October 23, 2008

Action on climate change could help end recession, says Stern Report author

There is an article from Nicholas Stern in The Guardian today. He wrote the Stern Review for the UK government on the economics of climate change, arguing there is a financial case for taking necessary action.

His article today argues that a concerted programme of work to transform societies into sustainable, low-carbon ones would also be part of an effective response to the coming global recession which has been sparked by the credit crunch.

Given the UK government has put up £500 billion to save its banking system and has then convinced many other countries to do the same, there may be a chance our leaders will actually act in this visionary way. But don't hold your breath. And Nicholas Stern, being an economist of, I believe, a fairly conventional mindset, sees growth as fundamental to the world's economic system - some of the proposals put forward for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy - on Monetary Reform and Beyond GDP for example, might spark his interest if his attention can be captured.

Anyway, here's the link to the article:

The type of approaches that Professor Stern proposes could perhaps flesh out the Contraction and Convergence proposal submitted for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy.

For more information on policy proposals and to participate in the 2008 annual vote (running to 1 November) go to:

October 22, 2008

Avoiding financial and climate meltdown

Here's an alert I sent out about the new policy supplement:

Ideas to change the world – Policy supplement to It’s Simpol ! Autumn 2008

Annual voting is currently taking place on policy suggestions put forward by Simultaneous Policy Adopters for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy. Voting runs until 1 November 2008.

Space is given in the newsletter to the most popular policies and issues. If you have not already voted, you can do so at:

The latest policy supplement has the theme: “Avoiding financial and climate meltdown.” You can download it by clicking the following link, or pasting it in your internet browser:

For all newsletters go to Simpol’s website and click on ‘campaigns’ and ‘newsletters’ at:

Stopping financial meltdown

The policy supplement includes an article from Susan George on the International Clearing Union, first developed by Professor John Maynard Keynes and proposed for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy by Adopter David Smith. The proposal received 63% approval in the last voting round. Susan George said regarding its inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy that this is: “*one* base from which we can work to make new rules for international commerce.”

Stopping climate meltdown

The top issue in the last round of voting was climate change. Proposed policies such as ‘Contraction and Convergence’ (which received 80% approval) address this directly. Others may have an indirect impact, such as those dealing with disarmament (see the Spring 2008 policy supplement, which has the theme: “Turning Weapons into Windmills”).

A guest article from the ‘One Hundred Months’ campaign is included in the latest policy supplement. This campaign has been launched by a coalition of campaigning organisations and suggests that there are just 100 months (well, now 97 months) to act before the climate tips into cycles that will be far harder to tackle. The article contains various proposals that may be of interest to Adopters to flesh out the action to be included in the Simultaneous Policy.

Joined-up thinking

The great strength of the Simultaneous Policy approach is that it seeks to be a coherent package of policies where action in one area complements that in another. Too often the current approach our leaders take to global policy making means action in one area undermines action in another (consider, for example, recent calls for increased pumping of oil to lower energy prices, which some see as the last thing we should be doing if we are serious about addressing climate change).

Every vote means something – global democracy in action

Policies that do not receive good support in the 2008 voting round will drop out of the process, so take this opportunity to rally support for policies you wish to continue. Here is the voting page once again:

The policy supplement explains the voting process and lists the policies. It also flags up the forthcoming election of the Policy Committee. Nominations are being sought.

The Policy Committee protects the democratic interests of Adopters and facilitates the policy development process. As the campaign grows in strength it is also tasked with ensuring the process of developing policies keeps pace. You can complete the nomination form after voting or go direct to:

Feel free to pass this email and/or the policy supplement on to others. Once again, you can download the policy supplement at:

October 17, 2008

Gordon Brown: The global problems we face require global solutions

The following could be somebody arguing in favour of the Simultaneous Policy approach to addressing global problems, but it is actually UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, writing in the Washington Post today:

---extract begins

The global problems we face require global solutions. At the end of World War II, American and European visionaries built a new international economic order and formed the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and a world trade body. They acted because they knew that peace and prosperity were indivisible. They knew that for prosperity to be sustained, it had to be shared. Such was the impact of what they did for their day and age that Secretary of State Dean Acheson spoke of being "present at the creation."

Today, the same sort of visionary internationalism is needed to resolve the crises and challenges of a different age. And the greatest of global challenges demands of us the boldest of global cooperation.

The old postwar international financial institutions are out of date. They have to be rebuilt for a wholly new era in which there is global, not national, competition and open, not closed, economies. International flows of capital are so big they can overwhelm individual governments. And trust, the most precious asset of all, has been eroded.

---extract ends

Gordon Brown talks of reforming the Bretton Wood institutions.

