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Weekly wire: The global forum

Darejani Markozashvili's picture

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

Protecting Journalism Sources in the Digital Age
UNESCO
While the rapidly emerging digital environment offers great opportunities for journalists to investigate and report information in the public interest, it also poses particular challenges regarding the privacy and safety of journalistic sources. These challenges include: mass surveillance as well as targeted surveillance, data retention, expanded and broad antiterrorism measures, and national security laws and over-reach in the application of these. All these can undermine the confidentiality protection of those who collaborate with journalists, and who are essential for revealing sensitive information in the public interest but who could expose themselves to serious risks and pressures. The effect is also to chill whistleblowing and thereby undermine public access to information and the democratic role of the media. In turn, this jeopardizes the sustainability of quality journalism.

Everything We Knew About Sweatshops Was Wrong
New York Times
In the 1990s, Americans learned more about the appalling conditions at the factories where our sneakers and T-shirts were made, and opposition to sweatshops surged. But some economists pushed back. For them, the wages and conditions in sweatshops might be appalling, but they are an improvement on people’s less visible rural poverty. As the economist Joan Robinson said, “The misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all.” Textbook economics offers two reasons factory jobs can be “an escalator out of poverty.” First, a booming industrial sector should raise wages over time. Second, boom or not, factory jobs might be better than the alternatives: Unlike agriculture or informal market selling, these factories pay a steady wage, and if workers gained skills valued by the market, they might earn higher wages. Factories may also have incentives to pay more than agricultural or informal market work to persuade workers to stay and be productive. Expecting to prove the experts right, we went to Ethiopia and — working with the Innovations for Poverty Action and the Ethiopian Development Research Institute — performed the first randomized trial of industrial employment on workers. Little did we anticipate that everything we believed would turn out to be wrong.

Campaign Art: Disruptive technologies and development goals

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

Disruptive technologies are redefining the way of life. Everyone is buzzing about drones, driverless cars, autopilot planes, robots, and supply chains, starting from the entertainment industry, to agriculture and food sector, to private sector, to humanitarian and development fields. Drones delivering food, water, or health supplies, using off-grid power, innovative mobile apps, and other technological developments are all very exciting and unknown at the same time.

How will drones impact the supply chains and service delivery in the future? What are the opportunities and risks associated with utilizing drones to deliver supplies? What is the role of technology in helping us reach Sustainable Development Goals? I can’t pretend I have answers to any of these questions, nor do I dare predict what our future may look like in 10,20,30 years. However, it sure is interesting to look at the recent technological developments and try to understand what their role may be in the future.  

That’s where the unlikely and innovative story of Zipline International Inc. and the Government of Rwanda comes in. Last fall the Government of Rwanda partnered with the California-based robotics company Zipline International Inc. and became the first country in the world to incorporate drone technology into its health care system by delivering blood and medical supplies to 21 hospitals across Rwanda’s Southern and Western provinces.
 
Delivering blood

Source: Zipline

How social media data can improve people’s lives - if used responsibly

Stefaan Verhulst's picture

Image 20170412 25862 wxzwfmIn January 2015, heavy rains triggered unprecedented floods in Malawi. Over the next five weeks, the floods displaced more than 230,000 people and damaged over 64,000 hectares of land.

Almost half the country was labelled a “disaster zone” by Malawi’s government. And as the humanitarian crisis unfolded, relief agencies, such as the Red Cross were faced with the daunting task of allocating aid and resources to places that were virtually unrecorded by the country’s mapping data, and thus rendered almost invisible.

Humanitarian workers struggled to navigate in many of the most affected areas, and one result was that aid did not necessarily reach those most in need.

To prevent similar knowledge gaps in the future, researchers, volunteers and humanitarian workers in Malawi and elsewhere, have turned to an unlikely partner: Facebook.

In 2016, as part of its “Missing Maps” project, the Red Cross accessed Facebook’s rich population density data to find and map people who were critically vulnerable to natural disasters and health emergencies, but remained unrecorded in existing maps.

