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A Sidekick for Development

Maya Brahmam's picture

October 17 was End Poverty Day – and we at the World Bank in Washington had a small celebration and a lively discussion around the new Poverty report: Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Taking on Inequality. Topics ranged from 2 billion people living in countries affected by conflict to the work on social inclusion – which included a two-part definition of social inclusion: “The process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society” and “The process of improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of people, disadvantaged on the basis of their identity, to take part in society.”
 
Then I happened to notice a tweet from Owen Barder on the Sidekick Manifesto (with a cool pop art look) with the apt tagline: In the story of poverty’s end, we can only be sidekicks. I particularly liked the statement: “The poor are not powerless or waiting to be saved.”
 
It seemed to be a good reminder that economic development is a complex and costly process, which requires political buy-in from a broad range of actors, including the local community. Progress is built over time, and there are no quick wins. In the larger scheme of things, the poor are the main actors, we’re just the sidekicks for development.

Quote of the week: James B. Comey

Leszek J. Sibilski's picture

"Judgment is protected and nurtured by stepping away from the work. Sleeping is not a moral failure. You arise refreshed in a way that allows you to see your work in a new light.”

-James B. Comey Jr., director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States Government, speaking with Daniel Attridge, dean of the law school at The Catholic University of America, on April 12 for the Brendan F. Brown Lecture Series. 

Prior to serving as FBI director, Comey served on the Board of Directors of HSBC Holdings until July 2013 and as a Senior Research Scholar and a Hertog Fellow on National Security Law at Columbia Law School in New York City. He also worked in the Department of Justice as United States Deputy Attorney General from December 2003 to August 2005, serving in President George W. Bush's administration.

 

The global technocracy confronts an inconvenient beast

Sina Odugbemi's picture
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.  --Frederick Douglass
 
Suddenly, the tumultuous on-rush of clarity. As the technocrats and leaders who run the global economic system reflect on widespread angry reactions to globalization and rapid social change, a new language is permeating the discussion of economic issues. Top economic policy leaders are now saying that ‘inclusive growth” is crucial. They are saying globalization must “work for everyone”. We are hearing exhortations about paying attention to public opinion (that famously unruly and inconvenient beast!). According to Larry Summers, a notable commentator on these matters, (in a Financial Times piece titled: “Voters sour on traditional economic policy”):
People have lost confidence in both the competence of economic leaders and in their commitment to serve the wider public rather than the global elite.

A number of traditional economic leaders in the public and private sector seemed to be making their way through the traditional grief cycle – starting with denial, moving to rage, then to bargaining and ultimately to acceptance of the new realities.


Will anything change though? There is reason to be skeptical. For, at bottom, the issue is that the global technocracy insists on economic policy being the exclusive preserve of experts. So, once the experts do the numbers and they declare a trade agreement beneficial that should be the end of the matter. Or, once the experts decide that what appears to be a high level of immigration to the ordinary citizen is actually economically helpful they tell leaders to ignore public opinion and go for it. The point, naturally, is not that expert input into policymaking is not crucial. Of course it is. The point is: it is just an input. Wise leaders must add other considerations.

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.

The Practice and Craft of Multistakeholder Governance: The case of global internet policymaking
Global Partners Digital

In recent years, multistakeholderism has become something of a catchphrase in discussions of Internet governance. This follows decades of attempts to identify a system of governance that would be sufficiently flexible, yet at the same time effective enough to manage the decentralized, non-hierarchical global network that is today used by more than 3 billion people. […]In this paper, we contribute to this ongoing discussion by examining current and actual instances of governance and governance bodies that at least approximate the ideal of multistakeholderism. Part I, below, examines seven institutions and fora that serve as real-world examples of multistakeholder governance on the Internet. In Part II, we assess these examples to present a number of lessons learned and more general reflections that can help us better understand the state of—and prospects for—multistakeholder governance of the Internet today.

Facts We Can Believe In: How to make fact-checking better
Legatum Institute

New media and the information revolution have not only empowered access to information but also fuelled the spread of disinformation. Such is the scale of the problem that the World Economic Forum has defined  misinformation as one of the world’s most urgent problems. Corrupt, neo-authoritarian rulers have become skilled at using disinformation to confuse their opposition, break down trust and fracture civil society. Increasingly, disinformation is used as a weapon by closed societies to attack more open ones. Inside democracies whole segments of society are pulled into alternative realities which are manipulated by violent extremists and dominated by conspiracy theories. Some commentators have even speculated that we are entering a “post-fact” age where political candidates reinvent reality on a whim. This poses a serious danger to deliberative democracy and good governance: if we cannot agree on the facts, debate and decision-making break down.
 

