Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Public Banking Queen - for Europe

An Epithet For Frances Micklem

 Like in the Trojan Wars, it looks like I am going to be given an epithet! Odysseus was referred to as 'Fleet of Foot'. Just this week I have been called 'Public Banking Queen', the 'Florence Nightingale of Etenders' and someone else said a 'Modern Day Robin Hood'. All of them pretty cool, I think and totally spot on. 

The following proposal that I sent to the EU Reform and Cohesion Commission, a fortnight ago, will explain why. If you're closer to home, already an expert in your field and you need someone to find and complete funding applications for your project, give me a shout. Frances Micklem, 083 144 3968. Green Business Consultancy. 

There's the LEAN business continuity grants going at the moment, from the Enterprise Board that I'll help you with if your company is bigger than 9 staff but I prefer to watch the public tenders. They are bigger money and it's where Ireland really needs leadership. We have a green transition on our hands and I intend to match the knowhow to the funding. Let the organic farmers train the farmers who must otherwise transition blindly. Let's fund the communities that love their locality and are motivated with ideas to clean it up and preserve it. 

I am providing a platform that sits over the etenders website. Whereas most people cannot face into the procurement process as there's so much writing, I absolutely love it. Between us, we can generate a proposal that ticks all the social, environmental, community engagement, job creation and energy saving and amounts to an irresistible and thoughtful strategy, buyers would be mad to pass up. 

Letter to the EU Commission For Cohesion and Reform

This is a request for Ireland to be the sixth pilot project for the Cohesion & Reform Commission. We are proposing a new Information Management System for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, starting with Ireland’s National Biodiversity Data Centre. We will coordinate data analysis best practice from all the nodes and when it is fit for purpose, we will make it available for Europe-wide use as a (Green/Sustainability/Non-profit/Community) Public Bank Charter. It will address various economic, climate and social problems.

As the OECD Panel proposed, when the GBIF Biodiversity Data Centres were first started in 2001, they were to 

"enable users to navigate and put to use vast quantities of biodiversity information, advancing scientific research ... serving the economic and quality-of-life interests of society, and providing a basis from which our knowledge of the natural world can grow rapidly and in a manner that avoids duplication of effort and expenditure."

And the GBIF Secretariat then formed in 2001 have consisted in these four departments:

  • Participation and Engagement is responsible for operating the network of Participants and publishers, recruiting new members and enhancing the capacity of current ones.
  • Data Products is responsible for the quality and scientific value of the integrated data products produced by the GBIF network.
  • Informatics is responsible for data management, software development and the overall operation of the GBIF infrastructure.
  • Administration is responsible for maintaining both the network and the Secretariat's underlying operations and processes.


There needs to be a fifth department to interrogate the data to fulfill the following purposes, in its legislative context. 

1. The new IMS will allow all proposed developments to be analyzed for their impact on Biodiversity, water footprint etc.

2. Public spending/ EU funding can be justified by meeting a criterion, including equally-weighted financial, social and environmental benefits.

3. Biodiversity Data can measure a country’s performance in line with Climate Action and Habitat Protection performance.

(So far, as you will know, Ireland has failed to implement EU directives from 1992 and even now public money is being directed to Intensive Farming - weaning crates to be specific (Teagasc is the Authority and DAFM the Government Department issuing Covid-recovery money to Feed-lot owners rather than small farmers): Sub-standard, no BER rating, no infrastructure, and certainly not passive, Social Housing Schemes (4 County Councils, so over a 1000 houses): ‘Multiples’ Supermarkets are being awarded large contracts to pay for marketing of their own low-welfare, meat, ready-meals to the UK and low welfare-dairy to Japan (Bord Bia are the Authority issuing those two funds). 

