Author: Bethan Marsh

World Peace Day at the Temple

 

 

The Temple of Peace opened its doors to old and new friends on Saturdays to mark World Peace Day.

This year’s theme was climate change for peace marked the day with concerts, marches and community events around the world.

WCIA friend Fi Fenton, lead groups of people on temple tours, which explored the Hall of Nations, the Crypt (which holds the Book of Remembrance), the Women in War exhibition, the wall of youth messages and the Peace garden.

Our volunteer Charlotte Morgan, turned a page in the Book of Remembrance at 11am and read out the names of the men and women who gave their lives during the First World War.

 

https://www.facebook.com/welshcentreforinternationalaffairs/videos/455363378399977/

 

The afternoon began with a performance by Cor Cochion (The Red Choir), who sang in the council chamber and paid tribute to his friend Barbara Foxworthy.

The choir was followed by Peace activist Jane Harries, who lead a talk on peace today and asked the crowd, “Where do we stand as peace makers in Wales today?”

 

Retired Teacher Sian Williams, visited the Temple for the first time on Saturday.

She said: “I had heard of the Temple of Peace and have walked by, but had never been in before. It’s a fascinating building, right in the centre of Cardiff and it was interesting to hear more about it on the tour.”

 

Did you come and visit us on World Peace Day or would like to visit the Temple in the future?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or you can keep updated on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels

Fighting for Foreign Aid

By former WCIA volunteer, Geena Whiteman 

 

 

The UK is one of the worlds biggest foreign aid donors, having the third largest aid budget in the world and being one of only a few countries consistently achieving the UN’s target of spending 0.7% of the annual budget (the countries gross national income) on foreign aid.

However, with the recent election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister of the UK, the UK’s position as a ‘development superpower’ is at great risk. In the running of, and since the announcement of his election, there have been numerous whispers and rumours about the ways in which the UK’s foreign aid spending will be reformed.

Currently, approximately 70% of the UK’s £14 billion a year (0.7% of national income) foreign aid budget is spent by the Department for International Development (DfID), with the rest spent by various other departments, most prominently, the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Foreign Office. On the 22nd July 2019, the now former Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox stated that the DIT will use increasing amounts of the aid budget to “help promote investment in developing countries and promote British interests”.

So, what comes of the countries who are in dire need of foreign aid, but can’t offer as desirable a return on investment as British interests would seek? What becomes of foreign aid to low-income countries such as Nepal, Tajikistan and Rwanda, who are both land-locked and resource scarce?

 

Nepal is an excellent example of the threat that shifting foreign aid to be more trade-focused rather than poverty focused poses.

 

 

Out of the 33 active projects funded by the UK aid budget in Nepal, only one of them has the Department of Trade (BEIS) funding it – and the project has one of the smallest budgets out of all aid-funded projects in Nepal.

 

For a country with little now to offer us, what hope is there for UK aid to Nepal once the new aid reforms come in, especially considering our history of scarcely rewarding the Nepalese Ghurkha for all their loyalty and support in our armed forces. Following the proposed reforms of the Department of Trade controlling even more of the aid budget, how hard will Nepal now have to fight for aid when we’ve taken all the resources we could get?

 

Historically, the UK’s commitment to aid has been justified on two grounds – from a moral perspective, demonstrating the UK’s commitment to help alleviate world poverty, and from a policy perspective, helping support the achievement of development milestones such as the SDG’s. However, numerous charities and agencies have warned that aid is no longer as effective and efficient as before, and taxpayers are no longer getting maximum value for money.

In a letter to the then Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, 23 agencies suggested that aid spending is now diverted from the worlds poor in order to promote commercial and political interests, or as the Prime Minister calls it, British interests. With the UK’s legal obligation to commit 0.7% of GDP on aid, many of those working in the humanitarian sector have raised concerns that ministers are using aid as a form of bribery, by classing politically convenient projects as aid, and ensuring the strings attached lead to increased cooperation with British industry.

 

The ONE Campaigns UK Real Aid Index has shown that DfID’s expenditure of the aid budget was rated highly for its focus on poverty, its effectiveness and its transparency, but the same couldn’t be said for other departments, such as the Foreign Office and the Department of Trade.

 

Of the aid spent outside of DfID, over 1/3 is spent in upper middle-income countries, who have very little need for UK aid.

 

For context, examples of upper middle-income countries are China, Azerbaijan and Russia, who all appear to be thriving off their own industries. A key example of this diversion would be the concerns raised by a committee of MPs over aid delivered under the Prosperity Fund, managed by the Foreign Office. Projects supported by this fund include extensive investment to China, including projects development the film industry and improving museum infrastructure.

