For related news and information:  poornews.org    poorscience.org    millenniumdeclaration.org    
twitter:   @poorscience  @mdgscandal  @poornewsorg

Note: Evidence and analysis on specific BBC output or issues may be spread over several places in this document.

 

 

BBC misleads on world poverty, safe water, and UN pledges

 

After accuracy complaints, the "open" BBC refuses to publish UN pledges - reaffirmed by European Union member states in 2015 - or details of what is now Global Goal 1.1



Last updated:  25 November 2015
Matt Berkley

 

 

Unanswered complaint CAS-3430579 11 August 2015:

"..."Safe water" claim misleads. UN does not have safe water statistics.

Poverty target met? How do we know? There are no inflation stats for prices faced by the poor." 

.....

 

The Millennium Declaration, reaffirmed by world leaders in 2013, says nothing about 1990.
www.millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm

But the BBC tells the public it does:

"The targets were set by world leaders in 2000. MDG4 aims to reduce the death rate for children aged under five by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14974145

Same error in Turkish and Swahili:

"Dünya liderlerinin 2000 yilinda, yeni binyila iliskin vizyonlari dogrultusunda belirledigi hedeflerden dördüncüsü, 2015 yilinda bes yes alti çocuk ölümlerinin 1990 rakamlarina göre üçte iki düsürülmesini öngörüyordu."

BBC Turkce - Haberler - Anne-çocuk sagligi hedefleri tutturulamadi
http://www.bbc.co.uk/turkce/haberler/2011/09/110920_mortality.shtml

 

"Malengo hayo yalifikiwa na viongozi duniani mwaka 2000.
MDG4 ina dhamira ya kupunguza idadi ya watoto wanaofariki dunia wenye umri wa chini ya miaka mitano kwa robo tatu kati ya mwaka 1990 na 2015.
MDG5 inaelezea kuwa na nia ya kufuta vifo miongoni mwa wanawake wajawazito kwa kiwango cha robo tatu katika kipindi hicho hicho."

Habari - Mataifa mengi 'hayatofikia malengo'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/swahili/habari/2011/09/110916_utafiti_wanawake_watoto.shtml

 

 

BBC World 20 January 2011

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/9368626.stm 

Video, 2m 42s:

"Ten years ago ...world leaders signed up to a new partnership, linking rich and poor nations in an
agreement to halve the number

(! - proportion)

"of people living in extreme poverty or hunger 

It was the first of eight Millennium Development Goals"

(! not true.  It was a promise, part of a UN resolution.  The easier global MDGs came later, but the UN adopted more resolutions promising the actual pledges again. )

"...Globally..."

(! – the official statistics now reported are usually on the proportion in the "developing world" which is slightly easier to reduce than the global proportion due to population growth rates)

"...there's been a big fall in the number of people living in extreme poverty from 42% back in the base year of 1990"

 

 

Following complaints, the BBC republished the same false information on leaders' pledges:


"En septembre 2000, les dirigeants du monde entier ont souscrit à une série de huit
[!] Objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement (OMD) [!] qui doivent être atteints d’ici à 2015. ...
En utilisant les taux de 1990
[!] comme point de départ, l'objectif des OMD est de réduire la mortalité de deux tiers d'ici à la fin de 2015."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/afrique/region/2014/09/140929_surviving_childhood_africa

 

"...le Fonds Monétaire International et la Banque Mondiale estiment que “l’Afrique ne pourra pas tenir le premier Objectif du Millénaire pour le Développement”, à savoir la réduction de moitié de l’extrême pauvreté d’ici 2015 par rapport à ses niveaux de 1990.

Les Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement ont été fixés en l’an 2000

(sic),

lors d’un sommet international que l’ONU avait organisé à son siège à New York

(sic).

"En Afrique, la mortalité maternelle à l’accouchement est de 9 pour 1000, bien au-dessus de l’objectif du Millénaire en la matière qui vise un taux de 2,3 pour 1000."

(sic - the pledges on mortality agreed in 2000 in New York have different targets because of the different baselines)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/french/news/story/2009/04/printable/090424_bm_omd_report.shtml

 

 

 

 

BBC repeats errors on global progress after complaints

BBC and Trustees contradict UN resolutions on pledges

Pledges are over 15 years, not 25

There are no data on inflation faced by the poor, changing needs, or safe water

BBC Media Action spends millions, flies staff around the world while BBC broadcasts falsehoods on UN pledges and progress

BBC Trustees falsely claim UN "committed" to easier targets in 2001, when in reality it recommitted to leaders' more ambitious pledges of 2000

Programmes to "assess" World Bank and UN claims were dominated by contributors who have World Bank and UN ties

 

 

In 2000, the UN made pledges with 2000 baselines.  National leaders reaffirmed these pledges in 2005, and they were reaffirmed again at a high-level summit in 2013.

millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm 

The pledges, which are still current, do not use the generally easier "1990 as a benchmark" as the BBC's "MDG website" claims:

bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specials/1112_mdg/

- repeated at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/in_depth/africas_challenges/html/5.stm

After complaints, the BBC persisted in falsely telling audiences around the world that leaders at the historic summit had set the easier 1990-baseline MDGs.

2015: "Fifteen years ago at the Millennium Summit the United Nations set eight goals [!] for addressing extreme poverty.
They [!] became known as the Millennium Development Goals. [!]
A deadline of 2015 was set to achieve what the UN said were ‘quantified targets’ – so how did we do?"

BBC World Service - More or Less, programme description. The programme deals with 1990 baselines.
3 July 2015
bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vmb62



For some reason the BBC removed the audio download of this programme – which finally stated what I had told the BBC since 2003, that the World Bank statistics were not reliable – without explanation. 

As I understand it, that is against their recent editorial guidelines.  It had been available on 6 July 2015.

The BBC had failed for three years to respond to the complaint that More or Less of 3 March 2012 was not duly impartial. 

The BBC did not explain why the programme was justified in accepting that "the [World Bank poverty] target's been met" without question.

 or that it had "scrutinised" the goal while not asking whether the statistics were reliable, but made the same point itself in 2015.

After this, the BBC and the Trust Unit still refused to answer the complaints, or even to acknowledge that there were complaints about impartiality – an ex-World Bank economist with World Bank ties "scrutinising" a World Bank "goal" by asking a World Bank economist, an ex-World Bank economist advocating the same basic method, and a World Bank partner economist who praised the method.

How the More or Less team, after consulting these experts and another ex-World Bank economist, managed to state that the World Bank used a non-existent "basket of food" to judge progress on poverty and link to a programme falsely claiming the World Bank take costs of shelter and clothing into account is not clear. 

The misinformation is still the BBC's "Editor's Choice" on global poverty.

 

 

Additional bold, italics, underlining and formatting later:

 

25 September 2015 at 15:54
Subject: Fwd: Urgent. Request for immediate retraction
To: trust.editorial@bbc.co.uk, jessica.cecil@bbc.co.uk, david.jordan@bbc.co.uk

Dear Mr Towers, Ms O'Brien, Ms Buckle, Ms Cecil and Mr Jordan,

… 

Unanswered complaint CAS-3430579 11 August 2015:

  ..."Safe water" claim misleads. UN does not have safe water statistics.

Poverty target met? How do we know? There are no inflation stats for prices faced by the poor

....

BBC does not report actual pledges of 2000 even though reaffirmed by world leaders in 2013.

BBC does not report scandal:

MDG list falsely claims 1990-baseline targets come from Declaration.


....


Details: poornews.org
millenniumdeclaration.org
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/appeals/esc_bulletins/2015/june_july.pdf, page 128.

Trustees say it would be editorial decision not to mention baselines.

But BBC staff either

a) always make "editorial decision" to omit actual pledge or

b) do not know what pledges are.

Both are systemic failure.

It is a waste of public money for BBC to make programmes to inform people on MDGs or give media training without informing public of pledges their leaders made.

 

 

 

 

 

 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Matt Berkley
Date: 25 September 2015 at 11:27
Subject: Urgent. Request for immediate retraction
To: Trust Editorial <TrustEditorial@bbc.co.uk>, jessica.cecil@bbc.co.uk, david.jordan@bbc.co.uk

Dear Mr Towers, Ms O'Brien and Ms Buckle,

 

If the Trust Unit has sent any of the misleading information below to BBC staff or others, I propose that you retract it.

 

I also request that you clarify whether the response on case 1300394 has been sent by mistake. 

 

Among the problems are these:

 

 

A. The response appears to wrongly claim that Trustees have made a decision on the general issue of the BBC understating Millennium pledges over many years.  

 

Clearly, the complaint is of a cumulative error.  
 

The complaints that the BBC has explicitly and falsely stated the Declaration has a 1990 baseline have never been answered.

 

 

It is not clear to me that it was within the Trust's jurisdiction to issue a formal decision on the Millennium pledges at all, or on all of those complaints. 

The ECU stated in their last correspondence before the appeal that the matter was outstanding

 

Mr Steel said at that time that he did not know what the complaint was. 

 

On 15 September 2015 I wrote to Mr Towers, Ms O'Brien and Mr Purnell :

"I do not know why Mr Steel has written to me as if I appealed all my complaints to the Trust. I propose that the Trust immediately require the Executive to review the baseline error, using the evidence I previously supplied to the Trust Unit, for a possible broadcast correction before the Summit. So far both the ESC and the Executive have been misleading not only the public but also the BBC's own journalists."

The same email explains a significant factual error by the Trustees in their decision issued on 19 June.

 

The Trustees appear to have based their opinion that an error was not duly inaccurate, on a false premiss that the UN "committed" to the easier MDG targets in 2001.

 

The Trust Unit response ignores this.

 

It only takes 30 seconds to ask the UN librarians:

 

millenniumdeclaration.org/unlibrary.htm
 

Nor is it clear to me what the process should be for complaints to BBC World News, or why those should at this stage have been answered by the Trust Unit.

 

I had suggested to the Trust that Trustees might have discretionary powers in this case.

 

 

B. The response omits the impartiality complaints entirely after I repeatedly drew attention to them over the three years the BBC has failed to answer.  The response seems to imply that there were only complaints on accuracy. 

 

 

C. The response wrongly implies that the complaint on inflation was limited to two or so words.  It ignores both the signposts given to the audience about "assessing" the measure and so on, and the other problems listed such as the non-existent "basket of food".  
The context for due accuracy is clearly the controversy in which critics repeatedly state that the World Bank has no such "basket" to judge poverty and by, extension, policies.

 

 

The Adviser states that she spent an hour watching a programme on which there has been no appeal to the Trust.

 

Please retract immediately any misleading information which may lead to a lack of due accuracy or impartiality in BBC coverage of coming events, or which may influence BBC replies to complaints.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Matt Berkley.

 

 

 

…………………………………………………………………………………

 

To: richard.knight@bbc.co.uk

25 September 2015 at 15:15


Dear Mr Knight,

 

The following unanswered complaints may be of relevance to reporting surrounding the Global Goals.  I have had no response from the BBC's recommended course of action.

 

Best wishes,

 

Matt Berkley

 

 

 

 For evidence on UN resolutions:  millenniumdeclaration.org/unlibrary.htm

 

 

 

 

From: bbc_complaints_website@bbc.co.uk
Date: 9 June 2015 at 10:03
Subject: BBC Complaints - Case number CAS-3340770-ZFKF11
To: Matt Berkley

...

 

Complaint Summary: Understated impression of UN Summit pledges

Full Complaint: Major matter. There is likely to be little point answering this complaint by referring to secondary sources, because many of them make wrong statements.

Example of BBC output: World Service, The Inquiry, 2/515. [2 May 2015]

 

 

The introduction's error gives a generally understated impression of leaders' pledges at the Millennium Summit.

 

They did not agree a list of eight goals or mention "MDGs", but "resolved" "by the year 2015...to have reduced...under-five child mortality by two thirds, of ...current rates".

 

http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm

 

The MDG targets were proposed in 2001 without leaders discussing them at the UN until 2005.

 

un.org/millenniumgoals/sgreport2001.pdf

 

Some MDGs, such as on child [mortality] have 1990-2015 targets.

 

These pages have related mistakes:

 

bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-politics-32883629

 

bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-32438104

 

bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02pn9c9

 

bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-politics-31798171

 

bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-31851587

 

The BBC has contributed to a similar wrong impression for years.

 

I have yet to receive a substantive response from the head of the ECU to correspondence on this matter, with evidence, beginning on 6/2/14 in comments on provisional response 1300394.

 

I refer also to unanswered handling complaint 3204842 mentioning "institutional failure" appealed to the Trust.

 

A smaller error: The Inquiry states, similarly to its web page, "over the past 15 years child mortality has halved". The official global claim is for 1990-2015. [strictly speaking 1990-2013]

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Unanswered complaint 6 February 2014 to BBC Editorial Complaints Unit

Invited comments on provisional response 1300394

"More or Less of 10 March 2012...Unidentified speaker, apparently a World Service newsreader or a person reading from a World Service news script:

The United Nations says the first Millennium Development Goal, halving the number of people who have no access to clean water, has been reached before the target date of 2015.


[More or Less commenting on the misleading news report:]

...the Millennium Development Goals were agreed by all the countries of the United Nations and the big aid agencies in the year 2000."

More or Less makes a major error. The MDG targets ...are in fact easier than the pledges in the Millennium Declaration of 2000. The latter is a UN General Assembly resolution. A major difference is that the resolution's pledges were not backdated, and are therefore to, for example halve the proportion of people in 2000 on under "$1 ", not the 1990 level.".…

[The programme contradicted itself by saying it had scrutinised the goal while confusing it with the more ambitious UN pledge. ] "

 
"the Millennium Development Goals were agreed by all the countries of the United Nations and the big aid agencies in the year 2000 [!] …
So the whole [water] goal's about halving the proportion.... between
1990 [!] and 2015."
"we scrutinised [!] the goal of halving the proportion of those living on less than a dollar a day in our last edition"

More or Less, BBC World Service 10 March 2012
http://aod-pod-uk-live.edgesuite.net/mpg_mp3_med/podcast_migrated/p02rzhdh-moreorless_20120309-2350a.mp3?__gda__=1439586159_bc77a4325b50ecbaabc770051104052e


It is not clear on what basis of actual UN resolutions More or Less broadcast 3 July 2015 claimed the MDGs were agreed "around 2000". Its programme page has a clearer error.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vmb62

 

 

 

 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: bbc_complaints_website@bbc.co.uk <bbc_complaints_website@bbc.co.uk>
Date: 16 August 2015 at 13:20
Subject: BBC Complaints - Case number CAS-3428708-N971FD

Thank you for contacting us about ‘BBC World Service’ on 10th August 2015.

I understand you’ve not received a response to your complaint made regarding World Service and World News.

Your complaint was passed to BBC World Service who will respond directly.

You can contact them at; worldservice.letters@bbc.co.uk

…BBC Complaints

www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

 

 

 

…………………………………………………………………………………

 

 

There are numerous problems with BBC global poverty reports.   One recurs constantly.

In September 2000 national leaders at the UN General Assembly agreed Millennium pledges to reduce poverty from current rates.  

In September 2001 civil servants proposed Millennium Development Goal targets with a different, easier 1990 baseline.  An exception, according to an OECD document, was a 2000 baseline for the water target. The water target in the official MDG list does not mention 1990.

If the Assembly agreed this, one difference over 2000-15 would be around 5 million more acceptable child deaths. 

On 21 December 2001 and in later years, the UN General Assembly reaffirmed the Declaration's more ambitious pledges, which have 2000 baselines. 

National leaders reaffirmed the pledges in 2005 and 2013. 

In 2015 they reaffirmed their intention to finance and publicise the pledges.

Evidence:  millenniumdeclaration.org/pledges.htm 

 

The BBC falsely claims, despite its own trustees' statement, that the easier MDGs are what countries agreed in 2000. 


I am unable to confirm that the BBC Trust Editorial Standards Committee decision sent to the complainant on 19 June 2015 has a high standard of factual accuracy (see below). 

However, it does correctly repeat one aspect of what the complainant had told various parts of the BBC for over a year, while the BBC kept on misleading people around the world about what their governments pledged.  The Trustees stated:

the "Millennium Declaration in 2000" had "commitments...reducing child mortality by two thirds, of their current rates...by changing the base line to 1990...the [Millennium Development Goal] target…was...less demanding…".

"Trustees... noted his concern that the BBC had made similar errors over many years and that these had been the subject of other complaints”

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/appeals/esc_bulletins/2015/june_july.pdf

 

After this, the BBC kept on repeating the false statements (see below).  The complainant submitted more complaints.  The BBC persisted:

"In 2000, 180 world leaders agreed on a series of ambitious targets to improve the lives of people everywhere. The Millennium Development Goals they signed up to…"

Publicity for programme to be broadcast 22 September 2015
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06dl1t6

 

"“Millennium Development Goals” (or MDGs) that were set in 2000."

European Parliament as it happened: 16 September 2015 - BBC News
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-politics-34270179

 



"the Millennium Development Goals were
agreed by all the countries of the United Nations and the big aid agencies in the year 2000 [!] …
So the whole [water] goal's about halving the proportion.... between 1990 [!] and 2015."
"we scrutinised [!] the goal of halving the proportion of those living on less than a dollar a day in our last edition"

More or Less, BBC World Service 10 March 2012
http://aod-pod-uk-live.edgesuite.net/mpg_mp3_med/podcast_migrated/p02rzhdh-moreorless_20120309-2350a.mp3?__gda__=1439586159_bc77a4325b50ecbaabc770051104052e

 

…………………………………………….

 


- BBC were warned from 2002 that UN statistics looked better if poor died.

- BBC were warned from 2003 that UN poverty claims unreliable.

- World leaders in 2000 pledged to save around five million more children by 2015 than the BBC implies in its news and analysis.

- BBC ignored complaints on Millennium pledge baseline error beginning on 6 February 2014 on fact-checking programme More or Less broadcast to poor countries.  False statements continued. 

- On 19 June 2015, BBC Trustees made what may be the only correct statement about the Millennium child mortality pledge anywhere on the BBC website in response to one complaint, but refused to look at others.

- The Trustees did not require the BBC to tell the public what the Millennium pledges are even though it was clear that

a) the BBC had understated them for years;

b) a large amount of BBC material refers to goals or promises set in 2000 without stating correctly what they are;

c) the Trustees had been shown for the one complaint they did consider, that Woman's Hour material falsely claimed "
In 2000, the UN adopted eight Millenium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015." 

- After the Trustees' statement, the World Service repeatedly made false statements that the generally easier MDGs were set in 2000.   The Trustees claimed to have presented the complainant's argument, but in reality ignored it:  a substantial proportion of listeners are likely to think BBC is referring to world leaders' pledges.  They reaffirmed the pledges in 2005 and 2013.
 
- Official progress reports on MDG1 do not use estimates of prices faced by the poor as claimed by the BBC More or Less "Editor's Choice" article.  Experts cited in the article: World Bank, ex-World Bank, World Bank partner, ex-World Bank.  The World Bank and UN methodology notes contradict the BBC.

- The BBC repeated wrong global "safe water target success" claims even after upholding complaint.

- BBC fact-checking team says extreme poverty target "met" but wrongly states that Bank take costs of shelter etc into account

- BBC reported easier hunger "target" than leaders pledged in 1996

- BBC More or Less "sleuths" including ex-World Bank presenter, in programme with World Bank/ex-World Bank/World Bank partner guests, claim to have "discovered" a problem actually in World Bank press release.

- Same programme: Ex-World Bank economist presenter "scrutinised" World Bank poverty claims.  Guests: World Bank economist, ex-World Bank economist, World Bank partner economist. 
Programme falsely claimed that World Bank estimates prices of "essential goods"; exaggerated poverty fall by giving wrong "dollar" level.  Linked to programme falsely claiming World Bank global poverty trend claims take into account cost of shelter and other basics.  

- BBC2:  Hans Rosling presented World Bank estimates despite telling the Guardian they were "plus or minus half a billion";  claimed half the world was on ten times the "dollar a day" level when official statistic was 3.4x by confusing household survey data with GDP, ignoring warning in own data source.

- "Independent" editorial complaints unit rejects complaint about error it made itself, even after being told. 

- ECU fails to reply to complaints after 3 years.  Ignores false claim that UN poverty estimates are based on prices of a "basket of food";  fails to answer complaints on "Bank/ex-Bank speaker imbalance". 

- Complaints unit promises reply on its potential conflict of interest after own error, but never answers the allegation.




 

 

Same-day telegram 24 September 2015 to Tony Hall, Director-General, BBC:

Bold and underlining added later:

 

 

 

 

Dear Lord Hall,

BBC understates current UN pledges to poor

The BBC and Trust have still provided no evidence that the UN
agreed the MDG targets around 2000
, or addressed the
complaints about material with more explicit errors than those
considered by Trustees.


The UN Library have so far failed to back up the BBC's version.

millenniumdeclaration.org/unlibrary.htm

I have received a response from the Trust Unit to my appeal on
case 1300394.   But the ECU had not made decisions on many of
my complaints about the baseline, or about the programme
"Don't Panic
".

Other complaints
remain completely unanswered at stage 1
- see poornews.org .

Yours sincerely,

Matt Berkley

 

 

……………………………………..

 

 

Same-day telegram 23 September 2015 to Tony Hall, Director-General, BBC:

Bold and underlining added later:

 

 

 

 

 

BBC set to mislead again at UN Summit, on existing pledges and
poverty statistics. Please ensure BBC desists, and remedy.

19/6/15: Following complaints, ESC finally recognise that
1990-baseline MDG 4 [proposed in 2001] is not the more
ambitious Millennium Declaration pledge. Trustees can point to
no resolution
for their claim that UN "committed" to the easier
baseline in 2001
BBC still persist that the 2000 agreement -
which was in fact reaffirmed in 2013 - agreed the easier MDGs.
This undermines democratic accountability.

25/7/13: News Online upheld complaint, changing article to
reflect that UN do not estimate progress on "clean" water.
BBC persists
.
8/11/12: More or Less editor upheld complaint, changing
Editor's Choice web page on global poverty to reflect that UN
do not estimate inflation faced by the extremely poor.
11/11/12: More or Less article same error.  Complaint was not
correctly described.  Other complaints on More or Less and
global poverty, and other output, never answered.
BBC has continued to broadcast and publish misleading
information despite further complaints.  That is why I
interrupted the Select Committee meeting last week. Details
are at poornews.org and ungoals.org, and with ECU and
Trust Unit. Yours sincerely, Matt Berkley

 

 

 

 

 

 


22 September 2015 at 08:41
Fwd: Red flag complaint unanswered? Risk of repeating significant error this week
To: FranUnsworth&PA@bbc.co.uk, james.harding01@bbc.co.uk, nicola.meyrick@bbc.co.uk, tony.hall@bbc.co.uk, jessica.cecil@bbc.co.uk, david.jordan@bbc.co.uk

 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Matt Berkley
22 September 2015 at 08:10
Red flag complaint unanswered? Risk of repeating significant error this week
To: fran.unsworth@bbc.co.uk, bbcworldnews@bbc.com, bbcworld@bbc.co.uk, worldservice.letters@bbc.co.uk, james.harding@bbc.co.uk, mary.hockaday@bbc.co.uk

Dear Ms Unsworth, Mr Harding and Ms Hockaday,

The Editorial Standards Committee of the BBC Trust, in its bulletin of June/July 2015, accepted that the Millennium Declaration of 2000 did not, as the BBC has reported over the years, set a 1990 baseline.  What this means is that the BBC has understated world leaders' pledges to the poorest people on earth. 

Details are at poornews.org and ungoals.org .

Below are some details of unanswered complaints to BBC World News.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Berkley

 

 


---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: bbc_complaints_website@bbc.co.uk
11 August 2015
BBC Complaints - Case number CAS-3430697-YFGJN9

...YOUR COMPLAINT:

...Further to complaint CAS-3430579-YK1JHW and unanswered complaint CAS-3340770-ZFKF11 of 9 June 2015:

Currently, the BBC seems set to make misleading and/or false statements in its reporting of the September UN Summit. It did so in 2010.

BBC World News America 30 June and July 2: similar problem. https://archive.org/details/tv?q=millennium&fq=program:%22BBC+World+News+America%22&time=2015 .


....

From: Matt Berkley <mattberkley@gmail.com>
3 November 2014 at 16:14
Further complaint: Wrong baseline for Millennium Declaration pledges
To: ECUdl@bbc.co.uk, bbcworld@bbc.co.uk, swahili@bbc.co.uk, portuguese@bbc.co.uk, fergus.walsh@bbc.co.uk


Dear all,

Factual error on Millennium Declaration baseline

Further to my previous complaints to the ECU and BBC World News, I am waiting for replies on the problem I first drew to the attention of Mr Steel in February.

...The reality is that in 2000 leaders pledged mortality reductions from "current rates", not the generally easier baseline of 1990.

http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.pdf

...I do not wish to assign unfair blame to journalists who have reasonably trusted what other parts of the BBC have reported.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Berkley




27/10/2014
To: ECUdl@bbc.co.uk, bbcworld@bbc.co.uk

> Dear Mr Steel and BBC World News staff,
>
> Recent examples of BBC giving impression of wrong baseline for
> Millennium Declaration pledges
>
> As I have stated in previous complaints to the ECU, the easier
> backdated baseline of 1990 in the "MDG" structure proposed in 2001 is
> not, as the BBC has repeatedly given the public to believe, in the
> Millennium Declaration adopted by world leaders in 2000.
>
> BBC World News, BBC America 16/9/14, from around 7.51 am EDT
> Caption: "in the year 2000, world leaders made a series of pledges
> known as the millennium development goals. one was to cut child
> mortality.  the target was a  2/3 reduction."
> https://archive.org/details/BBCAMERICA_20140916_110000_BBC_World_News?q=%22millennium+development%22#start/3105/end/3165
....

>
> In 2000 leaders pledged mortality reductions from "current rates".
>
> http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.pdf
>
> The "MDG" mortality targets proposed by the Secretary-General in 2001
> specify the same reductions, but with baselines of 1990.  Most
> countries saw falls in mortality rates between 1990 and 2000.  So
> those targets are generally easier than the pledges.
>
.....
> I submit that it would have been reasonable to expect BBC journalists
> to be aware of the need to check the veracity of claims from UNICEF
> after it claimed in 2012 to know numbers of people who had access to
> "safe" water.
>
> http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2012/drinking_water_20120306/en/
>
> The MDG indicator, and the data, are not on safety.
>
> In February 2014, and in subsequent communications, I requested the
> BBC Editorial Complaints Unit to investigate other instances of the
> baseline problem.
>
> Yours sincerely,
>
> Matt Berkley
>
> All communications will need to be by email.
>


>
> On 13/08/2014, Matt Berkley <mattberkley@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Dear Mr Steel,
>>
>> Thank you for your email.
>>
>> I attach further evidence and complaints on an impression that MDG
>> targetsare what was pledged by world leaders in 2000.
>>
>> Yours sincerely,
>>
>> Matt Berkley
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On 11/08/2014, ECU <ECUdl@bbc.co.uk> wrote:
>>> Dear Mr Berkley
>>>
>>> I'm sorry not to have replied before now.  I'm afraid we're unseasonably
>>> busy, and my correspondence isn't as punctual as it should be.  I'll try
>>> to
>>> give you a substantive reply this week.
>>>
>>> Yours sincerely
>>>
>>> Fraser Steel
>>>
>>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: mattberkley@gmail.com

>>> Sent: 11 August 2014 08:49
>>> To: ECU
>>> Subject: Possible ECU conflict of interest
>>>
>>> Dear Mr Steel,
>>>
>>> I have yet to receive a reply from you on, among other matters, the
>>> possibility of past or future conflict of interest for the ECU in
>>> dealing with my complaints.
>>>
>>> Where relevant in the email of 3 August below, references to the ECU
>>> role should be taken to refer to the BBC Executive.
>>>
>>> I look forward to your replies.
>>>
>>> Yours sincerely,
>>>
>>> Matt Berkley
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> On 3 August 2014 19:17, Matt Berkley wrote:
>>>

 

 

 

---------- Forwarded message ----------


Date: 13 August 2015 at 15:26
Subject: Re: No reply at Stage 1a [...on other complaints]
To: ECU <ECUdl@bbc.co.uk>

Dear Mr Steel,

I do not think it sensible to rule out the possibility that the ECU's failure to respond to complaints may be due to knowledge, conscious or unconscious, of its own error in a published ruling on a related matter.  

I cannot appeal a decision to the Trust on any complaints about lack of impartiality such as "Bank/ex-Bank speaker imbalances, including presenter" - an ex-World Bank economist assessing World Bank research while asking a World Bank and ex-World Bank economist, the other contributors to a related article being an ex-World Bank economist and a World Bank partner organisation head   - if the ECU has not made a decision

 

Nor can I appeal an ECU decision about the BBC using a variety of language - "persistent....etc" - to imply that the World Bank has estimated prices faced by extremely poor people. 

 

I am afraid there may have been further misunderstandings.

 

The BBC has hardly begun to answer the complaint of 27 March 2012 or the additions of 1 November which together with it constitute the complaint at stage 1a.


I complained to the ECU about impartiality, not just inaccuracy. 

You have written " the other matters you associated with [More or Less of 3 March 2012]".  

 

The first of the guidelines I mentioned in my complaint were "Accuracy, including links". The BBC itself associated the programme with an older series.  The More or Less programme page for 3 March 2012 said, "Listen to the documentary series" and linked to it.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120306112550/http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00p34zj

That series made the same error as the ECU had in a published ruling, of overvaluing the "dollar a day" by typically perhaps 80-200%.  


The series also made a similar error as More or Less of 3 March 2012, in claiming the World Bank takes costs of basics into account when claiming a poverty decline.  Clearly, that implies the researchers considered both prices faced and amounts needed.  Neither is true. 


These matters are important because information about them influences not only citizens' ideas about the World Bank claims but also beliefs about their own governments' claims about progress or policy success.

 

The BBC has told citizens that economists generally have information on prices faced by the extremely poor.  It has produced no evidence for this.  A link in the article of 9 March 2012 is to a World Bank briefing which mentions the methodology paper.  That paper clearly does not support the BBC position

The BBC website has one "Editor's Choice" for global poverty.

It states there are estimates of prices faced by the extremely poor over the last 20 years, from prices collected by the World Bank "dollar a day" team for "goods" in "developing countries", using "household surveys" and "census data" to price a "basket of food".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17312819

The official World Bank and UN descriptions do not.

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEC/Resources/DevelopingworldispoorerQJE.pdf

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Metadata.aspx


I consider it improper for the ECU to be the final arbiter for the BBC Executive of a complaint which covers a programme debunking the ECU's own error, a programme making the same error, and other matters. 


 

The Executive has committed itself to reading all older complaints to determine seriousness.

 

The Trust has decided that complaints to other parts of the BBC will be sent to Audience Services

 

The ECU has not denied a possible conflict of interest or threat to independence of mind due to an ECU error on a Millennium Development Goal indicator.   The ECU has not commented on whether it is the right part of the BBC to deal with other complaints from the same complainant.  

 

You have stated more than once that you have found the complaints difficult to understand.  Apart from incorrect statements, the BBC has apparently always failed to note the difference between world leaders' pledges in 2000 to reduce "of their current rates" and MDG targets "between 1990 and 2015". 

The omission is easy to check: the phrase "of their current rates" in the context of mortality pledges occurs either rarely or never on the BBC website.

 

I propose that you pass all the complaints from me - including the unanswered complaints about More or Less falsely referring to a World Bank "basket of food" used by the "dollar a day" researchers from around 1990, to BBC senior management.

 

More or Less finally presented a view on 3 July 2015 that I gave the BBC beginning in 2003 - that the World Bank claims are unreliable.

 

The BBC might take this as supporting a view that, contrary to what you say, investigating my complaints, including of failure to ask whether "the target's been met" or whether the statistics are reliable, is not a waste of money. 

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Matt Berkley

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 September 2015 at 12:27
Urgent: BBC set to misrepresent existing UN pledges again during next week's Summit
To: david.jordan@bbc.co.uk, jessica.cecil@bbc.co.uk, trust.editorial@bbc.co.uk, trust.enquiries@bbc.co.uk, ECU <ECUdl@bbc.co.uk>, James.Purnell@bbc.co.uk, paul.smith@bbc.co.uk, worldservice.letters@bbc.co.uk


Dear Mr Jordan, Ms Cecil, Mr Towers, Ms O'Brien, Ms Fairhead, Mr Ayre, Mr Steel, Mr Purnell, and Mr Smith,

Broadcast correction before 24 September:  International commitments on poverty, and claims of progress.

