G20 pointless initiative award: the race is on!

by | Mar 31, 2009

With a summit close at hand, one thing we can be sure of is that pointless ‘initiatives’ can’t be far behind. The criteria for such ‘announceables’ are simple: they must grab headlines and create the impression that something is happening, while avoiding any domestic implementation commitments or – horror! – funding obligations.

So while you’re getting ready to play G20 bingo (SDR issue? tick! tax haven rules? tick!), it’s also a good moment to launch the hunt for the pointless initiative of the week.  One strong candidate has already emerged: DFID has proposed

a new ‘Global Poverty Alert’ system that would link international organisations, aid agencies and research groups into a single network that would provide instant updates on the impact of the economic crisis on the poor. This would include ‘real-time’ updates using text messaging and emails. The proposal will be put forward at next month’s G20 meeting in London.

Excellent work! Really visionary stuff. Now, how might it work? Hm. Well, what if we designed something that allowed lots of users to join, and post updates on poverty? We could let them post links to stuff on the web, too. And to keep it punchy and accessible, we could limit posts to 140 characters or less.  I … um … oh.

Er… perhaps if we built a… large wooden badger?


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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