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What does the rapidly changing face of UK and global aid look like, and what is at stake? 

Duncan Green - November 29, 2017

Oxfam aid wonk Gideon Rabinowitz reads the tea leaves of the latest UK aid stats Anyone following aid discussions in recent years will have sensed the mood music changing. They have been increasingly dominated by an emphasis on economic development, the role of the private sector, securing results (including for taxpayers) and addressing donor strategic interests (e.g. in relation to migration). This contrasts somewhat with …

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Winning Ugly and Learning from the Bad Guys: Discussing How Change Happens with the Greens

Duncan Green - November 28, 2017

Had an HCH session with some extremely smart wonks at the Green Alliance last week. I gave my standard talk, focussing on a ‘Power and Systems Approach’. This argues that for activism to be more in line with messy, emergent realities, activists need to change their way of working to give greater weight to: Curiosity – Study history and context; ‘learn to dance with the …

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A wonderful book by Jean Dreze, India’s Orwell

Duncan Green - November 27, 2017

Notes from my talk at last week’s launch of Jean Drèze’s new book, Sense and Solidarity. Has anyone written Jean Drèze’s biography? If not, why not? A fascinating figure, surrounded by myths and legends (did he really sleep rough in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the square next to LSE, when he was a lecturer there?). He’s a wonderful writer who reminds me of George Orwell, with …

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Kevin Watkins on the power of stigma and shame as a driver of change

Duncan Green - November 23, 2017

Kevin Watkins, a fellow Prof in Practice at the LSE, came along to talk to my students last week (review by Masters student Haisley Wert here). Kevin is a bit of a research and campaigning legend in the aid biz – the brains behind a lot of epic Oxfam campaigns on trade and debt in the early noughties, he went on to write some of …

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What are the politics of our survival as a species? Introducing the Climate Change Trilemma

Duncan Green - November 22, 2017

So a physicist, an anthropologist, and two political economists have lunch in the LSE canteen and start arguing about climate change….. I was (very notionally) the physicist; my other lunchtime companions were Robert Wade, Teddy Brett and Jason Hickel (the anthropologist). Jason was arguing for degrowth and reminded me of the excellent debate on this blog a couple of years ago between Kate Raworth and …

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Do you have to be cold to be cool? Canada joins the Nordics as a world leader on rights.

Duncan Green - November 21, 2017

I was in Canada last week, having a lot of fun on a speaking tour with Oxfam Canada, followed by a couple of days with Oxfam Quebec in Montreal. One of the striking impressions is how much Canada’s foreign policy rhetoric echoes that of the Nordics in its focus on rights (an even more striking impression was that minus 20 degrees centigrade is really not …

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What’s so bad with Business as Usual on Livelihoods? Impressions from Eastern Congo

Duncan Green - November 15, 2017

Our country director in DRC, Jose Barahona (right), sent round some interesting impressions from a recent visit to the Eastern Congo. South Kivu in Eastern Congo is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Africa and I am convinced that one day this area will be one of the world’s top tourist destinations. The day DRC is calm and stable, the millions of tourists fed up …

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The Great Leveller: A conversation with Walter Scheidel on Inequality and Apocalypse

Duncan Green - November 14, 2017

When I visited Stanford recently at the invitation of Francis Fukuyama, I also dropped in on Walter Scheidel, an Austrian historian who has taken time off from his main interest (the Romans) to write a powerful, and pretty depressing, book on inequality. Like Fukuyama, Scheidel is a big brain who favours the grand narrative – his book is called ‘The Great Leveller: Violence and the …

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Is Recognition the missing piece of politics? A conversation with Francis Fukuyama

Duncan Green - November 9, 2017

Getting Francis Fukuyama to endorse How Change Happens was one of the high points of publication – he’s been a hero of mine ever since I read (and reviewed) his magisterial history of the state (right). Last week I finally got to meet him, when I took up an invitation to speak to students and faculty at his Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of …

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Should the Gates Foundation Do Data Differently?

Duncan Green - November 8, 2017

Spent a fascinating day last week talking to staff at the Gates Foundation at its HQ in a cold, grey and sleety Seattle (felt quite at home). I presented the book in one of those ‘brownbag lunches’ that Americans love (although these days ‘clear plastic box lunches’ would be more accurate), and we then got on to discussing the implications for aid agencies in general …

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