Is the following not true?

Understating government commitments to the poorest people on earth amounts to taking away some of the little political power they have.


In 2013, David Cameron and other leaders reaffirmed the Millennium Declaration, containing pledges with baselines not of 1990 but 2000.

http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/Outcome%20documentMDG.pdf

http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm

It should not be difficult to confirm the BBC's error. 


The BBC has understated and given understated impressions of world leaders' Millennium commitments to the poorest, which in reality leaders reaffirmed in 2005 and 2013.

It has done so repeatedly, despite complaints and a relevant statement in a BBC Trust Editorial Standards Committee ruling.
 
I attach further documentary evidence on what governments have pledged.

Other relevant evidence is at millenniumdeclaration.org and poornews.org .

UN members did not, as the BBC and the Trust claim or imply, agree generally easier Millennium Development Goal targets fourteen or fifteen years ago.  They agreed, and reaffirmed, the Millennium Declaration. 

Leaders mentioned the Millennium Development Goals in 2005.  However, they at the same time reaffirmed the Declaration which has more ambitious 2000 baselines.

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Attach/Indicators/ares60_1_2005summit_eng.pdf


In effect they also reaffirmed the still more ambitious World Food Summit goal of reducing the 1996 number of hungry people by half (paragraph 17 states a determination to fufil goals of other major summits) to, by current official FAO estimates and methods, 500 million people compared to the 800 million now estimated.

From the evidence in the attached document, it may take you no longer than thirty seconds to see that the General Assembly continued to agree the Declaration.  The following is a very small selection of the BBC's errors.  Others are at and via the websites above.

The leaders' pledges reaffirmed in 2013 do not use "1990 as a benchmark" as the BBC's "MDG website claims:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specials/1112_mdg/
- repeated at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/in_depth/africas_challenges/html/5.stm

For the 2005 Summit the BBC blurred the line between the 2000-baseline pledges and the easier MDG targets:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specials/1817_wawryw/page5.shtml

For the 2010 Summit the BBC did the same:
"Forged amidst the enthusiasm and optimism of a new millennium, they were the first ever [!] set of shared development goals at international level."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/ferguswalsh/2010/09/global_health_declaration_-_ten_years_on.html

http://www.bbc.com/mundo/internacional/2010/09/100916_milenio_objetivos_onu_economia_mj.shtml

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11378604

More or Less of 10 March 2012 wrongly claimed the MDGs were agreed by all the countries of the UN in 2000.

It is not clear on what basis of actual UN resolutions More or Less broadcast 3 July 2015 claimed the MDGs were agreed "around 2000".  Its programme page has a clearer error.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vmb62

The MDG targets were not established by the UN in 2000:
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/mediaaction/policybriefing/bbc_media_action_health_on_the_move.pdf , note 1.

After the complaints system repeatedly failed to give responses, I sent complaints on this to the Editorial Complaints Unit beginning on 6 February 2014, and later to other parts of the BBC.

The BBC kept on giving false information: for example, the MDGs were "pledges" agreed in "2000". 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-politics-31798171

The BBC Trust has committed to the public that all complaints on older material will be read to determine seriousness, and that all complaints received by other parts of the BBC will be forwarded to Audience Services for logging. 

After my complaint, the BBC continued to broadcast and publish misleading and false information on the international commitments, in a variety of languages.  

The complaint of 9 June 2015 is one example of many not answered - in this case despite a message to the Director-General:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/aboutthebbc/entries/6d70efd6-c5ba-4e25-8eb2-69fb35fb5348?sortBy=Created&sortOrder=Ascending&filter=none

It may take no longer than ten minutes to see that you need to broadcast a correction before the UN Summit next week.

I have yet to receive from the BBC Executive a specific response as to why it has not risked a lack of independence from the Editorial Complaints Unit
a) determining the outcome of complaints,
b) refusing to investigate, and
c) failing to ensure replies to complaints
on Millennium Goal indicators, after I pointed out its own error in a published ruling of 2005.

In that ruling it overvalued the World Bank "dollar a day" by a factor in the range of typically 80-200%.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/pdf/ecu_julsep2005.pdf

http://millenniumdeclaration.org/Matt%20Berkley%20comments%20on%20BBC%20Stage%202%20provisional%20response%20with%20added%20emphasis.%20%20BBC%20ref.%201300394.doc  , note vii.


I propose that BBC Executive inquiries in this area be carried out by people who have not made or allowed related misinformation.

I propose that the BBC Executive and the Trust review the complaints, given implications for journalistic strategy and governance.

It does not seem clear to me that I have, as the Editorial Complaints Unit has claimed, appealed all of the complaints about the baseline to the Trust.   But by any common sense such technicalities should not matter.  It is obvious that the BBC has misled the public. 


In my email of 16 September to Ms Fairhead via trust.enquiries@bbc.co.uk I mentioned disrespect to people the BBC claims to inform.   Let me be clear: 

The BBC has understated government pledges to the poorest people on earth.

The BBC has overstated reliability and relevance of official measures on progress.

The BBC has risked to a significant degree promoting misconceptions on policy success or failure.

The BBC has promoted misconceptions on the trustworthiness of politicians, journalists, academics, civil servants and others.  

The BBC has persisted in a variety of misinformation on extreme poverty, including on "safe" water, even after correcting some web pages after complaints. 

It is not difficult to see the following:

Misconceptions on progress, policy success or trustworthiness of governments can lead to worse policy, worse government or misinformed voting.

If you persist in broadcasting and publishing error, you are knowingly disregarding potential suffering which may result.

If you report governments' or intergovernment agencies' statistics without considering whether they make sense, or are reliable, or whether the small print or real-life considerations are important, you risk causing real suffering to real people. 

I suggest that for next week you prioritise broadcast correction on government commitments, with prominence appropriate to counteracting the wrong impression given over many years.  

Otherwise you will have provided misinformation on even your own political leaders' commitments - pledges by Tony Blair and David Cameron -  and then failed to provide the facts, in effect stealing political power from hungry people.


Yours sincerely,


Matt Berkley



---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: 16 September 2015 at 20:36
Subject: Fwd: Urgent: BBC set to misreport UN pledges again at next week's Summit
To: trust.enquiries@bbc.co.uk


Dear Ms Fairhead,

Thank you for your attention yesterday outside Portcullis House, on the BBC's errors about Millennium Declaration pledges.

The problems might raise questions of governance, news strategy and/or adequacy of the complaints system authorised by the Trust.

The BBC has repeatedly stated, and implied, that Millennium pledges have easier baselines than is in fact the case, and failed to reply to complaints on this since February 2014. 

The evidence I mentioned to you is here.

http://web.archive.org/web/20150821152153/http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbctrust/entries/3950cd25-1120-46b3-9fe0-a9259677adfa

As you can see, the relevance of my comments to your blog post is that the BBC is proposing to extend iPlayer and/or CBBC output, and I am pointing out defects in quality which might indicate a better target for expenditure and/or consideration.

The BBC has also reported non-existent statistics for "safe" water, and claimed there are price data for a "basket of essential goods" since "a couple of decades ago".   The errors have appeared even after the BBC altered web pages in response to complaints from me.

Complaints beginning in May 2012 concerning factual errors, range of views and range of contributors in More or Less have hardly begun to be answered.   Other complaints, submitted because the originals were not answered, have been entirely ignored. 

In my view broadcasting false information on government pledges and evidence for progress counteracts more useful work done by BBC Media Action and the BBC's charity efforts.  It undermines democracy and is astoundingly disrespectful of people the BBC claims to inform.


Further evidence is at:

poornews.org

Yours sincerely

Matt Berkley

 

---------- Forwarded message ----------


Date: 15 September 2015 at 16:40
Subject: Urgent: BBC set to misreport UN pledges again at next week's Summit
To: Trust Editorial <TrustEditorial@bbc.co.uk>, James.Purnell@bbc.co.uk

Dear Mr Towers, Ms O'Brien and Mr Purnell,

I am afraid the ESC, as well as the BBC Executive, seems to have misled the public. 

 

There was no UN "commitment" to the MDGs in 2001.  That is why the UN Statistics Division does not list any such resolution.

 

http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mdg/Host.aspx?Content=/Products/GAResolutions.htm

 

The resolution which some people think agreed the MDGs is 56/95 of 14 December 2001. 

 

http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Static/Products/GAResolutions/56_95/a_res56_95e.pdf

 

It mentions the Secretary-General's 58-page "Road Map" but does not say whether it was interested in other parts or the annex containing the MDGs.

The ESC stated on 19 June 2015:

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/appeals/esc_bulletins/2015/june_july.pdf

"In the following year, 2001, the UN published a Road Map..."

I am afraid that does not seem clear enough when we are discussing UN commitments.  It was the Secretary-General's Road Map, not the nations'.   It was a document written by civil servants, making proposals to the General Assembly.

The ESC stated,

 

"It can be seen therefore that by changing the base line for measuring the reduction of under-five child mortality deaths to the year 1990, the target set in 2001 was a less demanding commitment than that made in 2000."

Firstly, there were no 1990 baselines for any of the goals in the Declaration.  Reuters, The Economist, the Times of India, the New York Times and so on said it had 2000 baselines.  The BBC's error is not only about child mortality. 

 

Secondly, the ESC's statement seems clearly to say that there was a commitment in 2001 to the easier baseline. 

 

In reality, far from changing the commitment, the same resolution of 14 December 2001 called for the Declaration to be publicised;  and more than one resolution of 21 December 2001 reaffirmed the Declaration - as did leaders in 2005 at the World Summit, in 2013 and in effect in July 2015, when the Addis Ababa conference reaffirmed the Monterrey Consensus.

 

But all you really need to know for this particular point is that the BBC Trust is unable to produce any evidence for its message to the public that the easier baselines were agreed by the UN in 2001. 

 

Even when they mentioned the MDGs in 2005 leaders reaffirmed the Declaration in the same resolution.

 

The Executive, as I said, has repeatedly given the public the impression  - after the Trustees acknowledged the baseline change - that the easier MDGs were agreed by leaders in 2000.   I confirm that the Today programme on 30 June and 1 July (8.35am and 7.35am) gave a similar impression.  BBC World News likewise.

 

The Executive has persistently failed to respond to complaints on these matters.

 

I do not know why Mr Steel has written to me as if I appealed all my complaints to the Trust.  I propose that the Trust immediately require the Executive to review the baseline error, using the evidence I previously supplied to the Trust Unit, for a possible broadcast correction before the Summit.   So far both the ESC and the Executive have been misleading not only the public but also the BBC's own journalists.

 

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

Matt Berkley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

………………………………………………………….

 

 

 

 

More errors by the fact-checking programme More or Less

 

Unanswered and unacknowledged complaint sent 15 August 2015 via BBC complaints system web form, very similar to the following:

 

 

Major matter.

Please see CAS-3340770, 3430579.


More or Less 3/7/15; related text.


May add to impression that UN members are committed only to relevant MDG targets.

More or Less 10/3/12 stated that in 2000 members agreed 1990-2015.

Millennium Declaration has 2000 baseline: c.3.5 M child deaths in 2015;
MDG target is 1990-2015, 4.3 M.

 


Widely-distributed 3/7/15 programme/podcast descriptions - signposts for audience:

"at Summit UN set 8 goals [!]...They [!] became known as MDGs...how did we do?". 

Programme does not look at 2000-2015 goals even though guest said did not want MD to be forgotten.

 

Instead of reporting baseline scandal or correcting errors after complaints, BBC featured ex-civil servant who agreed baseline change w/out Assembly authority.

Other guest is ex-UN, heads UN expert group, co-leads UNDP survey.

 

Telling general public the truth could be difficult for both.

 

$1.25 was *lowered* from US-inflation-adjusted $1.45.

 

UN says hunger "almost halved". UN:1991:18.6%, 2001:14.9%, 2015:10.9%.

 

"Amount WB [World Bank] thinks you need...to have basic needs met [!]...calc'ns to try to adjust for econ conditions [?] and prices [?] in every country": may mislead, perhaps not well sourced.
What evidence that WB adjust for needs, costs, or prices faced by poor?

On prices and need see the largely unanswered complaint to Richard Vadon 1 November 2012 and comments on ECU provisional response 1300394.


Guests were informed in 2000, c.2003 of MDG problem: stats look better if poor die.

 

 

 

 

………………………………………………………….

 

 

 

URL for page stating that above complaint was submitted on 15 August 2015 at around 00.10: 

https://ssl.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/review/?id=UJVD7KV3SO9PVNKC25JLUJ09AO&uid=622663514#anchor

 

 

………………………………………………………….

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following may be the only reasonably accurate statement or evidence on the BBC website on what national leaders pledged on poverty at the UN in 2000. 

It was removed by the BBC.

 

 

http://web.archive.org/web/20150821152153/http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbctrust/entries/3950cd25-1120-46b3-9fe0-a9259677adfa

 

 

[Start of comment to Chair of BBC Trust.  Comment later removed by BBC as irrelevant to the public consultation on the extension of CBBC hours.  It was relevant to decisions whether it is better value to spend money on more hours or more quality.]

The BBC implies that world leaders in 2000 resolved to bring the number of deaths of children under five years old to below 4.3 million in 2015. The pledge was around 3.5 million. Assuming constant progress, the difference between the pledge and the BBC claimed pledge is about 5 million child deaths.


27 March 2000:
"Let us resolve therefore:
- To halve, by the time this century is 15 years old, the proportion of the world's people (currently 22 per cent) whose income is less than one dollar a day.
- To halve, by the same date, the proportion of people (currently 20 per cent) who are unable to reach, or to afford, safe drinking water."

Secretary-General, Millennium Report
www.un.org/en/events/pastevents/pdfs/We_The_Peoples.pdf
/web/20150821152153/http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un/unpan000923.pdf


8 September 2000:
"We, Heads of State and Government...resolve…by the year 2015...
to have reduced maternal mortality by three quarters, and under-five child mortality by two thirds, of their current rates."


6 September 2001: The Secretary-General proposed the Millennium Development Goal framework in a "Road Map".

6 November 2001: "In two cases–maternal mortality and under-five mortality–the term "current rates" is used, directly specifying a 2000 baseline. For the remainder, the targets are stated in the form of "to halve by 2015…" This would imply a 2000 baseline year of the Millennium Declaration. After discussions within the UN system and with other partners, the issues have been resolved in favour of 1990 serving as the baseline year."

UN Development Group
[committee of heads of UN funds, programmes and departments concerned with development chaired by head of UN Development Programme, Mark Malloch Brown]
Country Reporting on the Millennium Development Goals
Guidance Note to UN country representatives, October 2001
/web/20150821152153/http://web.archive.org/web/*//web/20150821152153/http://undg.org/archive_docs/2356-English.doc
/web/20150821152153/http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/MDG/english/MDG%20Country%20Reports/MDG%20Reporting%20Guidelines/1.%20English.pdf
Sent by UNDG chairman Mark Malloch Brown and three other heads of UN agencies on 6 November 2001:
/web/20150821152153/http://web.archive.org/web/20140815174058//web/20150821152153/http://www.undg.org/archive_docs/1607-MDGs_-_letter_-_MDGs_-_letter.pdf


14 December 2001: General Assembly recommended

"that the "road map" be considered as a useful guide in the implementation of the Millennium Declaration.".

The resolution did not mention "MDGs", eight goals, or 1990. It called for the Declaration, which has a 2000 baseline, to be better publicised.
/web/20150821152153/http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/56/95&Lang=E

The next week the Assembly reaffirmed the Declaration - as did leaders in 2005 and 2013.


2011: “The Declaration...should not be confused with the very specific and time-bound set of indicators which comprise the 8 MDGs and 21 targets...
...2005 World Summit Outcome document [adopted by world leaders] reaffirms the UN Millennium Declaration on the first page, but only begrudgingly recognizes the MDGs in paragraph seventeen"

Andy Sumner and Claire Melamed
2011
Published by Overseas Development Institute and United Nations Development Programme
www.odi.org/resources/docs/7369.pdf


2015: "Fifteen years ago at the Millennium Summit the United Nations set eight goals [!] for addressing extreme poverty.
They [!] became known as the Millennium Development Goals. [!]
A deadline of 2015 was set to achieve what the UN said were ‘quantified targets’ – so how did we do?"

BBC World Service - More or Less, programme description. The programme deals with 1990 baselines.
3 July 2015
Guest: Claire Melamed
/web/20150821152153/http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vmb62

 

[end of comment to Chair of BBC Trust]

 

 

……………………………………….

 

 

 

Email to Director of BBC Trust Unit and Head of Editorial Standards

18 August 2015 at 17:18
Subject: BBC Trust discretionary powers in cases of serious and/or urgent editorial problems
To: trust.editorial@bbc.co.uk

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/images/cleardot.gif

Dear Mr Towers and Ms O'Brien,

 

I have requested an editorial appeal today.

 

I expect by now you are familiar with the BBC's widespread error as to the content of the Millennium pledges. 

 

You may know that after the Editorial Standards Committee sent out a decision on 19 June stating that the child mortality pledge was more ambitious than the later Millennium Development Goal target, the World Service continued to confuse the pledges with the easier targets.

I have complained to the BBC about material I found with this error.

It may already be clear that providing misleading information to citizens in poor countries - and rich countries - on government commitments is a serious matter, undermining democracy and, if uncorrected, journalistic integrity.

 

The same might apply to the provision of incorrect information about the factual basis of official statements about progress on poverty, or the evidence available to governments and others when claiming policy successes. 

 

Among the complaints I associated with More or Less of 3 March 2012 in my correspondence on case 1300394, I complained that a fact-checking programme had misstated the baseline for a Millennium Declaration pledge.   Perhaps it was not clear to members of the ESC that world leaders reaffirmed this pledge in 2005 and 2013, or that the consensus among Reuters, the Times of India, the Guardian, the Independent and the Economist in 2000 was that pledges other than on survival rates had a 2000 baseline. 

 

As you will appreciate, appeal to the ESC is the course of action which the BBC Trust presents. 

 

However, it may be that Trustees or the Trust Unit have relevant discretionary powers. 

 

If they do, then I propose that the BBC Executive be advised of the complaints with a view to investigation and if considered appropriate, remedial action in good time for the UN Summit in September.

 

I refer to a message to the Director-General of 2 August, below.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Matt Berkley

 


 

---------- Forwarded message ----------

 

From: Matt Berkley
Date: 18 August 2015 at 12:54
Subject: Fwd: No reply at Stage 1a: complaints to ECU, BBC World, World Service or Audience Services. CAS-3340770-ZFKF11 and others
To: trust.editorial@bbc.co.uk

Dear Ms Clarke,

 

I wish to appeal the decisions by the Editorial Complaints Unit not to authorise broadcast corrections, rule that there was a lack of impartiality or take other action in case 1300394. ....

 

 

..................................

 

 

1. Posted by Matt Berkley on 2 Aug 2015 06:26

Dear Lord Hall,

A recent search for "poverty" on the BBC website showed one "Editor's Choice" page for global poverty. It was amended following a complaint. It still claims, falsely, that there are data on prices faced by extremely poor people since around 1990 using "household surveys" and a "basket of food".

The BBC's output on Millennium Development Goals, which have a standard baseline of 1990, has consistently and falsely claimed they were set in 2000 - which is when leaders set a 2000 baseline.

I suggest that if you do not ensure these and related complaints are answered in good time for the UN Summit in September, by a part of the BBC which has not itself published an error about an MDG indicator, you personally risk bringing the BBC into disrepute.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Berkley

www.millenniumdeclaration.org
poorscience.org


http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/aboutthebbc/entries/4fb15f67-dd06-464c-afd1-5a83ea893200?postId=122565804&initial_page_size=20#comment_122565804

 

 

 

Date: 18 August 2015
To: trust.editorial@bbc.co.uk

Dear Ms Clarke,

 

I wish to appeal the decisions by the Editorial Complaints Unit not to authorise broadcast corrections, rule that there was a lack of impartiality or take other action in case 1300394.

In the correspondence, I have emphasised in bold text and underlining some points the Trust may wish to consider.

As regards the independence or otherwise of the ECU in dealing with these complaints, I refer the Trustees to my email to the Trust Unit of 27 May 2015 15:53, " No reply from Trust Unit or ECU on potential ECU conflict of interest" and the correspondence mentioned in it.

In light of the BBC's catastrophic error on the Millennium pledges - falsely implying that world leaders pledged 4.3 million child deaths in 2015 when the truth is 3.6, and making other errors on baselines for hunger, water, money and other government commitments - the complaint I made about More or Less confusing goals and targets pales into relative insignificance.  But it does contribute to the overall failure to challenge.  

 

We might think that it is unwise to trust official statistics without further thought in any case, and that an investigative programme should have taken more care.

 

I submit that the complaints are serious enough that the older material deserves consideration.

 

[I attach some draft notes for the appeal which should not be taken as making definitive statements, but which contain relevant evidence.]

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Matt Berkley

 

 

Original complaint at Stage 2 to Mr Steel and Ms Cecil 6 December 2012 2.docx

 

Matt Berkley comments on BBC Stage 2 provisional response with added emphasis. BBC ref. 1300394.doc

 

Transcript of More or Less 3 March 2012.doc

 

Draft notes for appeal to BBC Trust 9.doc

 

 

 

 

………………………………………………………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unanswered complaint to BBC 23 August 2015 submitted via web form

Please see CAS3430579 etc and unacknowledged complaints c.12-15 August.

25/7/13: News Online email stated BBC corrected article: "clean" water statistics to "improved sources".  No final reply or ref. no. yet on complaint 11/7/13 via complaint form, re link to "water goal met" article.

19/6/15:ESC decision: Trustees state MDG4 easier than 2000 pledge.

bbc.co.uk/newsround/33382023 "Have we achieved MDGs?". "2000 [!]...189 countries agreed 8 [!] by 2015 called MDGs [!]...goal 4...5".  Misleads as elsewhere.

"goal in 2000...cut in half no. [! - %] with hunger...15 yrs later, no. on $1.25 cut in half."  Well-sourced? 1.MDG target is 25 yrs. 2.How can we know target met, if no stats on inflation faced by poor?  "safe water, clean home...In 2000, leaders agreed to try [!]...no. [%] suffering in this way by half. This target has been met". 1.MDG target as reported on, is 1990-2015; 2.No stats on water safety.  2nd clip: "1 in 8 don't have enough food". But estimates are only on calories.  FAO state "food inadequacy" is higher.

Report talks of causes of poverty. BBC are stopping people from holding govts to account by not giving correct information on pledges.

Links to: /newsround/17282732: "Safe [!] water targets...reached"

"88%...clean [!] water; 2 bn more..safe [!]" ">800m...dirty water".

programmes/p02w3ddk, newsround/33481418 may imply leaders in 2000 set the generally easier MDG targets. Clip, 45sec: "set 15 yrs ago" incorrect.  Evidence: by2015.org, [poornews.org]

 

 

……………………………………………….

 

 

 

In the Balance

Unanswered complaint to BBC 15 August 2015


[Note: MS is Mark Suzman, ex-UN Development Programme and now at the Gates Foundation, which wrongly tells the public that the generally easier MDG targets were set by leaders in 2000.

MMB is Mark Malloch Brown. In 2001 he was chairman of the UN Development Group, a committee of heads of UN funds and programmes.

On 6 November 2001 he, the head of UNICEF and two other heads instructed UN country staff that the standard baseline for reporting progress would be 1990.

UN staff had no authority from the General Assembly to do this.

Their note stated that the Millennium Declaration text "would imply" leaders' pledges were 2000-2015.

On 14 December 2001 the General Assembly "noted with appreciation" a staff report containing the MDG framework.
It recommended the report as a "useful guide".
It did not mention the annex containing the MDG list.
It did not mention 1990, eight goals, or MDGs.
It called for more publicity for the Declaration.

On 21 December 2001 the General Assembly reaffirmed the Millennium Declaration.

Leaders reaffirmed the Millennium Declaration in 2005 and 2013.]
 

 

Text of unanswered complaint:

 

World Service Radio
 
 
Misleading on UN pledges
 
 
In the Balance 4/7/15, bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vqp1z 
 
 
 
Please see CAS-3340770, 3430579, complaints of 14 and 15 July; there are others.
 
Cumulative effect: many examples notified to ECU [Editorial Complaints Unit], other staff from 6/2/14. 
 
Why not tell poor and rich people what their leaders pledged in 2000 and reaffirmed in 2013? 

 


 
BBC staff talk and write about goals set in 2000, but do not say what they are. 

 


 
Is that not disempowering, unfair, patronising, undemocratic, or a major journalistic failure? 

 


 
Did Trustees not tell BBC re 19 Jun decision where they stated difference? 
 
 
Instead of investigating baseline change and propaganda, BBC features an author of
that change, as did More or Less 3/7/15. 
 
 
Intro: Signpost - "Long hard look". 

 


 
But MDG targets were not "set up by UN in 2000". 
 
 
Extreme poverty goal "met in 2010"? 
 
How can I know, if no estimates of need or prices faced? 
 
 
"Deaths have halved" - Not in period "set up by UN in 2000".
 
 
4.30: "when you look back to 2000" 
 
MS: "at time MDGs were launched".
 
MMB: "Unrealistic" in 2000 then world took ownership? 

 


 
But UN STAFF CHANGED TARGETS TO SAME AS PAST TRENDS! 
 
 
MMB: "At the time of these goals being written in 2000" [!] . 
 
HE INSTRUCTED EXPLICIT BASELINE CHANGE ON 6 NOV 2001. 
 
 
Clearly people take "goals" to refer to the MDG targets. 

 


 
What is wrong with BBC journalists, managers and trustees that they do not
see it is against the principles of journalism to keep vulnerable people
in the dark? 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
Newspapers in 2000 stated pledges had 2000 baselines.

 

……………………………………………

 

 

 

BBC Trust Editorial Standards Committee, decision sent to complainant 19 June 2015:

"Millennium Declaration in 2000...commitments...
reducing child mortality by two thirds, of their current rates...
by changing the base line to 1990...the [MDG] target…was...less demanding…"

"Trustees... noted his concern that the BBC had made similar errors over many years
and that these had been the subject of other complaints”

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/appeals/esc_bulletins/2015/june_july.pdf

 

 

 

……………………………………………………..

 

Unanswered complaint, 14 August 2015:  Business Daily
Text similar to the following:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vmb4z




Intro: "number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved as the UN promised" -

a) not well-sourced:  World Bank does not consider changing needs or estimate changing prices faced by the poor.  There are no stats for clean water, so not known if basic needs met. 

b) The World Bank claim is not on actual UN promise of 2000 in Millennium Declaration - which does not have the easier 1990 baseline. 

Leaders reaffirmed promise which has 2000 baseline in 2005 and 2013.



Guest: "mainly we have to look at money".  But he told Guardian in May 2013 that World Bank poverty claims are "plus or minus half a billion".  GDP stats for poor countries are known to be unreliable. Professor Rosling has said that only MDG target well measured is child mortality.

c. 13.00:  "MDG 1, the most important one" ?  

Not easy to see a justification for that. 

Not well-sourced. 

Lack of balance in views presented.

 



"700M people fewer in extreme poverty 2010 than 1990"
. 

Not well-sourced.
Lack of balance of views. 
Stats known to be unreliable. 
UN  in 2000 made pledges with 2000 baseline, not 1990.

 

 

Details:

UN pledges: millenniumdeclaration.org 

World Bank does not use prices for poor for trend:  http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEC/Resources/DevelopingworldispoorerQJE.pdf http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Metadata.aspx

 

…………………………………………………………………..

 

URL for above complaint confirming acceptance by the BBC complaints system around 8.55 on 14 August 2015:

https://ssl.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/review/?id=GGU51MRINI6GMQU1I0P8RR8HCU&uid=962454628#anchor

 

 

…………………………………………………………………..

 

 

Unanswered complaint submitted to BBC Audience Services via complaints web form, about 17.06 on 13 August 2015

 

Further to complaint CAS-3430579-YK1JHW of 11 August and unanswered complaint CAS-3340770-ZFKF11 of 9 June 2015:

I have received no email acknowledgement of complaints yesterday which may cover similar problems in these two items:



http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vgft0 

- "promise back in 2000";

 


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vgftd :

Audio, 14 mins in:

"15 years ago UN made pledges with targets, MDGs [!]"

"the 15 yrs of the UN millennium goals" [?]

- similar error to More or Less on 10 March 2012.

 


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vjpfc:

Text incorrect:

"15 yrs ago UN pledged to cut global child mortality rate by 2/3 by end of 2015, but it is a Millennium Development Goal [!] ..."


Audio introduction:

"15 yrs ago"


But UN promise was not "between 1990 and 2010".

 

See email to ECU 30 June and unanswered complaint 9 June 2015:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/aboutthebbc/entries/6d70efd6-c5ba-4e25-8eb2-69fb35fb5348

 

…………………………………………….

 

 


2 September 2002
Subj: Poverty statistics
To: Alex Kirby, BBC Environment Correspondent ...

The proportion of poor in some countries may be reducing because of early deaths. ...
This is never taken into account in official calculations.


Above email sent following telephone discussion.


 

 

To head of BBC editorial complaints unit

13 August 2015 

Dear Mr Steel,

I do not think it sensible to rule out the possibility that the ECU's failure to respond to complaints may be due to knowledge, conscious or unconscious, of its own error in a published ruling on a related matter.

I cannot appeal a decision to the Trust on any complaints about lack of impartiality such as "Bank/ex-Bank speaker imbalances, including presenter" - an ex-World Bank economist assessing World Bank research while asking a World Bank and ex-World Bank economist, the other contributors to a related article being an ex-World Bank economist and a World Bank partner organisation head - if the ECU has not made a decision.

Nor can I appeal an ECU decision about the BBC using a variety of language - "persistent....etc" - to imply that the World Bank has estimated prices faced by extremely poor people.

I am afraid there may have been further misunderstandings.

The BBC has hardly begun to answer the complaint of 27 March 2012 or the additions of 1 November which together with it constitute the complaint at stage 1a.

I complained to the ECU about impartiality, not just inaccuracy.

You have written " the other matters you associated with [More or Less of 3 March 2012]".

The first of the guidelines I mentioned in my complaint were "Accuracy, including links". The BBC itself associated the programme with an older series. The More or Less programme page for 3 March 2012 said, "Listen to the documentary series" and linked to it.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120306112550/http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00p34zj

That series made the same error as the ECU had in a published ruling, of overvaluing the "dollar a day" by typically perhaps 80-200%.

The series also made a similar error as More or Less of 3 March 2012, in claiming the World Bank takes costs of basics into account when claiming a poverty decline. Clearly, that implies the researchers considered both prices faced and amounts needed. Neither is true.

These matters are important because information about them influences not only citizens' ideas about the World Bank claims but also beliefs about their own governments' claims about progress or policy success.

The BBC has told citizens that economists generally have information on prices faced by the extremely poor. It has produced no evidence for this. A link in the article of 9 March 2012 is to a World Bank briefing which mentions the methodology paper. That paper clearly does not support the BBC position.

The BBC website has one "Editor's Choice" for global poverty.

It states there are estimates of prices faced by the extremely poor over the last 20 years, from prices collected by the World Bank "dollar a day" team for "goods" in "developing countries", using "household surveys" and "census data" to price a "basket of food".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17312819

The official World Bank and UN descriptions do not.

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEC/Resources/DevelopingworldispoorerQJE.pdf

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Metadata.aspx

I consider it improper for the ECU to be the final arbiter for the BBC Executive of a complaint which covers a programme debunking the ECU's own error, a programme making the same error, and other matters.

The Executive has committed itself to reading all older complaints to determine seriousness.

The Trust has decided that complaints to other parts of the BBC will be sent to Audience Services.

The ECU has not denied a possible conflict of interest or threat to independence of mind due to an ECU error on a Millennium Development Goal indicator. The ECU has not commented on whether it is the right part of the BBC to deal with other complaints from the same complainant.

You have stated more than once that you have found the complaints difficult to understand. Apart from incorrect statements, the BBC has apparently always failed to note the difference between world leaders' pledges in 2000 to reduce "of their current rates" and MDG targets "between 1990 and 2015".

The omission is easy to check: the phrase "of their current rates" in the context of mortality pledges occurs either rarely or never on the BBC website.

