chair’s seat, and British Prime Minister David Cameron has touted this as the ‘most ambitious G8 yet’. 

He has promised to get the G8’s own house in order on three of the big issues affecting the world today – trade, tax and transparency – and has also pledged action on global hunger. These are welcome words – but the real test is whether the eight leaders can deliver next week.

The decisions they make on two key issues could make a huge difference to the fight against global hunger.  

Tax dodging

Tax dodging is an issue that’s grabbing the headlines in many G8 countries, but its impact on developing countries has received less attention.

Every year, developing countries lose more than €120bn/£100bn to just one type of corporate tax dodging – enough to eradicate hunger more than three times over.

But it is also the tip of the iceberg, as hundreds of billions are also hidden away by the world’s wealthiest and corporate giants in tax havens. In fact, our research shows that wealthy individuals could be avoiding tax on as much as €700bn/£600bn through Irish financial institutions. We’ll be telling the G8 that they must get tough on tax dodging, by changing the rules that protect the companies and individuals using tax havens so no one can hide their money away and avoid tax without consequences. 

Land grabbing

Land grabbing is an issue that has been under the radar for too long. The race for land in developing countries is exposing vulnerable communities to the risk of losing their homes, ways of life and the land they rely on for food to eat.

Meanwhile the race to put adequate regulations in place to prevent land grabs has hardly started. Already, G8 companies and investors have bought land in developing countries more than the size of the whole of Ireland since the year 2000.

This land could grow enough food for 96 million people. The G8 has a huge opportunity to protect people from land grabs by increasing the transparency of land investments, and forcing its own companies to disclose information on any land deals they are involved in. Will they take this opportunity?

So, what can we expect?

The G8’s track record in delivering on their promises is not one to shout about, as their own ‘Accountability Report’ shows. But in the last few weeks, there have been some signs that the G8 is moving in the right direction. 

Last week, governments committed $4.15 billion to tackling malnutrition at a special event on nutrition, and this week we’re seeing some movement on both tax and extractive industry transparency by some G8 countries. But a G8 deal on land and tax which really helps poor countries is badly off track.  

With more than a billion people living in extreme poverty and one in eight going to bed hungry tonight, the G8 need to raise their game over the coming days. We will be following the G8 Summit every step of the way – sharing the latest news, demanding greater action from leaders, and having just a little fun with our famous G8 Big Heads!

Get involved

Please share this blog post on social media using the share icons at the top of the page.  You can also use #G8 to tweet us your wishes for the G8 Summit - we'll retweet and blog the best ones we receive!

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Jun 5, 2013

Jun Fight poverty and enjoy big music events for free!

5
2013
Fancy a free ticket to see Justin Timberlake, Snow Patrol or The Killers? Or how about Bon Jovi, Basement Jaxx, Mumford & Sons or Kings of Leon? Or maybe you prefer big festivals like Electric Picnic, Longitude or Oxegen? 
 
Over the next few months our team of volunteer stewards, activists and shop assistants will attend Oxegen, Electric Picnic, Longitude, Tennants Vital, Belsonic, Aviva stadium shows, Phoenix Park shows and more to be announced.

 

Clockwise from top: Aisling Sheridan and Siobhan Hogan working as volunteer stewards at Oxegen. Gavin James at the OxJam stage at Electric Picnic. Festival Revellers and Gardaí pose for Oxfam’s Ending Poverty Starts With Women campaign at Electric Picnic. Karen Sheridan (Slow Skies) Oxjamming. Photos: Ger Murphy / Oxfam.
 
Volunteer stewards work as low-level security at the events with the money donated by festival organisers going to help Oxfam fight poverty, while volunteer activists engage festival goers by spreading the word about our Ending Poverty Starts with Women campaign. Volunteer shop assistants look after the Oxfam festival shop, raising money for our life-changing projects around the world. All volunteers must be over 18 on the day of the event.
 
You’ll gain access to festivals and concerts free of change, get to meet and work alongside some amazing fellow volunteers and help us fight poverty and injustice together while seeing some of the biggest acts in music. Win-win!
 
Whichever event you lend a hand at, you'll get to enjoy some of best live music the summer has to offer!
 
 
Places are filling up fast, so sign up as a volunteer now!
May 21, 2013

May The G8 must take action on tax dodging and tax havens!

21
2013

Shocking new statistics released by Oxfam this week have shown that governments are letting people hide at least $18.5 trillion in offshore tax havens. Yes, you read that right: not $18.5 million, or even $18.5 billion, but $18.5 trillion!

And our research shows that as much as €707 billion owned by wealthy individuals from overseas may be shielded from tax authorities around the world in Irish financial institutions, leaving Ireland open to suggestions that it’s being used as a tax haven.

“It’s time to take the side of ordinary people, rather than the privileged few. These figures put Ireland at the centre of a global tax system that is a colossal betrayal of people here and abroad” says Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland. “Now is the time to take action.”

By holding their money in offshore tax havens like San Marino and Monaco, the owners of these $18.5 trillion worth of riches pay little or no tax - while hard working people in the world's poorest countries strive to make a living and 1 in 8 go to bed hungry.

 

If companies and individuals paid their dues, it would total more than $150 billion - money which could be spent on schools, hospitals and libraries. As austerity bites and budgets are slashed, ordinary people across the world are losing out on billions of unpaid tax.

And these figures are just the tip of the iceberg: tax evasion by big corporations prevents hundreds of billions of dollars being paid every year. The vast majority of ordinary people pay their taxes every year, so why should the world’s richest individuals and corporations get away with dodging tax?

