Wednesday, 25 November 2009

In numbers...

According to the Russian organisers' official tally:
147 countries were represented in Moscow
There were 80 Ministers
21 international public organisations
150 NGOs
370 accredited media representatives
1500 delegates overall
$140 million pledged during the conference (although only $2 million of that was from a government).

I didn't have time to mention it previously, but the Unicef representative who spoke in the opening session of the conference made one of the best cases I've heard for why children are at the heart of the case for tackling road safety. Marrying together the safe systems approach with the rights of the child (and last week saw the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child) it was a thoughtful speech which echoed many of the things Kevin Watkins had said earlier in the week - I'll add the link when possible. It would be great now if Unicef and other child advocates follow through on the logic of their words. Then maybe at the next Ministerial in five years time we can take the numbers above and double them.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Reflections on Moscow

Two moments stood out for me. The first was when Casey Marenge was wheeled onto the stage. Casey runs an NGO in Nairobi, and joined us in the campaign 2 years ago, when she organised a number of petition signings and lobbied Kenyan ministers and UN officials to do more for road safety. Casey is paraplegic, paralysed from the neck down, as a result of a road crash which killed two of her friends. She is matter of fact in her courage, and dynamic and eloquent in equal measure. Her arrival on the stage contrasted sharply with the boilerplate platitudes and dry statistics of some of the preceding official speakers. Casey speaks with authority and has no need to raise her voice or indulge in histrionics. It was a moving moment, and you could sense the change in mood in the vast conference hall.

The other key moment was the arrival of President Medvedev. From where I stood, right at the back of the room, this seemed like the moment when road safety finally arrived on its rightful stage. More than a thousand delegates rose as one, the banks of photographers and cameras whirred and flashed, there was a palpable energy in the room. This was some of what we had been working towards. It felt like recognition. Not on the scale of climate change in Copenhagen in a few weeks time, but a start.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

3 Times

Not much time to blog, but here's coverage and op-eds today from 3 'Times' from 3 different time zones.
Times (of London)

Moscow Times

Times of India

Watching George Robertson make his speech to the packed auditorium, shake hands with President Medvedev on the stage and sign first day covers!? with the Russian interior minister it all feels a long way from our low key launch in London three and a half years ago...

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

time for action?

Kevin Watkins, UN development expert and former Oxfam campaigner, says road crashes are a 'one way ticket to poverty'. At our last campaign event before the Ministerial, Kevin was joined on stage by George Robertson and Michelle Yeoh to urge delegates to look beyond Moscow and be ready to take our case back to the UN to argue for the Decade of Action.

Implementation is a big theme of the event. We're thinking beyond the advocacy to getting the financial backing for specific practical measures that will save real lives. So today the FIA Foundation and IRAP signed a $10 million partnership, and a new 'Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative' was launched by the AIP Foundation, FIA Foundation and the World Bank. And at the end of the day comes news of a $125 million investment in global road safety by Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York (via his private foundation). This is the first big public health donation to road safety, a huge moment, and an exciting climax to this phase of our campaign.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Snow in Moscow

It is quite beautiful to wake up to snow falling in Moscow and to see the white-covered domes of the Kremlin.

Our campaign team are here now finalising our preparations for the ministerial, which seems to have come together: around 80 ministers expected, delegates from more than 100 countries and the feeling that we're about to make a tiny bit of history...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

more ministers...

Albania; Chad; Chile; Finland; Guatemala; Indonesia; Italy; Latvia; Madagascar; Malaysia; Mongolia; Morocco; Nepal; Papua New Guinea; Panama; Paraguay; Philippines; Sierra Leone; Spain; Sri Lanka; Ukraine, Uruguay.

So 70 ministers altogether - not bad at all, and a good mix of regions and incomes. Plus Hollywood stars Will Smith (by video) and Michelle Yeoh (in person).

Sunday, 8 November 2009

from remembrance to action

Next Sunday, 15th November, is the annual World Day of Remembrance for road traffic victims. The theme this year, as the Day falls four days before the Moscow conference begins, is 'from global remembrance to global action'.
There will be events taking place all over the world. See for details.