I propose that you pass all the complaints from me - including the unanswered complaints about More or Less falsely referring to a World Bank "basket of food" used by the "dollar a day" researchers from around 1990, to BBC senior management.

More or Less finally presented a view on 3 July 2015 that I gave the BBC beginning in 2003 - that the World Bank claims are unreliable.

The BBC might take this as supporting a view that, contrary to what you say, investigating my complaints, including of failure to ask whether "the target's been met" or whether the statistics are reliable, is not a waste of money.


Yours sincerely

 

……………………………………………….

 

Unanswered complaint:  The Inquiry

From: bbc_complaints_website@bbc.co.uk
Date: 9 June 2015 at 10:03
Subject: BBC Complaints - Case number CAS-3340770-ZFKF11

...Thanks for contacting the BBC. This is an automated email ...

Understated impression of UN Summit pledges

Full Complaint:

Major matter.

There is likely to be little point answering this complaint by referring to secondary sources, because many of them make wrong statements.

Example of BBC output: World Service, The Inquiry, 2/515. The introduction's error gives a generally understated impression of leaders' pledges at the Millennium Summit. They did not agree a list of eight goals or mention "MDGs", but "resolved" "by the year 2015...to have reduced...under-five child mortality by two thirds, of ...current rates". http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm The MDG targets were proposed in 2001 without leaders discussing them at the UN until 2005. un.org/millenniumgoals/sgreport2001.pdf Some MDGs, such as on child mortalit have 1990-2015 targets. These pages have related mistakes: bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-politics-32883629 bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-32438104 bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02pn9c9 bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-politics-31798171 bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-31851587 The BBC has contributed to a similar wrong impression for years. I have yet to receive a substantive response from the head of the ECU to correspondence on this matter, with evidence, beginning on 6/2/14 in comments on provisional response 1300394. I refer also to unanswered handling complaint 3204842 mentioning "institutional failure" appealed to the Trust. A smaller error: The Inquiry states, similarly to its web page, "over the past 15 years child mortality has halved". The official global claim is for 1990-2015.

 

 

 

2000: "As leaders we have a duty therefore to...in particular, the children...
We resolve...by the year 2015...to have reduced child mortality by two thirds, of...
current rates
"

[to perhaps 3.5 million child deaths in 2015, or 9600 deaths a day]

http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm



 

2005: "We, Heads of State and Government...
reaffirm the Millennium Declaration"

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Attach/Indicators/ares60_1_2005summit_eng.pdf

 

2013: "We, the Heads of State and Government and heads of delegation...
reaffirm our commitment to the Millennium Declaration"

http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/Outcome%20documentMDG.pdf

 


"The United Nations General Assembly embraced the eight Goals

[target about 4.3 million child deaths in 2015, or 11800 a day]

only as late as October 2005."

Human Rights and the Millennium Development Goals in Practice:
A review of country strategies and reporting
United Nations, 2010
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/HRAndMDGsInPractice.pdf

 

 

 

"MDG framework...never endorsed as such by the General Assembly"

Richard Manning, former Director General, UK Department for International Development
2009
http://www.oecd.org/site/progresskorea/44117550.pdf

 

 

few observers ever noticed that the Millennium Declaration left considerable room for interpretation as to the level of ambition of the global targets.

It was left to the group of UN experts

[MB note: It was UN, World Bank, OECD, IMF]

to set the baseline year. The choice quickly fell on 1990, for two reasons. First, it proved unrealistic

[MB note: How did they know it "proved unrealistic" less than a year into 15-year pledges?]

to reduce hunger, poverty and the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water by half, infant and child mortality by two-thirds, and maternal mortality by three-quarters between 2000 and 2015.”

“The Millennium Declaration refers to the baseline year only for the targets on maternal and child mortality. Moreover, the reference is indirect — i.e. ‘of their current rates’, which implies the year 2000 without saying so explicitly. The other targets are totally silent about the baseline year. The Declaration never refers to 1990”

Jan Vandemoortele, co-chair of group in 2001 agreeing MDG framework
2011 
http://courses.arch.vt.edu/courses/wdunaway/gia5524/vandem11.pdf



[MB note: Speakers at the Millennium Summit praised the Secretary-General's recommendation document to the Summit, the Millennium Report. That report urged 2000 baselines for water and money. Newspapers reported the Summit as agreeing 2000 baselines for water and money. The meaning of a promise depends on the perception given]

 


"we've been investigating another vital statistic ...this is a really important goal.
- Yes, the Millennium Development Goals were
agreed by all the countries of the United Nations and the big aid agencies in the year 2000 [!] …
So the whole [water] goal's about halving the proportion.... between 1990 [!] and 2015."
"we scrutinised [!] the goal of halving the proportion of those living on less than a dollar a day in our last edition"

More or Less, BBC World Service 10 March 2012
http://aod-pod-uk-live.edgesuite.net/mpg_mp3_med/podcast_migrated/p02rzhdh-moreorless_20120309-2350a.mp3?__gda__=1439586159_bc77a4325b50ecbaabc770051104052e

 

 

"We, the Heads of State and Government and heads of delegation...reaffirm our commitment to the Millennium Declaration"

25 September 2013
http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/Outcome%20documentMDG.pdf

 

"More or Less makes a major error. The MDG targets...are in fact easier than the pledges in the Millennium Declaration of 2000.
...pledges...were not backdated, and are therefore to, for example halve the proportion of people in 2000 on under "$1 ", not the 1990 level.
[The programme contradicted itself by saying it had scrutinised the goal while confusing it with the more ambitious UN pledge.] …
It is obvious that if people think a goal, or even a UN resolution's pledge, has been met when it has not, that has implications for holding governments to account.”

Unanswered complaint 6 February 2014 to Head of BBC Editorial Complaints Unit in invited comments on provisional response.

 

we aim to provide access to information and create platforms to enable people to take part in community life, and to hold those in power to account." [!]

downloads.bbc.co.uk/mediaaction/annualreports/2013-2014.pdf

 

 

"In September 2000, world leaders signed up to a set of eight [!] Millennium Development Goals [!]...Using 1990 [!] rates as a starting point, the MDG aim has been to cut deaths by two-thirds by the end of 2015."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29161620
16 September 2014

 


The Declaration …should not be confused with the very specific and time-bound set of indicators which comprise the 8 MDGs and 21 targets …2005 World Summit Outcome document reaffirms the UN Millennium Declaration on the first page, but only begrudgingly recognizes the MDGs in paragraph seventeen"

Andy Sumner and Claire Melamed
2011
Published by Overseas Development Institute and United Nations Development Programme
www.odi.org/resources/docs/7369.pdf

 


"Fifteen years ago at the Millennium Summit the United Nations set eight goals [!] for addressing extreme poverty. They [!] became known as the Millennium Development Goals. [!]  A deadline of 2015 was set to achieve what the UN said were ‘quantified targets’ – so how did we do?"

BBC World Service - More or Less, Millennium Development Goals
3 July 2015
Guest: Claire Melamed
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vmb62


Usually the programmes are available to listen via a web player and podcasts.  This edition was available, but as of 14 August is not available.

 



"We need to tell you what your leaders have promised in your name…so that you can keep your own scorecard of your country's performance.

Every year…I shall deliver a report … on the progress … in implementing the Millennium Declaration.....
I am delighted to say the BBC World Service Trust is also [going] to help....
knowledge means power.
Much of our work… is aimed at giving you, the peoples of the world, greater power … … those who provide you with clear and honest information are our best allies."

Secretary-General's BBC World Service Lecture
New York, 10 December 2002
http://www.un.org/sg/statements/?nid=201

 

 

BBC World News America television 30 June 2015, 2.30pm PDT:

"Fifteen years ago the United Nations marked the new millennium with a series of pledges aimed at improving the lives of the world's poorest people.  The development goals were ambitious…  This year marks the deadline for the targets to be met"

Reporter: "Aid money...the striking thing is how the local community here has been empowered [!] ..."
"transforming their life chances is an immense task"
 


Comment:  Apart from the problems the BBC itself has caused by its false and misleading statements, it would cost nothing for the BBC to give people the truth about what governments pledged.

 

 

BBC World News America television 2 July 2015, 2.48pm PDT:

"All this week we're looking at how close the world has come to achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals - those sweeping anti-poverty targets set at the start of the century"

https://archive.org/details/tv?q=millennium&fq=program:%22BBC+World+News+America%22&time=2015

 



BBC MDG website:

"Millennium Declaration...outlines eight broad goals. [!] Within these are eighteen targets [!] - most set for 2015 using 1990 [!] as a benchmark - and forty-eight indicators. [!]

These Millennium Development Goals represent a global commitment [?] by all nations who signed the Declaration…."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specials/1112_mdg/index.shtml

 

Millennium goals: in statistics
The United Nations agreed a set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, with a view to tackling global poverty.
They include improving living standards...by 2015.
...people living on less than $1 a day ...down from 1.25 billion in
1990.
...Target: Reduce the maternal mortality rate by three-quarters between
1990 and 2015.
...Target: Between
1990 and 2005, reduce the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds."

5 September 2007
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6943975.stm

 

 

“…Objectif du Millénaire pour le Développement”, à savoir la réduction de moitié de l’extrême pauvreté d’ici 2015 par rapport à ses niveaux de 1990.
Les Objectifs du Millénaire pour le Développement ont été fixés en l’an
2000 [!] , lors d’un sommet international que l’ONU avait organisé à son siège à New York [!]
“En Afrique, la mortalité maternelle à l’accouchement est de 9 pour 1000, bien au-dessus de l’objectif du Millénaire en la matière qui vise un taux de
2,3 pour 1000."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/french/news/story/2009/04/printable/090424_bm_omd_report.shtml


The pledges on mortality agreed in 2000 in New York have different targets because of the different baselines.

 

 

BBC World television
MDG Conference Preview
September 2010

Newsreader:
"Ten years ago world leaders pledged to drastically cut poverty and set themselves eight [!] Millennium Development Goals [!]. They're meeting again now at the United Nations to take stock...."

UN correspondent:
"Ten years after world leaders pledged to dramatically reduce poverty [the Secretary General]'s invited them back to the UN to hold them to their promise" [!]
"most of the Millennium Development Goals are not on target to meet the 2015 deadline"

(The Secretary-General was actually comparing performance to the MDG targets, not the pledges of "ten years ago")

 

 

"ambitious targets.... progress on the fourth and fifth Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). ... goals to dramatically reduce deaths by 2015....The targets were set by world leaders in 2000. [!]
MDG4 aims to reduce the
death rate for children aged under five by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015."

20 September 2011
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14974145

 

"Ten years ago ...world leaders signed up agreement to halve the number
(sic - proportion)
"of people living in extreme poverty or hunger …
It was the first of eight Millennium Development Goals"

(sic – misleading. They said nothing about eight goals, or “Millennium Development Goals”. It was a resolution which is in some cases more ambitious than the MDG targets)

"...Globally..."

(sic – the official statistics now reported are usually on the proportion in the "developing world" which is slightly easier to reduce than the global proportion due to population growth rates)

"...there's been a big fall in the number of people living in extreme poverty from 42% back in the base year of 1990"

(sic – there was no "base year of 1990" for what "world leaders signed up to" "ten years ago" in an "agreement")

"to around 18% today."

BBC World
20 January 2011
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/9368626.stm
Video, 2m 42s:

 

 

 

"el compromiso

(! – the promise)

de reducir las muertes infantiles y maternas establecido en 2000

(! established in 2000)

en las Metas de Desarrollo del Milenio

 (! in the MDGs – generally easier than the promise of 2000)

establecidas por Naciones Unidas."

Mortalidad infantil no se reduce al ritmo necesario para cumplir las Metas del Milenio
http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/ultimas_noticias/2011/09/110919_ultnot_mortalidad_infantil_milenio_cch.shtml

 

 

"Dünya liderlerinin 2000 yilinda, yeni binyila iliskin vizyonlari dogrultusunda belirledigi hedeflerden dördüncüsü, 2015 yilinda bes yes alti çocuk ölümlerinin 1990 rakamlarina göre üçte iki düsürülmesini öngörüyordu."

BBC Turkce - Haberler - Anne-çocuk sagligi hedefleri tutturulamadihttp://www.bbc.co.uk/turkce/haberler/2011/09/110920_mortality.shtml

 

 

"Malengo hayo yalifikiwa na viongozi duniani mwaka 2000.

MDG4 ina dhamira ya kupunguza idadi ya watoto wanaofariki dunia wenye umri wa chini ya miaka mitano kwa robo tatu kati ya mwaka 1990 na 2015.

MDG5 inaelezea kuwa na nia ya kufuta vifo miongoni mwa wanawake wajawazito kwa kiwango cha robo tatu katika kipindi hicho hicho.

Habari - Mataifa mengi 'hayatofikia malengo'"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/swahili/habari/2011/09/110916_utafiti_wanawake_watoto.shtml

 

 

"UN Millennium Development Goal 4 set in 2000

(sic)

- which calls for the reduction of young child deaths by two-thirds in 2015. "

2 May 2012

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-17905969

 

 

"goal to "halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day". This high-profile target was agreed by the UN General Assembly...

[It is not clear which resolution the fact-checkers are talking about. The Millennium Summit was not, and the Declaration is not, about the 20th century. It agreed to halve the proportion, without backdating the baseline. The resolution of 21 December 2001 reaffirms the Declaration, as did leaders in 2005 and 2013.]

Dollar benchmark: The rise of the $1-a-day statistic
9 March 2012
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17312819

 


"we've been investigating another vital statistic ...this is a really important goal.
[3.30] - Yes, the Millennium Development Goals were agreed by all the countries of the United Nations and the big aid agencies in the year 2000 [!] ...the whole [drinking water] goal's about halving the proportion.... between 1990 [!] and 2015."
"we scrutinised [!] the goal of halving the proportion of those living on less than a dollar a day in our last edition"

More or Less, World Service 10 March 2012

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02rzhd8

From 3 minutes 30 seconds into programme.

 

 

"todos os países devem conseguir cumprir as metas dos Objetivos de Desenvolvimento do Milênio, um conjunto de compromissos adotados em 2000 [! - "MDGs were promises [!] adopted [!] in 2000 [!]"] ...Um deles [One of them, ie one of the promises "adopted in 2000"] se referia à saúde da mulher e estipulava uma diminuição de 75% entre 1990 [!] e 2015 na taxa de mortalidade de mulheres durante gravidez ou parto. [maternal mortality reduction of 75% from 1990..."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/portuguese/noticias/2014/05/140506_queda_mortalidade_materna_lgb.shtml


"Hapo septemba mwaka wa 2000, viongozi kutoka kote duniani walitia saini mkataba wa kutiumiza Malengo nane ya kimaendeleo ya Milenia (Millennium Development Goals (MDG)). [!] ...Tangu 1990,MDG imekuwa ikilenga kupunguza vifo hivyo kwa thuluthi mbili 2/3 kufikia mwisho wa mwaka 2015"
Computer translation: "In September 2000, leaders from around the world signed a contract kutiumiza eight [!] development goals of the Millennium (Millennium Development Goals (MDG)).[!] ... Since 1990 [!], the MDG has been focused on reducing deaths by two-thirds to reach 2/3 the end of 2015"

Je vifo vya watoto vimepungua Afrika? - BBC Swahili
http://www.bbc.com/swahili/habari/2014/09/140929_child_mortality_afrika

 


BBC MDG website:

"Millennium Declaration...outlines eight broad goals. [!] Within these are eighteen targets [!] - most set for 2015 using 1990 [!] as a benchmark - and forty-eight indicators. [!]

These Millennium Development Goals represent a global commitment [?] by all nations who signed the Declaration to reduce poverty and improve lives."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specials/1112_mdg/index.shtml

 



"I have been fortunate to attend four international conferences of this kind. ...

we know what can happen when the free flow of
trusted information is made available to people who have never had it...

BBC Media Action works with the BBC and with other partners to support media around the world, and to engage people – particularly the most marginalised people
in public debate and provide information for them on issues that affect their lives. ...

Researching
and understanding the political, social and economic realities of the countries in which we are working is something we are taking ever more seriously. ...

A core BBC value states 'Audiences are at the heart of everything we do'. ...

At BBC Media Action we employ around 80 people
around the world focused on understanding information and communication needs of people and working out how we can best respond to them and how effectively we can meet their needs.

...we want to support the needs of the individual audience member, especially the most marginalised
and disenfranchised. "


BBC Media Action - Media and public engagement

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcmediaaction/entries/3c15be39-f5ed-3fd9-8c27-90ac079cc8bc

 

 

In the historic Millennium Declaration, national leaders pledged, in effect, fewer than 3.5 million deaths of children under five in 2015.

The Millennium Development Goal target which civil servants began using in 2001 with no authority from the General Assembly is 4.3 million.

Leaders reaffirmed the Declaration in 2005 and 2013.

 

BBC:

"Millennium Declaration agreed in 2000 – which articulated the Millennium Development Goals [!] due to expire in 2015...

That Declaration has tended to be forgotten, however.
[!]

[The BBC has helped it to be forgotten by reporting the wrong commitments. I cannot find the text of the mortality pledge on the BBC website, except for in a misleading account by the BBC Trustees on the Editorial Standards Committee of a complaint in their July 2015 bulletin, repeating what the complainant had stated the BBC omitted.]

Instead, it is the eight Goals it laid
[!] that have galvanised international attention in the interim years."

5 June 2013
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcmediaaction/posts/What-would-a-post-2015-development-goal-on-free-media-mean-


In reality the Declaration says nothing about eight goals, or MDGs, or 1990.

 

 

"Social content from BBC Media Action"

"Fourteen years ago this month, prime minister Jean Chrétien helped launch the Millennium Development Goals in New York "

[quoting from linked article from a non-BBC newspaper]

http://unjobs.org/items/489717674369638400

Links to:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/make-press-freedom-a-un-development-goal/article19629923/

which reads,

"The MDGs, remember those? More than 100 heads of state and government joined Mr. Chrétien at the United Nations to adopt, with great fanfare, the declaration that would become eight international development goals to be reached by 2015."

July 2014

 

 

BBC Media Action:

"the key MDGs of reducing maternal mortality by three quarters and reducing the deaths of children under five from preventable causes by two thirds...
The 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals...
Eight international development goals along with measurable targets were
established at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000." [!]

February 2013
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/mediaaction/policybriefing/bbc_media_action_health_on_the_move.pdf

 

 

 

Despite the 80 staff, I cannot find the text of leaders' historic 2000 pledge on child mortality - one of the progress indicators which is meaningful and fairly accurate - in any BBC report or analysis.

The only correct reference to the pledge from "current rates" on the BBC website seems to be in a report from the BBC Trust published on 30 July 2015. It was published in response to a complaint. The complainant had drawn the attention of the BBC Head of Editorial Complaints Unit to the basic error in February 2014.

The BBC Trust's account of the complaint it purports to deal with is itself comically misleading.

For one thing, it fails to "note" the most serious error complained of in this particular material: the BBC programme description - similar to the widely-distributed podcast description - states that the UN "adopted" the easier MDGs in 2000.

For another, the Trust juxtaposes "[MDG] target", "set", "2001" and "commitment" without citing any evidence. In reality the General Assembly did not mention the MDG structure at all in 2001, but reaffirmed the Declaration on 21 December. The evidence is further on in the present document. The Trust account describes an email under the heading "the complaint", despite the fact that the complainant had emphasised that this later email was not the actual complaint.

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/appeals/esc_bulletins/2015/june_july.pdf page 128.

 

 

 

In July 2015, the BBC finally broadcast information I gave the BBC several times from 2003 onwards, including as-yet-unanswered complaints in 2012 and 2014: the World Bank poverty claims are unreliable.

The broadcast follows complaints that the BBC's fact-checking programme More or Less had failed to mention this in its previous coverage, which stated "It's hard to think of a more important figure than the number of people living on less than a dollar a day" and "there - the target's been met". Further coverage from July 2015 repeats without question that the target was met.

But I do not find what I told the BBC about from 2002 onwards - that many UN statistics look "better" if the poorest die.

 

 

What I do find on the BBC website is fairy stories and propaganda:


- world leaders in 2000 agreeing "MDGs" with "1990" baselines,

- the World Bank assessing the "cost" of "basics" for its claimed global poverty trend,

- World Bank "dollar a day" researchers themselves looking at prices for a non-existent "basket of essential goods", a "basket of food" through "household surveys",

- the world has "met" a "safe water" target".

 

 

"We have established that we will achieve greatest impact and public benefit by focusing on three thematic areas: governance, health, resilience and humanitarian response.

In governance we aim to provide access to information and create platforms to enable people to take part in community life, and to hold those in power to account."

downloads.bbc.co.uk/mediaaction/annualreports/2013-2014.pdf

 

 

…………………………………………………………. 

 

 

Unanswered complaint sent to BBC World News 11 August 2015

Currently, the BBC seems set to make misleading and/or incorrect statements in its reporting of the September UN Summit.

It did so in 2010.

BBC World News America 30 June and July 2: similar problem of conflating Millennium Summit pledges with some easier MDG targets proposed in 2001.

Summit pledge is for c.3 M child deaths in 2015. MDG target is for c.4M deaths. I am afraid this is an institutional failure.

https://archive.org/details/tv?q=millennium&fq=program:%22BBC+World+News+America%22&time=2015 .

For details: poornews.org millenniumdeclaration.org

 

 

...............................................................................................

 

 

Unanswered submission via BBC Complaints web form


Further to complaint CAS-3430579-YK1JHW [of 11 August] and unanswered complaint CAS-3340770-ZFKF11 of 9 June 2015:

Currently, the BBC seems set to make misleading and/or false statements in its reporting of the September UN Summit.

It did so in 2010.

BBC World News America 30 June and July 2: similar problem.

https://archive.org/details/tv?q=millennium&fq=program:%22BBC+World+News+America%22&time=2015 .

Newshour:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02w1ydy

Audio introduction "15 yrs since MDGs" incorrect.

Text incorrect: "2000...pledge...targets...MDGs".

Today Programme 30 June - 1 July: perhaps likely to have made same mistake as related web pages in complaint 3430579.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vjpdw:
Text: the usual confusion.
The incorrect statement is also made around 9 mins 20 seconds into audio.

 

----------

 

Unanswered, via complaints system web form, submitted 11 August 2015:

Case number CAS-3430579-YK1JHW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-33313366: 

video wrongly states "in 2000 UN set 8 targets and named them MDGs." 

In reality 2000 Declaration target is c.3M child deaths in 2015. MDG target proposed later is c.4M. 

"Safe water" claim misleads.

UN does not have safe water statistics. 


Poverty target met? 

How do we know? 

There are no inflation stats for prices faced by the poor.


BBC wrongly juxtaposes 2000 and MDGs:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-33356514

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-33337787

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-33340517

 

BBC does not report actual pledges of 2000 even though reaffirmed by world leaders in 2013.

 

BBC does not report scandal: MDG list falsely claims 1990-baseline targets come from Declaration.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-33333094: 

"target - to halve the proportion of people whose income is less than $1.25...met five years ahead of schedule in 2010." 

How does BBC know this if no inflation stats on poor?

Details: poornews.org millenniumdeclaration.org    

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/appeals/esc_bulletins/2015/june_july.pdf,
page 128.

Trustees say it would be editorial decision not to mention baselines. 

But BBC staff either

a) always make "editorial decision" to omit actual pledge or

b) do not know what pledges are. 

Both are systemic failure.

It is a waste of public money for BBC to make programmes to inform people on MDGs or give media training without informing public of pledges their leaders made.

 

 

…………………………………………………………….

 

 


Email 2 September 2002 after telephone call
Subj: Poverty statistics
To: Alex Kirby, BBC Environment Correspondent
...The proportion of poor in some countries may be reducing because of early deaths. ...
This is never taken into account in official calculations.


Subj: Global statistics on poverty
To: alex.kirby@bbc.co.uk
...We spoke a few months ago about global poverty statistics, during the Earth Summit. ...
...perhaps you could guide me to someone who could assess the content for the BBC.  
The flaws include: 
1.  Failing to adjust for the fact that changes in survival rates of hungry people influence the economic statistics in the wrong direction. 
2.  Failing to adjust for the cost of living, or even the general price of rice or wheat. 
3.  Failing to adjust for food requirements, even though proportions of children vary over time and between countries. 
4.  Using income data known to be unreliable, and certified as such by senior academic economists. ...
There are many disturbing things about this story, including the fact that Martin Ravallion, the man in charge of the World Bank numbers for "halving poverty", has written academic papers about flaws in poverty measurement and then subsequently used the flawed methods.  ...

 

To: panorama@bbc.co.uk
Possible story   

Dear Panorama team, 

I think the following may provide you with an interesting story at some stage.     It relates to statements made by the UK Department for International Development, the World Bank and the United Nations.  ...the detail of these statistics does not match the public announcements.  

Taipei Times, Saturday, Jun 07, 2003, Page 8
Economists' fatal flaws

...The proportion will fall faster if more poor people die earlier. ...

Let us hope that the UN will recognize this as soon as possible. Let us also hope that social scientists will, in their outcome measures, count survival as a good outcome in itself rather than of no welfare value.

Let us also hope that one day economists will recognize that income is not a measure of poverty unless the inflation rate for the poor is taken into account. No studies of the world's poor people have done this...There are other common flaws in economic research on poverty: such as failure to take into account
a) that extra items of expenditure may be needed in cities, where more poor people now live, and
b) that the ratio of adults to children is rising in many countries, and adults need more food.

Together, the mortality flaw and the inflation flaw, in particular, may have contributed to the devising of policies which, though they made the statistics look better, made the condition of poor people worse.

 

 

To: Kevin Marsh,
Editor of BBC Today programme

...These claims originate from the World Bank and have been reported through DfID. They concern the monitoring of progress towards the Millennium Goal on poverty, and other claims on which policies have helped poor people. The flaws also appear in work by a number of economists in universities, some funded directly by DfID.

...Traditionally, economics has ignored the human cost of dying and the benefit of staying alive. Its practitioners have produced claims as to what has been “good” or “bad” for the poor without any data on survival rates.

...

The mortality flaw appears in other Millennium Goals measured by statisticians: the goals on water, slums and education.

The failures of the World Bank researchers appear to reflect a lack of adequate professional standards in academic economists and statisticians. Without some minimum professional standards for researchers, they are free to promote conclusions with only part of the required data.

...The high cost of specialist mathematicians can be compared to the low cost of other available methods such as the measurement of survival rates.

...

The total cost of the consequences to the poor of the flawed research, on which poverty policies have been based, is not knowable. A wrong policy or a wrong outcome measure can be a matter of life and death to hungry people.

... The UK has more influence in the running of the [World] Bank than do the vast majority of countries.

The British governors are Baroness Amos, the Secretary of State for International Development, and Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

 

As governors, they are responsible to the British taxpayer for the effective use of aid money, and to the British voter for the provision of accurate information on statistical progress.

 

 

 

BBC More or Less, broadcast to poor countries, 3 March 2012.
"Living on Less than a Dollar a Day". "Assesses how poverty is measured". "Scrutinised the goal".

Ex-World Bank economist presenter hears from:

World Bank economist, co-designer of the official line,
ex-World Bank economist who proposes similar higher line,
economist, World Bank partner organisation head, who tells BBC the line is useful.

The programme falsely claims that the World Bank calculated the cost of a "basket of essential goods" since "a couple of decades ago".

This is in fact contradicted by the first guest’s methodology paper and the official UN description:

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEC/Resources/DevelopingworldispoorerQJE.pdf

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Metadata.aspx

The ex-World Bank economist presenter says:

"There we are, the target's been met".

The programme page stated: "Listen to the documentary series".  It linked to a series and web pages which overvalue the "dollars" by typically 100 to 200%. 

The series wrongly states that the World Bank claims of poverty declines take costs of into account


http://open.live.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/5/redir/version/2.0/mediaset/audio-nondrm-download/proto/http/vpid/p02rzm4v.mp3

http://aod-pod-uk-live.edgesuite.net/mpg_mp3_med/podcast_migrated/p02rzhdh-moreorless_20120309-2350a.mp3?__gda__=1439586159_bc77a4325b50ecbaabc770051104052e

 


Complaint:

"Bank does not estimate any consumption-need trend. ....

Reasonable steps not taken to "scrutinise" (More or Less, 10 Mar) or assess, statistic for data reliability; survey comparability over time; what is included (housing, public services, etc); or relationship to real life (assets, debts, needs). …

Failure to question whether ..."the target's been met" "



More or Less 3 July 2015: "It's the amount the World Bank thinks you need to have to have your basic needs met"

 

 


The BBC website has one "Editor's Choice" for global poverty.

It states there are estimates of prices faced by the extremely poor over the last 20 years, from prices collected by the World Bank "dollar a day" team for "goods" in "developing countries", using "household surveys" and "census data" to price a "basket of food".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17312819

The official World Bank and UN descriptions do not.

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEC/Resources/DevelopingworldispoorerQJE.pdf

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Metadata.aspx



 

"the [US poverty line] has changed only to take account of inflation. ...This cannot be right."

Tim Harford, Financial Times July 19, 2008
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2124e920-5158-11dd-b751-000077b07658.html?siteedition=uk


"[the World Bank line] is adjusted for inflation...There we are, the target's been met"

Tim Harford, ex-World Bank BBC presenter and future session chairman and keynote speaker at World Bank conference
More or Less, BBC World Service broadcast to poor countries 3 March 2012



.....................................

 

 

Some notes relevant to complaint to BBC about
More or Less 3 July 2015,
World Service
and associated material



Major matter.

The cumulative effect seems not to be duly accurate, especially in the context that listeners and web viewers may be likely to hear reports about their own countries' national reporting on progress; also in context of other BBC output.

Details: millenniumdeclaration.org, poornews.org.

Imbalance of views.

 

1. Despite complaints, the BBC again fail to tell the public what is important for holding their governments to account in achievements - that in 2000 leaders made time-bound pledges - or link to the Declaration reaffirmed in 2005 and 2013 eg 3.5 million child deaths/year

The programme states,

"the UN described the Millennium described the Declaration as a statement of values, principles and objectives for the international agenda in the 21st century"

but omits the UN's next words:

"It also set deadlines for collective action".


The More or Less team may have a conflict of interest over its reporting on this issue
The BBC do have a conflict of interest: the BBC has, including on More or Less, falsely stated that the Summit set goals with 1990 baselines. The BBC has received complaints.


A guest states that after the Declaration he asked "how can we avoid that this document [gets] forgotten".

This is strange, because he was in the team which agreed to different targets from those agreed in the document: his targets have been remembered instead of the document he is talking about.

It is also strange because the BBC still omits any mention of the leader's specific pledges, and its web content appears not to link to the Declaration.

This guest, Jan Vandemoortele, has previously said that the Declaration's baselines were "ambiguous".

"It seems that world leaders could not agree on the level of ambition at the Millennium Summit. This disagreement was concealed, however, by keeping the text of the Millennium Declaration ambiguous and vague regarding the period over which the targets had to be achieved."

Advancing the UN development agenda post-2015: some practical suggestions
www.wssinfo.org/fileadmin/user_upload/resources/DESA---post-2015-paper---Vandemoortele.pdf


This may be more psychologically comforting for him than the truth, which is that in context, they are not ambiguous.

It is abundantly clear that the Declaration's public pronouncement of pledges to be achieved by 2015 - what "we resolve" to do - is a promise to the people by leaders to achieve these things without backdating the baseline.

If I promise to double your salary, then say later I was ambiguous and vague about the baseline, you would be wrong to hold me to account for a baseline I chose later.

But also, it is obvious that the leaders were endorsing the Millennium Report, in which Kofi Annan called for pledges on water and money with 2000 baselines. That is perhaps why the Times of India, Reuters, the Economist and the Guardian, for example, reported that the Declaration had a 2000 baseline.


"I am pleased that the Declaration we are about to adopt at this Summit has such a broad range of commitments, and the specificity of the language and the time scales mean that we can and will be held accountable for delivery."

Bertie Ahern, Prime Minister of Ireland at the Millennium Summit, 6 September 2000

 


"The numerous specific goals and programmes outlined in this [Millennium] report could well be considered the United Nations plan of action for the twenty-first century...Afghanistan fully endorses the values and goals presented by the Secretary-General"




"The Secretary-General:

...Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
...thank you all for ...having given us clear guidance. ....
I have read carefully the Declaration you have just adopted. ...
You have said that your first priority is the eradication of extreme poverty.
You have set specific targets to that goal...
...we all know the targets can be reached."