This is also one of the themes of the latest policy supplement to the It's Simpol ! newsletter, now available on Simpol's website, which includes a reprint of an article by Susan George on the International Clearing Union, one of the policy suggestions that gained good support in the 2007 annual round of voting. Susan George told me that she sees this as one of the possibilities that should be considered for the Simultaneous Policy.

The policy supplement can be downloaded by clicking:

You can vote for in support of the International Clearing Union in the 2008 vote. Policies gaining more than 50% support remain in the process. Those with top votes are given greater space in the newsletter and at public meetings.

Also take a look at other policy suggestions and please give my proposal for a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority an 'A'. If you don't want to give it an 'A', please let me know why. For more on that and information on the voting process, see:

Gordon Brown concludes: "There are no Britain-only or Europe-only or America-only solutions to today's problems. We are all in this together, and we can only resolve this crisis together. Over the past week, we have shown that with political will it is possible to agree on a global multibillion-dollar package to recapitalize our banks across many continents. In the next few weeks, we need to show the same resolve and spirit of cooperation to create the rules for our new global economy."

And not just the global economy. The Simultaneous Policy seeks to be a coherent set of policies to address global problems. As I've noted previously a piece-meal approach to addressing problems, means perceived solutions in one area may exacerbate problems in another. But once you start to look for cross-cutting solutions the possibilities for synchronicity abound.

And not just Europe and America. People from every continent can sign up as Simultaneous Policy Adopters and have their say and their vote.

October 15, 2008

Promoting your proposal during the 2008 Simultaneous Policy voting round

It would be good to hear how people are encouraging friends, colleagues and members of networks etc. to support their policies in the current Simultaneous Policy voting round.

My personal proposal relates to holding corporations to account. I have written about the vote on my blog about this and posted links to that in groups on facebook etc. There are various newspaper websites and other discussion boards where I am posting information too. I’m a member of a Corporate Social Responsibility yahoo group that has nearly 500 members, most involved in organisations working on this issue. So I’ve sent the message included below.

I’d very much welcome suggestions from others about how to promote policies to increase the number of people voting and the number of Adopters.

---Message to campaign yahoo group

I would like to encourage readers of this list to consider supporting my proposal for a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority, which is participating in the annual Simultaneous Policy vote. More details at:

My proposal arises from experience monitoring the baby food industry and seeing the difficulty of enforcing international marketing standards adopted by the World Health Assembly. Where national measures are not working to hold corporations to account, I believe there needs to be a safeguard at the international level. The UN Global Compact and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are failing to provide this.

I propose an authority that would investigate complaints, including those generated by public petition, and, if it finds a case to answer, would bring this before a reformed International Criminal Court or other body. I also propose that the authority would require corporations above a certain size and global reach to register as 'globally incorporated companies' whereby they would be required to submit reports, not just on financial performance, but to a specified standard against existing human rights and environmental norms. A name director would be responsible for the reports, as with financial reports and legal action could be taken over false reporting and breaches of norms. I have explored this ideas in some detail in a chapter in the book: "Global obligations for the right to food" as a member of a task force of the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition (details with the above link).

To gain further publicity for these ideas and as a parallel route for implementation, I have submitted the proposal for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy. This could be described as the people's plan for addressing global problems. Anyone can put forward proposals and vote by registering as a Simultaneous Policy Adopter - which is free and can be done at the time of voting. Adopters are asked to give a preference to candidates in elections who pledge to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments, or to call on their preferred candidate to make this pledge. Simultaneous implementation removes the fear of first-mover disadvantage. Politicians around the world are signing the pledge as a way to move the world from destructive competition between nations to constructive cooperation. I see action on transnational corporations as a necessary part of the package as business leaders too often play countries off against other, by threatening to disinvest if their agenda is not followed. This is not an alternative to pursuing other strategies, but a parallel strategy that allows us to develop the policies in a transparent and democratic way and to implement what is needed, not just what will be tolerated by vested interests.

There are other policies in the voting round that are worth exploring. Those gaining sufficient support proceed in the policy development process. Those with top votes, gain space in the campaign newsletter and public meetings. If you don't want to give my proposal an 'A' vote, please let me know why!

You can vote at:

For further information on the campaign, see my personal blog at:

Feel free to pass this email on to others.

Best wishes,

Mike Brady

October 11, 2008

Welcome to the simultaneous age

It seems our leaders are learning the importance of simultaneous action to address global problems. As the Guardian reports today on an emergency meeting by leaders of the group of 7 leading industrialized nations, whose financial systems are collapsing with global implications:

---extract begins
With little sign that country-by-country plans have helped to kick-start lending, the G7 believes immediate action is vital to avoid a major slump. The past four weeks have seen the biggest cut in growth forecasts in living memory, and the IMF has warned that the world economy is "on the cusp" of recession.

