IIED director Camilla Toulmin on policies for equality

Camilla Toulmin, director of the International Institute for Environment and Development, discussed policies that foster equality and the need to tackle those which keep poor people poor when she was interviewed for a podcast produced by SciDev.Net.

Article, 05 September 2014
IIED director Camilla Toulmin discussed policies that foster equality on a SciDev.Net podcast (Photo: IIED)

IIED director Camilla Toulmin discussed policies that foster equality on a SciDev.Net podcast (Photo: IIED)

"Policy design depends on the politics of the country concerned," she said. "Much policy is either blind to the needs of poor people, or positively damaging to their interests. 
"An example is the case of city governments that often ignore the poorer half of their population already living in vulnerable areas, exposed to flooding and other environmental hazards. If anything, city governments try to move these already disadvantaged groups to the further outskirts of town."

Toulmin said policies for climate change and climate regulation are heavily influenced by the agendas of powerful multinational corporations and richer industrialised countries.

"Much of the climate negotiations are driven by very powerful countries and corporations whose interests are slowing down the process of change. If you look at the top 10 companies in the world, six of them are oil and gas companies and therefore very much embedded in the energy and fossil fuel interests of the 21st century."

Policies on food security often call for an increase in food production in order to feed the projected nine billion world population by 2050. Rather than focusing on more production, though, Toulmin highlighted the need for policy solutions that build on sustainable food systems to ensure people worldwide can access and afford food. 

"There has been a tendency to say that we’ve got to increase production by 50 per cent or 100 per cent in order to feed the world’s poor – without recognising that we actually already produce enough food globally,” she added. “Production increases by themselves are not enough."