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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.

Populists and Autocrats: The Dual Threat to Global Democracy
Freedom House
In 2016, populist and nationalist political forces made astonishing gains in democratic states, while authoritarian powers engaged in brazen acts of aggression, and grave atrocities went unanswered in war zones across two continents. All of these developments point to a growing danger that the international order of the past quarter-century— rooted in the principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law—will give way to a world in which individual leaders and nations pursue their own narrow interests without meaningful constraints, and without regard for the shared benefits of global peace, freedom, and prosperity. The troubling impression created by the year’s headline events is supported by the latest findings of Freedom in the World. A total of 67 countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties in 2016, compared with 36 that registered gains. This marked the 11th consecutive year in which declines outnumbered improvements.

Financial Flows and Tax Havens: Combining to Limit the Lives of Billions of People
Global Financial Integrity
Global Financial Integrity (GFI), the Norwegian School of Economics and a team of global experts released a study showing that since 1980 developing countries lost US$16.3 trillion dollars through broad leakages in the balance of payments, trade mis-invoicing, and recorded financial transfers. These resources represent immense social costs that have been borne by the citizens of developing countries around the globe. Funding for the report was provided by the Research Council of Norway and research assistance was provided by economists in Brazil, India, and Nigeria. Titled “Financial Flows and Tax Havens: Combining to Limit the Lives of Billions of People,” the report demonstrates that developing countries have effectively served as net-creditors to the rest of the world with tax havens playing a major role in the flight of unrecorded capital. For example, in 2011 tax haven holdings of total developing country wealth were valued at US$4.4 trillion, which exacerbated inequality and undermined good governance and economic growth.

Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions 2017  
Reuters Institute
This year’s key developments will centre on fears about how changing technology is affecting the quality of information and the state of our democracy. The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House and elections in France and Germany will highlight the increasing power of new communication channels as traditional media continues to lose both influence and money. More widely there’ll be heated debate about the role and size of tech platforms and the extent to which their activities should be regulated. Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes over from mobile as the hottest topic in technology, though the practical and ethical dilemmas around how it will be used become ever more apparent through the year.

3 Things Driving Entrepreneurial Growth in Africa
Harvard Business Review
Fatigue may be setting in for some Western investors’ interest in African innovation, particularly those that have yet to reap rewards to brag about. Even a star company like Nigeria’s online retailer Jumia (known by some as the potential “African Amazon”) is struggling to return profits to early investor Rocket Internet, of Germany. Why the downbeat mood? One reason we have observed is that while African entrepreneurship is thriving, few ventures are large enough for Western institutional investors. Another reason is that investors are myopically infatuated with snazzy technology.

Mass displacement and the challenge for urban resilience
Overseas Development Institute
People displaced by conflict and disasters increasingly end up in urban areas, as opposed to refugee camps. The challenge of mass displacement is global. It requires governments, national and local, to build the resilience of urban systems so they are able to absorb migration flows and transform in response to these pressures, now and in the future. This paper examines all forms of migration: forced and voluntary, domestic and cross-border, and in response to different pressures (particularly disasters and conflict). It assesses the impact of mass displacement on the wellbeing of all urban residents, using an urban resilience framework to explore how different parts of the system respond to large influxes of people moving into areas often already suffering from inadequate housing, a lack of basic services and insecurity.

Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomit

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