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27.1.06

The Davos mini-ministerial: a meeting about a meeting 

I had been watching the talks from my hotel room and feeling unimpressed with the “mini-ministerial” beginning Friday. It seemed to be burdened with the big budgets and establishment-style interests that have hampered EU meetings, not to mention previous rounds—it’s not very “mini” at all. Despite ’s wishes to treat all nations on an equal scale, the bias is firmly in the ’s favour: no groups participate, and the talks are restricted to the 30 richest countries.
   I have made a good part of my career on telling things to people straight, including . The first section on the corporate direction does not need to be 100 pages long with big words. An executive summary and 10 pages of guts will serve a lot of people well—with supplementary documentation available for specific departments. And those companies do all right.
    and need to learn to communicate using plain language again, even if that looks unimpressive to their colleagues. They should be courageous enough to know, but perhaps I am misplacing my faith in assuming politicians can be courageous. Speaking plainly and with action in mind will look very impressive to their constituents back home: that it looks like they are sincere about their jobs. And that is where their power is, or should be, coming from.
   The of these meetings, the need for , the lavish budgets and, no doubt, the influence of all go against the idea that the nations are there to meet to help the planet. Dumping and barriers haven’t gone away—what happened to the fervour of Tony Blair wishing to wipe off , an easily solveable problem? Could Mother please stop calling John Steed and call Bono instead?
   Once again, I place some hope in , which looks more and more like the leading of our times.
   India has always wished to be inclusive of all its people, and it will be interesting to see how it can manage that in a period of rapid growth.
   Commerce and Industry Minister told the Times of India, ‘The biggest problem is that the is refusing to set right the flaws in their own and are asking the to make significant concessions if the flaws in the developed country policies have to be rectified.’
   He and I are in agreement about where the bias lies: ‘They say if you want us to change our policies and make a , then you need to make concessions. This is not at all acceptable to the developing countries. We want the flaws in policies to be rectified before we undertake the on what is the next step.’
   Of course, this places the onus on the first world—not always a good thing if you want movement.
   If the first world doesn’t move, other countries may well do the moving for it, and it won’t like what they might do: ’s swing to parties will see tension between companies wishing to operate there and a desire by unions to protect workers from what the National Labor Committee in New York calls ‘the race to the bottom’, with ever-lower hourly wages in . (Which, of course, brings me back to Beyond Branding and my earlier post today.)
   Let’s hope that by the end of the weekend, we see a decent plan. The pessimist in me suggests that there will emerge a plan to draft a plan.
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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