I really should start a consultancy business advising ambitious entrepreneurs on how to make money out of setting up NGOs. There are property columns and share tipsters on the money pages of the serious press. Why not NGO investment advisers?
We’ve got used to the idea of NGOs being financed by governments, ministries and international organisations. I’ve just found one that was actually set up by the European Parliament. Perhaps they all are. How could you tell?
I was wandering round the site of the French Ministry of Ecology looking for information on the big 2015 Paris Conference and I found this:
The challenges of the 2015 conference
This conference should be a decisive step in the negotiation of a future international agreement to come into force in 2020, defining its main outlines. The objective is that all countries, developed as well as developing, including the largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, should be committed by a universal binding climate agreement.
France wants an agreement applicable to all, ambitious enough to achieve the two degree target, and with binding legal force.
So for the three French ministers involved in organizing and chairing this conference (Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pascal Canfin, Minister for Development, Philippe Martin, Minister of Ecology) “Climate Paris 2015 must be a meeting for decisions, not for tentative proposals. It should be at the same time offensive, collective and positive.”
To achieve this, the future French Presidency is working in close coordination with the other two Presidencies current and future in Poland and Peru to form a genuine Troika to give political impetus to the negotiations. The 2015 agreement must be applicable to all, committed to limiting global warming to 2°C, while adopting the principle of differentiation. They recognize that a “series of steps” will have to be completed before “achieving universal and binding agreement” by the end of 2015. In addition, even the best possible deal should be completed in 2015 to enter into force in 2020 as planned.
The usual pious flimflam, you may say, though the idea of the challenge of climate change being tackled by a troika of France, Poland and Peru has a certain surrealist appeal.
Even more interesting were the names of the three ministers who will be chairing this conference, since two of them were sacked over six months ago, though apparently no-one at the Ministry has noticed. Let’s hope they sort that one out before President Hollande has to welcome all those important heads of government, like Gordon Brown, George Bush, and Leonid Brezhnev…
I’d never heard of either of the two ministers until the day they were sacked, so I thought I’d find out more.
The socialist Philippe Martin who was replaced as minister of ecology on March 31st 2014, was presumably chosen for his links with “La France profonde.” He campaigns in favour of hunting and bullfighting, and has called for the forced feeding of geese to make foie gras to be recognised as part of the national heritage. In 2012 he proposed a boycott of Californian wines in protest against the banning of the sale of foie gras by the state of California.
President Hollande recently received Arnold Schwartzenegger as part of his consultations on climate change, so perhaps getting rid of the troublesome enemy of Californian winegrowers was a quid pro quo for being photographed in the arms of Arnie on the steps of the Élysée Palace.
Pascal Canfin was a Euro MP for the party “Europe-Ecology-the Greens” from 2009 until May 2012, when he was named Minister of Development by President Hollande. When he resigned in March 2014 he became a Euro MP again – for two months. (How does that work? Maybe MEPs have understudies. French MPs do – they’re called suppléants, which has a nice cringing ring to it)
In June 2010, Canfin and 21 other MEPs called on civil society to create an NGO to challenge the activities of major financial operators (banks, insurance companies, hedge funds etc.). The NGO, named Finance Watch, was set up a year later. It’s largely financed – by the European Union.
This is a new one on me. I’ve absorbed the idea that many, possibly most, non-governmental organisations are in fact governmental organisations, financed in part by the governments. But here we have an NGO created to order by parliament.
is a list of 32 NGOs chosen for funding on environmental issues. Finance Watch isn’t there, probably because it’s sucking on another teat of the octopus, but there’s Bankwatch, founded in 1995, and 63% funded by the EU, and Counterbalance, (69% EU funded) formed in 2007 to scrutinise the European Investment Bank, which is of course an EU institution.
So here we have the European Union paying at least three NGOs to keep an eye on the banks, including one whose sole purpose is to scrutinise an EU institution. The EU is paying outsiders (“civil society”) to stare up its own fundament. But isn’t that what we pay the MEPs for? And don’t they have generous allowances to employ researchers to help them? Bankers are probably the second most despised creatures on the planet (after Members of the European Parliament) and they should be kept an eye on. But we employ people to do just that. They’re called politicians.
Why don’t they just create one big NGO to run the European Union for them, and they can all retire on their generous pensions?
Which is more or less what Monsieur Canfin has done.
Except he’s keeping busy in retirement. He’s got his MEP’s pension and his Minister’s salary for life, plus a part-time teaching job at the Sorbonne, and has just taken on a new job at the World Resources Institute, rated second environmental thinktank in the world, according to Thinktankwatch (I’m not kidding). In case you were wondering what M. Canfin does for a living, he’s a journalist.
So I went to the website of the World Resources Institute, which is huge, with 450 experts and staff, and of course a zombie blog, superbly laid out, with nine articles in the past week, and not a single comment.
I looked for Pascal Canfin, but couldn’t find him. I tried “Paris 2015”, because according to Wikipaedia his job at the WRI is preparing for that. I looked on his personal blog, but according to his biography he’s still a minister.
Perhaps he should call on civil society to create an NGO called Greenblogwatch to update the blogs of ministries, thinktanks and multi-tasking green entrepreneurs who are too busy running the world to update them themselves.
And get us to pay for it.