how change happens

Street Spirit, an anthology of protest that both moved me to tears and really bugged me

Duncan Green - May 19, 2017

Street Spirit: the Power of Protest and Mischief, by Steve Crawshaw is a book that left me deeply confused. As I read it on a recent train ride, I experienced an alarming level of cognitive dissonance. The uplifting stories of resistance, courage, uprising, revolution etc moved me to tears (something I can best describe as ‘political crying’ – awkward in public places). At the same …

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Why election politics don’t work as well for the environment as they do for international development

Duncan Green - May 11, 2017

Guest post from Matthew Spencer, who crossed over from the environment sector recently to become Oxfam’s Director of Campaigns and Policy  Before the end of the first week of the UK election campaign, to widespread surprise, Theresa May agreed to the development sector’s main demand to maintain our 0.7% overseas aid commitment. In contrast, the following week the government had to be forced to publish …

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Social Accountability from the Trenches: 6 Critical Reflections

Duncan Green - May 3, 2017

Guest post by Gopa Kumar Thampi of The Asia Foundation There is a clearly a surge in social accountability initiatives across the globe today. From informal expressions at the grassroots to entrenched voices in corridors of power, the social accountability multiverse has become stronger and diverse. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we are indeed witnessing the rise of an ‘audit society’ that animates …

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Pragmatism and its discontents: Brian Levy’s brilliant review essay on How Change Happens

Duncan Green - April 26, 2017

Brian Levy, governance guru and author of Working with the Grain, recently published this magisterial essay on his blog. Nominally a review of How Change Happens (chuffed, naturally), it goes way beyond to provide a powerful critique of the aid/development/progressive consensus in light of the events of the last year. Enjoy. At times in the last few years”, writes Duncan Green in his recent book How Change Happens,  “it has …

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20th Century policies may not be enough for 21st Century digital disruption

Duncan Green - March 31, 2017

It’s often a good sign when you rock up at a conference and hardly know anyone there. That was my experience at a recent, rather grandiosely-named, ‘Digital Development Summit’, hosted by IDS, Nesta and the Web Foundation, which clearly got people’s attention – the places were fully booked within a day of going live. Participants were diverse: developing country ministers, donor officials, tech company execs, …

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So is ‘Doing Development Differently’ a movement now? And if so, where’s it going?

Duncan Green - March 30, 2017

Guest post by Graham Teskey, Principal Global Lead for Governance, Abt JTA, Australia and all round aid guru The fourth meeting of the ‘Doing Development Differently’ movement (as one of its founders, Michael Woolcock, calls it) was held over two days in Jakarta a couple of weeks ago. Jointly hosted by the Government of Indonesia, the World Bank and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and …

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What do aid agencies need to do to get serious on changing social norms?

Duncan Green - March 24, 2017

Earlier this week I spent a day with Oxfam’s biggest cheeses, discussing how we should react to the rising tide of nationalism and populism (if you think that’s a Northern concern, take a look at what is going on in India or the Philippines). One of the themes that emerged in the discussions was how to engage with social norms – the deeply held beliefs …

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How do we shift social norms on climate change?

Duncan Green - March 22, 2017

Spent an enjoyable hour discussing strategy with exfamer Kate Norgrove, who now runs the Purpose Climate Lab (see here for the kind of thing they do). Kate wanted to discuss their theory of change (what else?). Purpose has identified what it sees as a gap: while lots of organizations are working on climate change in ways that are oppositional or focussing on laws and policies, …

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If we want to innovate, we need to disrupt our relationships and embrace tension

Duncan Green - March 21, 2017

Guest post from Caroline Cassidy, Communications Manager in ODI’s Research and Policy in Development team Henry Ford famously said ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.’ The same can be said for our relationships. When it comes to getting evidence into policy no one can dispute that to have any success you need strong working relationships, champions, …

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What do we know about when data does/doesn’t influence policy?

Duncan Green - March 8, 2017

Josh Powell, Chief Strategy Officer at the Development Gateway weighs in on the Data and Development debate While development actors are now creating more data than ever, examples of impactful use are anecdotal and scant. Put bluntly, despite this supply-side push for more data, we are far from realizing an evidence-based utopia filled with data-driven decisions. One of the key shortcomings of our work on …

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