4. The IMS would be the foundation of a free, environmental ‘Citizens Advice Bureau’ or ‘Legal Aid Board’ that communities could use to get an evidence-based report to protect a local area, object to a planning application or support a funding application. The NBDC in Ireland is supposed to provide this but cannot. The pilot, phase one, would be for researchers in several disciplines (Law, Economics, Environmental Science, Social Economy, Planning, History, Geology) to do thorough interrogations of data to respond to various stakeholder’s/users requests. So, they would analyze biodiversity data in relation to existing Environmental Laws and EU Directives and then synthesize their findings, through forum discussions, into reports. This work would produce two things: A reference library of data analysis reports and also analysis tools for future use, by public users. It would make the GBIF network able to address the climate, economic and social problems, OECD anticipated. In the same way as lawyers can go to the Law Library to find precedents on which to base their case, they need to be able to access biodiversity data, trends and particular events, to name as precedents to prevent further or repeated species loss and damaging developments.    

5. The proposed Biodiversity IMS as funding/lending criteria. We believe that the Cohesion Commission is focusing on making the New Green Deal a just transition for citizens. This is the longer vision for the development of the GBIF Information Management System. If Green Deal funding can be awarded on the strength of evidence and reports from the Biodiversity Data Centres, therefore pertaining to protections or benefits that the initiatives will achieve, this could become the basis for a European Public Bank. Our group, which includes the Green Party, who are in a coalition government at the moment, the Sparkassen Bank International Co-operative Arm and the other business, political and economic leaders outlined below, are all committed to implementing a banking system that builds a sustainable monetary system, independent of private banks, over time. If we do not find a way to integrate environmental protection into our financial structures, we in Ireland are definitely doomed: 

You will be aware that Ireland’s Minister for Finance has stayed the same even since the new government and has now been given the lead of a major Euro Zone group. The focus he brings is on major tax breaks for damaging industries and austerity for people. Therefore, we really need criteria that monetize conservation. 

6. Education and health. This flagship pilot project would put Ireland on the map because, as well as a technical and legal/political/environmental/economic and social research project, it would engage all of Ireland and its farmers in Biodiversity Data Collection and Protection. This is because our consortium has a nationwide training component. As Environmental Protection regulations are amended, we would put them into tailored courses for local authority use, in planning departments, services and every sector, focusing on use and preservation of marine and fresh water and land life. This is going to be even more important now with all the ‘control of diseases’ actions, which are leading to wider use of chemicals, water use and other environmental controls. There will need to be a wide Public Health education about the distinctions between healthy microflora, microbial activity, beneficial insects and pollinators and harmful ones. 

7. Humane animal industries. One of our more ambitious plans involves re-commissioning all the fishing boats from the dead-zones and no-take zones on Ireland's coast to clean up the ocean of plastic and nets. They can be paid for what they 'harvest' and we have a new plastic recycling centre Trifol, in County Laois of sufficient scale to recycle as much waste as is found and they do not need it to be clean. Unfortunately, at the moment Trifol are being allowed to sell their melted plastic wax into the food chain as coating for apples, in Ireland and abroad. We are really hoping that Commissioner Kyriakides can stop them on Food Safety grounds.


The second trial will be to stop pig, chicken, sheep and cow breeding altogether and repurpose the animals we have. Pigs would be transported from intensive facilities (99% of Ireland's pigs never see daylight, without room to turn around) to fields to graze off, root and aerate the soil for land-use change from grazing to horticulture. Cattle to become only pasture-fed (already being successfully piloted via natural agriculture in Limerick and to pay their way by producing manure to both feed biodigesters and also to fertilise the soil. 


The third is to bring back traveling / on site slaughter skills and facilities. A part of Ireland's 'race to the bottom' with animal welfare has been the introduction of Halal methods to serve Egyptian and other markets. As you will know, this involves killing without anaesthetic or stunning first. This, of course, saves the meat factories money and time but is a conscious and painful horror story for farm animals, like live export but worse.  One can see how this would encourage consumers to shop local, give a fair price to farmers for meat, be in line with Farm to Fork objectives as well as possibly change diets and incentivise communities to help farmers with managing weeds and pests and decrease their reliance on agri-chemicals. 