 

 

"A declaration to be signed on Friday when the summit meeting ends has set ambitious benchmarks....

One such goal proposes to reduce by half over the next 15 years the number of people earning less than a dollar a day. To achieve that, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela reckoned, ''we should increase that income to levels of fairness and dignity for 140,000 persons each day of each month and of each year from the present until Dec. 31, 2015.''

"The Italian prime minister, Giuliano Amato, agreed that radical efforts were required. "

"Published: September 8, 2000 United Nations, Sept. 7"

http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/08/world/summit-in-new-york-the-orators-un-speakers-urge-increase-in-charity-to-the-poor.html

 


It is possible that Dr Vandemoortele saw things too much from the point of view of someone dealing with detail, and not enough from the point of view of the people to whom the pledges were made.

I encountered a related but stranger view from a statistician at the FAO, who claimed bizarrely that leaders at the World Food Summit in 1996, pledging to reduce the number of undernourished people to half "its present level" were making a pledge with a baseline of "1990-92".

I hope he was unaware of the various documents contradicting his position, including forms filled out by Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries with 1996 baselines.


http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jul/17/the-hunger-numbers-are-we-counting-right

 

Note: The FAO main statistics pages falsely state that the 1990 baselines are in the Declaration.

millenniumdeclaration.org/hunger.pdf

 

On 19 June 2015 the BBC Trust sent a complainant a decision. Material on Woman's Hour had stated that MDGs were "adopted" in 2000.

It stated that in this case it would be an editorial decision to omit the Millennium Declaration baseline, and therefore something the programme team were entitled to do.

A problem with the Trustees' idea is that the content complained of made the mistake of saying the MDGs were set in 2000 three times, and the BBC has said similar things in the past many times including the false statement that the Declaration made pledges with 1990 baselines.

The complaint did not criticise the programme team. The complaint was clearly that the programme team were unaware, through a failure at the BBC, of the fact that the leaders' pledges had later been changed for the heavily-publicised MDG framework.

The Trustees wrote as if the other errors did not exist. Even if they were absolutely bound not to comment on those errors, the Trustees did not have to ignore them as context when assessing whether there was an appropriate editorial decision to omit the baseline.

If the producer who co-operated with Audience Services to provide the reply to the complaint was being straightforward in contributing to a reply which said "we referred correctly to the [MDGs]" - when in reality the material had wrongly stated the goals were set in the year which in fact applied to the Declaration's generally harder pledges - then she did not know about the baseline change. Few people do.

If the Trust means that there was an editorial decision at Woman's Hour not to say something important which the rest of the BBC had omitted and some of the BBC had got straightforwardly wrong, then that would clearly be a wrong decision. This would be the Woman's Hour team knowing that leaders pledged maternal and child mortality reductions and that the well-known MDG targets were generally easier, but not telling their audience - including mothers and expectant mothers in poor countries.

It would also clearly be the wrong decision in journalistic terms, even aside from the focus of Woman's Hour - because it would seem to be a journalist's duty to correct a widespread error by their colleagues.

So if there was an editorial decision to omit the baseline, it is hard to see how the Trustees can argue that it met the requirements of due accuracy in context.

But it looks on the surface like there was no editorial decision, so that the Trustees' argument is irrelevant.
It seems highly unlikely that the Woman's Hour staff knew about the baseline change, and so it is not clear why the Trustees tried to justify the "omission" by saying it would be an editorial decision. (They should really have been talking about whether the mistake about the date was justified, not the "omission").

If the Woman's Hour team did not know about the baseline change, and about the fraudulent statement in the MDG official list that the 1990 baselines "come from the Millennium Declaration", then the Trustees should have considering the actual complaint, which was that there was a "genuine error" as a result of an "institutional failure".

The Trustees mentioned "institutional failure", but in the wrong context. They said that the complainant had said the previous alleged breaches were an "institutional failure". What he actually said is that the Woman's Hour error was the result of such a failure. He was clearly complaining about not just other material but the failure at the BBC which produced the Woman's Hour error about the date. That failure is either that senior people know about the baseline change and/or fraud, or that senior people do not know about them.

 

 

2. The BBC do not report a scandal, which is important for people to hold their governments and other institutions to account in terms of their performance on transparency.

The MDG list falsely states the generally easier "1990" targets (eg 4.3 million child deaths) "come from the Declaration".

 

3. Widely-distributed programme/podcast descriptions are incorrect.

The material states that the Summit "set 8 goals".

Incorrect, and contributes to misleading impression that leaders only pledged the easier MDG targets.

The statement contradicts the BBC Trust Editorial Standards Committee in its decision on Woman's Hour of 19 June.

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/appeals/esc_bulletins/2015/june_july.pdf


"...they [?] became known as MDGs...how did we do?"

 

 

But audio asks about easier targets than Summit's.

Why is this liable to mislead? Because many people have already heard of MDG targets having baselines of 1990 or about progress reports which have a 1990 baseline.

 

4. The programme states the idea was to "pick out the best points" in the Declaration and "turn them into goals".

 

But the Declaration contains other pledges besides on "development" - on such things as human rights.

The basis for the BBC saying what were the "best points" is not clear.

As we can see, the Declaration failed in respect of free access to information.

The UN's own Guidance Note for country reporting of October 2001 stated, tragi-comically:

"The MDGs incorporate most of the goals and targets set at the global conferences and world summits of the 1990s."

 


They CHANGED the MD goals to easier goals.

Clare Short said on 26/9/2000 that the UK was committed to 7 IDGs, ie a target which would be 4.3 million child deaths in the year 2015, when the Summit had just committed her government to what would be a target of 3.5 million.

 

Jan Vandemoortele used 20 of 21 IDG indicators and added some Summit points.

 

It is not clear why the BBC mentions WHO and UNICEF as working on the MDG framework.


The OECD devised the IDGs in 1996.

OECD/UN/WB/IMF staff agreed IDGs in June 2000.

OECD/UN/WB/IMF agreed MDGs.


The UNDP's own history states as much.

http://issuu.com/undp-evaluation/docs/mdg_thematic_evaluation_2014

"An interagency expert group was assembled under the cochairmanship of Michael Doyle (Special Assistant to the United Nations Secretary-General) and Jan Vandemoortele (Head of the UNDP Poverty Group), consisting mainly of statisticians and development economists from OECD/DAC, various UN agencies, the World Bank and the IMF. The group met several times in the spring and summer of 2001 to arrive at a short list of quantitative goals and targets that could be used to monitor the implementation of the Millennium Declaration. In the end, 18 of such targets were taken out verbatim [!] from the agreed language of the Millennium Declaration, assigned indicators and grouped under eight Millennium Development Goals."

 

 

5. Instead of reporting baseline scandal or correcting errors after complaints, BBC featured civil servant who agreed baseline change w/out Assembly authority. Other guest ex-UN, heads UN expert group, co-leads UNDP survey. Telling general public the truth could be difficult for both.


It would be difficult for Claire Melamed's survey group's higher boss Helen Clark, the current head of UNDP who as Prime Minister of New Zealand pledged the 3.5-million-dead-children target.

 

It would be difficult for Jan Vandemoortele's old boss Mark Malloch Brown, who on 6 November 2001 sent out the guidelines for UN country representatives to assist countries in reporting progress, with the 4.3-million-child-deaths target. The document states categorically that the text of the Declaration "would imply" that it has a 2000 baseline.

 

 

Claire Melamed had written: 

"The MDGs were informally endorsed at the UN Conference on International Financing for Development at Monterrey in 2002...

...The Declaration has a longer and higher set of aspirations, and should not be confused with the very specific and time-bound set of indicators which comprise the 8 MDGs and 21 targets through with progress towards the Declaration is to be measured. ...

As late as 2005, in the build up to the World Summit, the government of the United States argued for removing the references to the MDGs in the draft Summit Outcome Document, with the rationale that they had never been agreed (although they were eventually persuaded to retain them). The final 2005 World Summit Outcome document reaffirms the UN Millennium Declaration on the first page, but only begrudgingly recognizes the MDGs in paragraph seventeen"

A post-2015 global development agreement: why, what, who?
Claire Melamed and Andy Sumner
www.odi.org/resources/docs/7369.pdf

 

 

 

"The Millennium Declaration, agreed on 8 September 2000, set out a long list of commitments, but the Millennium Goals (not yet Millennium Development Goals) set out in the Declaration were manifestly different from the IDGs that OECD states still wanted to prioritise..."

After 2015
Contexts, politics and processes for a post-2015 global agreement on development
Claire Melamed
4 January 2012

 

 

 

[at Monterrey in 2002] funding commitments started be made on the basis of the MDGs.

 

These documents put the world onto ‘final approach’ for the Millennium Summit.

Throughout this period intense debate was underway between OECD countries and international financial institutions (who wanted to retain the IDGs as they were) and everyone else ....

 The Millennium Declaration, agreed on 8 September 2000, set out a long list of commitments, but the Millennium Goals (not yet Millennium Development Goals) set out in the Declaration were manifestly different from the IDGs that OECD states still wanted to prioritise...

When we talk about ‘the MDGs’ today, in fact this usually refers to the set of targets and goals that came after the original Millennium Declaration of 2000. The Declaration has a longer and higher set of aspirations, and should not be confused with the very specific and time-bound set of indicators which comprise the 8 MDGs and 21 targets through which progress towards the Declaration is to be measured.

 ..begrudgingly recognizes the MDGs in the paragraph seventeen.

 

www.odi.org/resources/docs/7537.pdf

 

 

 

"18 Januari 2011

John: Hello. Today, we’re going to meet Mark Malloch-Brown, former Head of the United Nations Development Programme to talk about poverty. And the goals, or targets, the United Nations set in the year 2000...will these eight goals be any different?

Mark:.....a hundred and eighty governments meeting at the Millennium General Assembly solemnly adopted these simple straightforward eight goals...[!]

I’ll either go out with a big gold watch having met the goals or presumably will be driven off into a humiliated retirement somewhere."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/indonesia/mobile/bahasa_inggris/2011/01/101221_ebyr_worldxtra16.shtml

 

 6. "Raised to $1.25"? $1.08 line in 1993 PPP$ was lowered to 0.92. In 2005 PPP$ adjusted for US inflation: 1.45 lowered to 1.25.

 

7. "Amount...in every country" misleads. WB do not try to adjust for need.

 

 8. Hunger "<800m, almost halved"? "Dev'g countries" stats (not MDG target).

 

 9. MDG water target met? no "1990" baseline in official list.

 



...........................................................................

 

 


According to the BBC Editor's Choice article, the World Bank uses the estimates of prices faced to calculate what you could afford in each country for the equivalent of a dollar in the USA, since around 1990. The More or Less team includes an ex-World Bank economist.

The experts for the BBC article are:

- the research director of the World Bank whose paper makes clear they do not have these estimates,
- a former 19-year World Bank economist who proposes a similar line at $10 a day,
- an economist boss of a World Bank partner organisation who states the line is useful, and
- an ex-World Bank economist who has edited World Bank publications.


The official methodology paper for the UN estimates is, as a briefing note linked to by the BBC article states:
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEC/Resources/DevelopingworldispoorerQJE.pdf

The BBC article clearly implies ("Ravallion and...the economists... they ..." that the research director's team making claims about poverty looked at prices for "goods" in "developing countries" themselves, and then calculated what people could buy in different countries.

The BBC's account is ludicrous, since the collection of prices is an enormous task. It is contradicted by the World Bank information, which states that his team took the rates for whole nations produced by the International Comparison Programme.

The World Bank media release of 29 February 2012 announcing the new statistics states:

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:23130032~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html

"The public can access all statistics underlying the new international estimates via the online tool, PovcalNet http://iresearch.worldbank.org/PovcalNet."

That page stated:

"In February 2012, the World Bank released a major update of the developing world's poverty estimates for 1981-2008. The new poverty estimates combine the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) exchange rates for household consumption from the 2005 International Comparison Program with data from more than 850 household surveys across 127 developing countries."

The BBC stated that the "dollar a day" team used "household surveys" and "census data" to "calculate" what people could buy with the equivalent of a dollar in different countries using a "basket of essential goods", a "basket of food".

The official UN information does not:


"PPPs are based on prices of goods and services that may not be representative of the consumption baskets of the poor, so they may not fully reflect the relative price level faced by very poor consumers. As a result, there is no certainty that an international poverty line measures the same degree of need or deprivation across countries."

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Metadata.aspx

 



More or Less 3 July 2015: "It's the amount the World Bank thinks you need to have to have your basic needs met. They do lots of calculations to try to adjust for the economic conditions [?] and prices [?] in every country around the world…"

 

Misleading.

The World Bank do not take needs into account.


Basic need: Housing.

The spending surveys omit the value of living in your own home rather than paying rent.

The World Bank methodology paper states,

"imputed rents for owner-occupied housing, imputed services ...; none of these are included in consumption aggregates from standard household surveys."



The BBC's statement "the amount the World Bank thinks you need to have..." gives the wrong impression.
Clearly, the proportion of people living in their own home may change as people go to live in cities for work, either temporarily (in which case they may pay rent on top of what they pay at home) or permanently (in which case some may be worse off than when they lived in their own house.


Basic need: Water.

There are no firm data on water quality, as the same More or Less programme stated.


The BBC's statement "the amount the World Bank thinks you need to have..." gives the wrong impression.

 



Basic need: Food.

The World Bank do not estimate prices faced by people who can only afford "basic needs".

The World Bank do not adjust for children's food requirements
and the higher proportion of children in the past.
They do not adjust for today's smaller households which are more expensive per person.

The BBC statement "the amount the World Bank thinks you need to have" gives the wrong impression.

 

 

Basic need: Travel expenses for work.

The World Bank do not adjust for extra needs for rent, transport, or anything else for people who travel to, or for, work.

 

 

..............................................

 


 

BBC fact-checkers vs. BBC Trust fact-checkers:

Who is right on Millennium pledges?

 

"MDG framework...never endorsed as such by the General Assembly"

Richard Manning, former Director General,
UK Department for International Development
2009
http://www.oecd.org/site/progresskorea/44117550.pdf

 

Clinton/Blair/Putin/Schroeder/Clark etc, 2000: "We resolve…by 2015...to reduce...child mortality by two-thirds, of their current rates"
(to 3.6 million child deaths a year)

Annan, 8 September 2000: "I hereby re-dedicate myself, as from today, to carrying out your mandate."

President of the General Assembly 2000-2001: "the Summit is a unique symbolic moment. The Summit Declaration will capture the common vision of the Member States at that moment. It will guide our work not only during the Millennium Assembly but for years to come."

Annan, 6 September 2001: "Millennium Development Goals...proposed list of goals, targets...listed below...between 1990 and 2015"
(to 4.3 million child deaths a year)

Assembly, 21 December 2001: "We reaffirm the Millennium Declaration"

Annan, 2002: "the world has committed itself to reducing child mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015."
(to 4.3 million child deaths a year)

"We, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77 and China...at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 25 September 2003, adopted the following declaration: ...We reaffirm our commitment to the Millennium Declaration and call upon the international community to fully and speedily implement the provisions set out therein"

2003: "The General Assembly...Reaffirming the United Nations Millennium Declaration..."

"We reaffirm our commitment to fight global poverty and to help countries achieve the international development goals of the Millennium Declaration"
- Statement by G-7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, 2004

"THE TERM "MDGS" HAS BECOME AMBIGUOUS. MOST PEOPLE USING THE TERM ASSUME THAT THE "MDGS" ARE AGREED DEVELOPMENT GOALS FROM THE MILLENNIUM DECLARATION, WHICH THE UNITED STATES SUPPORTS. OFTEN THE UN SECRETARIAT AND REPRESENTATIVES OF A NUMBER OF COUNTRIES, HOWEVER, USE IT TO REFER TO THE SECRETARIAT GOALS...…
SUBJECT: THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS (MDGS) -- WHAT ARE THEY?
DRAFTED BY: IO:CCHANG – 04/26/05
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE
pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PCAAB560.pdf

Bush/Blair etc, 2005: "We reaffirm the Millennium Declaration"

Obama/Cameron/Merkel etc, 2013: "We reaffirm our commitment to the Millennium Declaration"
(3.6 million child deaths in 2015)

 

 

"More or Less makes a major error. ….

Millennium Declaration of 2000....pledges...were...to, for example halve the proportion of people in 2000...not the 1990 level. ...

It is obvious that if people think a goal, or even a UN resolution's pledge, has been met when it has not, that has implications for holding governments to account."

6 February 2014. Invited comments to BBC Head of Editorial Complaints Unit.

BBC: No response to this or other complaints on the baseline or confusing targets and pledges.

 

File sent to BBC Trust Unit as evidence for appeal to Editorial Standards Committee:

 

"MDG targets on survival, water, sanitation, hunger and economics are not the pledges of 2000...

* General Assembly reaffirmed Declaration in 2005"


"Are the goals or MDG targets pledges? Surely the actual pledges are in the Declaration - the resolution of 2000. In 2005 the General Assembly reaffirmed the Declaration"


"Did the General Assembly agree that the MDG targets supersede the pledges?

Apparently not.

2005: Member states "reaffirm the United Nations Millennium Declaration"

General Assembly Resolution 60/1, 2005

unstats.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Attach/Indicators/ares60_1_2005summit_eng.pdf

Again, the Declaration stated,

"We therefore pledge our unstinting support for these

(sic)

common objectives and our determination to achieve them."

(sic)

The 2005 resolution says:

"we further resolve:...To assist developing countries’ efforts to prepare integrated water... plans as part of their national development strategies and to provide access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation in accordance with the Millennium Declaration and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, including halving by 2015 the proportion of people who are unable to reach or afford safe drinking water and who do not have access to basic sanitation"

Sounds like a commitment to the Declaration's target to me. [Note: I am very aware that some of the UN statistics and statements about them are dodgy]

And

"171. We call for strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and national and regional parliaments, in particular through the Inter-Parliamentary Union, with a view to furthering all aspects of the Millennium Declaration" "

 

"the actual promise was in the Declaration. The UN resolution of 2005 was unquestionably a fudge in that it reaffirmed the Declaration (which did not talk about 1990 and mentioned reducing deaths from "current rates") and then went on to talk about the MDGs (some of whose targets were about reducing between 1990 and 2015)."




BBC Trustees 19 June 2015:

"189 member states of the United Nations adopted the Millennium Declaration in 2000...This included a series of commitments for example: ...reducing child mortality by two thirds, of their current rates by 2015"
"In the following year, 2001, the UN..."


Not member states but the Secretary-General, making proposals.

"...published a Road Map to implement the declaration ..."

It said "on the implementation" – it contained proposals.

"It identified eight goals. ...These eight goals became known as the Millennium Development Goals...by changing the base line to 1990...the target set in 2001..."

The UN resolution, of 14 December 2001, only welcomed the Road Map as a "useful guide". It did not mention MDGs, eight goals, 4.3 million child deaths, or 1990.

"was a less demanding commitment [!] than that made in 2000."


BBC Trust Editorial Standards Committee, 19 June 2015
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/appeals/esc_bulletins/2015/june_july.pdf
Page 128


It is not clear why Richard Ayre and the other Trustees stated that the MDG target for 4.3 million child deaths in 2015 was a "commitment".

The same resolution of 14 December 2001 emphasised the Declaration's commitments and called for governments to publicise them. The next week the Assembly reaffirmed the Declaration, with its pledge for under 3.6 million deaths.

The Trustees show no sign of understanding what the Times of India, the Economist, the Guardian and Reuters reported at the time – other well-known pledges such as on water and money have a 2000 baseline as well.


"PLEDGES MADE AT 2000 MILLENNIUM SUMMIT MUST BE TRANSFORMED INTO REALITY, SPEAKERS STRESS, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONSIDERS SUMMIT FOLLOW-UP
...JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union
would like the Millennium Declaration to be the touchstone for any practical steps taken by the United Nations and its specialized agencies, and by all governments."
19 November 2001
Press Release
http://www.un.org/press/en/2001/GA9973.doc.htm



"Resolution adopted by the General Assembly
56/95.  Follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 55/2 of 8 September 2000, by which it adopted the
United Nations Millennium Declaration as the outcome of the Millennium Summit
of the United Nations, held at Headquarters from 6 to 8 September 2000,

Recalling also its resolution 55/162 of 14 December 2000, in which it, inter
alia, requested the Secretary-General to prepare a long-term
"road map" towards the
implementation of the Millennium Declaration
within the United Nations system
and to submit it to the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session,

Reaffirming
the need to maintain the will and momentum of the Millennium
Summit
, as well as the importance of a comprehensive and balanced approach in the
implementation of and follow-up to the Millennium Declaration
,

 1. Takes note with appreciation
of the report of the Secretary-General
entitled
"Road map towards the implementation of the United Nations Millennium
Declaration";

 2. Recommends that the "road map" be considered as a useful guide in the
implementation of the Millennium Declaration
by the United Nations system, and
invites
Member States, as well as the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade
Organization and other interested parties to consider the "road map"
when
formulating plans for implementing goals related to the Declaration;

 3. Requests the Secretary-General
to prepare an annual report and a
comprehensive report every five years on progress achieved by the United Nations
system and Member States towards implementing the Millennium Declaration,
drawing upon the "road map"
and in accordance with resolution 55/162, and
requests that the annual reports focus on cross-cutting and cross-sectoral issues, as
well as on the major areas set forth in the "road map", while the quinquennial

comprehensive reports
examine progress achieved towards implementing all the
commitments made in the Declaration
;

 4. Invites the United Nations system, in cooperation with Member States, to
adopt specific measures to give widespread publicity to the Millennium Declaration
and to increase the dissemination of information on the Declaration;

 5. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-seventh session
the item entitled "Follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit".

86th plenary meeting
14 December 2001
http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/56/95&Lang=E




"The General Assembly...
Reaffirming also the United Nations Millennium Declaration..."


Resolution adopted by the General Assembly
21 December 2001
http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/56/188



"We, the grown-ups, must reverse this list of failures. And we are pledged to do so. The very rights I described for you are part of the promises made in the Millennium Declaration
-- a list of pledges agreed by all the leaders of the world. They promised that, by the year 2015, we will have cut by half the number of people living on less than one dollar a day. ...This gathering of the General Assembly is a reminder that these were promises made to you, the next generation."

The Secretary-General

Address at the opening of the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children
New York, 8 May 2002
http://www.un.org/ga/children/sgopening.htm

 

 

 

More or Less web page 3 July 2015:

"Fifteen years ago at the Millennium Summit the United Nations set eight [?] goals for addressing extreme poverty. They [!] became known as the Millennium Development Goals. A deadline of 2015 was set to achieve what the UN said were ‘quantified targets’ – so how did we do?"

More or Less 3 July 2015:

"Let me take you back to the year 2000, to the UN...There on the table is a document signed….Millennium Declaration...unique event...the UN described the agreement as a statement of values, principles and objectives..."

"to go through the Millennium Declaration, pick out the most important points and turn them into [?] goals"

"so the MDGs were born and 15
[?] years later…"

Guest: "nearly 15
[?] years after they were agreed [?]"

BBC More or Less, 3 July 2015.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vmb62

 

 

 

 

 

"The United Nations General Assembly embraced the eight Goals only as late as October 2005.
Its focus has always been on calling for the implementation and monitoring of all the goals and measures in the broader Millennium Declaration."

Human Rights and the Millennium Development Goals in Practice:
A review of country strategies and reporting
United Nations
2010
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/HRAndMDGsInPractice.pdf

 

 

BBC, 2014:

"In 2000, the UN adopted [!] eight [!] Millenium Development Goals [!] to be achieved by 2015..."



26 January 2014:

"I am sorry to make this complaint, because I do not think there is necessarily a good reason for the Woman's Hour team to know that this content is misleading."



BBC Trustees 19 June 2015:

"United Nations adopted the Millennium Declaration in 2000...commitments...reducing child mortality by two thirds, of their current rates"

"by changing the base line to 1990...the [MDG] target...was...less demanding"

"He said that his substantial complaint was of a "widespread, major error over many years to the same effect". ...

"Trustees... noted his concern that the BBC had made similar errors over many years and that these had been the subject of other complaints [since 6 February 2014]."

 

 

MB clarification of BBC Trustees' words:

The Secretary-General proposed the Millennium Development Goal framework in a "Road Map" on 6 September 2001.

On 14 December 2001 the General Assembly recommended "that the "road map" be considered as a useful guide in the implementation of the Millennium Declaration.".

There was no mention of "MDGs", eight goals, or 1990.

http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/56/95&Lang=E ]

 

 

"The leaders...promised to halve 20 per cent of the world's population currently without access to safe drinking water and 22 per cent living on less than one dollar a day."

Times of India
September 10, 2000
Page 9

 

"we have fully endorsed the historic development goals written into the Millennium Declaration.
We know that in order to attain these objectives it is necessary...."

European Community
Romano Prodi
President of the European Commission at the International Conference on Financing for Development
Monterrey, Mexico
March 22, 2002
http://www.un.org/ffd/statements/ecE.htm



"In two cases–maternal mortality and under-five mortality–the term "current rates" is used, directly specifying a 2000 baseline. For the remainder, the targets are stated in the form of "to halve by 2015…" This would imply a 2000 baseline year of the Millennium Declaration. After discussions within the UN system and with other partners, the issues have been resolved in favour of 1990 serving as the baseline year."

UN Development Group
- committee of heads of UN funds, programmes and departments concerned with development,
chaired by head of UN Development Programme, Mark Malloch Brown
Country Reporting on the Millennium Development Goals
Guidance Note to UN country representatives, October 2001

http://www.undg.org/archive_docs/2356-English.doc
[available August 2014 but not August 2015.]

http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://undg.org/archive_docs/2356-English.doc

http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/MDG/english/MDG%20Country%20Reports/MDG%20Reporting%20Guidelines/1.%20English.pdf


Sent by UNDG chairman Mark Malloch Brown and three other heads of UN agencies on 6 November 2001:

Was available August 2014 but not August 2015 at:

http://undg.org/archive_docs/1607-MDGs_-_letter_-_MDGs_-_letter.pdf

Now at:

http://web.archive.org/web/20140815174058/http://www.undg.org/archive_docs/1607-MDGs_-_letter_-_MDGs_-_letter.pdf

 

 

 

The baseline for the Millennium Declaration is 2000.

Evidence:

www.millenniumdeclaration.org

 

 

 

BBC fact-checking programme More or Less

3 July 2015

Programme page:

"Fifteen years ago at the Millennium Summit the United Nations set eight [?] goals for addressing extreme poverty. They [!] became known as the Millennium Development Goals. A deadline of 2015 was set to achieve what the UN said were ‘quantified targets’ – so how did we do?"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vmb62

 
The programme reports on targets with 1990 baselines.



According to BBC editorial guidelines, and common sense, due accuracy depends importantly on audience expectations, including from "signposts" given by the BBC to audiences.

The signpost above - the programme description, which also appeared in the Radio Times, iTunes and so on - seems to imply that the programme asks "how did we do" about goals set "at the Millennium Summit".


But the programme looks at targets with easier 1990 baselines.

"we dissect
[!] the goals one by one…

Early in 2012 the UN announced that this goal [target] had been met...

...from 1990 to 2015...

Over time the target was raised [!] to $1.25 a day"


It was not "raised":  the BBC makes a mistake about inflation.   The first "dollar" was in 1985 US prices.  In 2000 the World Bank was using $1.08 in 1993 prices – clearly a lowering in US terms.  This  was again lowered to 92 cents in those 1993 dollars for the current line, held to be equivalent to $1.25 in the 2005 prices now used.   The "dollar" used in 2000 would be PPP $1.45 adjusted for the twelve years of inflation to 2005, they baseline year for the "$1.25".

 

"It's the amount the World Bank thinks you need to have to have your basic needs met [?]. They do lots of calculations to try to adjust for the economic conditions [?] and prices in every country around the world…"

"and it certainly helps the poverty statistics that although the target was set in around 2000 [?] the results include progress made since 1990"

"like starting a to-do list with three things you've already done"

The BBC’s omission of the actual pledges contributes to misleading impression.  It was in fact like promising you will halve the child mortality rate to 3.6 million per year, then saying in the official MDG list and elsewhere that the target of 4.3 million "comes from the Millennium Declaration".

 

"the UN says.. that the proportion [of undernourished] is almost half what it was in 1990"

 

Water: There is no "1990" baseline in the official MDG list.


Guest who as an "MDG architect" agreed

a) the change in the baseline from what leaders had agreed, and

b) according to an OECD document the 2000 baseline for the water MDG target which his own organisation, UNDP, later ignored:

"As an international organisation we have to be rigorous"

 

 

………………………………………………….

 


"The ECU has made the same mistake itself in a past ruling, basing an opinion on the mistaken idea that the dollar a day is influenced by fluctuations in market exchange rates.

BBC Editorial Complaints Unit – Quarterly Report
July–September 2005
Summaries of upheld complaints

http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/pdf/ecu_julsep2005.pdf

"The figure for Brazilians living on less than $1 a day, though subject to exchange rate fluctuations, was within acceptable margins of approximation for a summary report of this kind."


The reality is that the "purchasing power parity" rates on which it is based are specifically designed to compensate for differences in purchasing power between countries arising from exchange rates."

6 February 2014
Comments to head of BBC Editorial Complaints Unit on provisional response 1300394



"At last, a sensible way to measure poverty...The World Bank has two poverty lines: a dollar a day and two dollars a day (strictly, those are 1985 [1993] dollars adjusted for inflation). ...the US...threshold has changed only to take account of inflation. ...This cannot be right."

Tim Harford, ex-World Bank economist, future conference session chairman and keynote speaker at the World Bank
Financial Times July 19, 2008
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2124e920-5158-11dd-b751-000077b07658.html?siteedition=uk

 

"After a spell at the World Bank in Washington DC he rejoined the FT’s leader writing team in 2006. …
Tim is also the presenter of the BBC2 series, Trust Me, I’m an Economist."
http://www.ft.com/life-arts/undercover-economist

"[the World Bank line] is adjusted for inflation...There we are, the target's been met"

Tim Harford, ex-World Bank economist, future conference session chairman and keynote speaker at the World Bank
More or Less, BBC World Service broadcast to poor countries 3 March 2012

 

"The simplest way for me to do something is for me to write the script and have a reporter in the studio and discuss it with him or her...."

"it’s great fun to have that interaction with our listeners and some of our best items have been clarifying some previous error that we made.
"

"We get lots of listeners emailing us and we do encourage that. ...you will get people writing in, in great detail, who have solved a problem. People will really get to grips with an issue we’ve raised...or they are people who understand numbers, have time on their hands and solve problems for us, which is terrific."

http://www.statisticsviews.com/details/feature/4455321/Radio-4s-More-or-Less-Behind-the-scenes-with-presenter-Tim-Harford.html

 


Complaint:

"1. Persistent error that World Bank estimate inflation for the poor: "basket of essential goods", etc. They use CPI."

"It is easy to check, for example, the BBC's error about a "basket of essential items" in point 1, since the World Bank media release for the news which the BBC was reporting stated that the researchers used the CPI"

"The World Bank research director...does not have specific prices faced by the poor even for food for any year."

From invited comments to head of Editorial Complaints Unit:

"Errors include:

Wrongly stating that the World Bank "calculated" costs of what a "purchasing power parity" dollar could buy in different countries;

Wrongly implying through a variety of language that the World Bank has taken into account inflation for the poor;

Wrongly implying that the World Bank has taken needs into account..."

"It is obvious that policy decisions are made on the basis of economic statistics and that if people have the wrong idea about, for example, the availability of relevant price data, they are at risk of making wrong decisions concerning millions of people."

 

 

..…………..

 

World Bank "dollar a day" team: "...the weights attached to different commodities in the conventional PPP rate may not be appropriate for the poor"

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEC/Resources/DevelopingworldispoorerQJE.pdf

 

UN Statistics Division official description of MDG indicator:

"Although PPP rates were designed for comparing aggregates from national accounts, they were not intended for making international poverty comparisons. PPPs are based on prices of goods and services that may not be representative of the consumption he consumption baskets of the poor, so they may not fully reflect the relative price level faced by very poor consumers. As a result, there is no certainty that an international poverty line measures the same degree of need or deprivation across countries."

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Metadata.aspx


"7. Economist and Bank/ex-Bank speaker imbalances, including presenter." 

 

"There is at least one other error in the programme. It cited the World Bank's claim for the $1 level as the Millennium Goal indicator trend, which had a faster reported fall; the actual basis of the indicator is at the $1.25 level."


