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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 World Press Freedom Index
Reporters Without Borders
Published every year since 2002 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the World Press Freedom Index is an important advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states. Because it is well known, its influence over governments is growing. Many heads of state and government fear its annual publication. The Index is a point of reference that is quoted by media throughout the world and is used by diplomats and international entities such as the United Nations and the World Bank. The Index ranks 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists. It is a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country. It does not rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. Nor is it an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country.

Non-Western Ideas for Democratic Renewal
Carnegie’s Rising Democracies Network
It is commonly asserted that Western liberal democracy is losing credibility and that the international community must be more open to tolerating, and even encouraging, non-Western political models in developing and rising powers. Calls for non-Western forms of democracy have been around for many years but are now becoming louder and more ubiquitous. This trend can be expected to deepen as an integral element of the emerging post-Western world order.  The desire of people outside the West to contribute new ideas to democratic regeneration and to feel stronger local ownership over democracy is healthy. More needs to be done to nurture a wider variation of democratic processes and practices. 

Knowledge production: An essential tool for public policy in Africa

Françoise Rivière's picture



Over the past five years, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the World Bank Group have coproduced 20 volumes on various dimensions of development in Africa. The Africa Development Forum (ADF) book series has addressed subjects including the agricultural, demographic, climatic, and environmental challenges facing African countries, as well as the various methods of financing infrastructure, cities, and social safety nets. In-depth research brings to light specific and diverse situations encountered around the continent. Moving beyond the results of such endeavors, the question remains of how to conduct research that can make a pertinent and meaningful contribution to public policy. Two fundamental tools are required: robust, and often times original, data and cutting-edge research. This research must not only be connected to international realities; it must be firmly anchored in African realities and geared toward public policy making.

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.


So Software Has Eaten the World: What Does It Mean for Human Rights, Security & Governance?
Human Rights Watch
In 2011, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Marc Andreessen famously wrote the startling essay, Why Software is Eating the World, in which he described how emerging companies built on software were swallowing up whole industries and disrupting previously dominant brand name corporations. Andreessen was prescient and almost giddy, in anticipating the dramatic, technological and economic shift through which software companies would take over large swaths of the global economy. What he did not anticipate was the extent to which software would also eat up the realms of governance, security and human rights. Digital technology has disrupted multiple dimensions of governance related to national security, including protection of human rights.

Digital Globalization and the Developing World
Project Syndicate
Globalization is entering a new era, defined not only by cross-border flows of goods and capital, but also, and increasingly, by flows of data and information. This shift would seem to favor the advanced economies, whose industries are at the frontier in employing digital technologies in their products and operations. Will developing countries be left behind? For decades, vying for the world’s low-cost manufacturing business seemed to be the most promising way for low-income countries to climb the development ladder. Global trade in goods rose from 13.8% of world GDP in 1985 ($2 trillion) to 26.6% of GDP ($16 trillion) in 2007. Propelled by demand and outsourcing from advanced economies, emerging markets won a growing share of the soaring trade in goods; by 2014, they accounted for more than half of global trade flows. Since the Great Recession, however, growth in global merchandise trade has stalled, mainly owing to anemic demand in the world’s major economies and plummeting commodity prices. But deeper structural changes are also playing a role.

Does “Rational Ignorance” make working on transparency and accountability a waste of time?

Duncan Green's picture

Guest post from Paul O’Brien, Vice President for Policy and Campaigns, Oxfam America (gosh, they do have august sounding job titles, don’t they?)

As the poorest half of the planet sees that just 62 people have more wealth than all of them, collective frustration at extreme inequality is increasing.  To rebalance power and wealth, many in our community are turning to transparency, accountability, participation and inclusion.  Interrogate that “development consensus,” however, and opinions are fractured over the benefits and costs of transferring power from the haves to the have-nots.

Social Media Information OverloadIn truth, our theories of change often diverge.  Most development organizations may agree on the need to advocate for more Investment, Innovation, Information, strong Institutions and Incentives, but some organizations are genuinely committed to only one of those “I’s”, and that can be problematic:  Oxfam often finds itself choosing and moving between the relentless positivity of politically benign theories of change (e.g. we just need more “investment” or “innovation”), the moderation of those who focus exclusively on transparent “information” with no clear pathway to ensure its political relevance, and the relentless negativity of activists that think the only way to transform “institutions” or realign the “incentives” of elites is to beat them up in public.