 

Considering that the Prosperity Fund “aims to remove the barriers to economic growth and promote the economic reform and development needed to reduce poverty in partner countries”, its an interesting to choice to invest in the film industry in a upper-middle income country rather than invest in projects working with youth, health, education and disaster management in low-income countries.

 

In a time in which the Conservative government austerity measures, essential government departments and public services must fight furiously against budget cuts, the commitment of 0.7% of national income may be infuriating to them.

 

Do I think that we should maintain our 0.7% commitment, in a time where the NHS and the state education system are fighting for every penny? Absolutely. However, should we commit money to a foreign aid budget that serves those most in need, rather than for countries which would “serve the political and commercial interests of the UK”? Absolutely.

 

The foreign aid budget needs reform, but as one of the strongest economies in the world with a bloody history of exploiting and colonising others, we need to own up to that past and make reparations through investing in projects which offer long-term sustainability, rather than serving political interests or offering short-term solutions to ongoing issues. With the UK already facing a turbulent time ahead with a no-deal Brexit on the cards, losing its status as a ‘world leader’ in development aid threatens to weaken the UK’s standing and power on global issues.

 

Inarguably, we need to reform the way we do aid. Aid-scepticism is rising, and before long, we’ll be fighting about sending across 10p to a humanitarian crisis because of a distrust in where it will end up. On leaving his role as Foreign Secretary, the now Prime Minister told the Financial Times that if ‘Global Britain’ wants to achieve its full potential, then DfID must be brought back in-house to the Foreign Office, rather than operating independently.

The proposed expansion of the definition of aid from poverty reduction to include the “nations overall strategic goals” runs the risk of perpetuating the existing idea that the aid budget is used to bribe countries to be our friend. Under our current government with a Brexiteer leader and cabinet, the expansion of aid and in-housing of the budget could mean a total reduction in aid effectiveness and transparency, and an even further decline in it reaching those who need it the most.

 

If we want to maintain our position as a development superpower, we need to seriously reconsider the reforms currently being delivered by our government. If we’re not investing our ODA in bottoms-up approaches to poverty reduction, we aren’t using the taxpayer’s money in the most effective or impactful ways.

 

Views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not WCIA  

 

 

 

Bibliography

  • Full Fact, 2018. UK Spending on Foreign Aid. [Online]
    Available at: https://fullfact.org/economy/uk-spending-foreign-aid/
    [Accessed 30 07 2019].
  • Hutton, J., 2018. £14 Billion and Counting: What’s the Problem with Britain’s Burgeoning Foreign Aid Budget?. Taxpayers Alliance, 22 12.
  • Islam, F., 2019. Aid Budget To Be Used by International Trade Department. BBC News, 22 07.
  • Mance, H., 2018. UK Seeks Reforms on Overseas Aid Spending. The Financial Times, 9 10.
  • Morris, C., 2017. Reality Check: How Much Does The UK Spend on Overseas Aid?. BBC News, 20 04.
  • Savage, M., 2019. UK Aid Budget ‘Goes to the Wrong Projects’, Leaked Letter Warns. The Observer, 23 02.
  • Wilkinson, P., 2019. Reports Criticise UK’s £14 Billion Foreign-Aid Spending. Church Times, 28 06.
  • Wintour, P., 2019. Boris Johnson Backs Call for Multibillion Cut to UK Aid Budget. The Guardian, 11 02.

 

 

Ellie’s Work Experience

My time at the WCIA

by Ellie Kimpton 

What did you do during your week?

During my week of work experience at the WCIA, I mostly helped towards the preparations for the Mock COP on Thursday (11/7/19), made 2 bilingual Facebook posts, wrote 2 blogs and translated English documents into Welsh amongst other things.

Highlight of your week?

The highlight of my week was definitely the Mock COP event itself.

I had no idea of the enthusiasm and innovative ideas these teenagers had for Climate Change (which was the topic), which was so refreshing to listen to.

What surprised you the most?

The atmosphere. Everyone there is so friendly and supportive.

What did you find challenging?

For me personally, the technology was a struggle. As everything there was mainly technology based, my knowledge of technology was quite basic. I had never used XCEL before which is a frequently used programme there, however as I said, everyone there is really supportive and so I soon learnt what was what.

What skills did you develop?

I would definitely say I benefited from this week of work experience greatly. Not only regarding important skills like teamwork, communication (the meetings) and problem solving (no Wi-Fi, no printer) but ones like confidence and independence. I was definitely surprised how independent I was by the end of the week. Being a secondary school student, using and developing these important skills like initiative and being independent isn’t practised often or indeed enough but I am definitely more confident in making decisions now rather than relying on constant validation from others when completing a task.

