These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Illicit financial flows growing faster than global economy, reveals new report
$991.2bn was funneled out of developing and emerging economies through crime, corruption and tax evasion in 2012 alone, according to the latest report by the Washington-based group, Global Financial Integrity (GFI), published on Monday. The report finds that, despite growing awareness, developing countries lose more money through illicit financial flows (IFF) than they gain through aid and foreign direct investment. And IFFs are continuing to grow at an alarming rate – 9.4% a year. That’s twice as fast as global GDP growth over the same period. Though China tops the list of affected countries in terms of the total sum of money lost, as a percentage of the economy, sub-Saharan Africa was the worst affected region as illicit outflows there average 5.5% of GDP.
Development’s New Best Friend: the Global Security Complex
International Relations and Security Network
The United Nations’ blueprints for the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reveal an interesting trend. Whereas the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focused exclusively on development initiatives, the SDGs look set to interweave security into what was once solely a development sphere with the inclusion of objectives that seek to secure supply chains, end poaching and protect infrastructure. This shift reflects lessons learned from 15 years of implementing the MDGs and, even more so, broader global trends to integrate security and development initiatives.
Promises to Keep, Crafting Better Development Goals
The United Nations has always had lots of targets, goals, and declarations. You probably didn’t know, for example, that 2014 is the International Year of Family Farming and the International Year of Crystallography -- or that you are currently living through the Decade of Action for Road Safety. Such initiatives often reflect good intentions but rarely prove consequential. Between 1950 and 2000, at least 12 UN resolutions called for some form of universal education. In 1961, the so-called Addis Ababa Plan pledged that primary schooling in Africa would be “universal, compulsory and free” within two decades. Twenty years later, nearly half of all African children were still out of school. Countless other efforts promised equally lofty achievements, from gender equality to world peace, that never materialized. But in 2000, something remarkable happened: the UN channeled its noblest aspirations into something more concrete. One hundred heads of state and 47 heads of government -- the largest meeting of world leaders in history -- descended on New York for the UN Millennium Summit and embraced a short list of ambitious challenges that later became known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
2014 Internet Monitor Annual Report: “Reflections on the Digital World”
Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
The Internet Monitor project's second annual report—Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World—is a collection of roughly three dozen short contributions that highlight and discuss some of the most compelling events and trends in the digitally networked environment over the past year. The report focuses on the interplay between technological platforms and policy; growing tensions between protecting personal privacy and using big data for social good; the implications of digital communications tools for public discourse and collective action; and current debates around the future of Internet governance.
Studying society via social media is not so simple
Behavioral scientists have seized on social media and their massive data sets as a way to quickly and cheaply figure out what people are thinking and doing. But some of those tweets and thumbs ups can be misleading. Researchers must figure out how to make sure their forecasts and analyses actually represent the offline world.
Connectivity realigns lives in emerging markets
Nearly all (97%) consumers in emerging markets have seen fundamental life-changes in key areas of their lives owing to the transformative impact of connectivity, according to Juniper Networks. This is part of findings of an international study conducted last June by Wakefield Research, covering 5,500 adults with smartphones and/or internet access in the home, including at least 500 interviews each in Brazil, China, India and South Africa. The Juniper Networks Global Bandwidth Index found that people in developing countries often use connected devices as a tool for personal advancement and self-improvement, while in the developed world, the focus is much more on convenience and efficiency.
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