….

 

"Text for interim on-air and online announcements could be along the following lines.

"Contrary to the information in the World Service programme.... and in a News Online article, the World Bank does not have information on global trends in poor people's prices. They have not been monitoring, as the BBC claimed, prices for a basket of essential items.

"The "dollar a day" monitoring for the Millennium Goal does not measure consumption in the ordinary sense of the word but largely spending. Economists call this consumption expenditure. Contrary to the impression given by the BBC, economists do not know what poor people could buy with their money in 1990 compared with 2010 and so cannot know what people consumed.

"Secondly, the World Bank do not consider how much of each item is essential, even though this may vary due to larger meals being needed as people grow up, or such things as how much they need to spend on rent if they move to cities. The BBC therefore accepts that its use of the word "essential" was misleading."

 

 

 

 

BBC website Editor's Choice for global poverty, 8 August 2015:

"that basket of food"

Spanish version:

 


"[the World Bank line] is adjusted for inflation...There we are, the target's been met"

Tim Harford, ex-World Bank economist, BBC presenter, future conference session chairman and keynote speaker at the World Bank
More or Less, BBC World Service broadcast to poor countries 3 March 2012

"the World Bank...estimate of the purchasing power of the poor is based on the measure of their ability to buy any of the goods and services an economy has to offer: not only food, water and shelter but also airline tickets, pedicures and personal fitness training. ...based on a mixture of guesswork and wild extrapolation."

George Monbiot, The Guardian 2003
 


“the problems with poverty estimates go well beyond the inappropriate nature of the conversion factors used to make such adjustments across currencies, and ultimately reside in the failure to specify an international poverty line (or national poverty lines) that are meaningful in the sense that they correspond to the real cost of achieving basic human requirements (as argued extensively by Thomas Pogge and myself in various published articles).”

Sanjay G. Reddy
Letter, Financial Times
November 19, 2007
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9c9aa4f6-9640-11dc-b7ec-0000779fd2ac.html#axzz3iI63eCpU

 

 



Unanswered complaint to BBC on More or Less of 3 March 2012:

 

Unanswered complaint to BBC on More or Less broadcast to poor countries 16 May 2014:

 

"B. "Agreed by [UN]" fails to correct easier "1990 baseline" Declaration pledge error.

D. Impartiality: Ex-WB econ presenter; claim and contributor from "think tank" (chair ex-WB chief econ; "paid": main funder UK Govt; stats from WB and WB-hosted); the other contrib. is WB chief econ.

E. Misleadingly presented chief econ as voice of caution. He said should not use national prices for poor - exactly what WB doing for MDG baseline; unchallenged. Presented as problem for "quick" stats from think-tank: wrong impression of basis for, and debate over, official claims.

F. MoL still avoids stated purpose (what claims based on) or due impartiality re WB on poverty."

 

 

If a child searches for "poverty" on the BBC website, they find a fairy story.

 

 

 

BBC website search 8 August 2015 for "poverty"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/search?q=poverty

"EDITOR'S CHOICE

The rise of the $1-a-day statistic

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17312819

Contributors:

1. World Bank research director who co-designed official method.
2. World Bank partner organisation head who says line is useful.
3. Ex-World Bank economist of 19 years now in university who proposes similar higher line.
4. Ex-World Bank economist now in university; has been editor for World Bank publications.

Links are to

a) World Bank official estimate from World Bank research director
b) article by the World Bank partner organisation head.

The BBC article falsely claimed that the research director's "dollar a day" team themselves [!], from around 1990 [!], collected prices of "goods" in "developing countries", then used "household surveys" [!] and "census data" [!] to "calculate" how much you "would need" for a "basket of essential [!] goods" - a "basket of food" [!] in each country.

http://web.archive.org/web/20120309155550/http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17312819

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/movil/noticias/2012/03/120309_economia_politica_un_dolar_bd.shtml


That BBC story is contradicted by the World Bank's own news output on the update which prompted it:

"The researchers first convert those numbers to local currency units using the purchasing-power parity rate, and then convert the line to the prices prevailing at the time of each household survey, using the best available Consumer Price Index."

http://econ.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/0,,contentMDK:23129612~pagePK:64165401~piPK:64165026~theSitePK:469372,00.html

The article links to the World Bank research director's briefing note, which might be regarded as misleading:

"All money values are in real terms, adjusting for inflation and using exchange rates that reflect actual prices prevailing in each country."

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPOVCALNET/Resources/Global_Poverty_Update_2012_02-29-12.pdf


Perhaps that could reasonably be taken as meaning "the World Bank estimate prices faced by the poor", which is not true for any year from 1981 to the projections to 2030.

The briefing paper to which the BBC article links states,

"For further details on the methodology used for the Bank’s global poverty measures and various tests of robustness see Shaohua Chen and Martin Ravallion, "The Developing World is Poorer than we Thought, but no Less Successful in the Fight Against Poverty," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2010, Vol. 125. Issue 4, pp. 1577-1625."

The official methodology paper is at:

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DEC/Resources/DevelopingworldispoorerQJE.pdf

 

 

 

 


Date shown on the BBC article: "9 March 2012"

The word "essential" was removed in November 2012 following a complaint, but not from the Spanish version:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/movil/noticias/2012/03/120309_economia_politica_un_dolar_bd.shtml

or from the audio file for the accompanying programme. All three are still contradicted by the World Bank news story above.

 



Several complaints on this and related material are still unanswered by BBC in August 2015. Complaints included these words of 27 May 2012:

"Guidelines: Accuracy, including links. Impartiality. Editorial integrity online. Controversial subjects. Range of views:4.4.7. Major matters. Assumption and bias: 4.4.14. Range of links: 14.4.19.

1. Persistent error that World Bank estimate inflation for the poor: "basket of essential goods", etc. They use CPI.

2. "Essential" may mislead.  Bank does not estimate any consumption-need trend.

3. "Consumption" misleads a general audience.


7. Economist and Bank/ex-Bank speaker imbalances, including presenter.  Links unbalanced.

8. Reasonable steps not taken to "scrutinise" (More or Less, 10 Mar) or assess, statistic for data reliability; survey comparability over time; what is included (housing, public services, etc); or relationship to real life (assets, debts, needs). …


9. Failure to question whether

a) "the target's been met";

b) people were richer if crossed the line;
 
c) their money buys more or less."

 

 

 

From: Kenneth Arrow
5 June 2003 02:08
Subject:  Re: Fundamental problems in welfare economics

...the argument that price deflators should differ according to income level...
...the ratio between children's and adults' consumption...
It is true that neither of these concepts plays any role in published statistics.

 

 

 

The BBC's Editor's Choice page for global poverty is linked to the following programme:

 

More or Less, 3 March 2012.
BBC World Service radio broadcast to poor countries.  

Descriptions by BBC:

"Scrutinising" the World Bank dollar a day "goal";
"Assesses how poverty is measured, as the World Bank releases the latest figures".


Speakers: 

1. Presenter/usual scriptwriter: Ex-World Bank economist, future keynote speaker and conference chairman at World Bank. 
2. Producer/reporter.  

Guests: 

3. World Bank economist, co-designer of official line.
4. Ex-World Bank economist.  In BBC article he proposes World Bank line at higher level.
5. World Bank partner economist.  In BBC article he says World Bank line is useful. 

For accompanying article: 

6. Ex-World Bank economist, editor and author for World Bank publications.

The article and programme omit to mention World Bank employment/partnership and/or financial interests in the cases of the presenter and two contributors. 

Ex-World Bank presenter: 

"It's hard to think of a more important figure than the number of people living in poverty.  For many years now a common standard for extreme poverty has been living on less than a dollar a day... the [!] estimates ...have just been updated"

[Previous edition of More or Less, 2007: 
"It's hard to think of a more important figure than the number of people living on less than a dollar a day"] 



 "these poverty lines were usually set at the basic amount that a person needs to feed and clothe themselves.
So the World Bank team proposed that this became a global poverty line"


"Economists ...look at prices of hundreds of goods [!] in developing countries [!] and then with reference to...household surveys [!] and census data [!]... they calculate [!] how much money you would need [!] to have in each country to buy a comparable basket of essential [!] goods that would cost you a dollar in America...the basket of goods that the economists price up...more expensive than it was a couple of decades ago [!]"...

"adjusted for inflation...there we are, the target's been met"

The article links to a paper by the World Bank research director.

The programme gives wrong dollar level for MDG target, exaggerating World Bank claimed poverty trend.

BBC staff member states "we've discovered that if you take China out of the equation the goal hasn't been met".
The information is in the World Bank press release.

Ex-World Bank presenter states there is a "fundamental question" from a "big critic" of the line. 
In reality the critic proposes similar line at a higher level.
The programme does not "assess how poverty is measured" as advertised.  The "fundamental question" mentioned is in fact whether trickle-down economics is better than trying to help the poor.

Ex-World Bank presenter:


Accompanying article, still Editor's Choice for "poverty" on BBC website in 2015: 

Falsely states that the "dollar-a-day" economists themselves did these non-existent calculations since around 1990; refers to "that basket of food" and "consumption data".

The word "essential" was removed after a complaint.  It was put in a new article a few days later.  It was left in the podcast and the Spanish version of the web page.

 

The complaint was added to during May-October 2012 when the BBC failed to respond to three submissions.

The original was:


Summary: Request for on-air correction: global poverty

Global poverty errors

More or Less, World Service 3 Mar.
Web: "Dollar benchmark" 9 Mar;  "El Problema..." 10 Mar.
Perhaps other items.

Guidelines: Accuracy, including links. Impartiality. Editorial integrity online. Controversial subjects. Range of views:4.4.7. Major matters. Assumption and bias: 4.4.14. Range of links: 14.4.19.

1. Persistent error that World Bank estimate inflation for the poor: "basket of essential goods", etc. They use CPI.

2. "Essential" may mislead.  Bank does not estimate any consumption-need trend.

3. "Consumption" misleads a general audience.

4. Erroneous implication that Bank can assess progress on Goal 1 without FAO, WHO-UNICEF and ILO estimates on nutrition and employment.  Conflation of goal with subsidiary money target or indicator.  No challenge to Bank research director's errors on these matters in person and in a link.

5. Failure to note WB stats are outliers for Goal 1's and all goals' indicators.

6. Did Bank "recalculate everything" in respect of trends?

7. Economist and Bank/ex-Bank speaker imbalances, including presenter.  Links unbalanced.

8. Reasonable steps not taken to "scrutinise" (More or Less, 10 Mar) or assess, statistic for data reliability; survey comparability over time; what is included (housing, public services, etc); or relationship to real life (assets, debts, needs).

9. Failure to question whether

a) "the target's been met";

b) people were richer if crossed the line;
 
c) their money buys more or less.

 

 

...........................................

 

 


REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN L. POWELL
AT WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

September 4, 2002
 
Here in Johannesburg, we have recommitted ourselves to achieving, by 2015, the development goals set forth in the Millennium Declaration.

http://wfile.ait.org.tw/wf-archive/2002/020904/epf306.htm

 

 

 

"in the year 2000 we had 150 heads of states and government and princes come to the UN to talk about what the UN should be doing in the next 15 years of this century. ...

They have challenged us to reduce abject poverty by 50 per cent between now and 2015."

Secretary-General
Press conference
Boston, 6 May 2002

http://www.un.org/sg/offthecuff/?nid=67
http://www.un.org/sg/cuffarch/sgcu0402.shtml

 

 

 


"More or Less makes a major error. ...Millennium Declaration of 2000....pledges...were...to, for example halve the proportion of people in 2000...not the 1990 level."

6 February 2014 to BBC Head of Editorial Complaints Unit.


 

Journalists go on repeating government propaganda after BBC Trustees recognise a distinction important for holding governments to account


On 19 June 2015, after over a year of complaints, someone paid by the BBC says something vaguely right about how Millennium Development Goal targets relate to governments' commitments of 2000.   But after this, the BBC goes on telling people in poor countries that the MDGs were set in 2000.

The BBC trustees sent a decision on 19 June which said:


"by changing the base line for measuring the reduction of under-five child mortality deaths [! - and other pledges] to the year 1990, the target set [?]  in 2001 [?] was a less demanding commitment [?] than that made in 2000".


Details about the response from BBC Trustees are near the end of this document.

 

BBC fact-checkers make the mistake again after BBC Trustees get the position vaguely right

On 19 June 2015 the BBC Trust sent the decision to the complainant stating that the MDGs were not agreed in 2000.

On 3 July the fact-checking programme More or Less broadcast an edition on the MDGs.

Its web page states:

"Fifteen years ago at the Millennium Summit [!] the United Nations set eight goals [!] for addressing extreme poverty. They became known [!] as the Millennium Development Goals. A deadline of 2015 was set to achieve what the UN said were ‘quantified targets’ – so how did we do?"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vmb62

 

Instead of mentioning the baseline change it featured one of the civil servants who had agreed the change.

Another guest referred to the MDGs being set "fifteen" years ago.

The programme began by saying "Let me take you back to September 2000" and played a recording of the Secretary-General.

But, like apparently all or almost all BBC output on the Millennium Declaration, it failed to tell listeners in poor or rich countries what leaders actually pledged.

 

 

 

The BBC's fact-checking programme bizarrely stated that the dollar a day was "raised" to $1.25, ignoring twelve years of inflation.



One reason this is odd is that the same programme had stated in 2012,

"the new dollar-a-day line is actually a dollar 25, pegged to 2005 prices."

The new programme begins by talking about the Declaration. But the 2000 Declaration cannot have pledged, and civil servants cannot have agreed in 2001 to water down, a target using 2005 prices.

The BBC's "Editor's Choice" page for global poverty - the More or Less article of 9 March 2012 – reads:

"And even at $1.25 it is set too low he says".

Since this sounds like a very low line, why would someone say "even at $1.25"?

Perhaps the contributor did not actually say it.

The answer seems to be a previous statement:

"The World Bank's global poverty line measure is now not $1, but $1.25 per day."

- in the context that the programme did not explain why.

Taking the statements together, perhaps readers may well think the dollar level was raised – the same error in the 2012 article as in the 2015 programme.

Again, it seems astonishing that these errors appear in articles and programmes from a team including an ex-World Bank economist.


The "dollar a day" which the leaders at the Millennium Summit were talking about was $1.08 in "international dollars" by a 1993 price index for the USA.

The current "$1.25 a day" relates to 2005 prices, as mentioned in More or Less on 3 March 2012.

Using the same baseline and adjusting for the US inflation rate used, the current "$1.25" would equate to 92 cents.

This is one reason for the bizarre position where the Economist and the Guardian said in 2000 that the 2000 Summit agreed to halve the 22 per cent currently on under a dollar a day, but the World Bank reported in 2012 that the proportion in 2008 had been almost halved to 22 per cent.

Another reason is the change of baseline.

 

 

 

…....………………………………….………..

 



"On behalf of the European Union....
the world community still has far to go if we are to meet the goals of the Millennium Declaration.
For many countries, the United Nations is first and foremost about combating poverty. How to ensure everyone access to the essentials of life; the next meal; the medicine and health care to survive; and access to basic education. These are the promises contained in the Millennium Declaration. And we must not let the world down."

Statement by H.E. Anders Fog Rasmussen
Prime Minister of Denmark on behalf of the European Union
Fifty-Seventh Session Of The General Assembly
General Debate
New York, 12 September 2002
http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/57/statements/020912denmarkE.htm


BBC fact-checking programme More or Less, World Service 10 March 2012:

[reproducing a news report, apparently broadcast by the BBC World Service to poor countries:]

"The United Nations says the first Millennium Development Goal [!], halving the number [!] of people who have no access to clean water, has been reached [!] before the target date of 2015."


[Programme "scrutinising the claim that the global target has been met", from 3 minutes 30 seconds:]


"the Millennium Development Goals were agreed by all the countries of the United Nations and the big aid agencies in the year 2000 [!]
...So the whole [water] goal's about halving the proportion....between
1990 [!] and 2015.
- Yes."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00p98ms (World Service)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02rzhd8 (Radio 4)

 

"Specifically, I urge the Summit to adopt the target of reducing by half, between now and 2015, the proportion of people who lack sustainable access to adequate sources of affordable and safe water."

Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Millennium Report 27 March 2000
http://www.un.org/en/events/pastevents/pdfs/We_The_Peoples.pdf   


"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has worked hard to build international support for the UN Secretary-General's proposals for the Millennium Summit."
House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 15 May 2000.  Mr Hain.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmhansrd/vo000515/text/00515w09.htm


"President Clinton is strongly committed to working...to meet the vision of a sustainable future outlined in the Secretary General's Millennium Report."
The White House September 7, 2000
http://clinton5.nara.gov/WH/new/html/Wed_Oct_4_133235_2000.html

 

"The declaration endorsed ...halving by the year 2015 the 22 percent of the world's population now existing on less than a dollar a day."

Reuters, 8 September 2000

http://www.itnsource.com/en/shotlist/RTV/2000/09/08/009080017/?s=millennium%20summit

 

 

 

"Millennium Development Goals...
The proposed formulation of the 8 goals, 18 targets and 40+ indicators are listed below.  ...
...the normal baseline year for the targets will be 1990..."

[relevant targets mention 1990 except for water target]

Report of the Secretary-General: Implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration
6 September 2001
http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/sgreport2001.pdf

 

 

"OECD
MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
(Note by the Secretariat)
17 September 2001
...Staff
from the Secretariats of the UN (Secretary General’s Office and UNDG), IMF, OECD-DAC, and the World Bank met in New York on 21 June 2001 to discuss aligning the goals

[Note: This means a) civil servants' generally easier 1990-baseline International Development Goals whose seven-goals-with-21-indicators structure and baseline were the basis of the MDG framework, and b) the world leaders' 2000-baseline Declaration goals for 2015;  there were some other differences].

"In subsequent correspondence they reached agreement
on a presentation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)...

It was agreed that there should be a standard baseline year of 1990 against which to measure progress (with an exception of using 2000 for the safe water goal as that was agreed in a recent UN conference)."

http://www.mofat.go.kr/webmodule/common/download.jsp?boardid=106&tablename=TYPE_DATABOARD&seqno=075ffcfdafa0fa2ff1fd103b&fileseq=05b06bfb1fd504dfa303b07b

[.pdf document which may need the extension .pdf to be added]

or

http://millenniumdeclaration.org/mdgwaterbaseline.pdf .





Here, the BBC's fact-checking programme told an audience of people in poor countries that they could hold their governments to account for pledges with baselines of 1990 - not the real pledges.

I made the same factual mistake myself, but then I read more.

 

6 February 2014 to BBC Head of Editorial Complaints: "More or Less makes a major error. ...Millennium Declaration of 2000....pledges...were ...to, for example halve the proportion of people in 2000...not the 1990 level."

[At that time I did not know why the water MDG target in the official list had no baseline of 1990].

 

Many more complaints on the BBC's misinformation on the baseline, all unanswered.

 

The Editorial Standards Committee of the BBC Trust finally acknowledged the difference between the baselines in a decision sent on 19 June 2015.

This is apparently the only report ever issued from anyone at the BBC making clear a difference important for poor people to hold governments to account.

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/appeals/esc_bulletins/2015/june_july.pdf

Mention of the above BBC Trust document is not an endorsement of its veracity.

 

After the Trustees recognised the difference, the BBC still failed to correct its widespread errors about the baseline - and continued to confuse the MDGs with the Declaration's pledges.

In July 2015 the BBC broadcast programmes about the Millennium Goals with contributions from two of the civil servants who had agreed the baseline change, with no authority from the General Assembly. 

 

BBC World Service web page 3 July 2015: "Fifteen years ago at the Millennium Summit the United Nations set eight goals [!] for addressing extreme poverty. They [!] became known as the Millennium Development Goals.  A deadline of 2015 was set to achieve what the UN said were ‘quantified targets’ – so how did we do?"
More or Less
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vmb62

 

When were the 1990-baseline MDGs agreed?  

When the Secretary-General proposed them on 6 September 2001? 
When civil servants told each other to start using them on 6 November 2001 with no authority from the Assembly?  
When the Assembly resolution welcomed as a "useful guide" the Secretary-General's Road Map for the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, on 14 December 2001?  The Road Map contained the MDG targets but the resolution did not mention them.
Informally at some other time?  
At the 2005 World Summit when the leaders at the same time reaffirmed the Declaration?  

 

 

The BBC has a vast army including economists, UN correspondents, international development correspondents, fact-checking programmes, science correspondents, investigative journalists, a charity to help media be accurate and hold governments to account, and specialists in BBC accuracy across the BBC Executive, Trust Unit and Editorial Standards Committee of the BBC Trust.  

 

So how is it that there are such glaring omissions, falsehoods and misleading content about, and broadcast to, hundreds of millions of people?

 

 

........................................................................................................................................................

 

 

From prehistory to 2000:  Life length among humans varies across time, place and power.


In the year 2000, the world's macroeconomists use national and global statistics only on people alive. 

They confuse "the rise in the average" with "the average rise".  

Where people die at different ages, is there such a thing as an "average rise" or "average fall"?

 

Since rich people live longer, they have more votes.

Since rich people live longer, income and other inequality is greater than economists said. 

1980s: AIDS arrives.  Prospect of millions dying of famine in Ethiopia.
Economic theorists confuse average outcomes for people with average for survivors.

China has a one-child policy.  Birth rates fall worldwide.  So food needs per person rise. 
For national and global claims, economists use per-capita statistics which assume food needs per person have not risen.


1990s: International targets are proposed which look better if the worse-off die.


1995:  The originator of the "dollar a day" at the World Bank writes about good practice for economists - to adjust poverty estimates for household size.  Per person, small households need more.   Household size is going down.  He ignores this for the UN poverty claims.

1996: The same World Bank man produces perhaps the only work by economists in the 1980s or 1990s on an error in economic theory with huge implications for the poorest, in eight words:

"when a poor person becomes poorer the headcount index of poverty will not increase (indeed, if the person dies, the index will fall!)"


He fails to note that:

1. Economists also look at population averages the wrong way,

2. The problem affects economists' claims about inequality,

3. The problem extends beyond economics,

4. Even if the proportion or number of "poor" people does not fall economists' methods ignore the cost to the person of dying or benefit of surviving, and

5.  In the real world of AIDS and varying mortality rates this is a serious problem.


Even after this tiny reference to a large problem, economists including this one, and statisticians, politicians, civil servants and campaigners keep using the wrong methods.

 

 

1996: World leaders pledge to halve the number of hungry people by 2015 from "its present level".


UN population projections for several African countries are greatly altered due to AIDS deaths.


FAO presents estimates of a few million more or fewer hungry each year as if mortality changes did not exist.

 

2000: World Bank and heads of state at the UN confuse income and profit.

 

March 2000:  Secretary-General proposes goals for Millennium Summit which look better if the worse-off die.

The "dollar a day" target assumes the poor are richer if they have to spend more.  

 

Spring 2000: The World Bank gives heavy publicity to economists' claims about how good various policies are for the poorest. 

The method uses statistics which look better if they die, strangely assumes that relative prices for the poorest were the same under all policies, ignores needs, assets, debts, environment, shared resources, and assumes people are better off if they spend more.  

The spending numbers are known by academics (eg Tony Atkinson) to be unreliable.  The inflation data are clearly dubious.

The paper is quoted by the UK Treasury as an example of high-quality research.  UK Secretary of State on 5 July 2000, after a visit from the main World Bank author, states the research has been misunderstood.   This is true, but not in the way she means. 

The Economist stated that the paper using figures which look better if the poor die, fails to look at prices faced, needs and so on "puts matters straight"..."if the claim is that incomes of the poor fall in crises by proportionately more than the incomes of the rich, it is wrong."   "does globalisation increase intra-country inequality? The answer to that is no."   "governments...have been shown so plainly that growth is as good for the poor as it is for everybody else.".  


The Financial Times reportedly stated  the paper " "provides what appears to be incontestable evidence" that sustained growth
raises the real incomes of the poor and that growth is "helped along by just the policies many of the demonstrators oppose".
"

Guardian 14 June 2000:  "There's a lot of approximation," says Ray Thomas, who teaches statistics at the Open University..."not really good enough".
[Richard Douthwaite:] "when economic growth takes place, almost everything in society and the economy changes, and even if incomes rise sharply it is impossible to say without a detailed social investigation whether the population of the country concerned becomes better off.

...if a child is cared for by its mother at home, that does not contribute to national income and hence growth. If it is placed with a childminder, it does. A meal in McDonald's adds more to gross national product than a meal cooked at home. Growth can therefore be generated by making people less self-reliant. Whether this indicates they are better off is another question.

Supposing, for example, that when a third world country opened up its economy to the world its agricultural workers were required to become more mechanised. If, as a result, fewer workers were needed in the countryside and they moved to city slums, growth could well be generated by such a change and the incomes of the people who moved could well be higher than they were in their villages.

However, as they would then have to buy all their food and fuel rather than producing it for themselves, and might have to pay rent and fares for the first time, they could easily be much worse off."

[Note: The part about food and fuel may be incorrect:  surveys are supposed to take these things into account.  But if I remember correctly the UN metadata notes for the "dollar a day" which uses similar surveys say that the situation is better now than before - which does not rule out a systematic distorting effect over time, countries, economic conditions or policies.   Such distorting effects are possible with other factors such as at least some of those mentioned in the Guardian article.  But in any case, even if the value of free water, own produce, own housing and so on are estimated they are both complex and often not just based on guesses but based on value judgements.]


2000:  Senior academics at Princeton, London School of Economics are warned that the statistics look better if the poor die.


2000:  Secretary-General recommends baseline of 2000 for water and money pledges.

Heads of state welcome his proposals. 

Heads of state agree mortality reductions from "current rates".

The media report that the Millennium Declaration has a baseline of 2000.  

For most of the next 15 years the media, including the BBC, say it has a generally easier baseline of 1990. 




Around 2000 the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation likewise began using a "1990-92" baseline for world leaders' pledge at the World Food Summit in 1996, even though they actually pledged to reduce the number of hungry people by half from "its present level".


2001:  Civil servants begin using a 1990 baseline in individual countries with no authorisation from General Assembly.   UN staff say - contrary to the General Assembly's resolution - that they will report global statistics using generally easier 1990 baseline. 


April 2001: Two main "MDG architects" from OECD and World Bank are warned that the statistics look better if the poor die.  One is told that if you do not know how many died you cannot know how many rose out of poverty.  
Problem is notified to other senior World Bank and UK staff, Ravi Kanbur, Jeffrey Sachs and Kenneth Arrow.

Subj: Economics of survival 11 April 2001 To: jeffrey_sachs@harvard.edu
..If the poorest die, the average income of those alive at the end of the period will be higher than the average when the group included the poorest...My suggestion is this:  For any outcome measure  -  reducing poverty, achieving 100% schooling  -   account needs to be taken of those within the relevant group who did not achieve the target, whether through death or any other path.    



2002: BBC, WHO, UNICEF are warned that progress looks better if the poor die.


Subj: Poverty statistics
2 September 2002
To: Alex Kirby, BBC [after phone call]...

The proportion of poor in some countries may be reducing because of early deaths. ...
This is never taken into account in official calculations.



2003: BBC is warned that academics regard World Bank poverty claims as unreliable.

From: Kenneth Arrow
5 June 2003 02:08
Subject:  Re: Fundamental problems in welfare economics
...the argument that price deflators should differ
according to income level...the
ratio between children's and adults' consumption...
It is true that neither of these concepts plays any role in published
statistics. ...We simply don't
have much of the information needed to compute better figures. ...

The most interesting question you raise is about the interaction of
demography and income distribution. There are subtle considerations
here. I don't have the time to elaborate, but roughly there is an
implicit comparison between existent and non-existent people, a
philosophically difficult point.(Professor Derek Parfit has written
illuminatingly but not, in my judgment, conclusively on this
question.) This shows up in your question, what happens to our
measures if, for example, the longevity of the poor increases.

Clearly, the current measures do answer the question, what is the
distribution of current income among the existing population."



?July 2003:  A third "MDG architect" is warned:
To: jan.vandemoortele@undp.org
Since the year 2000 I have been trying to tell academics and officials that there is something wrong in concept with several MDGs  -  and with economists’ measures of welfare.  We should not be aiming to reduce the proportion of any deprived groups without taking mortality rates into account.  ...
When we consider the technical problems involved in using economic data to infer economic well-being, we may realise that it is not a practical solution at any reasonable cost.


2005: BBC Editorial Complaints Unit published ruling overstates value of World Bank "dollars" by typically 100 to 200%.


2005:  For the World Summit, BBC keeps giving the wrong impression on the Millennium Declaration baseline.


2006: BBC gives the wrong impression from the comical claim by FAO that leaders at the 1996 World Food Summit ("from its present level") set a 1990-2 baseline.


2006: BBC Panorama warned: 
To: Panorama@bbc.co.uk
Subject: World poverty claims - programme idea

"...Governments routinely misuse statistics on international development.

An example is the "dollar a day" statistic.  One problem is that it is for both
adults and children, but the ratio varies over time.  So other things being
equal this generates spurious "poverty reduction". ... 

- many indicators look "better" if more die; 

- policies have been assessed on the assumption that they were not associated
with changes in the relative price of food or rent, or changes in need"




2007: BBC fact-checking programme on the World Bank dollar a day. 

The series' main presenter/scriptwriter is an ex-World Bank economist who presented "Trust me, I'm an Economist" on BBC TV.

Programme gives false impression that World Bank economists know prices faced by extremely poor people in each country. 

Guests for the fact-checking programme are the originator of the "dollar a day" at the World Bank for 19 years, and an economist who spent 15 years at the World Bank.



2008-9: "A Dollar a Day" radio series travels around the world converting the wrong dollars
, same error as BBC Editorial Complaints Unit. 

In the China edition the presenter spoke with a World Bank economist who had falsely claimed in 2001 that the large-scale economic claims about which policies worked for the poorest showed how much protein and so on people ate. 

From 2000 onwards this economist claimed his statistics indicated how well the poorest people did under different policies using statistics which look better if they die, without considering what people needed or the prices faced. 

In the same edition the BBC presenter stated,
 
"China's measure is how much food does a person need for minimal subsistence... the global poverty line takes in the cost of shelter, clothing and other basics; looking at it that way, the World Bank says the decline in poverty isn't quite so steep but it's still the biggest recorded decrease..."

That passage is in my view most reasonably interpreted as saying that the World Bank has looked at both:

a) prices of essentials over time

and

b) changes in needs over time. 

Neither is true.



2010:  For the MDG Summit, the BBC keeps giving the wrong impression on the baseline for the Millennium Declaration.


2010: Famous philosopher Peter Singer writes article for the Guardian pointing out that MDGs use watered-down 1990 baseline not in the Millennium Declaration.




March 2012: Fact-checking programme presented by ex-World Bank economist who had presented "Trust me, I'm an economist" series on BBC TV. 

Programme is advertised as "assessing" World Bank poverty "measure" and "scrutinising" the "goal".  Falsely states that economists have data on prices faced by extremely poor people, and claims to have "discovered" a problem which is in fact mentioned in the World Bank press release.
Guests are World Bank economist, ex-World Bank economist and World Bank partner economist, none substantially critical of "how poverty is measured" by the World Bank.   Accompanying "editor's choice" article wrongly claims it was the "dollar a day" economists who collected prices, that they did so since around 1990 and that they calculated prices internationally  using a "basket of food".  In reality it was economists studying GDP.   Article states economists have "consumption" data. 
Ex-World Bank presenter does not question method but states "there, the target's been met" while giving wrong figures exaggerating World Bank claim.  Does not question World Bank claim that African poverty has fallen despite small preliminary fall reported, which World Bank later retracts.

Programme page linked to the "A Dollar A Day" series which used the wrong dollars and wrongly claimed the World Bank "looking at it that way" claimed a decline in poverty, where "looking at it that way" supposedly meant taking in the "cost" of various basics. That sounds like the World Bank takes into account both prices of basics and amounts of items needed. Neither is true.







10 March 2012:  Same programme challenges WHO/UNICEF claim that water target met - not done with World Bank. 
Huge error that the historic Millennium Summit pledges by world leaders set 1990 baselines.
In fact neither the pledge nor the MDG target mentions 1990. 