Judith Tendler and learning from ‘good government’

Suvojit Chattopadhyay's picture

On 24th July 2016, Judith Tendler, former Professor at the Department of Urban studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, passed away. She was 77. A Ph.D holder from Columbia University, Judith Tendler spent several years at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) before a long career as a Professor in MIT. A significant share of Prof. Tendler’s work focused on the Americas, but she also studied South Asia and parts of Africa over her long career.

Prof Tendler’s book: ‘Good Government in the Tropics’ (1997) is one of the most influential books in the field of international development — an essential reading for students of governance and public policy studies. In the book, Prof Tendler and her research associates studied four cases of successful government in Ceara, a relatively poor state in north-eastern Brazil. In each of the cases, the government at different levels played an effective role, facilitating and brokering relationships, and submitting itself to mechanisms which could be used to hold themselves accountable. Those were rare, but rich, examples of ‘good government’.

These cases highlighting the achievements of ‘good governments’ challenged the dominant pessimistic thinking about governance in the so-called ‘third world’. Prof Tendler argued that much of the advice from international development agencies to developing countries was based on an analysis of poor performance of the public sector and governments. This resulted in a tendency to ‘import’ good practices from the successful developed countries, as well as a resistance to looking deeply into poor countries to identify variations in performance. In many ways Prof Tendler consistently challenged the pre-suppositions that development agencies and policy advisors nurtured and which, as a result, shaped the advice they dispensed into narrow straitjackets often unfit for the context in which they were to be applied.

Campaign art: Addiction may not be obvious but its effects are real

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

Do you have friends or people you follow on social media who always have a drink in their hand? Does that seem normal to you?  Did you ever wonder if they might have a problem?

Meet Louise Delage. She’s beautiful, trendy, and seems to lead a very glamorous life.  The only problem is she’s always drinking… and no one notices.  In the span of a few months, she was able to cultivate over 16,000 followers and 50,000 likes, few of whom noticed she is a functional alcoholic. The overwhelming majority of her followers just saw a pretty woman having fun, failing to notice her alcohol problem.

This is all part of a social campaign from Paris agency BETC called "Like My Addiction" rolled out for Addict Aide, which sought to raise awareness of alcoholism among young people. According to the organization, one out of every five deaths of young people each year is from addiction. The World Health Organization also warns of the hazards of alcohol, declaring that harmful alcohol consumption has now become "one of the most important risks to health: it is the leading risk factor in developing countries with low mortality rates and ranks third in developed countries, according to the World Health Report 2002."  Alcohol use contributes to a wide range of diseases, health conditions and high-risk behaviours, from mental disorders and road traffic injuries, to liver diseases and unsafe sexual behaviour.

The truth about Louise was revealed in a video published on Instagram and YouTube:
 
Like my Addiction

Get off my lawn! Pokemon Go tests global property laws

Lin Taylor's picture
The augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go"
by Nintendo is shown on a smartphone screen in
this photo illustration taken in Palm Springs,
California U.S. July 11, 2016.

Within one week in July the Sydney suburb of Rhodes was transformed from a quiet neighbourhood to what resident Joyce Wong described as a "place of carnage" with hundreds of people wandering around like "zombies".   

"The car hooting noise was incessant, on weekends you felt like you were under siege and the rubbish and litter all over the public areas was terrible," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email from her home in the Australian city.

The reason for the constant disturbance? Pokemon Go, the latest craze in augmented reality.

The game took the world by storm this summer as animated creatures began appearing in the most unexpected places - all through the lens of a smartphone.

The global popularity of the game and other video games that put digital "characters" into real places – from private homes to shops, parks and even monuments and museums – has fuelled debate on land rights, the legal boundaries of private property, and what constitutes trespass.

Experts say the inter-section between virtual reality and property law is not clear, and nobody really knows what the rights of property owners are when digital characters or structures appear on their land.

"A lot of people are convinced that because they own their property, they ought to be able to control the virtual space," said Brian Wassom, a lawyer at Michigan's Warner Norcross & Judd LLP with expertise in augmented reality.

