Jean Boulton (physicist, management consultant and social scientist, right) responds to Owen Barder’s Wednesday post on thinking of development as a property of a complex adaptive system.
I’d like to go a bit further than Owen on the implications of complexity for how we understand power and politics. It is generally the case that the powerful get more powerful and the big get bigger. We know this through bitter experience, captured in complexity language by the notion of ‘positive feedback loops’ which equate to the economists’ ‘increasing returns’. In general there is no reason to expect that economies will self-regulate and find a ‘natural’ balance. Even forests, if left to themselves for long enough, reduce in diversity, increase in efficiency and become ‘locked in’ to ecological patterns that are hard to invade and change and can easily collapse (see below, left). Despite the popularity of the phrase ‘complex adaptive systems’, complex systems do not always adapt.
Instead, complexity suggests that if we want economic development that equalizes power, reduces inequality and incorporates longer-term environmental goals, there is a need for some sort of regulatory processes to counter the seemingly inevitable coalescing of power and wealth in fewer and fewer hands. Otherwise the rise out of poverty is linked more to growth than to development (development meaning a qualitative change in shape and form of the economy rather than a quantitative change – you can obviously have both). And an economy that is growing can in fact take our attention away from underlying structural exacerbations of inequality. Growth cannot go on forever, as land, water and minerals are consumed – not to mention the impact on climate change – but growth can mask just who captures the bulk of resources and can exert control over governments, markets and societies.
Our team signed an agreement with the recently established Global Infrastructure Hub (GIH) – an initiative of the world’s G20 leading economies – that paves the way for future cooperation.
The GIH came into existence last December, as a result of decisions taken at the November 2014 G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane, Australia. Based in Sydney, the GIH is designed to drive progress on the infrastructure agenda of the G20 and, in particular, to encourage additional private sector involvement with infrastructure development.
It will be a knowledge-sharing network, which will aggregate and disseminate information on infrastructure projects and financing opportunities. The GIH is also designed to assist governments with capacity-building in regard to infrastructure development, by sharing best practice approaches.
By Magdalena Andersson, Minister for Finance, Sweden
and Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation, Sweden
Sweden is proud to join forces with Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), convening in New York this week. Energy is one of the most decisive issues of our age. Without secure access to energy, we won’t achieve real and lasting poverty reduction. Without the expansion of clean energy, we won’t be able to stop climate change.
With business as usual and no significant carbon emission cuts, we have only 15 years left before we have emitted enough CO2 to make this planet more than 2 degrees warmer. Then we will see a dramatic increase in droughts, floods, storms and species extinction – and we will have changed the conditions for every generation to come. And we know that it is the poorest who will be hit the hardest by the effects of climate change.
This is not a political statement but a scientific one. Fifteen years left.
So we must start changing our energy systems, going from fossil to renewable, now.
Lebanon and Jordan are providing a global public good to the international community by hosting an incredibly high number of Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict in their embattled country. More than two million are currently residing in Syria’s two resource-poor neighbors, which have been impressively generous in welcoming them in a seamless manner, unmatched in modern history.
- Vera te Velde has a post summarizing nine new broken-windows theory experiments with really large effects (via Marginal revolution) and also interesting thoughts on using the Big-5 personality traits.
- development impact links
There appear to be several discrete, but related, reasons why the U.S. has been slow to pursue PPPs in comparison with European and Asian countries:
- In some cases, there is a lack of consensus, institutional capacity, and expertise to properly promote the benefits and costs of PPP deals. In Pittsburgh, for example, an arrangement to lease the city’s parking operations to a private entity collapsed when the city council voted against the transaction.
- Deals are getting more complex, politically heated, and cumbersome as some stretch across jurisdictions and even international borders, as is the case with the New International Trade Crossing intended to connect Detroit to Windsor, Ontario.
- With state and municipal finances under strain, the public sector is trying to transfer greater responsibility to the private sector, including in the arena of project financing.
Digital entrepreneurs have the potential to connect to global markets like never before. Whether selling physical goods on internet platforms, or providing digital goods and services that can be downloaded and streamed, an entirely new ecosystem of innovative micro and small businesses has emerged in the developing world.
The World Bank Group hosted some of the pioneers in this space for a full-day conference on Harnessing Digital Trade for Competitiveness and Development on May 19. Here, we heard entrepreneurial success stories—an online platform for jewelry in Kenya, a provider of software solutions in Nepal, an online platform for livestock trade in Serbia—and dove into the constraints and challenges of running a digital business in an emerging economy.
The scope of these challenges made these success stories, and the broader potential they represent, even more inspiring. From internet connectivity to logistics, from financial payments to trade regulations, from bankruptcy laws to entrepreneurial and consumer digital literacy-- clearly, more needs to be done to fully harness the potential of digital trade for competitiveness and development and to foster an enabling environment to digital trade.
When looking at recent data, it is hard to escape the conclusion that although India has enjoyed high economic growth this has largely been jobless economic growth. It is imperative for there to be a big push in the areas of education and employment in India. This is the most significant policy challenge facing the Indian economy.