These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond
World Economic Forum
We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.
Media, discussion and attitudes in fragile contexts
BBC Media Action
Drawing primarily on quantitative data from nationally representative surveys collected for BBC Media Action programming in Kenya and Nigeria, the paper develops and tests the hypothesis that balanced and inclusive media-induced discussion can be a positive force in mitigating attitudes associated with conflict. The results reveal a rich but complicated picture. We find relatively consistent evidence in both countries that our discussion-oriented media programmes are strongly linked to private discussion among family, friends and others. Evidence from Kenya also suggests that exposure to debate-style programming is potentially linked to public political discussion, but that this relationship is likely to be mediated through other variables such as private political discussion. Finally, in both cases, both private and public discussion is strongly associated with individual attitudes towards conflict. However, the relationship is a complex one and bears further examination.
The Authoritarian Threat: The Hijacking of “Soft Power”
Journal of Democracy
Since the end of the Cold War, the democratic West has accorded particular prominence to the idea of integrating nondemocratic regimes into the liberal international order. For political leaders and analysts in the United States and Europe, integration has been a dominant foreign-policy organizing concept, serving as the West’s strategic lodestar over the past quarter-century. The democracies’ central assumption has been that patient engagement with authoritarian states would yield clear mutual benefits. By embracing such regimes and encouraging their integration into the global economic system and key political institutions, Western powers hoped to coax the autocracies toward meaningful political reform, leading them eventually to become more like the democracies. Even the tougher cases for democratization, such as China and Russia, were expected slowly but inevitably to liberalize politically as their economies grew and their middle classes developed. But in an unanticipated twist, the authoritarian regimes, both large and small, have turned the tables on the democracies.
2014 aid figures released by OECD/DAC
The new data add significant detail to preliminary Official Development Assistance (ODA) statistics that were released in April 2015 and shed new light on overall aid spending, confirming that rather than declining, ODA reached an all-time high in 2014. In 2014, final figures for net official development assistance (ODA) flows from DAC member countries totalled USD 137.2 billion, marking an increase of 1.2% in real terms over 2013. As a share of GNI, ODA was 0.30%.
Are Gates and Rockefeller using their influence to set agenda in poor states?
Ultra-rich philanthropists and their foundations have increasing influence on decision-making and are setting the global health and agriculture agenda in developing countries, according to a major study (pdf). Using their immense wealth and influence with political and scientific elites, organisations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and others are promoting solutions to global problems that may undermine the UN and other international organisations, says the report by the independent Global Policy Forum, which monitors the work of UN bodies and global policymaking.
UN chief unveils panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Thursday announced the first-ever High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment to provide leadership and mobilize concrete actions aimed at closing economic gender gaps that persist around the world. “The empowerment of the world’s women is a global imperative,” Ban said in a statement issued while he attends dozens of events at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Yet despite important progress in promoting gender equality, there remains an urgent need to address structural barriers to women’s economic empowerment and full inclusion in economic activity,” he added. “If the world is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we need a quantum leap in women’s economic empowerment.