More or Less, 3 November 2012:

"to make international comparisons you need to measure poverty in absolute terms.  This is where the poverty line depends on a minimum acceptable standard of living  - whether you've got enough money to have a certain level of shelter, clothing and health care, for example. And this is a constant across countries so it's more easily comparable.  The most common measure of absolute poverty is living on less than a dollar 25 a day."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0104h4d

That wrongly implies the World Bank has estimated needs.  The dollar 25, in respect of comparisons across countries or times, takes no account of quantities needed of any of the things mentioned.  It is the amount of money (largely spending) which is supposed to be constant for buying equivalent amounts of goods and services, with no account whatsoever taken for differing needs as the programme implies.   The passage also misleads as elsewhere on prices.


2013, November:  A major BBC2 television programme says it is using World Bank "dollar a day" numbers on "extreme poverty".  But the  presenter himself had stated to the Guardian in May that they were "plus or minus half a billion".  

The presenter confuses two different "dollars" resulting in the mistaken claim that the middle billion of people live on ten times the "dollar a day" level.   The official estimate is in fact $3.4 in the 2005 "purchasing power parity" dollars used. 

Because of this confusion, the programme's "extreme poverty" line is in the wrong place, including too few people, for all years in the animation. 

The programme does not mention that its "dollar" figures are not even in real dollars, but "international dollars" worth typically 2-3 times less.

The viewers may therefore have thought that half the world lives on over

2013: Head of editorial complaints unit, which made the error on the dollar level, promises to investigate the 3 March 2012 programme about the dollar level - even though it mentions that the approach taken by his unit is wrong. 

2014:  BBC is informed several times in complaints that Millennium Summit did not set 1990 baselines.   BBC persists. 


 

 

 


BBC World Service and Radio 4 
More or Less
Did Global Poverty Halve Overnight?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01ys3t5
16 May 2014

An ex-World Bank economist who had chaired a session and given the keynote address at a World Bank conference less than three months before, presented a programme.  He introduced it by referring to the team being like detectives. 

The programme was on an article by economists at an organisation headed by an ex-Chief Economist of the World Bank. 

The ex-World Bank presenter heard from one of the economists at the organisation headed by an ex-Chief Economist of the World Bank, raised a question put by the ex-Research Director of the World Bank who co-designed the official method, and heard from the Chief Economist of the World Bank

The non-World Bank economist is a co-author of a paper with the ex-World Bank contributor to the 3 March 2012 edition of More or Less who proposes a similar line to the official World Bank line, but at a higher level. 

The article by economists at the organisation headed by the ex-Chief Economist of the World Bank used surveys processed by the World Bank and price estimates from an organisation hosted by the World Bank.  

 

.......


The ex-World Bank economist presenter raised a question which was in the main comment thread on the only page where the article was published.  The questioner was the ex-Research Director of the World Bank and designer of the official "dollar a day" methodology, who was a guest for two previous editions of More or Less on the dollar a day in 2007 and 2012.
 
Besides the contributor from the organisation headed by the ex-Chief Economist of the World Bank, the other contributor was the current Chief Economist of the World Bank. 

The current Chief Economist of the World Bank said that national price data should not be used for poverty analysis without proper adjustment.  This was extremely strange, because that is precisely what the World Bank does.  

The ex-World Bank presenter did not react. 

Is that the BBC's idea of impartial reporting on economics?


...........................................


"Did the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty fall by half a few weeks ago?That's one interpretation of newly released figures for purchasing power parity around the world, but does it stack up?"

"Did the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty fall by half a few weeks ago? That is one interpretation of newly released figures for purchasing power parity around the world. The figures compiled by the International Comparison Programme of the World Bank show that in a lot of poorer countries, things are cheaper than we had thought. One development think tank has suggested that if people in these countries can afford to buy more, fewer of them will fall under the World Bank's definition of extreme poverty.

We take a look at the argument to see if it stacks up, and whether the World Bank should be lowering its estimates for global poverty in light of the new figures. "


BBC Radio 4 - More or Less
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0436h18

"Did the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty fall by half a few weeks ago?That's one interpretation of newly released figures for purchasing power parity around the world, but does it stack up? Should the World Bank be lowering its global poverty estimates?"

 

Radio 4 introduction by the ex-World Bank economist and recent conference chairman and keynote speaker at World Bank:

"Hello, and welcome to More or Less - the show that does for statistics what Sherlock does for crimes. ...this week.... has global poverty just been halved overnight?

On a Wednesday morning in late April, the worthy people over at the International Comparison Programme, which is housed at the World Bank, published a new set of estimates for purchasing power parity."  

"James Fletcher:
Yes, Tim, it is fascinating even if it does sound like a bit like a tedious piece of geekery -  but it's a piece of tedious geekery that's changing the way we understand the world."

Comment:  This may imply serious acceptance of the widely derided World Bank statements on poverty. The lack of challenge may be linked to the preponderance of World Bank and ex-World Bank guests on More or Less editions dealing with extreme poverty on 3 December 2007 and 3 March 2012; the inclusion of yet another supporter of the "dollar a day" in November 2012; and the choice of guests and information sources for the current edition.


"For example, when these ICP numbers came out, some researchers in a Washington DC think tank did what they're paid for"

[The biggest donors to the organisation in grant size listed for 2014 were the Norwegian government and the UK government:
http://www.cgdev.org/section/funding.  I have not divided this by the number of years the grants are spread over.]

"and started thinking and calculating; and pretty soon they produced this headline:
"Global absolute poverty fell by almost half on Tuesday" "


What the programme description calls "one interpretation" of the new price data  - that global poverty fell overnight - is a joke made by the economists, and not only a joke about "overnight" or "on Tuesday".  

Sometimes economists or statisticians say figures "fell" when the method was revised for all years. 

 

"Tim Harford:

Using the old set of PPP figures, the World Bank had estimated that there were more than a billion people in the world living in extreme poverty on less than a dollar 25 a day. The rough estimates from the think tank suggest that using the new PPP figures the number under that extreme poverty line has almost halved.

James Fletcher:

And this has got development policy wonks hopping around because reducing the number of extremely poor people is one of the Millennium Development Goals agreed by the United Nations. This suggests we've made a lot more progress on that goal than we previously thought."

 

 

The programme's idea above is not necessarily always a mistake, but it is an unusual approach.


The programme did exactly what the price researchers said not to do, in saying the new price data could mean there has been faster progress on poverty.  

It is odd if the More or Less did not realise this.

For one thing, the World Bank methodology paper for the official global poverty count shows the usual approach to price revisions in its title:

"The Developing World is Poorer than we Thought, but no Less Successful in the Fight Against Poverty".


The BBC reported correctly in 2008 that the World Bank had revised its estimate for 1981 as well as the most recent estimate.

It is not clear why the reporter thought this suggested poverty fell less sharply.

It could be that new price data resulted in PPP $1 in 1981 being equivalent to PPP $1.25 after 24 years of inflation, but given observed inflation rates in the US that would involve things in poor countries being now thought to be much cheaper relative to the US than was thought before, and not as the World Bank claimed more expensive.

 

"27 August 2008

By Steve Schifferes

Economics reporter, BBC News

The World Bank has warned that world poverty is much greater than previously thought.

It has revised its previous estimate and now says that 1.4 billion people live in poverty, based on a new poverty line of $1.25 per day.

This is substantially more than its earlier estimate of 985 million people living in poverty in 2004.

The Bank has also revised upwards the number it said were poor in 1981, from 1.5 billion to 1.9 billion.

The new estimates suggest that poverty is both more persistent, and has fallen less sharply [?], than previously thought.

...The World Bank's new poverty line of $1.25 per day in 2005 is equivalent to its $1 per day poverty line introduced in 1981
[!] after adjustment for inflation. [!] The new estimates are based on 675 household surveys for 116 countries, based on 1.2 million interviews. The data has also been revised on the basis of new data on inflation and prices from the 2005 ICP survey of world prices, which showed that the cost of living in developing countries was higher than previously thought. It does not take into account the recent increases in fuel and food prices."


BBC NEWS | Business | World poverty 'more widespread'
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7583719.stm

 

 

More or Less, 3 March 2012:

Tim Harford: "...in 2008 the World Bank made a major change to how they calculated the poverty line. They took account of more national poverty lines, more household surveys - and they got much more accurate price information."

Ruth Alexander: "So they effectively just started all over again."

Tim Harford: "Yes. They junked the old poverty line calculations and they recalculated everything. And the new dollar-a-day line is actually a dollar 25, pegged to 2005 prices."

That edition of More or Less phrased the PPP revisions as "much more accurate price information".

This 2014 edition claims the revisions might show faster progress on poverty.


It is not clear why.

 


The International Comparison Programme, which puts out the judgements about relative prices in different countries (they are judgements, not calculations, because the value of accommodation, for instance, is not easily comparable across countries)  had stated that this was a new methodology which should not be compared with previous methods for previous years.   The usual method was to adjust prices up or down for all years, not adjust the trend as in the approach by the programme. 

The BBC statement

"This suggests we've made much more progress [on poverty]"

is a fundamental error, unless there was some specific reason for assuming the old estimates were more useful for previous years.


The ICP staff who the ex-World Bank presenter called "those worthy people" said of their new numbers:

"....not directly comparable with the 2005 ICP round estimates because they are based on two different price levels""

"...some of the economies.....were not in the other comparison"

"...most importantly, some significant improvements in methodology..."

"The ICP should not be used to compare changes in an economy’s PPP-based GDP over time."


http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/04/29/2011-international-comparison-program-results-compare-real-size-world-economies

 

Since the ICP is about purchasing power, clearly the same applies to claiming changes in living standards. 


The BBC statement "The rough estimates from the think tank suggest that...the number under that extreme poverty line has almost halved" in the context of the other statement, tends to confirm the wrong impression.  

On 3 March 2012, More or Less presented the World Bank statistics applying the latest price data (from surveys carried out around 2005) to 1990 and 2008.  Since the prices had been applied to all years, the World Bank was reporting the same trend as before.

On 16 March 2014, More or Less did something different from the World Bank and its own use of statistics in the 2012 programme.  Now it  presented the idea that the new price data applied only to the latest numbers. 

In my view the economists' joke about poverty falling was irresponsible for an article put on public view, but I find it surprising, in concept at least, that an ex-World Bank economist might not see how it was a joke.  

It is notable that the BBC did not note this:

The new price estimates might mean people in poor countries can afford much more than the older estimates were taken to indicate. 

But those old estimates were taken to show that they could afford much less than economists had previously thought!  

More or Less was here saying poverty might be less (and oddly that poverty might have fallen faster) than previously thought.  But on 3 March 2012 the programme did not say the same in reverse, when prices were thought to be higher than economists had thought before that.

Let us put aside the odd BBC idea that you should only apply the ICP's claims of an improved methodology - meaning the inferred cheaper prices, and lower poverty -  to a recent year. 

For the sake of argument, let us suppose that the new prices released in 2014 show things in poor countries are cheaper than the ICP said last time.  Let us suppose that this means people are not as poor as the World Bank said before.

It would still not be duly accurate to say that according to World Bank figures poverty is less than the World Bank thought before.  Why not?   Because the last time prices were updated - in 2008 using prices from surveys around 2005 - the World Bank said prices were substantially higher than they thought before 2008.  So the higher prices had only been used between 2008 and 2014.   It would have been sensible to point out that to some extent the new "cheaper" prices would put the World Bank back to where they were before, when for example Kofi Annan in 2000, using similarly "cheap" prices urged the Millennium Summit to halve the proportion of people on under a dollar a day from "currently 22 per cent".  

As it turns out, researchers may now be saying, as of 2015, that the price revisions discussed in More or Less of 16 May 2014 seem not to give a very different poverty count from the previous revision. 

 

A bigger problem with the programme is that it again ignored important issues -  such as whether the household survey data are reliable, the fact that the World Bank do not estimate prices faced by the poor, or adjust for needs, and what world leaders actually pledged in 2000.

The programme's performance is worse because of the misleading and farcical presentation of the Chief Economist of the World Bank as concerned for care about using prices which are not known to be what the poor face. 

That is damaging to people's understanding of public statements about both progress on poverty and the relative success of policies, may be the result of the BBC using an ex-World Bank presenter and World Bank and ex-World Bank guests.
 
The complaint about this fact-checking programme, like the complaint about the previous edition, was not answered at all by the BBC's complaints submission system - even though this system is presented as if it "guarantees" a response.  

The Head of the Editorial Complaints Unit was notified of an unanswered complaint and did not answer. 

 

The complaint was submitted on 26 June 2014 at around 9pm.

The BBC's complaints website showed a page stating:

"Your complaint has been submitted…Thank you for completing the details on this form…
thank you for contacting BBC World Service...
We aim to respond…
BBC World Service".

The BBC had already failed to respond to three previous attempts to get an answer to a complaint, all submitted using the recommended method; wrongly claimed that another complaint was submitted after 30 working days, and

The complainant made an image of the page.

The page address was

https://ssl.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/review/?id=R1OMPCG645MCNNT6B5EI1LKT6G&uid=438860581#anchor

 

The text copied from the web form four minutes earlier was:

 

………..……….…..………..…..…………….

 

 

[Unanswered complaint on More or Less of 16/19 May 2014]



R4, WS, assoc'd web pages:

 

1. ICP press release: new-methodology purchasing power stats "should not be used to compare changes in...GDP over time".

So why in value of people's money?

BBC: "This suggests...a lot more progress...on...[poverty] goal",
"suggest...under...poverty line...almost halved",
"reducing",
"fell",
"how prices...changing",
"gone down";
researchers' joke headline on poverty halving
(on air, schedule, edition pages, eg "changing our understanding", "does it stack up?")

give/contribute to impression.

 

2. "Correct": Subjective elements to "purch. power parity": eg shelter, food, water, etc differ across countries.

No safety stats on water.

 

3. WB line not "defined" as 1.25; average of PPP national lines.

 

Despite complaints incl. to ECU 28 May 14:

A. No mention of need.

B. "Agreed by [UN]" fails to correct easier "1990 baseline" Declaration pledge error.

C. Stats mostly spending, not "income".

D. Impartiality:

Ex-WB
[World Bank] econ presenter;
claim and contributor from "think tank"
(chair ex-WB chief econ;
"paid": main funder UK Govt;
stats from WB and WB-hosted);
the other contrib. is WB chief econ.

 

E. Misleadingly presented chief econ as voice of caution.

He said should not use national prices for poor - exactly what WB doing for MDG baseline; unchallenged.

Presented as problem for "quick" stats from think-tank:

wrong impression of basis for, and debate over, official claims.

 

F. MoL still avoids stated purpose (what claims based on) or due impartiality re WB on poverty.

 

 

 

 




2014: Head of Editorial Complaints Unit refuses to investigate 2008 "A Dollar a Day" series which made the same error as the ECU.   Refuses to investigate complaints of bias over an extended period.


Head of Editorial Complaints falsely represents complainant as wishing for "basket of food" article and "essential goods" programme to be more complex.  This is the same ridiculous response given earlier after the BBC2  programme presented the wrong dollars and World Bank statistics the presenter himself distrusted.  In reality the March 2012 material included too much false detail. 


Head of Editorial Complaints states he will launch investigation into the BBC2 programme.  The complaints include that the programme failed to make clear that the dollar is not a real dollar.  This was precisely what the ECU made the mistake about in its published ruling. 


In June 2014 the Head of Editorial Complaints promises answer on possible conflict of interest but does not supply any by August 2015.  Trust Unit, informed several times of the potential conflict, eventually bizarrely states that procedure is for the complainant to appeal to Trust if not satisfied.   
 
2014-15:  BBC repeatedly makes the same false claims that the Millennium Development Goals were set in 2000 or that the Summit set 1990 baselines.

2015:  BBC keeps making the false statements about the MDGs despite repeated complaints and the Trustees on the Editorial Standards Committee acknowledging the difference. 

BBC makes error on clean water.








.......................................................................





2002: Telephone call to Alex Kirby, BBC Environment Correspondent, at Johannesburg Earth Summit.



2 September 2002
Subject: Poverty statistics
To Alex Kirby

Dear Mr Kirby

I've remembered who Bjorn Lomborg is  -   he is saying something very different from me.

Summary

Facts no-one can deny:

1.  Poverty reduction statistics (showing the decline in the proportion of poor people) cannot tell us how much incomes of the poor rose or fell.
2.. The proportion of poor in some countries may be reducing because of early deaths.
3.  This is never taken into account in official calculations.
4.  So we cannot say how much poverty reduction policies help or hurt the poor. ..





Seems to be from 2003:

To: panorama@bbc.co.uk
Possible story   

Dear Panorama team, 

I think the following may provide you with an interesting story at some stage.     It relates to statements made by the UK Department for International Development, the World Bank and the United Nations.  ...the detail of these statistics does not match the public announcements.  


Taipei Times, Saturday, Jun 07, 2003, Page 8

[ http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2003/06/07/2003054311 ]

Economists' fatal flaws

...a prime aim of international development policy is to reduce the proportion of people in poverty.

There is something wrong here. The proportion will fall faster if more poor people die earlier. The proportion is not an indicator of success of hungry people unless you know that survival rates are improving.

Let us hope that the UN will recognize this as soon as possible. Let us also hope that social scientists will, in their outcome measures, count survival as a good outcome in itself rather than of no welfare value.

Let us also hope that one day economists will recognize that income is not a measure of poverty unless the inflation rate for the poor is taken into account. No studies of the world's poor people have done this: they have relied at best on the overall inflation rate in a country.

Why anyone should think that the cost of rice always changes at the same rate as non-essential goods is beyond me. Adam Smith noted an observable difference between the inflation rate for food and that for the overall economy in 1776.

There are other common flaws in economic research on poverty: such as failure to take into account a) that extra items of expenditure may be needed in cities, where more poor people now live, and b) that the ratio of adults to children is rising in many countries, and adults need more food.

Together, the mortality flaw and the inflation flaw, in particular, may have contributed to the devising of policies which, though they made the statistics look better, made the condition of poor people worse.

The economic statistics available at present can neither confirm nor deny that....

The economics of hunger is measured in years.





2003

Global statistics on poverty

To: alex.kirby@bbc.co.uk

...We spoke a few months ago about global poverty statistics, during the Earth Summit. ...
...perhaps you could guide me to someone who could assess the content for the BBC.  

The flaws include: 

1.  Failing to adjust for the fact that changes in survival rates of hungry people influence the economic statistics in the wrong direction. 
2.  Failing to adjust for the cost of living, or even the general price of rice or wheat. 
3.  Failing to adjust for food requirements, even though proportions of children vary over time and between countries. 
4.  Using income data known to be unreliable, and certified as such by senior academic economists. ...

There are many disturbing things about this story, including the fact that Martin Ravallion, the man in charge of the World Bank numbers for "halving poverty", has written academic papers about flaws in poverty measurement and then subsequently used the flawed methods.  ...

Many thanks for your interest. 







Email to editor of BBC Radio 4 Today programme
Seems to be 2003
Subject:  News item   

Dear Mr Marsh

I think I may have a story for the Today programme.     Here is a draft article. 

...
International development scandal? 

[Letter to Chairman of Select Committee on International Development is reproduced at the end] 

...flaws in official statements on world poverty.   These claims originate from the World Bank and have been reported through DfID.    They concern the monitoring of progress towards the Millennium Goal on poverty, and other claims on which policies have helped poor people.   The flaws also appear in work by a number of economists in universities, some funded directly by DfID.  

The flaws include: 

1.  Failing to adjust for the fact that improvements or deterioration in the longevity of poor people influence the economic statistics in the wrong direction. 

2.  Failing to adjust for the cost of living, or even the general price of rice or wheat. 

3.  Failing to adjust for food requirements even though proportions of children vary over time or between countries. 

4.  Using income data known to be unreliable, and certified as such by senior academics.  


...Macroeconomists who have failed in these areas have provided an extremely poor service to DfID and to the public.   A thorough review is therefore required of DfID’s performance in poverty monitoring and in the funding of research.  

...Policymakers must, when they have fully understood the flaws, look to other methods to assess progress.    A cost-effective method, says the author, is to count survival rates.  

...Governments and international organisations measure the progress of poor people using economic statistics.   The main statistic for the Millennium Goal on "halving poverty" is one example.   Statistical claims from economists are also used as evidence on what has worked for the poor.  

Some aspects of macroeconomics are highly complex.   But some of the main problems, says Mr Berkley, are easily visible to non-specialists. 


...further detail

The author states that there are four problem areas in official economic statistics:  


1. Failing to adjust for the "negative" impact on economic statistics of survival rates

Simply put, if poor people die earlier, poverty is "halved" faster.   This flaw appears in Millennium Goals and the World Bank/IMF Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers for poor countries. 

A further flaw is to ignore death as a cost to individuals.    Economics is in part the science of financial costs and benefits.    It has traditionally used statistics which are affected in the wrong direction by survival of poor people.    But economic statistics are also used to infer how well or badly poor people have done in general or on average.   That implies an assessment of human costs and benefits as well as financial ones.   Traditionally, economics has ignored the human cost of dying and the benefit of staying alive.   Its practitioners have produced claims as to what has been "good" or "bad" for the poor without any data on survival rates. 


2.  Failing to adjust for inflation in poor people’s prices

Income is only part of the equation for wealth.    Prices are an essential component often left out of macroeconomic analysis.    Grain prices are essential for any assessment of poverty using income data.    Poor people mostly depend on grain to stay alive. 


3.  Failing to adjust for the falling proportion of children

Adults need more food than children.   Birth rates have fallen in many countries.    So  any international "per person" poverty line set in 1990  –  such as the "dollar a day" line was claimed to be   -  must now be too low.    A fall in the birth rate results in less total food requirement, but an increase in the statistical average required for the same size of adequate meal.   


4.  Using income data from household surveys, certified as unreliable by senior academics 

These data, the Deininger and Squire dataset from staff at the World Bank, have been since 1996 the prime source of claims from macroeconomists in large-scale international poverty comparisons.  



Scope of the flaws

Those four flaws apply to the macroeconomists’ and in particular the World Bank’s major claims in recent years concerning:

1.  The effects of globalisation on poor people;
2.  The effects of various government policies on poor people;
3.  Millennium Goal monitoring on "halving poverty by 2015". 

They also apply to the findings of other researchers in universities who have used similar methods. 

The mortality flaw appears in other Millennium Goals measured by statisticians:  the goals on water, slums and education.    

The failures of the World Bank researchers appear to reflect a lack of adequate professional standards in academic economists and statisticians.    Without some minimum professional standards for researchers, they are free to promote conclusions with only part of the required data.   

...
The total cost of the consequences to the poor of the flawed research, on which poverty policies have been based, is not knowable.    A wrong policy or a wrong outcome measure can be a matter of life and death to hungry people.  



....................................................................



01 Apr 2006 01:07:14 +0100
To: Panorama@bbc.co.uk
Subject: World poverty claims - programme idea

Hello - this is to suggest a programme idea.

I have done some independent research on the basis of claims about world poverty.

Governments routinely misuse statistics on international development.

An example is the "dollar a day" statistic.  One problem is that it is for both
adults and children, but the ratio varies over time.  So other things being
equal this generates spurious "poverty reduction".  

Hilary Benn was informed of this problem in 2003, but still insists on making
claims about people "rising out of poverty" without looking at how much food is
needed.  The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation thinks food needs per person
are rising because the proportion of children is falling.   DfID has yet to take
this into account for claims about poverty. 

Other problems include the facts that

- many indicators look "better" if more die; 

- policies have been assessed on the assumption that they were not associated
with changes in the relative price of food or rent, or changes in need;

- in an age of urbanisation, when people may leave village houses to live in
rented accommodation, the official claims about world poverty omit any
consideration of whether people need to pay rent.

I have discussed these issues with senior professors of economics and
philosophy; and senior officials in the World Bank and UN agencies.



............................................................................


 

The 2007 edition of More or Less on the "dollar a day": 

Ex-World Bank scriptwriter introduces a piece on "what the dollar a day is really worth" with two guests:  the World Bank economist who sells his work on the "dollar a day" to the World Bank, and an ex-World Bank economist.

 

Two weeks previously the newspaper for which the ex-World Bank BBC scriptwriter wrote editorial articles about global economics had published a letter:

"...failure to specify an international poverty line (or national poverty lines) that are meaningful in the sense that they correspond to the real cost of achieving basic human requirements"

Difficulty of making meaningful estimates of poverty
Sanjay Reddy
Financial Times.
Nov 19, 2007. pg. 10
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9c9aa4f6-9640-11dc-b7ec-0000779fd2ac.html

 

It is perhaps odd that the 2007 edition of More or Less, whose regular presenter was an ex-World Bank economist who was perhaps writing leader articles for the Financial Times during the same period, did not take into account the letter above – or the well-known criticisms by its author.

But it also seems odd that someone might not think about inflation for the poor in the first place.

Instead of saying what the World Bank economists had actually done, the programme gave a misleading impression of the price research.

The accompanying article was similar - it has two contributors:

"...says former World Bank economist"...

"I asked...the economist who behind the original "dollar a day" concept at the World Bank"

"According to his data [! - not data but usually unreliable survey data processed via extrapolations, and value judgements], even at the frugal 25 cents a dollar is worth in India, the very poor could just about afford to eat 2100 calories for this amount, with a couple of rupees to spare for non-food items."

 In reality this is not generally possible, since the World Bank did not have prices faced by the poor – as Sanjay Reddy and others have pointed out for many years.

 


"When a dollar a day means 25 cents"

2 December 2007

Mukul Devichand

Reporter, BBC Radio 4's More or Less

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7122356.stm

This article overstated the knowledge of World Bank researchers about past and current situations.

Like the March 2012 More or Less programme and article, it repeatedly made mistaken references to there being a World Bank procedure in MDG monitoring for working out what the poor could buy in each country. 

Like the 2012 items, it made the mistake despite the ease of a researcher - especially the ex-World Bank economist who usually presented the programme and may have written the script - finding the truth.

The article did not begin to answer its own questions:

"how much is "a dollar a day" really worth? How badly off are the world's poor really?"

"How much is a dollar really worth to the world's poor?".


1. Purchasing power across countries and times

This passage may mislead:

"it is a specially adjusted dollar using something called Purchasing Power Parity, or PPP."

The words "specially adjusted" and "parity" may mislead in context, since the World Bank had not made any special adjustments for either specific items the poor bought or purchasing power parity for the circumstances under which they bought them (or could not afford to) - such as buying in small quantities.

The following passage misleads on World Bank methodology in respect of country price comparisons, and inflation:

"in this system, an Indian living on less than "a dollar a day" is actually living on less than 25 cents a day, or just 9 Indian rupees - because that's how much it would take an Indian to buy the same thing as an American would buy for a real dollar."

What it "would take" to buy the same (or equivalent) thing in each country at each time was not knowable from the World Bank method (see "Bank had not made any special adjustments..." above).  That is not what the method compared. 

In reality the "PPP" rates had already been calculated for purposes other than for poverty "measurement" - they are used for whole economies. 

The inflation rates used by the Bank's researchers to infer the buying power of the poor for items they need were general consumer price indices, not any specially calculated rates for people around or under the line.  It follows that the "system" was not as described.

Further passages mislead in the same way:

"The World Bank's "dollar a day" system uses a similar calculation [to comparing one product], but using a much bigger range of prices."

That may wrongly imply a special calculation.

""The intention was really to have a measure that would give you the equivalent amount of goods and services for that same currency," explained Mr Ward. The aim is that using this system, the World Bank can judge how poor people really are in terms of what they can afford in different countries."

"the system is based on the spending power of just a single dollar in America"

"According to the World Bank's idea, a "dollar a day" actually translated into 60p in the UK"

"According to [the World Bank researcher's] data, even at the frugal 25 cents a dollar is worth in India, the very poor could just about afford to eat 2100 calories for this amount, with a couple of rupees to spare for non-food items."

Altogether this gives a repeated wrong impression that the World Bank know what inflation has been for the poor since 1990. 


2. The article's question "how much did the poor get for their money?", which as described above is not answered by the Bank method, would not answer the article's question "how badly off..." even if it were answered - and even if we only consider consumption adequacy rather than assets or debts or anything else. 

That is because the World Bank make no attempt to adjust for needs across either countries or times.  The article failed to consider anything related to need.


3. The article gave the misleading impression that the goal does not include hunger:

"The struggle to reduce [sic] the number [sic] of people living on "a dollar a day" tops the list of Millennium Development Goals [sic]"


4. It referred mistakenly to the number rather than proportion (same quotation).


5. It had Bank/ex-Bank/conventional economics contributor imbalances.


The influence of the article can be seen partly from the fact that the Wikipedia poverty entry links to it.


.....




Question on BBC free thinking webpage

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/freethinking/ftblogs.shtml#suggestionform

Bearing in mind that the proportion of children is falling worldwide and that adults need more food, why do both prosperity and poverty claims from economists use per-person amounts irrespective of food needs?




…………………………………………………………..

 

 

Complaint 18 December 2013

Don't Panic:  The Truth about Population
BBC2 7 November 2013 and repeats despite complaint

Status as of 28 September 2015: 

No response at Stage 2 from BBC Executive.  
No specific response
from BBC Executive to suggestion of June 2014 that Editorial Complaints Unit may face a conflict of interest or threat to independence as a result of its own error or notification of its own error on the "dollar a day" in published ruling of 2005.

 

Original complaint:

1. Dollar figures misled. 

They are "purchasing power parity" units, worth far less in poorer countries than real dollars.


[This was the same error made by the ECU]

 

2. These dollars are not what people "get" but GDP/person, worth far less to people than World Bank survey "dollars a day" which audience knows:

a) Programme: median "$10". 
Bank: $3.40
("PPP" in 2010).

[Later note: It is not clear to the complainant in September 2015 why he wrote "2010".
The "PPP" conversions were done on the basis of surveys from around 2005. 
This does not make much difference to the complaint. 
The point is that the programme confused two very different units, wrongly claiming that half the world's humans officially live on more than ten times the "dollar a day" level.]

b) "Extreme poverty" line is not "a little above one dollar" in programme's GDP dollars but much more. 
Utrecht Univ. paper, a main source for programme's figures, says $2 GDP/pp/day is equivalent to Bank "$1.25" line. 
So programme's line is too far to left to illustrate "proportions" as stated (uses log scale).

3. Income clearly is not "wealth" - proved during financial crisis.  No estimates of need, inflation for poor, assets,debts, or shared assets.

5. Part about extreme poverty line showing inability to afford food misleads, since there are a) no estimates of inflation for poorest and
b) no adjustments for food needs.

6. Only some economists, not "the economists" use $1.25 line.

7. Was most common income in Americas in 1963 really higher than Europe?

8. Proposal is not "eliminate" but 3% (c.250m people).

9. Failure to note unreliability of "extreme poverty" stats despite presenter stating in May:

"plus or minus half a billion";
"emperor's new clothes".

Similar may apply to other nos./trends.

10. Similar problems in associated web pages: eg Magazine page 24836917 statements re poverty.

"Yardstick of wealth" misleads.

 

………………………………………………………………………..

 

Reference for Professor Rosling's stated distrust of World Bank poverty claims:

"That unit [at the World Bank] which assists countries, trains the staff, and helps them to compile [poverty] data, how many persons are working there? Four half-time. For the world. It's a joke. They're very competent, they're very good. But it's not serious … The uncertainty of 1.3 billion [people living in poverty] is plus or minus half a billion. And we will not know whether the MDGs [millennium development goals] have been achieved until 2019, the later part. We only get poverty measurements every fifth year."

These issues are well known, he says, but still underappreciated and infrequently discussed. "It's like the emperor's new clothes, and I'm the little child saying 'He's nude! He's nude!'"

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/may/17/hans-rosling-data-population-fertility

 

 




 

 

 

Water




UNICEF/WHO, 2011:

"At the current rate of progress, 672 million people will not use improved drinking water sources in 2015. It is likely that many hundreds of millions more will still lack sustainable access to safe drinking water."

http://www.wssinfo.org/fileadmin/user_upload/resources/report_wash_low.pdf

 


BBC, 12 July 2015, after BBC Trustees in an Editorial Standards Committee decision sent on 19 June recognised that the MDG targets were not set in 2000:

"In the year 2000, countries around the world joined together to start the biggest ever effort to tackle global problems.

It was the start of a new millennium...Global leaders agreed...189 countries agreed to work together to achieve eight
[!] big goals by 2015 - called the Millennium Development Goals [!].

...safe drinking water and a clean home are crucial for survival…

In 2000, world leaders agreed to try and reduce the number
[!] of people suffering in this way by half.

This target has been met...."

