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The (Soft) Power of Preaching What We Practice

Antonio Lambino's picture

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from an old friend in the diplomatic community.   He asked for my “thoughts on a public communications approach to countering terrorism and radicalism” since, he continued, this has been identified as a "gap in the global counter terrorism" arena.  My mind immediately went to an area of applied and scholarly interest that the international affairs community calls “public diplomacy.”  While conceptually contested, there seems to be broad enough agreement on the types of initiatives it encompasses, such as international broadcasting (BBC World Service, Radio Free Europe/Liberty, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, to name a few), scholarships (Fulbright, British Chevening, etc.), international study tours, and other types of academic, cultural, and political exchanges.

Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye argues in a Washington Post op-ed that at the heart of these initiatives is the desire of governments to enhance their “soft power”, defined as “the ability to use attraction and persuasion to get what you want without force or payment.”  Nye's definition suggests that the soft power that undergirds public diplomacy is not limited to enhancing security and defense; it is also relevant to international development.  This type of thinking is particularly critical in projects that seek to influence attitudes, opinions, and behaviors of multiple stakeholders in developing countries.  In this broader sense, cross-national influence is not limited to coercing people, nor is it about manipulating incentives.  It’s largely about appealing to hearts and minds through persuasion, which is only credible when what one says is consistent with what one does.

Cold comfort for islanders

Angus Friday's picture

Nero fiddled while Rome burnt. The band played while the Titanic sank. And today, it could be said that a cacophony of international climate voices muse in discord, while the sea level rises. These were my thoughts when colleagues and I received the news of the latest report by Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the scientific arm of the eight-nation Arctic Council, asserting that sea-level rise could reach 1.5 metres by 2100. This is from the executive summary of their report while the full version is awaited. It is a sharp contrast to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC’s) 0.58 metres in its worst case scenario.  This latest warning from the Arctic Council must now serve as a new score, with an urgent tempo, with which to conduct, orchestrate and harmonize international efforts towards rapid action on climate change.

The IPCC’s 2007 findings on sea level rise in its fourth assessment report was an important milestone helping to mobilize political momentum and to build a robust international process around the climate challenge. But at the time, as related to us in a recent presentation byDr. Robert Bindschadler, Emeritus Scientist on Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, ice sheet dynamics were not accounted for in these projections. 

In the tropics, far away from the polar ice caps, the difference between “accounted for” and “not accounted for” is not merely a margin of error in a report. For the 41 million people living on the 43 island nations that girdle the planet, it is a matter of survival. With this new information, low-lying coral atolls in the Indian and the Pacific Oceans are facing a real and present danger of sovereign extinction. Caribbean islands face inundation with storm surges heightened by more intense hurricanes due to sea temperature rise. 

In Queensland, no great barrier to flood recovery

Henrike Brecht's picture

The New Year was not so happy in Queensland, Australia. In December 2010 and January 2011, floods swept across the state and at the beginning of February 2011, cyclone Yasi, a category 5 storm, struck near Cairns. Dozens died, hundreds were evacuated, thousands were affected and an excess of US$15 billion of damages were caused. A state of emergency was declared in all but one of the 75 councils. Seventy percent of the state was impacted; an area five times the size of the United Kingdom. 

A major step forward for statistical data and metadata exchange standards

World Bank Data Team's picture

Global community meet to discuss implementation of SDMX, and showcase tools

The third SDMX Global Conference took place in Washington during May 2-4, 2011.  Hosted by the World Bank and IMF, the conference was attended by more than 200 officials from 90 countries, as well as all major international agencies and six vendors including Google.

30 years of public management reforms: Has there been a pattern?

Christopher Pollitt's picture

My thinking has been focused on the developed world, not at all on developing countries. However, when Nick Manning invited us to participate in the World Bank’s consultation exercise it did occur to me that this might nevertheless make useful background. Some of the observations apply even more to many developing countries than to the developed world.

Let’s make transport the solution!

Virginia Tanase's picture

This seems to be a good time to stop blaming transport for all the World’s snags and start looking for simple ways of maximizing the benefits of this tool. Yes, you read it right: transport is a tool, for itself it does not create but adds value to goods and services moved where they are needed.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Movements
Celebrating World Press Freedom Day

“The timing could not have been more perfect for the  World Press Freedom Day events held this week at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., this week. The program focused on both promoting freedom of the press and examining how new and old media are working together. We were there, and thought we would share some important takeaways from todays sessions:

  1. Sucessful Movements Need: the right timing, the right tools, and the right BIG idea.
  2. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile: in more countries than every more people than ever are accesing the internet, and getting their information via mobile phone.
  3. Social media is not killing traditional media- it is reinvigorating it.” READ MORE

Space for Transparency
Why Forests Need Transparency

“The climate change report TI issued this week had a whole section on forest governance. Manoj Nadkarni, manager of TI’s Forest Governance Integrity Programme explains why.

Recently, I’ve been getting a few inquiries about whether we at the Forest Goverance Integrity Programme have an ‘official’ view on the whole concept of the UN’s REDD programme: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

Will REDD work?’ ‘Is the money already going towards REDD being spent properly?’” READ MORE

How Might Japan’s Natural Disaster Affect the Energy Sector?

Ioannis N Kessides's picture

Photo: istockphoto.comIt is still too early to estimate with much precision the quantitative impacts of the devastating events in Japan on the global energy sector, as well as the effects on energy and economic activity in Japan. Nevertheless, some qualitative conclusions can be drawn about the near and medium effects on Japanese and global energy balances. Much more difficult and speculative are judgments about the effect of the nuclear accident that resulted from the natural disaster on the longer-term energy picture.

Guest Post: Michael Woolcock on The Importance of Time and Trajectories in Understanding Project Effectiveness

If one wants to grow an oak tree, it helps to have both an acorn and a working knowledge of the conditions under which an acorn is most likely to become an oak tree. One also needs to know how long the germination process is likely to take – in the case of the red oak, upwards of two years from flowering to acorn to sapling. Absent such knowledge, one might reasonably (but incorrectly) infer that, upon seeing no outward signs of life six months after planting the acorn, one’s efforts had been in vain.


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