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Over 25 countries call for 'A safety net for life' during International Basic Income Week 14-20 September
Reflecting the growing demand for unconditional basic income worldwide, this year's International Basic Income Week looks to having the largest participation ever in its 8-year history. People in 27 countries across four continents will be holding events and raising the profile of unconditional basic income across the globe between 14-20 September this year. Events in Ireland are being coordinated by Basic Income Ireland.
An Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) is an amount of money, paid on a regular basis to each individual unconditionally and universally, high enough to ensure a material existence and participation in society. Although basic income is an old idea with roots that some say go as far back as the 1500s, it has been given a new urgency in the last few years. The increasing inequality of income and access to resources both within countries and between countries, the increasing precarity of employment in all sectors, looming technological unemployment, increasingly punitive social security regimes have contributed to making basic income a key demand for the 21st century.
Unconditional Basic Income (or Universal Basic Income, Basic Income Guarantee, Citizens Income, Guaranteed Livable Income, Social Dividend) has had several boosts this year. In Finland most political parties support the idea and progress has been made since the election last spring towards doing pilots. Basic Income was endorsed by the General Council of the Canadian Medical Association and several towns and provinces are looking seriously at basic income to replace their complicated welfare system. Many cities in the Netherlands are considering pilots. In Namibia a strong supporter of basic income who was involved with the successful pilot there in 2008-9, Bishop Kameeta, was made Minister for Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare and has already started working on proposals to pay a basic income to youth and elders.
All basic income supporters are looking forward to the upcoming referendum in Switzerland on basic income next year in 2016. When the Swiss won the right to hold their referendum in October 2013, they made headlines around the world with a money-drop of 8 million coins representing the Swiss population in front of the Federal House in Bern.
International Basic Income Week started in 2008 in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Past achievements of the week include a conference in 2009 which led a few years later to the European Citizens Initiative for Basic Income in 2013, which gathered 300,000 signatures in all 25 member states, the most successful ECI run without backing from any large organisations. This led to the formation of UBI-Europe, a network of individuals and organisations in 28 European countries working to promote the adoption of unconditional basic income in Europe and as a human right. It has taken the lead on coordinating this year's events.