Article announcing WBI Conference Feb 2017
THIS Saturday, a new global anti-poverty initiative will be launched in Salford, as over 100 people meet to discuss proposals for a worldwide basic income.
Hosted by the new Manchester-based organisation World Basic Income, the conference will examine global inequality and look into the practicalities of gathering and distributing money at the world level.
One of the founders of World Basic Income, development economist Paul Harnett, led one of the first international cash transfer programmes in Malawi in 1999. Rather than being given seeds and fertiliser, some farming families were given a $10 voucher to spend on goods of their choice.
The outcomes were both positive and fascinating, with families able to spend more time working on their own farms and growing more than ever before. It turned out that it was time, not only fertiliser that they needed to boost production. The initiative showed that often it is people themselves who know best what they need.
From this starting point, and drawing on ideas in the wider global justice and basic income movements, Harnett joined forces with local campaigner Laura Bannister to form World Basic Income.
Saturday's conference is the first event of its kind in the world. Although Basic Income is increasingly in the news, surprisingly there has never been much discussion of implementation on a global scale. The twelve speakers, drawn from five countries, include academics from Oxford and Manchester, including one of the most renowned thinkers on Basic Income, Hillel Steiner, leaders of local and national campaign groups, including the Belgian NGO, Eight, which is distributing a basic income at present in Uganda, representatives from basic income movements and pilot projects, and prominent politicians Cllr John Merry, Deputy Mayor of Salford for Labour, and Jonathan Bartley, Co-Leader of the Green Party.