Now is the time to take a stand. This year's G8 takes place in June in Northern Ireland, and David Cameron has committed his G8 Presidency towards ‘getting our own house in order and helping developing countries to prosper”, while yesterday European leaders met to discuss tax.

But unless European and G8 countries follow their fine words with action, this could be a lot of hot air – or result in a deal that shuts out developing countries.

Oxfam is calling for G8 leaders to;

  1. Get their own tax havens to join a global deal to share tax information, so that all countries – especially the poorest – can tax companies and individuals fairly.
  2. Commit to making ownership of companies and other assets public, so that nobody can avoid paying tax by hiding their money or setting up phantom firms.
  3. Agree to get tough with tax havens when they won’t play ball.

Please share this blog post on social media to spread the word and ensure that political leaders play their part at this year's G8 Summit in Co. Fermanagh on June 17th and 18th.

Tell them that you won’t stand for the unjust tax dodging practices of the global elite.

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May 15, 2013

May Let’s make some noise on hunger at Big IF Belfast event when G8 comes to town!

15
2013

Oxfam has always been about campaigning for change, because we tackle the root causes of poverty to really change things for the world’s poorest people.

Often, we have to live with the fact that change can take a long time! But then, once in a generation, once in a lifetime, circumstances come together to create a moment where all our campaigning can have a really big impact. That moment is now.

World leaders have been preparing and planning for the G8 summit which will be held in Fermanagh in just five weeks’ time and we know that they are already talking about what they can do to tackle the causes of hunger. 

Top: Oxfam Ireland Campaigns and Advocacy Officer Christine McCartney (left), Jim Wells MLA (centre) and (right) Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive Jim Clarken at the recent Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign’s ‘Road to the G8’ event in Parliament Buildings in Stormont. Northern Irish politicians were briefed on the IF campaign which is pressing for world leaders to act on hunger at next month’s G8 summit in Fermanagh. Photo: Neil Harrison / Oxfam. Middle: Rita Ora, One Direction, Orlando Boom and Erin O'Connor are showing their support by wearing the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign wristband. You pick one up in any Oxfam shop across the island of Ireland. Bottom: Pictured at the launch of the 'Big IF Belfast' event at Botanic Gardens today (14 May) are members of the Ulster Orchestra members Steve Irvine (tuba), Neil Gallie (trombone) and Richard Guthrie (viola) join the chorus calling for action on hunger at the launch of the Big IF Belfast event which will take place on Saturday June 15th. Photo: Neil Harrison / Oxfam.

We need to make sure they hear loud and clear that we, their citizens, want and expect them to do more than talk – we need them to act. 

Plans are being unveiled today for a very special event to get that message across. The BIG IF Belfast on Saturday 15 June will include a fantastic two-hour stage show, with top music and famous names calling for action on hunger, plus the BIG IF art installation, interactive activities and the chance to send your message to G8 leaders. It’s organised by Oxfam Ireland and our partners in the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign. 

This is the moment. We can get the attention of world leaders and get them to act on hunger – IF we come together on the eve of the G8 and make some noise.  

So let’s grasp this chance to make sure hunger is on the table when leaders meet in Fermanagh next month.

Apr 23, 2013

Apr World’s biggest chocolate companies melt under consumer pressure

23
2013

More sweet news today for chocolate lovers: the biggest chocolate maker in the world, Mondelez International, has agreed to take steps to address inequality facing women in their cocoa supply chains — thanks to pressure from consumers like you.

More than 100,000 people around the world joined our Behind the Brands campaign, signing petitions and taking action to urge Mondelez (which owns Cadbury’s) and its competitors to tackle the hunger, poverty and unequal pay facing many women cocoa farmers and workers. You also made your voices heard by sending messages to the companies on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Today’s announcement by Mondelez follows commitments last month by Mars and Nestlé to address these issues. Together, Mars, Mondelez and Nestlé buy more than 30 per cent of the world’s cocoa — so changes in their policies could have huge effects for cocoa farmers and their families. 

Although they don’t employ or control them directly, they rely on farmers like Etchi Avla (43) in the Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer. She wants to be paid a fair price. “We do our best to do it well, but the price of cocoa is really low. And that makes it hard for us to take good care of our children and it is tiring.” 

 

Clockwise from top:  Etchi Avla on her cocoa farm in Botende, Ivory Coast. “As a woman I know that there are other women in other countries who would like to support us. As a woman when you see another woman is suffering you want to help.”  Portrait of Etchi Avla. The pulp is separated from cocoa. Photos: Peter DiCampo/Oxfam.
 
“Empowering women cocoa farmers has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people, some of whom are earning less than $2 a day,” said Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive Jim Clarken. “We hope that the steps taken by Mars, Mondelez and Nestle offer an example to the rest of the food and beverage industry that consumers are paying attention to how companies impact the communities they work in.”
 
Mars, Mondelez and Nestlé are now taking the first steps to commit to the empowerment of women and to find out how women are being treated in their supply chains. They have committed to work towards signing on to the UN Global Compact’s Women’s Empowerment Principles. And they have agreed to publish the data from first-stage impact assessments in one year’s time and to publish concrete action plans to address the issues. 
 
We’re looking forward to working with Mondelez, Mars and Nestle to ensure they stick to their promises to women. So we can all watch and make sure they stay on track, we have produced a Road Map to highlight all the promises they have made and the dates they have committed to.  
 
You can also stay informed through Oxfam’s Behind the Brands scorecard to see how the giant companies that make your favourite brands (chocolate and otherwise) measure up.
 

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