"I think they're going to come to the answer which I have come to, which is: no, you can't," he said in a phone interview.

He said land rights only apply when there has been something or someone physically present on the property.

However, this distinction is becoming blurred as more and more examples of the power the digital world can hold over specific geographical spots emerge.

Quote of the Week: Dani Rodrik

Sina Odugbemi's picture
“The main constraint on the global economy right now is not that it is not sufficiently open. It’s very open. The main constraint is really that the system lacks legitimacy."
 

Dani Rodrik, a Turkish economist and Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He was formerly the Albert O. Hirschman Professor of the Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He has made significant contributions and published widely to the areas of international economics, economic development, and political economy. He is best known for his work on industrialization, growth policies, and political economy of globalization. His works include Economic Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science and The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy. He is also joint editor-in-chief of the academic journal Global Policy.

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.

2016 Ibrahim Index of African Governance
Mo Ibrahim Foundation
The IIAG provides an annual assessment of the quality of governance in every African country. Originally established with the John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University), presently the IIAG consists of more than 90 indicators built up into 14 sub-categories, four categories and one overall measurement of governance performance. These indicators include official data, expert assessments and citizen surveys, provided by more than 30 independent global data institutions. This represents the most comprehensive collection of data on African governance. MIF defines governance as the provision of the political, social and economic goods that a citizen has the right to expect from his or her state, and that a state has the responsibility to deliver to its citizens. The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) assesses progress under four main conceptual categories: Safety & Rule of Law, Participation & Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity, and Human Development.

World Economic and Social Survey 2016- Climate Change Resilience: an opportunity for reducing inequalities
UN  Department of Economic and Social Affairs
The World Economic and Social Survey 2016 contributes to the debate on the implementation challenges of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In addressing the specific challenge of building resilience to climate change, the Survey focuses attention on the population groups and communities that are disproportionately affected by climate hazards. It argues that, in the absence of transformative policies which coherently address the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development, building climate resilience will remain elusive and poverty and inequalities will worsen. To the extent that the differential impact of climate hazards on people and communities is determined largely by the prevalence of multiple inequalities in respect of the access to resources and opportunities, policies aimed at building climate resilience provide an opportunity to address the structural determinants of poverty and inequality in their multiple dimensions.
 

Media (R)evolutions: Making broadband policy universal for inclusive development

Roxanne Bauer'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.

In order to ensure economic and social development is inclusive, all citizens, including the poor and those living in rural areas, must have access to information. Communication services, which includes mobile broadband, remains a crucial element in this goal. However, cost, competition, demand and affordability, and customer distribution (among others) all influence how telecommunication firms view the feasibility of providing specific technology services.

National broadband plans (NBPs) and universal access and service (UAS) policies that provide regulation, financing, and access goals are essential to ensuring that a country can provide broadband services. These policies, which can be tailored to ensure they will provide access to poor and rural communities, should not be viewed as an obligation but an opportunity for growth. The World Bank acknowledges this in the 2016 World Development Report: Digital Dividends:

Government policies and regulation of the internet help shape the digital economy. Particularly through their policies for the ICT sector, governments and regulatory agencies create an enabling environment for the private sector to build networks, develop services, and provide content and applications for users. Increasingly, governments seek to cooperate across borders on issues such as cybersecurity, privacy, and cross-border data flows. Internet-enabling policies have evolved over time, especially those for the ICT sector [...] Broadband internet, in particular, is seen as a general-purpose technology, essential for the competitiveness of nations, and governments have invested more than US$50 billion in broadband networks since 2009 as part of stimulus packages. Most also have national broadband plans.


With this in mind, the Broadband Commission tracks national progress towards a set of targets, the first of which is to make broadband policy universal. Advocacy target 1 states, “All countries should have a National Broadband Plan or strategy or include broadband in their UAS definitions.” According to its latest annual report, The State of Broadband: Broadband catalyzing sustainable development, growth in the number of countries with NBPs has progressed over the past eight-year period, but has stabilized in the past three. There are now 151 countries with a NBP, and 38 have not yet developed one. Azerbaijan is the most recent addition to the list of countries with an approved NBP, and another seven countries are planning to introduce one: Cape Verde, Cuba, Dominica, Iraq, Solomon Islands, Saint Lucia and Togo.

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