Syndicate content


Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture
World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

How the other tenth lives
The Economist

WHAT is the most important number in global economics? Judging by the volume of commentary it excites, America’s monthly payrolls report (released on October 7th) might qualify. Other contenders include the oil price or the dollar’s exchange rate against the euro, yen or yuan. These numbers all reflect, and affect, the pace of economic activity, with immediate consequences for bond yields, share prices and global prosperity—which is what economics is ultimately all about.  But if global prosperity is the ruling concern of economics, then perhaps a more significant number was released on October 2nd by the World Bank. It reported that 767m people live in extreme poverty, subsisting on less than $1.90 a day, calculated at purchasing-power parity and 2011 prices. The figure is not up-to-the-minute: such is the difficulty in gathering the data that it is already over two years out of date. Nor did the announcement move any markets. But the number nonetheless matters. It represents the best attempt to measure gains in prosperity among the people most in need of them.

Post-war Political Settlements: From Participatory Transition Processes to Inclusive State-building and Governance
Relief Web

The last decade has seen a growing convergence of policy and research discourses among development, peace and conflict, and democratisation experts, with regards to the assumed benefits of inclusive transition processes from conflict and fragility to peace and resilience. The realisation that the social, economic or political exclusion of large segments of society is a key driver of intra-state wars has prompted donor agencies, diplomats and peacebuilding practitioners, as well as the respective academic communities, to search for the right formula to support inclusive and participatory conflict transformation mechanisms and post-war state-society relations. While these various stakeholders profess rhetorical commitment to inclusivity, the term is used in very different and sometimes even in contradictory ways.

Why/how should corporates defend civil society space? Good new paper + case studies

Duncan Green's picture

I saw some effective academic-NGO cooperation last week, and even better, it involved some of my LSE students.

The occasion was the launch of Beyond Integrity: Exploring the role of business in preserving civil society space, commissioned and published by the Charities Aid Foundation and written by Silky Agrawal, Brooks Reed and Riya Saxena, three of last year’s LSE Masters students. They researched and wrote the report as part of a student consultancy project, and CAF were so impressed that they decided to publish it. Result.

First the content: the authors went looking for cases where businesses had got involved in defending civil society from attacks by government, and identified four really interesting cases (see table). They interviewed a number of the players in each case.

They found some ‘key learnings’ (bit depressing to see them already adopting the barbarisms of aidspeak!):

  • Firms in consumer-facing industries are responsive to large-scale social movements that raise awareness regarding human rights abuses;
  • Privately owned companies with strong ethics and values tied into the core business model, led by engaged leaders, are likely to respond to civil society;
  • At times, privately held dialogues between key stakeholders and host governments can be more effective at initiating positive action than a public challenge, as the respect and dignity of each stakeholder is maintained;
  • Leveraging formal and informal cross-sectoral networks is instrumental in convincing corporations to act on behalf of civil society.

Campaign Art: Reimagining the Future for #EVERYchild

Roxanne Bauer's picture
People, Spaces, Deliberation bloggers present exceptional campaign art from all over the world. These examples are meant to inspire.

Twenty-five years have passed since the General Assembly of the United Nations ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  To honor this anniversary, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) launched a campaign to highlight the creative work of innovators who have already begun shaping the future in support of children and to call for more fresh ideas to address ongoing problems affecting disadvantaged children. 
VIDEO: Reimagining the future for EVERY child | UNICEF

May the Best-Connected Node Score! (Or, How I Came to Tolerate the World Cup)

Jean-François Arvis's picture
 Netherlands player positions. Source - Opta via The Huffington Post.

I have to confess I am indifferent to soccer. Until last week, I was mostly annoyed by the distraction brought by the current World Cup.

​And then things changed a bit. Reading Le Monde, I was intrigued by a graphical representation of a complex network. It just so happened to be a representation of the strategy of the Dutch soccer team. This is a simple and clever representation, which—at least, for me—makes soccer interesting.

Why and How Cities Need to Learn Better

Christine Fallert Kessides's picture

During the recent 7th World Urban Forum (WUF) in Medellin, the talk was not just about the hundreds of millions of people coming to cities—but also the tens of thousands of city managers and local governments who will need to manage cities more effectively to unleash the promise of urbanization.  The WBI urban team, together with the Institute of Housing and Urban Studies and UN-Habitat’s Capacity Development unit, convened over 40 partners for a day of reflection on this challenge. 

Such a gathering had happened twice before— in preparation of Habitat II in Istanbul (1996), again in the run-up to the third WUF in Vancouver (2006)—and now on the cusp of the next milestone (Habitat III  in 2016).   It is helpful to consider where we have been and where are we now on this critical (and somewhat slippery) subject, given the 20 years’ worth of perspective in this area.

Policy Makers and Network Science: Time to Bridge the Divide

Milica Begovic's picture

Last week I attended Masters of Networks, an event that analyzed how a greater understanding of networks can be used to make better policies, especially in the digital era. Many questions built in policy making both from the procedural and substantive perspective involve networks dynamics:

  • How does information spread?
  • Who participates in decision making?
  • How do we collect evidence?
  • Who influences behavior change?

Alberto Cottica, the mastermind behind the event, had a vision of putting two groups of people who traditionally don’t mingle much in the same room – policy makers and network scientists – to see what emerges as a result. Policy makers presented a variety of policy problems, and network scientists helped better frame the problems and address them through applying principles from network theory.

I had the privilege of presenting my perspective of what policy making in the digital era looks like (slides will be put on Slideshare soon). I will summarize below the main points from my intervention, but, more interestingly, reflect on feedback from the group.

My presentation consisted of three elements:

A Murmuration of Starlings

Maya Brahmam's picture

Reporting from TEDGlobal on Radical Openness. I was struck by Don Tapscott’s presentation on Tuesday, which compared the opening up of our knowledge and data as the next step in the evolution of human societies and called it an "Age of Networked Intelligence."  Tapscott then went on to say that the societies of this age can be likened to a “murmuration of starlings,” a term that is used here for a flock. The murmuration moves in a complex interconnected way without a single leader and the flock works together and protects itself from predators (see picture).

What surprised me is that this flock of starlings was startlingly similar to the infographic displayed by the Vibrant Data Project during a presentation by Eric Berlow, a TED Fellow, which describes the network of connections in an “open” environment. Check it out here:

Unique pitfalls in the analysis of networks

Jed Friedman's picture

Network analysis is a burgeoning sub-field in development economics as more and more attention is paid to how individual preferences and behaviors are influenced by decisions in the wider community. One example is the 2007 Kremer and Miguel paper that explores the determinants of take-up of deworming medicine by regressing take-up on the number of connections that the household has with other treated households.