Duncan Green

This is a conversational blog written and maintained by Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB and author of ‘From Poverty to Power’. This personal reflection is not intended as a comprehensive statement of Oxfam's agreed policies.

Thomas Piketty on inequality in developing countries (great, but still not enough on politics)

Duncan Green - May 31, 2016

I heard econ rock star Thomas Piketty speak for the first time last week – hugely enjoyable. The occasion was the annual conference of the LSE’s new International Inequalities Institute, with Piketty headlining. He was brilliant: original and funny, riffing off traditional France v Britain tensions, and reeling off memorable one liners: ‘meritocracy is a myth invented by winners’; ‘It’s difficult to be an honest …

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Links I Liked

Duncan Green - May 30, 2016

The grim power of data: heat map of migrant deaths and cemeteries in the Mediterranean since 2014 [h/t Max Galka] The IMF (or at least its more thoughtful parts) continues to startle old lags like me used to denouncing it as irredeemably ‘neoliberal’. The latest issue of its flagship magazine, Finance and Development, includes a glowing profile of Dani Rodrik (uber critic of the Washington Consensus) …

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Bridging the gender data gap – Oxfam is looking for a researcher. Interested?

Duncan Green - May 27, 2016

Oxfam’s research team is looking for a gender justice researcher. Closing date is Monday (30th May), so despite having only one typing hand (bike accident, not nice), Deborah Hardoon explains why you should apply In 1990 Amartya Sen wrote an editorial for the NY Times review of books that highlighted a numerical discrepancy with profound implications. He looked at data on birth rates – all …

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Book Review, Augusta Dwyer: The Anatomy of Giving (on the aid industry and Haiti)

Duncan Green - May 26, 2016

If you want a readable and short (167 pages) introduction to the many contradictions and debates that beset the aid business, I recommend The Anatomy of Giving (apologies for Amazon link – couldn’t find another). Dwyer’s subject is Haiti – ‘At just a two-hour flight from Miami, Haiti is the Western Hemisphere’s own little piece of Sub-Saharan Africa.’ She’s been visiting on and off since 1985 …

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So what do we really know about innovation in international development? Summary of new book (+ you get to vote)

Duncan Green - May 25, 2016

Ben Ramalingam of IDS and Kirsten Bound of Nesta share insights from their new open-access book on innovation for development (download it here). And you get to vote (see end) Innovation is increasingly popular in international development. The last ten years have seen new initiatives, funds, and pilots aplenty. While some of this involves genuinely novel and experimental approaches, we have also seen – perhaps …

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When/Why do countries improve the management of their natural resources? New 4 country study

Duncan Green - May 24, 2016

Now I love Oxfam dearly but (you were expecting a ‘but’, right?) both as producers and consumers, we suffer from TL; DR syndrome (too long; didn’t read). Not only that but we don’t always make the most of executive summaries. Which is a shame, because some real gems often go unnoticed as a result. So allow me to pan through a recent 71 page Oxfam …

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Duncan Green - May 23, 2016

Global life expectancy has now overtaken the biblical span for the first time, up by five years since 2000, (WHO figures). Global average now 71.4 years  Big International Inequalities conference at LSE on Wednesday (25th), including rock star Thomas Piketty. I’ll be on a practitioner panel (sounds painful) in the evening The horror of the Siemens Healthineers. The incomparable Lucy Kellaway on bad corporate rebranding …

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How can campaigners influence the private sector? 4 lessons from the Behind the Brands campaign on Big Food

Duncan Green - May 20, 2016

Oxfam private sector researcher/evaluation adviser Uwe Gneiting reflects on 3 years of a campaign to change thebehavior of Big Food Last month we marked the third anniversary of the Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign with a new briefing paper that included an updated scorecard of the world’s ten largest food and beverage companies’ sustainability policies. As an evaluator looking at Behind the Brands, I’ve been …

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Do people identify as global or national citizens? New report suggests a tipping point, but North and South heading in opposite directions

Duncan Green - May 19, 2016

This is interesting, and feels like it could be part of a big normative shift. According to a new report from Globescan (a polling company), across 20,000 people in 18 countries ‘more than half (51%) see themselves more as global citizens than citizens of their country, against 43 per cent who identify nationally. This is the first time since tracking began in 2001 that there …

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How Change Happens: a conversation with 25 top campaigners from around the world

Duncan Green - May 18, 2016

Spent an exhilarating morning last week with Oxfam’s ‘Campaigns and Advocacy Leadership Programme’. Must have been at least 20 nationalities in the room, with huge experience and wisdom. The topic was How Change Happens (what else). To give you a flavour, here are some of the topics that came up, with my takes on them: Is power a zero sum game, i.e. empowering one group …

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