 

 

In fact the MDG target does not have a 1990 baseline either, though the UN has reported as if it does.

 

 


"Nous décidons également :

·         Que, à ce moment, nous aurons réduit de trois quarts la mortalité maternelle et de deux tiers la mortalité des enfants de moins de 5 ans par rapport aux taux actuels ...."

Nous demandons à l’Assemblée générale d’examiner de façon régulière les progrès accomplis dans la mise en œuvre des dispositions de la présente Déclaration et prions le Secrétaire général de faire publier des rapports périodiques, pour examen par l’Assemblée générale et suite à donner.

Nous réaffirmons solennellement, en cette occasion historique, que l’Organisation des Nations Unies est le lieu de rassemblement indispensable de l’humanité tout entière où nous nous efforçons de concrétiser nos aspirations universelles à la paix, à la coopération et au développement. Nous nous engageons donc à accorder un soutien indéfectible à la réalisation de ces objectifs communs et nous nous déclarons résolus à les atteindre.

8 septembre 2000

          http://www.un.org/french/millenaire/ares552f.htm 




"En septembre 2000, les dirigeants du monde entier ont souscrit à une série de huit [!] Objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement (OMD) [!] qui doivent être atteints d’ici à 2015. ..

En utilisant les taux de 1990
[!] comme point de départ, l'objectif des OMD est de réduire la mortalité de deux tiers d'ici à la fin de 2015."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/afrique/region/2014/09/140929_surviving_childhood_africa











"Specifically, I urge the Summit to adopt the target of reducing by half, between now and 2015, the proportion of people who lack sustainable access to adequate sources of affordable and safe water.

Let us resolve therefore:

- To halve, by the time this century is 15 years old, the proportion of the world's people (currently 22 per cent) whose income is less than one dollar a day.

- To halve, by the same date, the proportion of people (currently 20 per cent) who are unable to reach, or to afford, safe drinking water."

http://www.un.org/en/events/pastevents/pdfs/We_The_Peoples.pdf  
Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Millennium Report 27 March 2000


"Mr. Hain: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has worked hard to build international support for the UN Secretary-General's proposals for the Millennium Summit."
House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 15 May 2000 (pt 9)
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmhansrd/vo000515/text/00515w09.htm


"President Clinton is strongly committed to working...to meet the vision of a sustainable future outlined in the Secretary General's Millennium Report."
The White House September 7, 2000
http://clinton5.nara.gov/WH/new/html/Wed_Oct_4_133235_2000.html


"The Clinton Administration strongly supports Secretary General Kofi Annan's call to action on poverty alleviation, on economic and social development"
U.S. Efforts on the Millennium Report "Call To Action" on Poverty and Economic Development Issues
The White House September 7, 2000
http://clinton5.nara.gov/WH/new/html/Wed_Oct_4_132349_2000.html 


Speeches at the Millennium Summit:


"...Millennium Report serves as an excellent reference for checking whether our homework has been properly done."
Mr Persson, Prime Minister of Sweden


"Secretary-General...the report he presented...sets out clear and precise objectives. Belgium fully supports it. My country commits itself ...to support all actions that can help attain those objectives"


"Switzerland shares the objectives of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s millennium report."


"I would like to reiterate Thailand's support for the Secretary-General's millennium report and our pledge to work with the international community in realizing the practical recommendations contained in it."


"President Chávez Frías (spoke in Spanish): ...heads of State, representatives of Governments of America, Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania. ...we spent about four hours...My colleagues and I agree on one question based on the deliberations we are witnessing here and on the excellent report submitted by the Secretary-General to guide us at this Millennium Summit. How can the goals determined there be met?"


Bertie Ahern, Prime Minister of Ireland: "This must be a Summit of plain speaking and precise objectives. The two major documents prepared for our meeting -- "We the Peoples", by the Secretary-General... are lucid texts, which challenge us with frank analysis and specific proposals."


...


Harri Holkeri, President of the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session:

"...the Summit is a unique, symbolic moment. The Summit Declaration ...will guide our work....for years to come.
...the Secretary-General...His report entitled "We the peoples" (A/54/2000) laid an indispensable foundation for the work of the Summit. It has also set for us new standards in clarity of purpose, relevance and readability."



..............................................................................




"the assumption that improved sources are more likely to provide safe water than unimproved sources is misleading."

Human Rights and MDGs in Practice:
A review of country strategies and reporting
United Nations
2010
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/HRAndMDGsInPractice.pdf




UNICEF/WHO, 2011:

"At the current rate of progress, 672 million people will not use improved drinking water sources in 2015. It is likely that many hundreds of millions more will still lack sustainable access to safe drinking water."

http://www.wssinfo.org/fileadmin/user_upload/resources/report_wash_low.pdf




 

BBC World News Today
BBC Four, 19.00
BBC America
March 6 2012
16 mins 15 seconds in:

Presenter: 

"Nearly 90% of the world's population, that's just over six billion people now has access to clean [!] water... the first such [MDG] goal to be met. ....Over 800 million people, though, are still drinking dirty water"

International development correspondent:

"In the optimism of the Millennium Summit the UN hoped to cut in half the population [!] of people without access to safe water by 2015.  And in this case the optimism was well founded [!]....the base year 1990 [!]..."


 



March 10 2012:  BBC claims that a World Service programme the previous week "scrutinised" the "dollar-a-day" "goal" and "assessed" "how poverty is measured" by the World Bank. 
However the World Service falsely claims that "economists look at" prices of "goods" in "developing countries", using a "basket of essential goods" to "calculate" prices faced by extremely poor people since "a couple of decades ago" through "household surveys".   In reality academics and others criticise the World Bank for not using such a "basket".   
The presenter is an ex-World Bank economist, like one of the guests who proposes the same type of line at a higher level.  The other guests are the World Bank economist in charge of the line, and an economist who is in partnership with the World Bank, who the BBC cites as saying the line is useful.  
Errors in the programme included using the wrong dollar level and so exaggerating progress.  
The ex-World Bank presenter says, "There we are, the target's been met".
The usual approach of the programme is to ask whether the large claims are true - not done with the World Bank, to which the presenter returns later for at least one conference and keynote speech. 
The "fundamental question" from the "big critic" was nothing to do with "how poverty is measured" - it was whether trickle-down economics was better than trying to help the poor. 
The "question that remains" - "how much better are the lives" of people who crossed the line - accepted "how poverty is measured" without question, and was itself in the World Bank press release.
The programme's "discovery" that China was the source of most of the statistical progress was in fact in the World Bank press release. 
The programme was advertised as, "Tim Harford assesses how global poverty is measured, as the World Bank releases the latest figures on the number of people living on less than a dollar a day."


10 March 2012:  The next week's broadcast to poor countries does ask whether the water "goal" was met, in contrast to the programme about the World Bank "goal".    The "statistical sleuths" say what the Guardian said on 6 March:  the statistics are not on safety.
The team make a huge error about the Millennium Goals with 1990 baselines being agreed in the Millennium Summit pledges.


16 March 2012:  "One Planet" repeats that the clean water goal has been met.


May 2012: Complaint of inaccuracy and bias in More or Less programme on "dollar a day". 

BBC ignores the complaint three times even though staff member states it was sent to News Online and the World Service. 


October 2012:  Ignoring the "guaranteed response" and "complaints records ensure your complaint reaches the right people" commitments by the BBC to the public, the complainant contacts the presenter outside the BBC.

Editor presents the complaint about prices as if it were about one word, claiming that the team "decided" to "just" say an "essential basket".

Editor ignores complaints of bias as a result of accumulation of error, and complaints of imbalance of contributors.



2013: Complainant: "...Goal for access to clean water has already been reached"
[http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22719812 - several amendments were made after complaint]
...
conflates MDG 7.... 7C...and ...7.8: "...improved...".

http://mdgs.un.org/UNSD/MDG/Host.aspx?Content=Indicators/OfficialList.htm

The error overstates progress both in terms of the number of goals met, and in terms of the evidence for the water being clean.   The research is on "improved", not "clean" water sources, as is evident from the website of the official monitors:
http://www.wssinfo.org/data-estimates/graphs/ "

Note: The complainant failed to mention another problem with the BBC account: the MDG target proposed in 2001, like the Millennium pledge, does not mention the easier 1990 baseline.


BBC response (not to the actual complaint): "The clean water reference has been changed to "improved sources of water"...."

 

6 February 2014:  Complainant notifies head BBC of editorial complaints unit that the fact-checking programme More or Less wrongly told World Service listeners that UN member states in 2000 agreed a 1990 baseline for their pledge.

Further complaints to BBC Audience Services, BBC World, the World Service Swahili service and the editorial complaints unit are not answered.


19 June 2015: BBC Trust Editorial Standards Committee send a decision acknowledging MDG targets with 1990 baselines were not set in 2000.

 

BBC, 22 June 2015: "clean drinking water is one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals [!] and it is thought that worldwide more than 700 million people still do not have access to it."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-33223922

 

BBC, 12 July 2015, after BBC Trustees in an Editorial Standards Committee decision sent on 19 June recognised that the MDG targets were not set in 2000:

"In the year 2000, countries around the world joined together to start the biggest ever effort to tackle global problems.
It was the start of a new millennium...Global leaders agreed...189 countries agreed to work together to achieve eight
[!] big goals by 2015 - called the Millennium Development Goals [!].
..safe drinking water and a clean home are crucial for survival...
In 2000, world leaders agreed to try and reduce the number
[!] of people suffering in this way by half.
This
[!] target has been met...."

"The goal in 2000
was cut in half the number of people who are living with hunger, and with less than $1.25 (about 80p) to survive on per day, by 2015.
15 years later, the number
[!] of people living on $1.25 per day has been [!] cut in half."

 

 

 


2003:
Subj: Global statistics on poverty
To: alex.kirby@bbc.co.uk
...We spoke a few months ago about global poverty statistics, during the Earth Summit. ...
...perhaps you could guide me to someone who could assess the content for the BBC.  
The flaws include: 
1.  Failing to adjust for the fact that changes in survival rates of hungry people influence the economic statistics in the wrong direction. 
2.  Failing to adjust for the cost of living, or even the general price of rice or wheat. 
3.  Failing to adjust for food requirements, even though proportions of children vary over time and between countries. 
4.  Using income data known to be unreliable, and certified as such by senior academic economists.

 

 

"Goal 4: to reduce the number of children who die under the age of 5..."

[MB note:  BBC confuses.  MDG4 is to reduce it to 4.3 million a year.  Leaders in 2000 committed to 3.6 million.  The principle had been explained to the head of editorial complaints and the Editorial Standards Committee.]

"Goal 5: to make it safer when mothers give birth"

[similar problem]

Have we achieved the Millennium Development Goals?
Children's BBC Newsround
http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/33382023

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Specifically, I urge the Summit to adopt the target of reducing by half, between now and 2015, the proportion of people who lack sustainable access to adequate sources of affordable and safe water. ...."
     Secretary-General of the UN, 27 March 2000.


"We investigate whether the global target on access to clean drinking water really has been met....another vital statistic ...this is a really important goal.
...the Millennium Development Goals were agreed by all the countries of the United Nations and the big aid agencies in the year 2000.
 ...the whole goal's about halving the proportion.... between 1990 and 2015."
    BBC radio programme More or Less
    World Service 10 March 2012.

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00p98ms

 

 

 

Seems from 2003:
To: panorama@bbc.co.uk
Possible story   

Dear Panorama team, 

I think the following may provide you with an interesting story at some stage.     It relates to statements made by the UK Department for International Development, the World Bank and the United Nations.  ...the detail of these statistics does not match the public announcements.  

Taipei Times, Saturday, Jun 07, 2003, Page 8
Economists' fatal flaws

...a prime aim of international development policy is to reduce the proportion of people in poverty.

There is something wrong here. The proportion will fall faster if more poor people die earlier. ...

Let us hope that the UN will recognize this as soon as possible. Let us also hope that social scientists will, in their outcome measures, count survival as a good outcome in itself rather than of no welfare value.

Let us also hope that one day economists will recognize that income is not a measure of poverty unless the inflation rate for the poor is taken into account. No studies of the world's poor people have done this...There are other common flaws in economic research on poverty: such as failure to take into account

a) that extra items of expenditure may be needed in cities, where more poor people now live, and
b) that the ratio of adults to children is rising in many countries, and adults need more food.

Together, the mortality flaw and the inflation flaw, in particular, may have contributed to the devising of policies which, though they made the statistics look better, made the condition of poor people worse.

 

After correspondence in 2002, 2003, and 2006, unanswered complaints of 2012, 2013 and 2014, and changes to four related web pages which were not notified to the public, in July 2015 the BBC programme More or Less stated it had "discovered" that World Bank poverty claims and various Millennium Goal indicators were not reliable. 

 

But it is still pumping out damaging falsehoods.  


It is hard to see how the following is not true:  The misinformation stops people, including extremely poor people, holding governments to account for their actual pledges, and helps governments cheat people with propaganda which is not supported by the science. 

 

One puzzle:  How could journalists at the BBC, which monitors news around the world, not realise that newspapers reported a 2000 baseline for the Millennium Summit?

Another puzzle:  How could the BBC Woman's Hour team, Audience Services, the BBC Trust Unit, the BBC Trustees on the Editorial Standards Committee and the head of editorial complaints not think that substituting "1990 rates" for "current rates" of maternal and child deaths had disempowered women, and that something had gone badly wrong?

How could journalists and their regulators not think that to tell people in poor countries about the wrong government pledges, and misleading information on progress, undermines democracy and the freedom of information that journalists are supposed to value?

Why is the BBC spending millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on a charity whose staff go to other countries to tell journalists about ethics and transparency, while saying things about big issues which are clearly false?

 

"We investigate whether the global target on access to clean drinking water really has been met, as has been claimed.
...another vital statistic ...this is a really important goal.
- Yes, the Millennium Development Goals were agreed by all the countries of the United Nations and the big aid agencies in the year 2000.
 ...the whole goal's about halving the proportion.... between 1990 and 2015."
"we scrutinised the goal of halving the proportion of those living on less than a dollar a day in our last edition"
    BBC radio programme More or Less
    World Service 10 March 2012.

"More or Less makes a major error. The MDG targets...are in fact easier than the pledges in the Millennium Declaration of 2000. ...pledges...were not backdated, and are therefore to, for example halve the proportion of people in 2000 on under "$1 ", not the 1990 level.
[The programme contradicted itself by saying it had scrutinised the goal while confusing it with the more ambitious UN pledge.] "

   Unanswered complaint 6 February 2014 to Head of BBC Editorial Complaints Unit in invited comments on provisional response 1300394.

 

The BBC has made a commitment to the BBC Trust, and the BBC Trust has made a commitment to the public, that complaints sent to other parts of the BBC will be forwarded to the central point, Audience Services, to be recorded. 

The BBC has made a commitment that all complaints about material older than 30 days will be read to determine seriousness.

 

BBC: "In September 2000, world leaders signed up to a set of eight Millennium Development Goals...
Using
1990 rates as a starting point, the MDG aim has been to cut deaths by two-thirds by the end of 2015."
    
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-29161620
     16 September 2014 


BBC: "Fifteen years ago at the Millennium Summit the United Nations set eight goals [!] for addressing extreme poverty. They [!] became known as the Millennium Development Goals. [!]  A deadline of 2015 was set to achieve what the UN said were ‘quantified targets’ – so how did we do?"
     BBC World Service - More or Less, Millennium Development Goals text description
    
     http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vmb62

 

"Let us resolve therefore:
- To halve, by the time this century is 15 years old, the proportion of the world's people (currently 22 per cent) whose income is less than one dollar a day.
- To halve, by the same date, the proportion of people (currently 20 per cent) who are unable to reach, or to afford, safe drinking water."

Secretary-General, Millennium Report
27 March 2000.

www.un.org/en/events/pastevents/pdfs/We_The_Peoples.pdf
http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un/unpan000923.pdf


"We, Heads of State and Government...resolve…by the year 2015...
to have reduced maternal mortality by three quarters, and under-five child mortality by two thirds,
of their current rates."  
8 September 2000


According to the 2011 book "The Unfinished Revolution" by the chairman in 2000 of the committee of UN development funds and programmes, Mark Malloch Brown, the Assembly adopted "wholesale" the Secretary-General's recommendation document.  He had urged a 2000 baseline for water and money goals. 


The White House issued a press release strongly supporting the Secretary-General's Millennium Report.

Reuters, the New York Times, the Economist and the Guardian all reported the Summit using a 2000 baseline.



The Secretary-General proposed Millennium Development Goals in September 2001.  The current water target does not mention 1990:

"Target 7.C: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation"

    http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Host.aspx?Content=indicators/officiallist.htm




....................................................................




Democracy cannot function if people are told the wrong government commitments, or the wrong information about progress.

The BBC spends millions of pounds each year of public money on a charity, BBC Media Action - formerly BBC World Service Trust. 

Although politicians, civil servants and the BBC refer to the Millennium Declaration or to targets agreed in 2000, I see no evidence in the past 15 years of the actual pledges on the BBC website.   Nor do I see any link to the Declaration. 

What I do see is false and misleading information about the UN meeting a target for clean water;  economists having prices faced by extremely poor people;  and about the 1990-baseline MDG targets being agreed in 2000 or by the Millennium Summit. 









6 February 2014

Comments to head of BBC Editorial Complaints Unit on provisional response 1300394

"The ECU has made the same mistake itself in a past ruling, basing an opinion on the mistaken idea that the dollar a day is influenced by fluctuations in market exchange rates.

BBC Editorial Complaints Unit – Quarterly Report
July–September 2005
Summaries of upheld complaints

http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/pdf/ecu_julsep2005.pdf

"The figure for Brazilians living on less than $1 a day, though subject to exchange rate fluctuations, was within acceptable margins of approximation for a summary report of this kind."


The reality is that the "purchasing power parity" rates on which it is based are specifically designed to compensate for differences in purchasing power between countries arising from exchange rates."



The head of editorial complaints did not reply, after several reminders.

He persisted in claiming to have issued a final response from the BBC to complaints on

- two editions of a programme which in effect pointed out the ECU's error,

- another whole series which made the same error as the ECU, and

ignored the potential conflict of interest in relation to other material which dealt with other MDG indicators including the dollar a day.  


The head of editorial complaints ignored the fact that another complaint submitted via the BBC complaints system in June 2014 was unanswered in July 2015.   The standard time specified for a "guaranteed response" is two weeks.






BBC fact-checking programme More or Less
World Service

Presenter:  Tim Harford.  Producer/reporter: Ruth Alexander.  Editor: Richard Vadon.

Broadcast to poor countries 10 March 2012.



"We investigate whether the global target on access to clean drinking water really has been met, as has been claimed."

"the Millennium Development Goals were agreed by all the countries of the United Nations and the big aid agencies in the year 2000"...

"So the whole goal's about halving the proportion of people without access to safe water and basic sanitation between 1990 and 2015."

"Yes"



There is no 1990 baseline in the 2000 agreement.

There is no 1990 baseline in the official list of MDGs proposed in 2001.

The MDGs were only mentioned by leaders at the UN as late as 2005, and they at the same time reaffirmed the Declaration.

In March 2000 the Secretary-General "specifically" urged "all the countries of the United Nations" at the 2000 summit to halve the proportion "between now and 2015".  

No-one at the Summit said anything about a 1990 baseline.

An OECD document from 17 September 2001, shortly after the Secretary-General produced the list of MDG targets on 6 September 2001, states that the MDG water target has a 2000 baseline.

On 6 November 2001 the committee of heads of UN funds and agencies, chaired by Mark Malloch Brown, sent UN country representatives guidelines to assist countries reporting development progress. 

The guidelines document states that the Declaration text

"would imply a 2000 baseline for the Millennium Declaration"; 

but that staff from the UN, OECD, IMF and World Bank had agreed a standard 1990 baseline.  There was no authority from the General Assembly for unelected civil servants to add ten extra years on to what leaders had pledged. 


For details, see www.millenniumdeclaration.org .






More or Less, 10 March 2012:

"we scrutinised the goal of halving the proportion of those living on less than a dollar a day in our last edition"





BBC fact-checking programme More or Less
World Service
Edition of 3 March 2012
Broadcast to poor countries

"Living on less than a dollar a day"

One of several unanswered complaints to BBC, 27 May 2012


"7. Economist and Bank/ex-Bank speaker imbalances, including presenter." 


For this broadcast to poor countries, advertised as

"scrutinising the [World Bank] "goal" " and
"assessing how poverty is measured...[by the World Bank]"...
"how useful is
[the World Bank measure]?":

Presenter/resident expert/scriptwriter:  Ex-World Bank economist, session chairman and keynote speaker at 2014 World Bank conference.

Guests:

1. World Bank economist for last 24 years, entire career outside academia.   Co-designer of "dollar a day" method.

2. Ex-World Bank economist for 19 years.  BBC describes as a "big critic" but in fact he argues for similar, higher line.  

3. World Bank publications author and lecturer, academic economist.  Wife is also listed on "World Bank Live" experts pages.
BBC cites him as saying the line is useful.


The other contributor to the associated More or Less article:

4. World Bank publications editor and author, associated with World Bank since employment 27 years before.



Presenter/resident expert/scriptwriter: 

Ex-World Bank economist.
 

Chairman of World Bank conference session and keynote speaker 2014:

http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/Event/MNA/Agenda_WDR_conference.PDF

Winner of Royal Statistical Society journalistic excellence award 2015.

The Royal Statistical Society has erred that the MDGs were set in the year of the Millennium Summit pledges:


"RSS executive director Hetan Shah, who chaired the panel discussion, opened the session by explaining that the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were agreed in 2000 and due to expire at the end of this year..."


http://www.statslife.org.uk/features/2286-measuring-international-development-rss-hay-festival-event-report



"18 March 2015
John Pullinger chairs 2015 UN Statistical Commission session
Former RSS president and current UK national statistician John Pullinger chaired the 46th session of the UN Statistical Commission in New York earlier this month.

John Pullinger was nominated by commission members to chair the meeting, which consisted of more than 500 delegates representing 24 countries.

The UN Statistical Commission is the global centre for statistical information; the ‘apex entity of the global statistical system’. It sets the standards and methodology for measuring economic, social and environmental matters and every year it brings together the chief statisticians from member states from around the world to meet and discuss these issues over four days. One of its key functions in recent years has been overseeing the Millennium Development Goal Indicators, which were committed to by 189 nations in 2000 and ran until 2015."

http://www.statslife.org.uk/news/2145-john-pullinger-chairs-2015-un-statistical-commission-session


The Royal Statistical Society's link for "Millennium Development Indicators" is to

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Host.aspx?Content=Indicators/About.htm

- which concerns the


Guests for this BBC broadcast to poor countries "assessing how poverty is measured":


1. World Bank economist, author of dollar line and co-designer of official methodology.

Director of World Bank Development Research Group. 
Became Acting Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank in June 2012.
"Joined the Bank in 1988 and worked in almost all sectors and all regions over the following 24 years."
http://explore.georgetown.edu/people/mr1185/
No employment listed outside universities and World Bank.



2. Ex-World Bank economist known for proposing similar line at higher level.  

CV lists World Bank for entire career since university, from 1988 to 2007.
https://apps.hks.harvard.edu/faculty/cv/LantPritchett.pdf



3. World Bank partner since 2004, World Bank publications author and lecturer in 2014-5, academic economist

( http://economics.mit.edu/faculty/banerjee/cv
http://wbi.worldbank.org/wbi/category/author/Abhijit%20V.%20Banerjee
http://live.worldbank.org/experts/abhijit-banerjee )

Cited in associated More or Less article:

"Professor Banerjee agrees that the $1.25 a day figure plays a useful role".

His organisation is a "partner" with the World Bank for many projects:

http://www.povertyactionlab.org/partners/world-bank


In his best-known work he wrote,

"we identified the extremely poor as those living in households where the consumption per capita is less than $1.08 per day"

The Economic Lives of the Poor
Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo
2007
http://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.21.1.141

- the World Bank line.


The other contributor to the associated More or Less article:



4. World Bank Economic Review editorial board member 2007-9, economist.

World Bank book editor, contributor to other publications.
World Bank employee 1985-6.
Chief Economist’s Lecture, Finance and Private Sector Development, World Bank, September 2010.
http://wagner.nyu.edu/files/faculty/cv/jonathan-morduch-cv_0.pdf

This economist received notice on 3 August 2000 of a fundamental error in academics' economic theory: 

"in policy debates people look at "reducing poverty" without looking at how many people die in the interim.  
This seems to me the worst flaw in simple economic analysis...if the poorest die, the income figures look better."

poorscience.org
mattberkley.com/morduch.htm






Audio for More or Less, "Living on Less than a Dollar a Day"

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/moreorless/moreorless_20120302-2350b.mp3 :
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00p34zj


The BBC editorial guidelines state that due accuracy is in the context of audience expectations, including signposts given.

Signposts potentially influencing audience expectations:


1. Introduction to this edition

"Tim Harford introduced More or Less of 3 March 2012 by stating:  "It's hard to think of a more important figure than the number of people living in poverty." More or Less of 3 December 2007 contained the introduction to the piece on a dollar a day:   " it's hard to think of a more important figure than the number of people living on less than a dollar a day."

In the complainant's view, these statements are significant in two respects:  they may be taken as evidence that the matter is major, and also as evidence that the audience was given signposts to that effect."

- from comments to BBC Head of Editorial Complaints Unit, 6 February 2014.


2.  Programme description: 


"Behind the Stats
Tim Harford investigates numbers in the news. Numbers are used in every area of public debate. But are they always reliable?..."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/moreorless

"the series that investigates the numbers in the news."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qshd

The main news page for More or Less describes it as:

"The radio show that delves into the numbers and statistics behind the news and everyday life"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17707410


3. https://twitter.com/search?q=dollar%20a%20day%20%22moreorless%22%20since%3A2012-02-27%20until%3A2012-03-14&src=typd
"@BBC_Future 5 Mar 2012
On the peer-less More or Less, @timharford asks how useful a benchmark is the global poverty line of a dollar a day? http://bbc.in/xoN2SW"


4. "Tim Harford assesses how global poverty is measured...how useful a benchmark is this global poverty line?"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00p34zj

"Tim Harford examines the dollar-a-day poverty line. How useful a measure is it?"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldserviceradio/programmes/schedules/2012/03/03



Note: "How useful a benchmark" or "how useful a measure" clearly tells the audience that the BBC is asking "how useful a measure of poverty" it is.  

It is not answered by the "fundamental question" by the supposed "big critic" who wanted to help economies rather than the poor.  

Nor is the question answered by the programme, even apart from the misleading material about prices and possibly needs  -  except for the points the programme did make about "bunching up" of people just above the line and the fact that statistical progress was mostly due to China - both of which were in the World Bank's own press release. 

"A higher line of $2 a day (the median poverty line for developing countries) reveals less progress versus $1.25 a day."

"In the developing world outside
China, [emphasis in the press release] the extreme-poverty rate was 25 percent in 2008, down from 41 percent in 1981."

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2012/02/29/world-bank-sees-progress-against-extreme-poverty-but-flags-vulnerabilities

The programme's claim to have "discovered" that the "goal" was not met outside China was therefore incorrect, even apart from the error of painting it as achievement of one of the eight "goals".

The update from the World Bank stated,

"There has been less long-run progress in getting over the $2 per day hurdle...the marked bunching up just above the $1.25 line points to the fact that a great many people remain vulnerable."
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPOVCALNET/Resources/Global_Poverty_Update_2012_02-29-12.pdf



5. Edition of 10 March 2012: "we scrutinised (!) the [dollar-a-day] goal (!) in our last edition".



6. Other introductions to More or Less implying thorough research, for example:

"statistical sleuths"

"speaking truth to power"

"never peddles subprime numbers"

Although these are clearly often meant as jokes, the words contribute to an audience impression, along with phrases such as "behind the stats", "investigates", "assesses", "are they always reliable" and so on.  




7. Audience perception of presenter as

a) expert on "the economics of everyday life" and/or

b) ex-World Bank economist who might reasonably be expected to know methodology relevant to World Bank stated mission: "A world free of poverty" and/or

c) leader writer for the Financial Times.




.......................................................................................................





Complainant's comments to ECU on provisional response:


"Errors include:

Wrongly stating that the World Bank "calculated" costs of what a "purchasing power parity" dollar could buy in different countries;

Wrongly implying through a variety of language that the World Bank has taken into account inflation for the poor;

Wrongly implying that the World Bank has taken needs into account;" 



"Ex-World Bank BBC economist:  It's hard to think of a more important figure than the number of people living in poverty.

...
[National lines were set at] the basic amount that a person needs [!] to feed and clothe themselves. So, the World Bank team proposed that this [!] became a global poverty line."




The World Bank's "dollar a day" line does not adjust across countries or times for any needs for food, clothing or anything else.  The sample of national lines used includes lines compiled using a variety of methods, so this does not seem well-sourced either. 



"Producer/reporter: ...Economists look at
[!] the price of hundreds of goods [!] in developing countries [!] and then with reference to national accounts, household surveys [!] and census data [!], they calculate [!] how much money you would need to have in each country to buy a comparable basket of essential [!] goods [!] that would cost you a dollar in America."


That is not how "economists" generally compare prices, or "how much money you would need".

a) The standard estimates are for all reported "goods and services" for all countries which provide statistics - not "goods" in "developing countries". 

b) They are not on "essential goods".  The BBC misrepresents a debate involving academics and others, in which the World Bank is criticised precisely for not using a "basket of essential goods".

c) The BBC misrepresents a passage in the Chen and Ravallion methodology paper for the MDG indicator.  It refers to "household surveys" and "census data" being used for the claims about numbers of people.  It does not say these are used for comparing prices.

d) "Calculate" misrepresents what is in fact a process based significantly on both nutritional and value judgements.

People eat different things of different quality in different countries and at different times. 

Clearly, judgements have to be made on which foods, accommodation, services, water supplies, sanitation electricity supplies, are equivalent to what is available in the USA.

Clearly, the value of accommodation is not objectively comparable across countries - as Tim Harford has himself stated in relation to comparisons across EU countries - and not necessarily comparable across times.



"Producer/reporter:  The idea is that you're under the global dollar-a-day poverty line if you can't afford that basket."

Ex-World Bank BBC economist:... just tell us who's in that situation
[!].

Producer/reporter: Well, to give you an idea, just over 10% of the people in China are living below this
poverty line; just under 50% in Sub-Saharan Africa and about a third of South Asia

...the basket of goods
[!] that the economists price up must surely, I thought, be more expensive now than it was when a dollar a day was coined a couple of decades ago [!] because of inflation..."

Ex-World Bank BBC economist: Yes. ...it's adjusted to reflect the different prices of goods
[!] all over the world; but it's also
adjusted for inflation because a dollar buys less and less over time. ...

..in 2008 the World Bank made a major change to how they calculated the poverty line. They took account of more national poverty lines, more household surveys
[!] - and they got much more accurate price information."

"One of the reasons this number really took off and gained a life of its own is because it became the first United Nations Millennium Development Goal to: [unidentified speaker] "halve between 1990 and 2015 the proportion of people whose income is less than a dollar a day". "


"Ex-World Bank BBC economist: ...the new dollar-a-day line is actually a dollar 25, pegged to 2005 prices.

Producer/reporter: And we've got some news on that first Millennium Development Goal.

Ex-World Bank BBC economist: We do. The World Bank has just released its latest estimates about how many people are living under the global poverty line. And its figures tell a success story. Martin Ravallion, the man who came up with the dollar-a-day measure, says that in 1990, 31% of the population of the developing
world lived on less than one dollar a day - close to 1.4 billion people. In 2008 less than half that
proportion did - 14%, or about 800 million people. ...

Ex-World Bank BBC economist: There we are - the target's been met...
" [!]


The data were well known among academics to be unreliable.

The programme's "more fundamental question" made no contribution to what the BBC claimed the programme achieved  - "scrutinising the goal" or "assessing how poverty is measured". 

It was not an account of some of the criticisms of the dollar a day, but about one economist's choice of this statistic to state his general preference for trickle-down economics rather than helping the poor.

There are clearly other fundamental questions which could be asked, in relation to both "poverty" and "prosperous economies" - including a challenge to the idea that people are better off if they spend more.  



"Ex-World Bank BBC economist: But there's a [!] more fundamental question here - whether there's any point at all having the dollar-a-day poverty line. A World Bank colleague of Martin Ravallion's was a big critic from the start. ...