As well as funding positive initiatives, Ireland is going to need Europe to come down heavily on the meat, dairy, pharmaceutical and chemical giants. They fix the price of animals, they fix the weighing machines, they necessitate the live export, they avail of all the EU farm payments are also heavily subsidised by public money. Major Food Safety non-compliance is completely overlooked by government and the courts. The same with the pharmaceutical companies which somehow have been equated with 'animal health' programmes, where everyone knows that vaccinations and antibiotics would be less essential if animals were afforded a natural life with any of the 5 freedoms, colostrum from their mothers and fresh air as other valid chances to build their immune systems.


This relates to why I am also cc’ing Commissioner Kyriakides who has rightly threatened to take decisive legal action against Ireland unless our systemic non-compliance is addressed. This was most recently in regard to animal welfare. We have been working on getting an Animal Referendum held here, where 36 exploitative and non-compliant animal industries/practices were identified. We wanted to gauge public support, for change in licensing, diet and lifestyle choices. 


Like biodiversity, with animals, there is a focus on ‘control of’ rather than ‘protections for’. There are also the comparable conflicts of interests in committing to protect anything that we have the intention of exploiting – which is (in Ireland) every part of the eco-system including land, soil, minerals, animals, fish, water and people. This ‘conflict of interests’ is exemplified by the (Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine) DAFM, also managing ‘Animal Welfare’. 


8. The ‘problem’ we will solve is that we cannot protect animal or plant life without this data analysis, in line with EU law. The problem is exemplified by the Green Minister, over the National Biodiversity Data Centre, who is being required to grant a license for capturing hares for ‘sport’. This capturing starts four months in advance of the hare coursing events, when they are released from their boxes and chased on a race track by two greyhounds. Even though the Green Party and the minister in particular are completely against the main parties' subsidies and support of the greyhound industry, the Green Minister has no recourse to definitive biodiversity data on the endangered nature of the hare, its decline due to a spreading virus and through coursing, or of its importance/role in the eco-system. 


The way the problem has translated into public spending has been that the county dog and horse pounds each get half a million a year plus a thousand per horse seized. Meanwhile the shelters receive between 2 and 20,000 euro a year. Even though the latter treat injured animals, keep them for at least six weeks for care, chip, spay, neuter, vaccination and re-homing and incur all the costs themselves. The former put animals down after 5 days and are further incentivised by carcass collection payments as well. 


Accountability goes back to the government. For example Shell were given a license to drill and contaminate the water sources of the West coast. The government also gave AXA insurance, an Irish company 50 million to insure Shell. So that when they create natural disasters the compensation and clean up must be paid by Ireland.


Similarly when a pharmaceutical company's vaccine was proven in court to have caused a life-debilitating condition, it was the Health Service who had to pay compensation, not the drug developer/manufacturer.


9. An EU public bank rather than just Irish and reporting directly to the Cohesion and Reform Commission or OECD. In addition to industry being the main priority for the Ireland’s Department of Finance, the other problem is unwillingness to change. In past proposals, Ireland has sought to empower the regional local authorities to oversee a public or community banking system but actually the structure behind these (the County Executive Management Team) are non-elected, slow-moving beasts that have no interest in the public representatives on their council, no interest in government, no interest in the local economy, let alone public opinion/participation, the EU or the climate crisis. That is why we suggest that this project reports directly to the EU, via the Green Party but is coordinated and overseen by, and responds to, leaders from Non Government Organizations, who actually deal with the collateral damage of industry: A core group of environmental lawyers and social business leaders, empowering and financing citizens, entrepreneurs, cooperatives, conscious construction developers, animal rescues, progressive farmers, housing charities and social enterprise groups that know what needs to be done and can start to do it. 

