What is a Global Platform? – Rough Notes

E: It’s easy and cheap to provide a grab bag. (It’s just a bag, right?) The real challenge is to make sure that families are aware of what they need to put into it, keep it updated, and use it. In that sense, distributing the bag is an advocacy campaign more than anything else – I’m sure the families have access to their own bags if they want! But that awareness raising is the challenging part of DRR work…. 
G: From my work in Latin America, many poor people struggle to buy a school bag for their children, let alone have a spare bag that can be left un-utilised all the time, waiting for an emergency. So I guess the more apt question, would be whether the family would actually leave the ‘bolsa de emergencia’ untouched rather than using it for some other purpose and hence not being continually prepared. As the picture shows there is a clear checklist on one side of the bag which outlines what needs to be inside it. The bags were given out during a campaign with music and theatre – something I have witnessed Latin Americans being extremely good at. 
E: You say that the key message is that ‘the government cares’ – I don’t really see why that would be the priority of the average Venezuelan, or how a small bag shows it. Could you not say that the key message of almost any type of government intervention is that the government cares? Is the key message of the NHS (or street lights) that the government cares and is thinking about you? 
G: When you are in the middle of a crisis with no clear idea of what to do next or how to get back to normality, I believe, and perhaps naively, that it would be really important to think that someone out there cares, is aware of your situation and is going to send help. Obviously the bag itself doesn’t do that, but it does say ‘your government knows these disasters can happen in your area and has thought about it in advance, so is therefore more likely to be prepared’. The Chavez phenomenon particularly showed that knowing someone is thinking of you (regardless of actions) can be a very important force of strength and hope.
E: “Trust, good communication and a shared understanding of each entities objectives and priorities” is all very well – you could say that about absolutely any partnership – but how do you attain these, given the natural distrust between humanitarians and the military (a distrust perpetuated by many humanitarian actors, who see any collaboration with the military as a betrayal of humanitarian ethics?) How do you achieve a shared understanding, given this distrust and skepticism about each others objectives?
G: Sometimes its important to remind ourselves of the obvious. Your question is circular and explains why I have used all three terms – trust, good communication and shared understanding – because they are all interconnected and all are necessary. In order to have the others. It won’t be easy, especially with such different entities. But numerous officials from governments in the developing world (Lebanon, Zambia, Dominican Republic) stood up during the session and gave passionate speeches about how they had made it work. That alone, suggests that we shouldn’t give up before trying.
E: There’s a simple answer to the question of ‘can you calculate the economic value of these conferences’ – no. There’s no way to quantify and count the value that these conferences do (or don’t) have, as a rule. Awareness raising, networking, media is just too intangible. I think it’s possible to assess the value, somewhat vaguely, by looking at what they aim to achieve and whether we can find any evidence of it. The trouble with far too many conferences is that they actually don’t know what they wanted to get out of it.
G: I regularly work with economists and although I would never pretend to be a qualified economist, I would suggest that this is a narrow view of the possible. We are constantly calculating the value of non-tangible things. Its not easy, but there are experts out there who I believe good make a rough estimate. After all, how would a donor like DFID who is so focused on value for money ever fund advocacy projects if it was intangible to quantify their outcomes and impact. Far from easy. But possible. However, you are right, the real question is do we know what we want them to achieve? And if we do, are we ambitious enough to justify this level of expenditure? 
J: Any economists or social scientists or statisticians out there want to confirm if this is or is not a possibility and/or relevant . . . .

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