Thursday, 17 September 2009

Saving our honey bees

Last Wednesday I met Sarah Brown in the garden of 10 Downing Street, with representatives from other organisations, to discuss the plight of our honey bees.

The Prime Minister’s wife is very interested in the issue and has planted bee friendly plants in No. 10’s garden. This is something we all can do and the suggestion of asking local authorities to do the same – as the WI has already done – is the obvious next step.

The veroa mite has destroyed many hives. Habitats of many species of bees and insects are also being lost because of some pesticides, lack of planting and less planting of the right vegetation. Insects are the best monitors of our environment so when the beetles, bugs and bees are not there, something is wrong.

The pollination of apple trees depends upon the bees sourcing the sweetest of pollen otherwise the apples will be made into juice rather than apples for eating.

The £10 million promised by government for research into the demise of all pollinating insects has not yet been distributed. According to the British Beekeepers Association, the same sum is still needed to reverse the plight of the honeybee according to the BBKA.

You can help by planting bee friendly plants or attending a bee keeping course at Denman College in Oxfordshire - there is always a need for more trained bee keepers.

If you want to do more, get involved in our Bee Aware Action Week: 24 – 31 October. Visit the WI website for more detilas.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Women Reaching Women project update

A 2008 poll asked which Millennium Development Goal issues the government should focus on. Promoting gender equality and empowering women ranked last.

Our three-year Women Reaching Women campaign aims to raise awareness of world poverty, inequality and climate change, focussing particularly on how women are affected.

We want our communities to know why promoting gender equality worldwide is of vital importance to achieving sustainable development. Then together we can send a message to the government that empowering women should be at the top of our international development agenda. It is through this work at the grassroots level that we can contribute to lasting change in the lives of women around the world.

This time it’s not about fundraising. Instead, WI members are doing what they do best: bringing a marginalised issue to the forefront of national concern, to change the terms of the debate and ultimately achieve government commitment, support and funds allocated to this issue.

WIs are holding events for WI members and their communities around the country. Events so far have taken place at dinner parties, town halls, universities and even the local zoo! The main aim is to get people together to learn about global poverty and particularly how women are affected - and then spread the word.

The campaign is part funded by the Department for International Development we are working closely with Oxfam and the Everyone Foundation.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

10:10 Campaign launched at the Tate Modern

I’ve been at the launch of or part of many climate change campaigns in recent years but the most recent 10:10 campaign has high ambitions that calls on everyone and every organisation to get involved and make the difference. Well, they did.

We all descended on Tate Modern yesterday: local authorities and primary care trusts rubbed shoulders with school children and the NFWI (of course); churches and museums met student unions and energy companies, Royal Societies and theatres. A few celebrities were there too.

This campaign comes from the filmmakers behind the Age of Stupid.

10:10 has much in common with the WI’s own Carbon Challenge, which encouraged individuals to reduce their carbon emissions through a change in lifestyle. The campaign lists 10 simple actions that any person can take to cut their emissions by 10% during 2010, starting now. And if individuals can do it so can any organisation.

The launch was like a pop concert with wrist bands and a 10:10 tag to hang around our neck, made from an old 747 plane. The bands were there too.

If the people of the UK not only pledge to cut their emissions but actually do cut their emissions then the Government will go into UN negotiations with other countries in December in Copenhagen with a real groundswell of support from the people.