Archive for May, 2011

International Development

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development is coming to Edinburgh to join SYP, who are hosting a Q and A session. This will be an excellent opportunity to question the Secretary of State on the UK Governments approach to international development. The session will take place at the Scottish Parliament on Friday 10th June from 14:00 -15:30. If you are attending and not sure what to ask, hopefully this blog will give you some ideas!

European Aid

International aid is a hot topic and the UK has been a leading force in EU support. Andrew Mitchell visited Brussels on the 24th May to encourage EU members to keep their aid promises. Countries in the EU have committed to spending 0.7% of national income on aid by 2015. The UK government have their own plans for international aid. Their top 3 priorities, which they think will reform European Aid are:

  • To improve the focus on results, flexibility and value for money
  • To ensure the EU budget is poverty focused, protecting official development spending levels
  • To promote more joined up EU institutions to achieve greater effectiveness and coherence across its work

If you like a spot of heavy reading and want to know more about the UK’s EU aid plan, click here – Europe Department operational plan.

Millennium Development Goals

One of the ways in which the UK is helping to tackle international crisis is through the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). If you haven’t heard of these before, they are 8 goals agreed on by world leaders, which they plan to achieve by 2015

  • In the SYP Manifesto, 65% of young people thought that “Scotland and the UK should lead the way in taking greater action to meet the UN Millenium Development Goals.” Do you agree that we should lead the way on MGD’s?

The MDGs are:
1.  Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.
Halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015.

2.  Achieve universal primary education
Ensure that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

3.  Promote gender equality and empower women
Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015.

4.  Reduce child mortality
Reduce by two-thirds the under-5 mortality rate by 2015.

5.  Improve maternal health
Reduce by three-quarters the maternal mortality ratio by 2015

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
By 2015 halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDSBy 2015 halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.

7.  Ensure environmental sustainability
Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources.Halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitationBy 2015 achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.

8.  Create a global partnership for development with targets for aid, trade and debt relief
Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable non-discriminatory trading and financial systemAddress the special needs both of the least developed countries and of landlocked and small island developing countries.Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainableIn cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youthIn cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countriesIn cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications.

Check out these links to info on MDGs and international development:

Voices of Youth: Find out if your country is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, learn how you can take action, and join a discussion.

Africa Renewal: Read how new media are giving young Africans a voice.

World Bank – You think, but do you know? Get information about the global issues that matter to you, share your stories, and figure out what you can do to make a difference.

Student Voices against Poverty: Read the Millennium Campaign’s Manual for Teachers, 2007 (pdf)


Interesting Maps

Because the world is round, it is very hard to make it into a flat map, and keep it accurate. There are two main ways of making a world map, the first is to keep land mass accurate but distort the distances between and positions of land. The second way is to keep the position the same but distort the size of the land.

This is a Mercator projection world map, the map you will probably be familiar with. This map was originally intended for nautical navigation. It distorts area or geographical size, and keeps the “true bearing” of mass – which was best for navigation. However, this map is not a true representation of the size of countries – for example, Africa appears a lot smaller than it actually is.

Below is the Gall-Peters projection world map. This map shows the actual size of countries. Compare the two maps, thinking about which countries are biggest and which countries are the most powerful and wealthy.