What happens when negotiations fail to prevent 2 million deaths? Not much, apparently

admin - October 7, 2009

Suppose weapons of mass destruction had taken 2.1 million lives over the last three years. International diplomacy would surely be at fever pitch, the UN would be in constant session, leaders would be shuttling to and fro trying to bring a halt to the slaughter. Wrong. Conventional arms have, directly or indirectly, killed that number of people, and yet international talks on an Arms Trade …

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Faith and development – what's the connection?

admin - October 6, 2009

I’ve worked in and with many faith-based organizations over the years and have long argued that development organizations can’t afford to be blind to the importance of faith. Research shows that people living in poverty trust their churches more than any other institution, and faiths are vital in forging the attitudes and beliefs that underpin (for good or ill) the daily life of society. Moreover, …

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Climate cassandras; World Bank good and bad; Martin Wolf on the perils of liberalization; map madness: links I liked

admin - October 5, 2009

Paul Krugman wonders why ‘climate scientists have, en masse, become Cassandras — gifted with the ability to prophesy future disasters, but cursed with the inability to get anyone to believe them.’ World Bank President Robert Zoellick takes a step back to provide a world tour of the new world order emerging from the crisis, concluding: ‘Bretton Woods is being overhauled before our eyes. This time, …

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Sensibilist or Swivel Eyed? Weighing the arguments for greater radicalism in NGO advocacy

admin - October 2, 2009

At what point does an advocacy NGO cease being ‘ahead of the curve’, ‘visionary’ etc (choose your own cliché) and instead become simply bonkers, a prophet ranting in a wilderness uninhabited by anyone with a smidgeon of decision-making power? This subject kept cropping up at an Oxfam internal discussion the other day. Unfortunately, I framed the discussion in terms of being ‘sensibilist’ v ‘swivel-eyed’ – …

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Is financial independence for the IMF a good thing?

admin - October 1, 2009

Ngaire Woods, a veteran IMF watcher, came and briefed us on the Fund and the crisis, based on her recent paper for the European Parliament. Here are some highlights: There is a gulf between public perceptions that the IMF is helping the poorest countries, and the reality, that it’s main role has been sorting out the financial disaster in Eastern Europe. Since the onset of …

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Do we need to ration growth, and if so, who gets what's left?

admin - September 30, 2009

Spoke at a Quaker conference on the ‘zero growth economy’ at the weekend. Quaker meetings are different: when I finished speaking to an audience of 350 people, there was total hear-a-pin-drop silence. Instead of clapping, people reflect, eyes closed, on what they have just heard. And no, even though it was after lunch, they weren’t asleep (well, most of them) and it wasn’t just me – the …

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What happened at the Pittsburgh G20?

admin - September 29, 2009

I didn’t attend the G20 summit in Pittsburgh last week, but I’ve been poring over the communiqué. Here are some initial thoughts on what it all means (numbers in square brackets refer to paragraphs in the original), incorporating analysis and intel from the Oxfam team at the event. Headline: Pittsburgh formally enshrined the rise of the BRICs and relative decline of the G8: ‘We designated …

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Do poorer countries have less capacity for redistribution? A new paper

admin - September 28, 2009

When can a country end poverty by redistributing wealth from its rich people, and when must it instead rely on aid or growth? That’s a question Martin Ravallion, head of the World Bank’s research department seeks to answer in a new paper. Essentially he is trying to put precise numbers on the relatively obvious point that the richer a country becomes, the more potential it …

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G20 curtain raisers; Will China integrate Africa?; using humour for healthcare reform; Congress and New York Post v climate change: links I liked

admin - September 25, 2009

A handy websearch of G20 curtain-raisers from Michael Harvey at Global Dashboard .  ‘While 82% of the IMF’s newly loaned resources have gone to European area countries, just 1.6% have gone to countries in Africa.’ Ngaire Woods analyses the development response to the global meltdown since the April G20 summit in a paper for the European Parliament. Will Chinese investment provide the catalyst for East …

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All the latest stats on the global crisis and its development impact

admin - September 24, 2009

In time for the G20 summit later this week, my indefatigable colleague Richard King has revised and updated his invaluable synthesis of the key data on the global economic crisis and its development impact. Here goes: Unemployment (ILO)  Gender impact of the economic crisis in terms of unemployment rates is expected to be more detrimental for females than for males in most regions of the …

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