Throw away everything!

Published: 04 December 2010

Criticism of megalomaniac conferences organized by the EU are heard from all sides. It’s even more striking when the theme of the conference is „development aid and combating poverty“.

„Is there a point of spending two million Euro on a meeting that has no clear objective?“ wonders Meagen Baldwin from Concord, a confederation of European NGOs (actually the costs of the conference were more than three million Euro). „I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have conferences, but they should have some real outcome and while promoting development aid, we need to go beyond our community.” The cost of the conference is even more shocking when you look at the whole year budget of Concord that represents more than 1600 European NGOs: 700 thousand Euros per year.

However Catherine Ray, the spokesperson of European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs clears out, that the conference wasn't payed from the development budget, but from the money assigned to propagation and communication. "I think it's better to make one big conference that will interest the media, because there will be a lot of well known names than to have more small scale meetings."

Even young reporters that are taking part in the competition Young Reporters against poverty (YRAP) are questioning themselves: do we really need to sleep in luxurious hotel rooms? Do we need to come to Brussels in first class train compartments? 

“Look at all this food here that’s going to be thrown away. It’s a shame. And you are part of it,” says Gregory, a waiter in a well-fitting gray suite of the Radisson Blue Hotel while serving lunch to participants of YRAP. A night in this huge four stars hotel costs two hundred Euros. “Talking about saving the world without getting ourselves more modest is hypocrite. Look at all the half finished plates that are on the tables after the buffet breakfast or lunch. My grandma always taught me to finish my plate and I do that. I would never waste food.”

Gregory is sorry that he cannot give the remains, which are being thrown away every day, to homeless people. He cannot even take it home for himself. “Throw away everything!” That’s the hotel policy everywhere. The question is if we can change the world with this attitude.

edited 7.12.