Our group can utilize the perspectives, research, experience and skillsets of 400 Green Party policy group members. The project would be managed and steered by Diarmaid Mulcahy, International Business, Political & Community sectors Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Health IRE. The Public Bank grounded on conservation of water and biodiversity is a plan developed by myself and Richard C Cook, Author of ‘Credit as A Public Utility’, National Treasury & Green Party US (Series attached); I was asked by Harald Felzen of the SBFIC and Eamon Ryan to be a government partner in its development. 

The economic policy of a vegan organic food system as 1% more profitable annually than current systems and other greater productivities come from research and policies shared by the Humane Party and work with Clifden Roberts & Robert Mason, Presidential Candidate & Economist, US (policies attached); Irish Green Party Leaders and Finance, Eamon Ryan, Catherine Martin, Neasa Hourigan and Mark Dearey, with Banking & Monetary, Environmental Law, Planning and Food Security groups. 

We propose a project in two phases. In the initial phase, a full assessment top to bottom of the entire system and processes associated with the NBDC service. Who does what and where data comes in. Also, within the first phase, would be a full engagement with all the stakeholders who require an output from the Data Centres; the analysis of the data and the interrogation of the data that is provided by participants. 

The engagement with stakeholders will throw up a range of required outputs. The engagement would be done via face-to-face, questionnaires and surveys, round tables, focus groups and with the general public through ‘conversation cafes’. The goal for the first phase would be to consolidate the existing service. Through website analysis, social media, all resourcing, sales of charts and swatches and other plant and insect ID and training literature will be cross-referenced and shared. There will be a publication need for print resources for all the professional user groups. 

There will be a full review of the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) training programmes – resources, who, when and why. Who avails of it and programmes and materials. We will want to make sure that Ireland’s Data Centre is to an international standard. Therefore, part of stage one will be to engage with other nodes within the GBIF to see what systems they are engaging. This will help share focus on the hierarchy of needs, starting with the needs of the planet and working down to the needs of the farmers and town businesses. From the planet’s perspective, we will be talking about Europe’s 17 Sustainability Goals. Then down to the local council, town and community biodiversity plans. 

We hoped to enter the public procurement competition to run Ireland’s NBDC and attach the Tender Response document, which confirms our financial and technical capacity and explains Phase One in detail. It shows how we would encourage a nationwide effort and training in monitoring and entering biodiversity data, via the Citizen Science (voluntary) programmes. We would put a special focus on, currently unmonitored, areas of Conservation importance that have been identified jointly with Europe. Stage 2 would be to continue with the research forum’s body of work; to apply the data in multiple contexts from multiple perspectives. Simultaneously, we will develop the bespoke Management Information tool, an example would be the Management Information System of the Central Statistics Office. We would build the system, trouble shoot it and test it for workability and usefulness, by the NBDC and stakeholders. Furthermore there will be training courses as there will be different outputs for all users, stakeholders and general public.

The likelihood is that the general maintenance of the Irish Data Centre’s work and database will be separate to this proposed programme of work, to develop a new Information Management System for biodiversity data across Europe. Therefore, I attach an organizational chart and pricing plan specific to this, amounting to €1,070,000 over two years. 

In previous work done by Ireland’s Green Party and Sparkassen Bank’s SBFIC, on actually putting the legislation in place for a Public Bank, there was a cost calculated of 170 million euro. If this could be provided, this would make an extraordinary saving for both citizens and environment. The bank would be a third stage of the pilot scheme with a lending criteria, based on the new biodiversity data IMS and fresh water as its Golden Peg. Such a bank would not, of course, lend money to start with, but all EU Green Deal funding could pass through the new bank to 1) ensure it is spent on projects, where there is evidence for their benefit. 2) Make interest-free money available for sustainable start-ups and community initiatives 3) Build up the bank’s reserves by money passing through it. 

I hope it is appropriate that we are bringing this ambitious plan directly to you for consideration. We have the vision and the vehicle to realize the full requirements of the GBIF databases in their legislative context and help Europe facilitate the Just Transition we are all banking on.


Many thanks, 

Frances Micklem

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