10 reasons to apply for World Bank-Annenberg Summer Institute

Roxanne Bauer's picture
How can professionals looking to lead reform initiatives find the best way forward?

They can start at the World Bank-Annenberg 
Summer Institute in Reform Communication: Leadership, Strategy and Stakeholder Alignment, held at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, from June 5 - June 16, 2017.

The course is designed for leaders, strategists and advisors who want to strengthen the critical competencies necessary to support change agents and reform initiatives in developing countries.  

If this sounds like you, but you need a little nudge, check out these 10 reasons why attending the Summer Institute is a good decision.

1. Strengthen the critical competencies necessary to support change agents and reform leaders in developing countries: The program was developed on the premise that successful implementation of policy reforms depends significantly on non-technical, real-world issues that relate to people and politics. 

2. Develop the skills necessary to bring about real change: Finding a way to push a reform forward can sometimes be elusive. Political or sectoral change is usually needed.  The course will develop your skills to analyze policy options and effectively mobilize support.

Keeping Up with Sunstein!

Zeina Afif's picture

As an enthusiast and practitioner of behavioral science, I try to stay current with the latest research and papers from the field. I follow the work of behavioral economics superstars such as Dan Ariely, Daniel Kahneman, Cass Sunstein, Richard Thaler, Robert Cialdini, and others. One thing, though, keeps challenging me. Cass Sunstein is a publishing machine! As soon as I finish reading one of his books or papers, three or four more pop up! 

For those not familiar with Sunstein, he is a law and behavioral economics professor at Harvard who co-authored with Richard Thaler the best seller, “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness”. Sunstein also served as the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, where he applied behavioral economics in the design and implementation of regulations.
 

Since the publication of ‘Nudge’, an increasing number of countries and government institutions have started applying insights from behavioral science in designing and implementing new policies and programs. The World Bank World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior outlined the ways behavioral science can complement policy makers’ toolbox and the European Commission and OECD published recent reports highlighting the latest developments.  The number of books, research papers and articles on the topic have doubled since the book was originally published.

Weekly wire: The global forum

Darejani Markozashvili's picture

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

The World Press Freedom Index
Reporters Without Borders
The 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) shows an increase in the number of countries where the media freedom situation is very grave and highlights the scale and variety of the obstacles to media freedom throughout the world.

The Mobile Economy 2017
GSMA
The GSMA Mobile Economy series provides the latest insights on the state of the mobile industry worldwide. Produced by our renowned in-house research team, GSMA Intelligence, these reports contain a range of technology, socio-economic and financial datasets, including forecasts out to 2020.

Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2017 : From World Development Indicators
World Bank
The Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2017 uses maps, charts and analysis to illustrate, trends, challenges and measurement issues related to each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The Atlas primarily draws on World Development Indicators (WDI) - the World Bank's compilation of internationally comparable statistics about global development and the quality of people's lives Given the breadth and scope of the SDGs, the editors have been selective, emphasizing issues considered important by experts in the World Bank's Global Practices and Cross Cutting Solution Areas. Nevertheless, The Atlas aims to reflect the breadth of the Goals themselves and presents national and regional trends and snapshots of progress towards the UN's seventeen Sustainable Development Goals: poverty, hunger, health, education, gender, water, energy, jobs, infrastructure, inequalities, cities, consumption, climate, oceans, the environment, peace, institutions, and partnerships.  
 

Development in the long-run: Historical context is messy and making sense of it can be messier

Roxanne Bauer's picture
This is the fourth post in a series of six in which Michael Woolcock, Lead Social Development Specialist at the World Bank and lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, discusses critical ideas within the field of Social Development.
 

Sometimes, things get worse before they get better. Students often struggle to learn new concepts but once they do, their ability to integrate those concepts and build on them accelerates.  Likewise, adults may experience the struggle of adopting new technology before realizing its benefits.  Organizations going through “change management” may similarly experience concern and confusion as departments realign before finding ways to adapt and re-build.  The idea that change experiences a dip at first— or at least that it feels that way— is known by social scientists and economists alike as the J-curve.

