Friday, 21 January 2011

All's not quiet on the New Home Front

Yesterday I took part in a panel discussion to mark the launch of a movement and campaign - The New Home Front - headed up by Caroline Lucas MP and Andrew Simms, Fellow of NEF, which calls on the public to take action to mitigate the fierce urgency of climate change. The campaign looks back to the time when the nation came together as one as the Second World War was raging, and while climate change is raging all around us, it is felt that communities could come together in a similar way to make headway as the world rushes towards the tipping point. "This [issue of] climate change goes beyond generations", said the gentleman from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, "it makes the 100 years war look like a walk in the park. The science of climate change has not changed in two decades, but the current suite of tools is wholly inadequate to tackle climate change in 2011”.

The WI was active on the home front during the Second World War, preserving foods – of course making jam by the tonne – using every scrap of food in order to prevent waste; making new clothes out of old; conserving energy and water; and recycling rather than throwing away. All of these actions have been championed again in recent years by WIs through their Eco Teams, Love Food Hate Waste, Carbon Challenge, composting and car sharing, and many other worthwhile and commendable activities.

Caroline Lucas coined the phrase 'wisdom in one place' when she spoke of the report and this phrase really fits the profile of the WI as an organisation – the wisdom of the membership together with practical knowledge and know-how should not be ignored.

This was highlighted again at The City Food Lecture given this week at Guildhall by Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. He too was saying we 'need new tools' in agriculture if the world is to be fed, and products have to be sustainably sourced for sourcing to be able to continue!

Later in the week I had a meeting with the Government Equalities Office in light of the departure of the Women's National Commission. The work of the WNC, set up in 1969 as the national, independent organisation to present the views of women to government, now comes under the banner of the GEO. The priorities for the GEO are civic participation, the launch of a consultation on access to public life and also reporting on the diversity, or lack of it, of people in politics. This office will be delivering an on-line newsletter to which anyone may subscribe.

Meanwhile the week hosted 2 NFWI committees – there is never a dull moment!