Ex-World Bank economist: ...it's made the discourse of poverty less developmental and more philanthropic. So instead of promoting prosperous economies, it's about how do we identify and target and get transfers to the few people under this penurious line which just isn't the way historically anybody has ever eliminated poverty. ...

World Bank economist:...progress against a dollar a day...mainly been by economic growth...
...we've made much less progress in getting people over two dollars a day.

Ex-World Bank BBC economist: Three cheers for economic growth, then - but...
...If we measure it by two dollars a day we haven't made as much progress....

World Bank economist: Yes. And I completely emphasise that we should look at multiple poverty lines. ...

Ex-World Bank BBC economist: But the
[!] question remains: How much better are the lives of those poorest people if in reality progress means managing to move just over the dollar-a-day line?


More or Less was presented by me, Tim Harford, the Financial Times' Undercover Economist. The
producer was Ruth Alexander. The editor was Nicola Meyrick."



UN Statistics Division official description of MDG indicator:

"Although PPP rates were designed for comparing aggregates from national accounts, they were not intended for making international poverty comparisons. PPPs are based on prices of goods and services that may not be representative of the consumption baskets of the poor, so they may not fully reflect the relative price level faced by very poor consumers. As a result, there is no certainty that an international poverty line measures the same degree of need or deprivation across countries."

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Metadata.aspx




The programme reported statistics for the wrong dollar level, resulting in faster reported trend than the World Bank claimed for its line.

The "dollar a day" is not one of the eight goals but one of its nine indicators.






Unanswered complaint of bias

The BBC has not, in August 2015, answered the complaint of bias made in 2012.


Original complaint, 27 May 2012:

"Guidelines: Accuracy, including links. Impartiality. Editorial integrity online. Controversial subjects. Range of views:4.4.7. Major matters. Assumption and bias: 4.4.14. Range of links: 14.4.19.

...4. Erroneous implication that Bank can assess progress on Goal 1 without FAO, WHO-UNICEF and ILO estimates on nutrition and employment.  Conflation of goal with subsidiary money target or indicator.

No challenge to Bank research director's errors on these matters in person and in a link.


5. Failure to note WB stats are outliers for Goal 1's and all goals' indicators.


...7. Economist and Bank/ex-Bank speaker imbalances, including presenter.  Links unbalanced.


 8. Reasonable steps not taken to "scrutinise" (More or Less, 10 Mar) or assess, statistic for data reliability; survey comparability over time; what is included (housing, public services, etc); or relationship to real life (assets, debts, needs).

9. Failure to question whether

 a) "the target's been met";

 b) people were richer if crossed the line;

c) their money buys more or less."






"Reasonable steps not taken to "scrutinise"...or assess, statistic for data reliability"/
"Failure to question whether ... "the target's been met" "


The treatment of World Bank economic claims by the ex-World Bank economist seem to contrast with the programme's treatment of other global claims.

In the other cases the programme asked whether the main claim was reliable, in line with one of the main reasons for the programme's existence.

In the World Bank case, the programme said the target was met, despite the BBC advertising the edition as assessing and examining the adequacy of the measure.

The edition on the water "goal" challenged the civil servant's basis for reporting in a way that was not done with the World Bank.  

The problems discussed about World Bank claims were largely those already mentioned by the World Bank press release and the research director himself.


"There we are, the [World Bank target's been met"

"scrutinises the claim that the Millennium Development Goal on safe drinking water has been achieved ahead of schedule. The World Health Organisation, which along with Unicef announced that the target had been met, concedes that the numbers are not actually that certain."
"reports...that the safe water target has been met... and that's not entirely true, is it?"

"In truth, the economists at the ILO have had to rely on very patchy statistics..."

"More or Less examines the claim that every 15 seconds a child dies of hunger....is this really the case?  Guest:..."a bit misleading" "



Quotations from:

More or Less, 3 March 2012

More or Less, 10 March 2012 description and audio

What is the world's average wage?
29 March 2013
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17512040

Does a Child Die From Hunger Every 15 Seconds?
15 July 2013
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01brr8j





More or Less on WHO/UNICEF:

In the edition of 10 March 2012, in a far shorter segment, the team made

a) precisely the kind of inquiry of what was actually measured for the Millennium Development "goal" on water, and

b) precisely the kind of observation on whether it really was one of the eight goals,

which were lacking from the programme on the World Bank -

even though the presenter had worked at the Bank and might reasonably be expected not to make the elementary errors. 


The podcast page states of the edition of 10 March:

"...[the presenter] scrutinises the claim that the Millennium Development Goal on safe drinking water has been achieved ahead of schedule. The World Health Organisation, which along with Unicef announced that the target had been met, concedes that the numbers are not actually that certain."

In the same edition, the presenter said the team had "scrutinised" the dollar-a-day "goal" the previous week.  But there was no challenge to the World Bank claim that a "goal" had been met.   The presenter himself said "the target's been met".  In a separate error, by using different figures from the World Bank, he presented it as being met two years earlier than the World Bank claimed.



More or Less on hunger:


"Tim Harford: What needs to be happening on the ground to justify this Level 5 famine designation?

Speaker:  [indicators are] ... proportion of children... malnourished...weight....excess mortality...massive food deficit...

5.16 Tim Harford:  This is quite a common situation in More or Less.  The experts use a familiar word like 'famine' and they have a technical definition in mind;  the rest of us just make our own assumptions, and the media reporting often fails to bridge the divide."


This problem of using jargon words is exactly what More or Less perpetuated on 9 March 2012
.  It referred to the World Bank having "consumption" statistics.   The significance of this is more because of the false references to an "essential basket" (the word "essential" is still in the Spanish version), "basket of food" and so on.

"Consumption" is economists' jargon word for:

"household consumption expenditure":  which means "what people said they spent",

- or for the mixture of numbers such as used by the World Bank from

a) what people reported spending or buying in the last two weeks, month or some other period;

b) what they said their income was;  and

c) "imputed income" -  researchers' guesses for the value of what people reported they grew, fished, gathered, water they used, accommodation and/or other things.  

These things are vastly problematic.  What is the value of clean versus dirty water?  There are no official estimates for numbers of people with access to safe water.   So how can economists have ideas about the value of people's consumption?



Neither the More or Less team nor the head of editorial complaints answered the complaint about the word "consumption" - or the complaint about a "persistent" error that the World Bank estimated inflation for the poor:  "essential basket...etc" - which clearly indicated a variety of terms including "basket of food" in the More or Less 9 March 2012 article which still appears as the only "Editor's Choice" on global poverty from a search for "poverty" on the BBC website. 



It would have been entirely inappropriate, and irresponsible, and misleading, for More or Less to have used time on the "history" of the famine statistic, the child death statistic or the water statistic without looking at whether the words used reflected real life according to their natural meaning.  

The context includes what the programme usually does, and what audiences would expect, and the signposts given to the audience - which include the approach taken in its other coverage.

The programme was advertised as "Tim Harford assesses how poverty is measured".  The method described was incorrect.  People spending more does not necessarily mean their lives are better.  In some African countries, demographic changes due to AIDS may mean that statistics look better because of deaths. 

In that context, "measure of extreme poverty...the target's been met...the question remains...how much better are people's lives..." is not impartial. 


The point that it is not a real dollar should, as the ECU's error in a published ruling of 2005 shows, have been covered as standard practice in BBC reporting.   Even after More or Less said in 2007 it was not a real dollar, the 2008-9 "A Dollar a Day" Mike Wooldridge series consistently presented "a dollar a day" as the value of real US dollars in poor countries - worth typically 2 to 3 times more than is in fact the case.  

If the ECU had reported the facts properly in 2005, then perhaps the BBC would not have made this common error.  

The ECU refused to investigate the 2008 series which made the same error as the ECU, on the ground that it was too old.

However, the BBC has committed itself to reading all complaints to determine if they should be considered even if they are about material older than 30 working days.   

Also, it would clearly be wrong if the BBC guidelines allowed linking to BBC material which lacked impartiality or accuracy.   The ECU agreed to investigate the edition of More or Less of 3 March 2012.  The complaint mentioned "range of links" as an applicable guideline.  The edition's web page linked to the 2008-9 series, saying twice,

"Listen to the documentary series".

http://web.archive.org/web/20120306112550/http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00p34zj#broadcasts

That documentary series and its web pages are talking about the wrong dollars.   It contradicts what More or Less did get right - that the "dollar a day" is worth much less than a real dollar in most poor countries. 

The audio which More or Less in March 2012 told readers to listen to wrongly states that the World Bank takes costs of basics into account. 

The error is similar to errors in the editions of More or Less of December 2007 and 3 March 2012 and their associated web pages, and the page of November 2012 which repeated the error even after the editor had admitted the relevant word "could mislead".




The fact that More or Less had to explain that it is a special dollar is due partly to a failure of BBC editorial standards.  

The same applies to the fact that the UN water statistics are not on safety. 


Even where More or Less did get something right about water, the failure of editorial standards persisted.  Following the broadcast of 10 March, the 16 March edition of One Planet again said the statistics were on clean water.   BBC news, More or Less, and the BBC's children's channel CBBC made or implied the same error in July 2015.  


In relation to the More or Less edition on the dollar a day, the idea that the programme performed a useful service by providing the history of the line is misleading - in the actual context, which is that the history given by the programme was inaccurate about prices; the "special dollar" should have been reported correctly by other programmes such as Panorama and the Dollar a Day series in the first place, and More or Less omitted the actual debate about "how poverty is measured". 


The programme's statements that it is not a real dollar does not meet the requirements of the signposts to the audience:

"Tim Harford assesses (sic) how global poverty is measured"

or

"we scrutinised (sic) the goal (sic) in our last edition".

It is not about assessing, but a matter of basic accuracy.   The time spent on this was only necessary because the BBC, including in what appears to be its only published reference to the line the ECU itself, has often confused the units, ignoring what More or Less had stated in 2007. 

An argument that "the programme only had a few minutes to explain a complex subject" or "the programme did raise some problems with the dollar a day" is not a proper response to a complaint of bias and inaccuracy.







  BBC Trust seminar on impartiality and economic reporting

6 November 2012 

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/our_work/economics_seminar/impartiality_economic_reporting.pdf

"A consistent theme that emerged was the importance of questioning, challenging and explaining, across all economic sectors, given the complexity and lack of certainty. Another consistent theme was ensuring that the BBC continues to reflect different opinions.  As some participants observed, recent history has shown that the consensus in economics may prove not to be correct."






..............................................................................................




19 June 2015:  BBC Trust Unit sends a decision approved by the Chairman of the Editorial Standards Committee. 


"by changing the base line for measuring the reduction of under-five child mortality deaths

[The fact that the Trustees only mention one target could mislead. In fact the baseline was changed for money, hunger, water, child deaths and maternal deaths. 
This particular complaint was about BBC material specifically for women.  
The Declaration specifically mentioned maternal mortality pledges were from "current rates".]

 to the year 1990, the target

[Correction: "targets"]

set in 2001

[! - possibly misleading. The MDG targets were proposed in 2001.  A former DFID director-general, Richard Manning, wrote in his 2009 history of the MDGs that they were not endorsed by the General Assembly.]


was a less demanding commitment


[Possibly misleading.  The MDG targets were clearly not a UN commitment in 2001.  They were proposed by the Secretary-General but not  specifically mentioned by the General Assembly in 2001.  In 2001 it did not mention "MDGs" or 1990 baselines.

From email to Trust Unit: 

"the MDG framework that the General Assembly in 2001 welcomed as a "useful guide" to the implementation of the Declaration"...

So why did the Trustees juxtapose "set in 2001" with the child mortality target as a "commitment"? ]


than that made in 2000."



Let's look at some evidence:


Confusion:

"high-profile politicians in rich countries ...have signed up to such laudable objectives as last year's Millennium Development Goals to reduce child mortality by two-thirds within 15 years"
The Economist
December 20 2001
www.economist.com/node/917279
www.cid.harvard.edu/cidinthenews/articles/FT_122001.html



 


Clarity:



"PLEDGES MADE AT 2000 MILLENNIUM SUMMIT MUST BE TRANSFORMED INTO REALITY, SPEAKERS STRESS, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONSIDERS SUMMIT FOLLOW-UP
...JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union
would like the Millennium Declaration to be the touchstone for any practical steps taken by the United Nations and its specialized agencies, and by all governments."

19 November 2001
Press Release
http://www.un.org/press/en/2001/GA9973.doc.htm





"Resolution adopted by the General Assembly
56/95.  Follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 55/2 of 8 September 2000, by which it adopted the
United Nations Millennium Declaration as the outcome of the Millennium Summit
of the United Nations, held at Headquarters from 6 to 8 September 2000,

Recalling also its resolution 55/162 of 14 December 2000, in which it, inter
alia, requested the Secretary-General to prepare a long-term
"road map" towards the
implementation of the Millennium Declaration
within the United Nations system
and to submit it to the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session,

Reaffirming
the need to maintain the will and momentum of the Millennium
Summit
, as well as the importance of a comprehensive and balanced approach in the
implementation of and follow-up to the Millennium Declaration
,

 1. Takes note with appreciation
of the report of the Secretary-General
entitled
"Road map towards the implementation of the United Nations Millennium
Declaration";

 2. Recommends that the "road map" be considered as a useful guide in the
implementation of the Millennium Declaration
by the United Nations system, and
invites
Member States, as well as the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade
Organization and other interested parties to consider the "road map"
when
formulating plans for implementing goals related to the Declaration;

 3. Requests the Secretary-General
to prepare an annual report and a
comprehensive report every five years on progress achieved by the United Nations
system and Member States towards implementing the Millennium Declaration,
drawing upon the "road map"
and in accordance with resolution 55/162, and
requests that the annual reports focus on cross-cutting and cross-sectoral issues, as
well as on the major areas set forth in the "road map", while the quinquennial

comprehensive reports
examine progress achieved towards implementing all the
commitments made in the Declaration
;

 4. Invites the United Nations system, in cooperation with Member States, to
adopt specific measures to give widespread publicity to the Millennium Declaration
and to increase the dissemination of information on the Declaration;

 5. Decides to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-seventh session
the item entitled "Follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit".

86th plenary meeting
14 December 2001
http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/56/95&Lang=E




"The General Assembly...
Reaffirming also the United Nations Millennium Declaration..."


Resolution adopted by the General Assembly
21 December 2001
http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/56/188




"We, the grown-ups, must reverse this list of failures. And we are pledged to do so. The very rights I described for you are part of the promises made in the Millennium Declaration -- a list of pledges agreed by all the leaders of the world. They promised that, by the year 2015, we will have cut by half the number of people living on less than one dollar a day. ...
This gathering of the General Assembly is a reminder that these were promises made to you, the next generation."

The Secretary-General
Address at the opening of the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children
New York, 8 May 2002
http://www.un.org/ga/children/sgopening.htm



"Something must be done to galvanize the global political will for an accelerated drive to meet the Millennium Declaration targets. ...
I am convinced that the UN Millennium Declaration points the way forward."

Han Seung-soo
President of the General Assembly of the United Nations
International Conference on Financing For Development
Monterrey, Mexico
18th-22nd March 2002
http://www.un.org/ffd/statements/gaunE.htm


"On behalf of Canada I would like to voice strong support for the Monterrey Consensus.
A consensus that is unprecedented in scope and participation.
That seeks to take an indispensable step forward together in securing a fundamental common cause of the United Nations.
As expressed in the Millennium Declaration."


Monterrey, Mexico March 2002

 




"Mr. Chairman, Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
At the Millennium Summit, leaders across the world declared they would spare no effort...
The peoples of the world are looking to us in anticipation. They expect real steps towards realising the goals in the Millennium Declaration."

Kjell Magne Bondevik, Prime Minister of Norway
International Conference on Financing for Development, Monterrey, Mexico
March 2002



"To achieve the aims of the Millennium Summit, the World Bank estimates it will be necessary to.."

Jacques Chirac, President of France
http://www.un.org/ffd/statements/franceE.htm



"The slow-down in world economic growth observed in 2001 and the impact of the tragic events of 11 September have had negative repercussions on pursuit of the objectives of the Millennium Declaration. ....
Without respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance, the Millennium Declaration goals will not be achieved."

http://www.un.org/ffd/statements/italyE.htm



"We are conscious of the absolute moral imperative of combating the extreme poverty suffered by one fifth of humanity and we have fully endorsed the historic development goals written into the Millennium Declaration.
We know that in order to attain these objectives it is necessary...."


European Community
Romano Prodi
President of the European Commission
at the International Conference on Financing for Development
Monterrey, Mexico
March 22, 2002
http://www.un.org/ffd/statements/ecE.htm




We, the representatives of the peoples of the world…

At the beginning of this Summit, the children of the world spoke to us in a simple yet clear voice that the future belongs to them, and accordingly challenged all of us to ensure that through our actions they will inherit a world free of the indignity and indecency occasioned by poverty…

“As part of our response to these children, who represent our collective future, all of us, coming from every corner of the world, informed by different life experiences, are united and moved by a deeply-felt sense that we urgently need to create a new and brighter world of hope.”

 

Accordingly, we assume a collective responsibility to advance and strengthen the interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development – economic development, social development and environmental protection – at local, national, regional and global levels.”

 

From this Continent, the Cradle of Humanity we declare, through the Plan of Implementation and this Declaration, our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life and to our children.”

We commit ourselves to the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and to expedite the achievement of the time-bound, socio-economic and environmental targets contained therein.”

[Plan:] "Reduce, by 2015, mortality rates for infants and children under 5 by two thirds, and maternal mortality rates by three quarters, of the prevailing rate in 2000 (reaffirmation of millennium development goal)"

http://www.johannesburgsummit.org/html/documents/summit_docs/1009wssd_pol_declaration.htm

http://www.johannesburgsummit.org/html/documents/summit_docs/2309_planfinal.htm







BBC Trustees fail to note that the BBC repeated an error, and misled by the word "adopted" which is usually applied to UN resolutions:

"Trustees noted the complainant’s concern that the edition of Woman’s Hour broadcast on 31 December 2014..."

Correction:  The complaint was not only on that broadcast but also the web page, which the Trustees for some reason did not "note"]


..."gave a misleading impression of the UN Millennium Development Goals
[!]."

Correction:

"gave a misleading and understated impression of the Millennium pledges made by leaders to their people."


The message of 3 June to the Chairman of the Editorial Standards Committee was titled: 

"Appeal 3204842: Millennium Summit pledges".

The email of 3 June to the Trust Unit forwarded an email to the Woman's Hour team:

"Subject: Women in poor countries thinking government pledges on child mortality have been met when they have not."



Trustees wrote:

"They also noted his concern that the BBC had made similar errors over many years and
that these had been the subject of other complaints submitted to the BBC by the
complainant. This, in his view, was a matter of institutional failure."


Comment:  The Trustees wrongly ignored that the Woman's Hour errors themselves  -  and the apparent ignorance of BBC staff during the complaints process of what the UN pledges are -  showed an institutional failure.

The Trustees did not properly summarise the complainant's concerns. He had in fact pointed to repeated failure to correct worse errors which made specific false claims about what was in the Declaration.

Clarification:  "other complaints since February 2014 which had not been answered at all, submitted to:

- the Head of Editorial Complaints in a document he was duty bound to read,
- the official complaints system,
- BBC World,
- Fergus Walsh, and
- the Swahili service". 

The Trustees wrongly ignored that the complainant stated to the Trust that

"The opening words [of the complaint of 26 January] are significant. ....The first words were: 

"I am sorry to make this complaint, because I do not think there is necessarily a good reason for the Woman's Hour team to know that this content is misleading." " 

This was a clear indication that the real problem was not the Woman's Hour team's false beliefs, or false beliefs among others involved in output of this particular material, but the failure of the BBC to get the facts right in general.

The complainant had stated to Audience Services at an earlier stage that it was obvious the programme had made a genuine error as a result of an institutional failure. 

He was thus clearly stating that the complaint was not only about this material. 

He was in fact complaining also about the reason for the false belief on the part of the Woman's Hour producer.   The producer had contributed to the response wrongly claiming that the BBC had referred correctly to the MDGs. 

In reality a significant proportion of audience and readers were clearly likely to associate the wrong and highly symbolic date 2000 with the famous but misreported Millennium pledges.





The BBC Trustees bizarrely ignore what the appeal is on, and instead continue the BBC's false impressions that the complainant made particular mistakes
about BBC procedure


"the Trust was unable to consider any appeal related to complaints handling until they had been raised with the Executive in the first
instance."

True, in normal circumstances at least.   Why are the Trustees talking about this?

In fact it is highly misleading.

The appeal letter to the Trust reads:

"3204842...I would like the Trust to consider an appeal on this decision by the BBC. ...".

What decision? 

"3204842...We will not...correspond further...about this issue or our responses to it."

What is 3204842?  

A handling complaint - which

a) told the BBC again that they had only replied to an email referring to the complaint, not to the complaint itself  Instead of acknowledging this, the Trustees did the same again. 

b) proved that the BBC had supplied false information about BBC procedure.

c) asked for a reply to the actual complaint.


So I was asking the BBC Trust to consider an appeal against the BBC's decision not to correspond about Woman's Hour's errors, the fact that the BBC answered before receiving the complaint, and Audience Services' false responses. 

I had already explained to Woman's Hour staff that I sent them the complaint because the central system failed several times.

The BBC's audience research for the current complaints framework indicated that audience members thought it was inefficient for programme departments to send complaints back rather than forwarding them to the central point.   So the BBC committed to the Trust that they would be sent on.   I knew this, so when it did not happen, and the BBC apparently began wasting licence fee payers' money telling Woman's Hour staff the wrong thing, I sent some proof.  

It was only after this, and after I told the BBC that they had not answered the actual complaint, that the BBC refused to correspond further.

The BBC falsely alleged that I referred to an "out of date" "consultation document" about other parts of the BBC forwarding complaints to the central complaints system.  This was a lot of nonsense, so I sent more proof.   The document they quoted as now applying actually had the same text as in 2012. 

They said laughably that if I did not use the central system, I was not "guaranteed" a response - even after I had explained why I wrote to the team. 

In fact in 2012 I sent a complaint about More or Less' imaginary World Bank "basket of food"/"basket of essential goods" three times without reply.  I did get a reply - although one I consider appallingly irresponsible - by approaching the editor through the presenter's non-BBC email.   

After talking about a "guaranteed" response, and the nonsense about an "out of date" document, the BBC themselves, true to form, failed to answer the handling complaint mentioning that they had given the wrong information about BBC procedure.

They refused to answer the handling complaint (about misinformation and not answering the actual complaint) on the nonsensical grounds that they had nothing to add to the previous responses!

A phone call weeks later showed they still had not received the actual complaint from Woman's Hour.   I asked them to obtain the actual complaint for the appeal, and was told they could not ask the Woman's Hour team for it, but could not explain why. 

Then the Trust Unit also began telling me that I was not "guaranteed" a response if I did not use the central complaints system!

I sent the reference numbers and other information about the previous  failures of the central system to the Trust Unit.   The Trustees did not repeat the idiocy about "guaranteeing".   But they did see fit to give the impression that I started my complaint to Woman's Hour by emailing three production staff - rather than, as is the case, by sending a complaint to the Woman's Hour web form system which could have been forwarded instantly. 

The BBC went on to fail to answer a complaint of 9 June 2015 submitted through the web form as requested for the "guaranteed" response.

Instead of acknowledging the handling complaint and asking the BBC to answer it, the Trustees did the same as the BBC  -  blaming the complainant for the BBC's own failures and misdirection.   The Trust gave the false impression that all references I made to handling complaints were some mistake by me, and that there was no handling complaint that was any of their business.  

 

The Trustees cited parts of the handling complaint in their decision, about "institutional failure" and the BBC being wrong to say the material "referred correctly to the [MDGs]".   But they still managed to avoid acknowledging what I had actually asked them to consider.  

Even after I told their staff that I wanted them to see the actual complaint which had not been answered, the Trustees persisted in falsely implying the "complaint" was an email to three Woman's Hour staff on 28 January - again giving the false impression that the complainant was being a nuisance for no good reason.

In reality I was, after multiple failures by the BBC complaints system, and two failures of handling complaints to get explanations for these failures to respond, asking Woman's Hour staff to stick to what the BBC itself had pledged.  


Here is the full text:

"Complaint Summary: Complaint handling

Full Complaint: Handling of CAS-3147591-M2Q953

As I explained on the phone on 17 February to a staff member at Audience Services, the purported reply I received on 11 February was not to my actual complaint.

The Woman's Hour team had forwarded only a later email referring to the complaint.

This means, as I think the staff member understood, that I had not received a Stage 1a reply.

Contrary to the claims by Audience Services, the material did not refer correctly to the MDG targets, and the Trust decision on forwarding of complaints has been reiterated during the current complaints framework.

I was therefore fully justified in asking the production team to forward the complaint of 26 [January, as I explained to the Trust Unit], which I stated to the team had been submitted via their web form.

I look forward to a considered and properly researched response to my actual complaint at Stage 1a and an apology for any wrong impression which may have been created as a result of Audience Services' error about the Trust decision.

It is obvious that there was a genuine error in the programme, as a result of an institutional failure.

...

"the first point of contact for a complaint should be BBC Information, although people can contact editorial managers directly if they prefer." Editorial Guideline 19.4.3

"complaints received by other parts of the BBC will be forwarded on to this central point"
"Date: 30.05.2012 Last updated: 15.10.2014"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/news/press_releases/2012/complaints_framework_review.html




A message of 3 June 2015 to the chairman was titled, "Appeal 3204842...".  





"Trustees acknowledged that the complainant believed Woman’s Hour had broadcast
[!] a [!] misleading inaccuracy with regard to MDG targets [!]."

Misleading.  There were three instances.   The Trustees do not mention the most serious complaint - the clearest error, on the programme page, that the UN "adopted" the MDGs in 2000. 

"In 2000, the UN adopted [!] eight [!] Millenium Development Goals [!] to be achieved by 2015"

The Trustees' statement "Misleading inaccuracy with regard to MDG targets" draws the reader's attention to the wrong thing.   The complainant was clearly less interested in whether people were misled about the MDG targets and more interested in whether the material gave a misleading impression of the "solemn" pledges at the "historic", "symbolic" gathering of "world leaders" - who are, and whose successors are, accountable to their own citizens for their own contributions to progress and for progress in their own countries, and for the provision of accurate rather than misleading information on goals and progress. 

- given, as he made clear, the previous knowledge of some audience members about pledges of 2000 and/or MDG targets having 1990 baselines and/or being met at particular times.


"Trustees noted that the item had not mentioned child mortality"


Irrelevant.  The damage is still done because women are obviously going to hear in the future about MDG progress on child and maternal deaths, and other matters - and think from the Woman's Hour material that these MDG targets were set in 2000.   The Trustees' decision purports to mention the complainant's argument, but in fact omits it as well as making it look as if the points were not put to the BBC before the BBC decided not to answer. 






Same-day telegram sent 3 June 2015 to Richard Ayre, Chairman of BBC Trust Editorial Standards Committee

Bold and underlining added later.


Dear Mr Ayre,
4 June ESC Meeting.  Appeal 3204842: Millennium Summit
pledges

I have informed the Director of the Trust Unit:

"I have sent [similar and more serious] complaints to BBC
World
, the World Service and the Trust Unit as well as the
ECU.  Some contain explanations and evidence...It seems
to me that these are relevant to Trustees' understanding
of the facts
underlying my editorial appeal.

"The most important words in my
communications...are "institutional failure".  Trustees
may misunderstand this if they do not have what are,
arguably, my grounds for appeal. ...."

"If Trustees do not know that I informed the BBC of the
basic problem in February 2014 rather than January
2015, and that several complaints have been
unanswered for months at Stage 1a, they may
misunderstand both the tone and content of my
communications."

Yours sincerely, Matt Berkley


.....................................................................................................................




?July 2003:  A third "MDG architect" is warned:
To: jan.vandemoortele@undp.org

"Dear Dr Vandemoortele...

Since the year 2000 I have been trying to tell academics and officials that there is something wrong in concept with several MDGs  -  and with economists’ measures of welfare.  We should not be aiming to reduce the proportion of any deprived groups without taking mortality rates into account.

...A doctor should not use cross-sectional data to infer success.      Nor should those studying hunger.

...child survival indicators may be telling us about the non-poor rather than the poor.    So they may not give a safeguard that the proportion in poverty is not being affected in the wrong way by mortality rates.

...I identify 10 fundamental problems in welfare economics and 15 reasons why the UN should use survival rate data, not economic data,  to monitor the progress of poor people.      When we consider the technical problems involved in using economic data to infer economic well-being, we may realise that it is not a practical solution at any reasonable cost.

All economists’ claims from large-scale studies on growth and poverty, globalisation and poverty and so on suffer from both the mortality flaw and the inflation flaw  -  as well as inadequate data.     It is perhaps time for poverty experts to recognise once and for all that these findings are invalid.     That would clear the way for common-sense solutions.     I am very glad that you have brought attention to aspects of the inadequacy of monetary measures."  





I cannot remember how many complaints to the BBC have been unanswered.  Here are some off the top of my head:


Three in 2012 via Audience Services about More or Less' imaginary economists' "basket of food" for the extremely poor; range of views, balance of contributors, etc.  A handling complaint received no explanation. 

Went to presenter outside BBC, got bizarre response from editor referring to inflation complaint as if it were about one term, and wrongly stating team "just chose" to say an "essential basket of goods".    

In fact several misleading terms can be spotted in the BBC material if someone reads the UN metadata description and/or the World Bank methodology small print. 

Related article gave a fairy story about the "dollar a day" economists collecting prices of "goods" in "developing countries" using "household surveys" to calculate prices, instead of giving truth that economists rarely estimate prices faced by the extremely poor in any country.   The programme gave impression that the fairy story was normal practice.
Editor and head of editorial complaints answered as if the following did not exist:

"Bank/ex-Bank speaker imbalance",
"range of views",
"range of links",
cumulative tendency of errors,
the passage indicating several misleading elements about inflation,
the use of the wrong dollar level thus exaggerating the official claim of progress,
the misleading reference to "assessing" and "scrutinising" then saying simply "the target's been met", or
the word "consumption",

or were covered by using one word and another minor point as if they represented the whole complaint. 



So I tried News Online:  three unanswered. 


Complaint of 18 December 2013: Audience Services falsely claim complaint is outside time limit
Programme-makers falsely claim - as editor of More or Less claimed misleadingly - that complainant wanted more detail in programme. 
In fact it is inclusion of wrong and unreliable information which is the problem.


July 2013:  One to Barbara Plett - BBC answered a follow-up as if it were the actual complaint, wrongly said the complaint did not relate to her contribution, made several changes across two webpages, never got back to me about some links to misleading pages though if I remember right these were the same mistakes as some of those amended in another page. 


26 June 2014:  BBC ignore another complaint about More or Less - the fourth not to be answered.   All were submitted via the "guaranteed" method.


11 February 2015: Audience Services answer email referring to a complaint as if it is the actual complaint.  Bizarrely talk about guaranteed response.


12 March 2015:  Audience Services fail to answer handling complaint about supplying false information on BBC procedure. 
BBC fail to respond to actual original complaint. 



9 June 2015: New complaint submitted via the "guaranteed" route which "ensures your complaint will be seen by the right people, including senior management". Stated standard time for response is two weeks.

August 2015: Multiple complaints following repeats of earlier errors.

No response as of 28 September.


19 June: Trustees ignore complainant's proof that Trust decided complaints would be forwarded to central point, and his list of unanswered complaints which were the reason for writing to a programme team instead.

Trustees, after complainant showed that he had been aware of the recommended method and Trust's decision that another method was available, point out that BBC "reminded" complainant of "correct" method.
 
Trustees respond to the appeal against BBC decision not to answer "handling complaint" as if handling complaint does not exist.









“I am sorry to say that as far as I can see, the whole of the Wooldridge series – as well as a huge amount of other output from the BBC -  presented dollar amounts in real dollars like that, when in reality they are worth typically twice or more what the World Bank's "international dollars" used for the poverty claims are worth. 

The ECU has made the same mistake itself in a past ruling, basing an opinion on the mistaken idea that the dollar a day is influenced by fluctuations in market exchange rates.”

Unanswered complaint to head of BBC Editorial Complaints Unit 6 February 2014

 

 

 

 

"The UN says key Millennium Development Goals to improve lives have been met. But we discover [!] you can't say for sure"

https://mobile.twitter.com/bbcmoreorless/status/617269466754322432