For Michael Woolcock, the J-curve is useful as it helps explain why historical progress doesn't always feel like progress. As he says, “what is going on now is always a product of the whole stream of things that have gone on in the past. Often, the institutional imperatives that we face are very present-tense oriented, and they’re often willfully indifferent to taking a serious look in the rear-view mirror…”  As individuals or collectively as societies, we often fail to reflect how our current experiences fit into a grander scheme. Michael asserts that how history is told, by whom it’s told and how people come to understand who they are as a people is a contested process. There is no singular view, and it is important to recognize that people have different interests in articulating a particular version of history and identity.

He adds that another key part to better understanding history and context is recognizing the non-linear nature of change processes, which involve many twists and turns in the storyline and require not only tweaks to the way power is managed but also to how expectations are formed and met. During this process of change, groups debate and forge new ideas of how to structure and think about society— and they do so in a messy and uncontrolled manner. This is why most contentious forms of political change follow a J-curve and take a long time to experience what would popularly be considered as positive outcomes. 

Development in the long-run: Historical context is messy and making sense of it can be messier

Media (R)evolutions: The video streaming boom continues

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

It is estimated that online video will be responsible for much of the increase in Internet traffic, which is projected to grow by 260% until 2018. According to a report by Cisco, video traffic accounted for more than half of all mobile data traffic (60 percent of total mobile data traffic) in 2016. The same report also stated that “More than three-fourths of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2021, with a 9-fold increase between 2016 and 2021, accounting for 78 percent of total mobile data traffic by the end of the forecast period.”
 
 

Note: Figures in parentheses refer to 2016 and 2021 traffic share.

Source: Cisco VNI Mobile, 2017

The Internet continues to have a huge impact on distribution and consumption of media, as global media consumption preferences are shifting toward digital formats. With increase in access and speed of Internet the upward trend of online video streaming services such as Netflix, N Play, Hulu, Apple TV, Roku, Boxes, and Amazon videos continues. Not only do streaming services offer ease of access to consumers with no storage requirements, they are also better suited to consumer demand and preference. The video streaming boom will likely continue as these companies expand globally and tap into new markets. Most recently Netflix announced that it will introduce original content in China via a licensing deal with iQiyi.com, one of the largest video streaming services in China.

Urban Agriculture: Food, Jobs, and Lower Food Miles

Vivek Prasad's picture

Millions of urban dwellers cultivate vegetables and fruit trees in home gardens, both for their families and for sale. In Dakar, 7500 households “grow their own” in micro-gardens. In Malawi, 700 000 urban residents practice home gardening to meet their food needs and earn extra income. Low-income city gardeners in Zambia make US$230 a year from sales. In cities like Bamako, Accra and Kumasi, depending on crop and season, between 60 and 100 per cent of leafy vegetables consumed are produced within the respective cities with employment figures ranging from 1,000 to 15,000 jobs. Even megacities such as Shanghai, with about 15% population growth per year, one of the fastest growing cities on the planet, maintains its urban farming as an important part of its economic system.

 

Farm plots amidst apartment blocks in Chaozhou, China.

Around 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urban farms already supply food to about 700 million residents of cities, representing about a quarter of the world’s urban population.    

Most cities in developing countries are facing challenges to create formal job opportunities. Urban agriculture can play an important role not only in enhancing food security but also in contributing to the eco-system - improved nutrition, poverty alleviation, local economic development and job creation as well as productive reuse of urban wastes.

Cuba has a system of urban organic farms called Organopónicos, which provides a fresh supply of organic food to the community, neighborhood improvement, beautification of urban areas, as well as employment opportunities. Cuba has more than 7,000 organopónicos, with some 200 gardens in Havana alone, covering more than 35,000 hectares of land, which supply its citizens with 90% of their fruit and vegetables. In Havana, 117,000 jobs in Havana and income for 150,000 low income families were directly provided by urban and peri-urban agriculture.

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