The chancellor, Alistair Darling, said: "If international cooperation is to mean anything, it means governments have to move on from simply agreeing a general approach, and doing something to resolve the problems we are facing today."

---extract ends

It is interesting to see how the rescue plan has been summarised as neatly as policy suggestions put forward for discussion amongst Simultaneous Policy Adopters:

---quote from Guardian begins

The five-point plan

· Pledge to save key banks from collapse

· Action to free-up credit and money markets by providing ample amounts of liquidity from central banks

· Support for the part-nationalisation of banks and other institutions by the taxpayer purchase of shares

· Stronger deposit protection schemes to reassure savers their money is safe

· Force banks to disclose the true state of their losses

---quotes ends

The Simultaneous Policy aims to address problems that require a global approach, either because of their scale, or because governments feat that taking unilateral action will put them at a financial disadvantage.

Unlike the G7 meetings, policy discussions take place openly and transparently and everybody has the right to participate and put forward their own solutions. At the present state of development of the democratic process, annual voting rounds amongst those who have registered with the campaign - which is free to do and can be done when voting - are held to guage levels of support. Those without support drop out of the process (though they can be resubmitted in the same or revised form) and those with significant support are given space in Simpol's publications and policy fora for further development of the ideas.

Politicians are called on to pledge to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments, which an increasing number are doing. As the number of government pledges nears the stage when implementation can be triggered, the package of policies will be finalised and put out to all citizens around the world.

Commenting yesterday on a coordinated move by central banks to cut interest rates simultaneously, John Bunzl, founder of the Simultaneous Policy campaign, noted in an email 'Welcome to the simultaneous age' to Simpol's email discussion group that, aside from the discussion of the value of this approach: "the Financial Times today reports, such action was "unprecedented" and a "historic piece of co-ordination". Interestingly, although they weren't in on the plan, the FT reports that The People's Bank of China "moved almost simultaneously" when it also cut its rate.... This kind of coordination is indeed unprecendented and I hope it marks the beginning of people and governments properly waking up to the fact that in a globalised world, global and simultaneous action is the way forward. So folks, welcome to the simultaneous age!"

Voting on policies submitted for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy is currently open and runs till the beginning of November. See:


October 7, 2008

Vote to hold transnational corporations to account

Vote for the world you want to see.

The annual vote on policies put forward for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy has just opened. This is a package of policies proposed, developed and approved by people around the world to address global problems. Politicians are called on by campaign supporters (known as Simultaneous Policy Adopters) to pledge to implement the policies alongside other governments.

You are invited to vote on the suggestions that have been put forward. Those gaining more than 50% approval remain in the process. If you are not an Adopter you can check a box to register as you do so. There is no cost. You are indicating that in future elections you will either give a preference to candidates who make the pledge to implement the Simultaneous Policy or will call on your preferred candidate - should you have one - to make the pledge.

You can find the voting page at:

I have put forward the proposal for a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory (TNC) Authority, which has been discussed on this group before. There is a summary of the proposal on the voting page with a link to further information in the discussion forum. Please take a look and give this an 'A' vote to continue in the process. If you don't think it warrants an 'A' please let me know so I can explain more about why I think this proposal warrants inclusion!

The World TNC Authority is to provide protection when national regulatory systems do not work to protect citizens and the environment. Initially it will work to enforce the standards that have already been agreed in conventions by governments, which TNC's claim to respect (for example, through their undertakings to the United Nations Global Compact), but in practice many do not. The Authority will accept reports of breaches from appropriate authorities or public petition and, if it finds there is a case to answer, will bring a prosecution before a reformed International Criminal Court. The Court will be empowered to levy fines based on annual turnover on the corporation.

As governments are sometimes lax at enforcing standards on their own corporations to gain a competitive advantage over governments that do, the Court may allow other governments to levy punitive tariffs to recoup income lost due to the unfair competition.

As a third element, the proposal calls the bluff of corporations involved in the UN Global Compact, which produce thick reports boasting of their compliance. These reports will have to be produced to specified standards with a named director legally responsible for their accuracy, in the same way a Financial Director is responsible for accounts. Corporations above a certain turnover or geographical reach will be required to register as 'globally incorporated companies' requiring submission of these legally-binding reports.

Please do support this suggestion by giving it an 'A' vote at:

There are other great proposals to view and vote on, so please be prepared to spend a little time looking them over. This is global democracy in action. For more on the voting process see:

After voting there is the chance to stand for election to the Policy Committee that oversees the policy development process and to send a message to the candidates in the US Presidential election, calling on one or more of them to make the pledge to implement the Simultaneous Policy alongside other governments.