Oxfam’s challenge is to be both explicit in our theory of change and show sophistication and dexterity in working across that spectrum.  If Oxfam’s theory of change is based on a citizen-centered approach to tackling global systemic challenges like extreme inequality, then our opportunity may be engaging the “rational ignorance” of citizens and consumers.
 

New data on Climate Investment Funds and their results

Martin Craig Hall's picture
Readers of this blog site will know that open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed – it’s legally open and technically open.  Readers of this blog may not know that the $8.3 billion Climate Investment Funds (CIF), are providing scaled-up financing through the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to initiate transformational change toward climate-resilient, low-carbon development in 72 countries worldwide.  And this month, for the first time, the CIF is publishing open data on the results of our Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and our Scaling up Renewable Energy Program (SREP).
 

How open are official statistics?

Shaida Badiee's picture

This is a guest post from Shaida Badiee and Eric Swanson, co-founders of the NGO Open Data Watch, which works on a variety of initiatives at the intersection of Open Data and Official Statistics.

Although "open data" has been a popular rallying cry and many countries, states, even cities, have announced open data initiatives, open access to the important data produced by national statistical agencies remains, at best, limited.

To get a baseline measurement, Open Data Watch conducted in depth assessments of the statistics commonly produced by national statistical systems in 125 mostly low- and middle-income countries. Called the Open Data Inventory (ODIN), results are now available online at http://odin.opendatawatch.com. Global results are shown in Figure 1. In 2015 ODIN found only 10 national statistical offices (NSOs) that satisfied more than 50 percent of the criteria for data coverage and openness. Mexico, at 68 percent was the highest scoring country followed by Mongolia, Moldova, and Rwanda. Uzbekistan at 3 percent was the lowest.

An interactive table of all country scores is available here:
http://odin.opendatawatch.com/report/rankings


 

New online resource spotlights debt statistics news and trends

Parul Agarwal's picture
We're thrilled to share the news about our brand new Online Quarterly Bulletin, which features debt statistics news, trends, and events. Laid out in the format of an e-newsletter, this quarter's issue focuses on:
  • Debt statistics products, coverage, and methodologies
  • External debt trends of 2015
  • International debt statistics-related activities and summaries
One area we'd like to highlight is the interconnection of the many types of debt statistics that the World Bank collects, manages, and disseminates.
 
The World Bank collects annual external debt statistics through the World Bank Debt Reporting System (DRS) and publishes it annually in the International Debt Statistics (IDS) publication. This annual data is complemented by our quarterly external and public debt statistics captured through the Quarterly External Debt Statistics (QEDS) database and the Public Sector Debt (PSD) database.  To help illustrate this interconnection, we've created the below graphic.
 


 

New paper: "Milking the Data"

Tariq Khokhar's picture
Quick: how much milk did you drink last year?
 
If you can answer that accurately, you’re either taking the “quantified self” thing a bit far, or you may have been reading some of our research.
 
A new paper co-authored by our colleges on the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team compares different methods for estimating how much milk is being taken from livestock for human consumption.
 
Alberto wrote about this research last year and the work has been published in Food Policy under an open access license. I think the findings are super-interesting - the authors are trying to understand how to accurately find out from individuals “how much milk did you collect from your animals this year?”
 
Simply asking that question isn’t likely to get you an accurate answer, but if you had to rely on questions in a survey, which questions would you pick? The study compares the answers provided by different survey “recall methods” in Niger against benchmark data gathered by actually measuring the volume of milk taken (weighing it in a jug... ) one day every 2-weeks over the course of a year.

New time series of global subnational population estimates launched

Dereje Ketema Wolde's picture

We've just launched a new, pilot global subnational population database featuring time series population estimates for 75 countries at the first-level administrative divisions (provinces, states, or regions). The database has time series data that spans 15 years (2000-2014), with total population numbers for each area and the shares relative to total national population estimates.

What's new about this?
The common data source of population estimates for most countries is a census, often conducted every 10 years or so. Many countries publish annual estimates between census years, but few publish similar population estimates for subnational regions. This database aims to provide intercensal estimates using a standard methodology.


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