If you live on an island in the ocean, energy and climate issues come together in a palpable way. Most small island developing states depend heavily on imported fossil fuels, especially diesel, for their power. For remote islands, in the Pacific for example, the fuel must be shipped over long distances. It’s expensive, the supply is limited and intermittent, and paying for it stretches government budgets. Because of this, low-income families and communities often rely instead on kerosene, and wood or other biomass for lighting and cooking.
Two recent blogs (Mobile Apps for Health, Jobs and Poverty Data and Transformational Use of ICTs in Africa) talked about how mobile applications facilitate access to services in the financial, trade, agriculture, and social sectors.
Despite proliferation in business applications, most government applications only provide information about public services and agencies. The potential is huge and now there is a level playing field for developed and developing countries. Take the USA where government applications are still quite limited in scope and quantity (see the 10 best). Aware of their unleashed potential, President Obama issued a directive on May, 23rd 2012 to every federal agency “to make two government services the American people depend on, available on mobile phones.” Yes, May 2012.
- Performance Measurement
- Digital government
- Public Accountability Mechanisms
- Mobile Phone and Public Accountability
- cellular technology
- Public Sector and Governance
- Information and Communication Technologies
- South Asia
- Governance & Public Sector Management
The blog’s been insufficiently techie of late, so step forward ODI’s Emma Samman with a piece + poll on measurement. Maybe the start of a ‘Friday geek ‘ series?
Some one in five people today still cannot provide for their most basic needs, progress on Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1 (to halve extreme poverty and hunger) notwithstanding. The High-Level Panel report affirms that ‘eradicating extreme poverty from the face of the earth by 2030’ should be at the core of a post-2015 agreement: ‘This is something that leaders have promised time and again throughout history. Today it can actually be done.’ The World Bank has endorsed this viewpoint, as have David Cameron, Barack Obama and The Economist, alongside several NGOs.
But is the goal ambitious enough – in terms of who it targets, and how? We’re exploring these issues as part of Development Progress, a four year project that aims to explore what’s working in development and why. We asked several experts to make proposals as to how to measure poverty in a post-2015 agreement. Their contributions show some consensus, but also several areas of contention.
On the second day of the three day regional workshop on affordable land and housing in Thimphu, Bhutan, country representatives continued to share policies and projects that their countries have devised and implemented and with that, the ideas that have or have not worked. One common theme was the interest in the development of secondary cities either around the periphery of rapidly urbanizing growth centers or as growth nodes strategically located along infrastructure such as regional transportation networks to create a ‘system of cities’. These growth centers often present a wealth of opportunities for the poor who flock to the cities from villages with the aspirations of a better life. However, this influx often strains the city’s services and infrastructure at an unsustainable rate.
I argued a few months back that information we get from story-telling is fundamentally different to what we get from polls and surveys. If we can’t predict what’s coming next, then we have to continuously work to understand what has and is happening today. (See: Patterns of voices from the Balkans – working with UNDP)
Methods we’re all used to using (surveys, mid-term evaluations) are ill prepared to do that for us and increasingly act as our blindfolds.
As I started working through the stories we collected, this question has become even stronger.
To give you some background, we started testing whether stories could help us:
Only by providing useful risk-managing tools and keeping its house in order, can the financial system fulfill its socially beneficial risk management function. Through the provision of useful financial tools, the financial system can shield people from bad shocks, and better position them to pursue opportunities. However, if the financial system fails to manage the risk it retains, it can also hurt people directly by hindering access to finance or indirectly by hampering refinancing of enterprises and straining public finances, and thus make people lose jobs, income, or wealth.
Public policy can stimulate the financial system to broaden the share of people with access to financial services (financial inclusion), so more people have more and better financial risk management tools. It can also promote measures to better control the risk that affects the whole financial system and foster financial stability. However to succeed on both fronts, the World Development Report 2014, in its chapter on the financial system, argues that public policy must take into account the trade-offs and synergies in the financial sector. The first step to balanced and successful policies is to establish an institutional framework that brings together policymakers and experts from the financial industry and academia.
I elaborate on this idea in subsequent paragraphs and encourage interested readers to pick up WDR 2014, in particular its chapter on the financial system, to learn more about the background and justifications for this proposal.
"Here’s what I think: fashion isn’t really about clothes. It's about life...We can’t always be writing about flowers and lace and aquamarine."
- Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief of Italian Vogue, and its special issues that uses fashion and fashion imagery to draw attention to social, political, and environmental issues. Ms. Sozzani is also the goodwill ambassador for Fashion 4 Development (an organization linked to the UN).
I think it’s fair to say most of us don’t typically take UN reports with us on our summer vacation. But you might want make an exception in the case of the high-level panel (HLP) report on the post-2015 development agenda. It offers a nice opportunity to reflect how – over the last 15 years or so – we have seen some serious global shifts in values, expectations and motivations.
The HLP feels the MDGs were worthwhile: “the MDGs set out an inspirational rallying cry for the whole world”. As my colleague Varun Gauri argues, goals inspire if they are underpinned by a moral case, and the panel pushes hard on issues of rights and responsibilities, social justice, and fairness: “new goals and targets need to be grounded in respect for universal human rights”; “these are issues of basic social justice. Many people living in poverty have not had a fair chance.”