And of course one of the most important skills I was looking to improve on during my week at the WCIA was to improve my knowledge on global issues. By the end of the week I was aware of the different programmes the WCIA were supporting, working on and in partnership with. The blog on a global issue was another fantastic opportunity, as I got to brainstorm ideas with members of staff, whilst looking at the problems as a whole and then considering possible solutions. I then chose a topic, researched it in detail and wrote a short essay on it.

 

 

 

Hannah’s work experience

by Hannah Isaac  

 

I have spent a week at WCIA for work experience and it has been an engaging and eye-opening experience that I am grateful I had the opportunity to be involved with.

This week I have done various tasks – some working in communications. For example, on the first day I was tasked with writing a Facebook post about one of the WCIA’s recent achievements on projects. It had been a very busy week as the WCIA had two big events taking place on the last two days of the week, and I was involved with preparing for them.

I edited lots of different documents for the mock COP (which is a Model United Nations Conference that lot of different schools attend – this year based on climate change). I made sheets and placards and other things needed for these events, which helped me to practice and develop my ICT skills.

 

For some tasks I worked with Ellie, who was also doing work experience here, and I was interacting with different members of the WCIA team throughout the week as I did different jobs, which helped me develop my teamwork skills. I was asked to write a blog about a global issue, for the website so I had to do lots of research – which really helped me learn about lots of different issues there are in the world currently.

 

My favourite part of the week was the mock COP event that I attended and helped with in Cardiff. It helped me develop my communication skills through different tasks I did, for example assigning seats to students and instructed the press on what they should do. Also through hearing all the propositions from all the delegates of each country, talking about climate change it helped me to increase my knowledge and understanding of the current global crisis.

One of the things I found more challenging this week the freedom, as it was a contrast from school – having more control about when you work and when you take breaks. I enjoyed being given individual tasks to get on with as well tasks involving group work.

This week I really learnt more about the different organisations that WCIA is in partnership with, as well as WCIA itself. I have learned and become more aware and interested in recent international issues, and I think that is something that is important to be aware of. I have developed lots of skills and it has been a useful experience, and I would like to thank all the staff at WCIA for allowing me to do work experience here.

Teresa’s work experience

By Teresa Morandini 

 

My experience at the WCIA has come to an end.

Since November, I have been volunteering with an amazing working group, always ready to help me in any possible way. ​It has been such a lovely time, in which I have learnt a lot. ​

Firstly, I had the chance to challenge myself by working in a different language. But, without doubt, I have to thanks all WCIA staff to have been patient with me and spent time to correct my work. ​

However, I have much more to be thankful.

As a matter of fact, these months were an opportunity, a job experience as well as a personal adventure. ​

Taking part to the numerous WCIA events made me realise the similarity with the Italian way to promote human rights. It was a surprisingly discovery, which led me to a new perspective on charity and campaigning. ​

Usually, we have the impression that human rights are too abstract. And, for certain extends, this is true. But, finding this correlation have broadened my horizon. ​

Why? Because I finally understood the language of Human Rights, made of universalism: the words for fighting the inequality, injustices and promoting global learning are the same in any languages: English, Welsh or Italian. ​

By keeping in mind this precious thought, I am leaving the WCIA to continue my studies in Brussels although I hope my future will reserve me more Wales further down in the line. ​

Diolch!​

Teresa​

WCIA and Wales Alliance for Global Learning (WAGL) welcomes new curriculum for Wales

WCIA and the Wales Alliance for Global Learning (WAGL) welcomes new curriculum for Wales

 

The Welsh Government worked with education and childcare professionals, and other experts to develop a new approach to the curriculum for Wales. This resulted in developing guidance which will help funded non-maintained settings and schools create a new curriculum for their learners.

WCIA has responded with feedback on the Draft Curriculum for Wales 2022.

Overall, we are supportive of the direction of the new curriculum. We are pleased to see:

  • a cross-curricular approach rooted in skills and experiences
  • the prominence given to creating ethical informed citizens of Wales and the world
  • the cross-curricular international perspective
  • the cross-curricular wider skills that incorporate global citizenship skills
  • the frequent inclusion in What Matters statements and progression steps of identifiable global citizenship skills and values – something which has developed positively as the various drafts of Areas of Learning and Experience have emerged

 

However, there are some clarifications we would recommend, including education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship (ESDGC) framework is implicit in much of the curriculum. We think it should be fully embedded across the Areas of Learning and in the What Matters statements.

We also believe that it is essential that the curriculum consistently balances the Welsh and the international dimensions to enable learners to develop as ethical citizens of the world.

 

Read the full feedback letter and the WAGL response here