Crises in a new world order: challenging the humanitarian project

admin - February 7, 2012

Ed Cairns, Oxfam’s senior policy adviser on this kind of thing, introduces a big rethink of Oxfam’s humanitarian work When it comes to humanitarian crises, Oxfam specializes in the appropriate acronym of ‘WASH’.In 2011, hundreds of Oxfam staff delivered water and sanitation and other relief to millions of people afflicted by drought, floods or earthquakes. But in much of the world, a growing proportion of our …

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Sustainable Development Goals: easy win or slippery slope?

admin - January 30, 2012

Making sense of UN communiqués is never easy at the best of times, but it’s particularly hard when you are not involved in the process and so can’t decode the bland summit speak – a mind-numbing array of frameworks for action, toolkits, partnerships, dialogues and the like. So it’s hardly surprising that reading the draft ‘zero draft outcome document’ (what language do these people speak? …

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The realtime challenge: some cutting edge data-gathering from the UN (yep, you heard that right)

admin - January 26, 2012

I’m still reeling from the overwhelming response to yesterday’s post (voting still open, by the way) and will respond in due course, but in the meantime, let’s get back to all that development stuff, shall we? One of the most striking aspects of exploring the human impact of the global financial crisis and food price spike was the absence of realtime data: a shock happens, …

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How can the UN get its act together on food and agriculture?

admin - January 6, 2012

On Tuesday incoming FAO boss José Graziano da Silva (right) gave his first press conference, so I did one of those rabbit in the headlights interviews down the line for Al Jazeera on the role of the FAO (results below). Al Jazeera is rapidly becoming my favourite news channel – not just for its unrivalled coverage of the Arab Spring but for its wider development coverage. …

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So how many of the world's people are hungry? Dunno. Work in progress…….

admin - November 17, 2011

Richard King, my highly numerate colleague, grapples with the confusion surrounding the FAO’s hunger numbers. Global hunger numbers must be among the most widely quoted and over-interpreted of all the indicators at development wonks’ and campaigners’ disposal. ‘One billion people (one in seven of the world’s population) go to bed hungry’ is a compelling headline and is used variously to argue for more effective social …

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Responding to emergencies: is the centre of gravity shifting away from the UN towards national goverments?

admin - October 12, 2011

Ed Cairns, Oxfam’s Senior Policy Adviser on this kind of thing, explores the shifting sands of humanitarian aid policy After a flurry of reviews and new policies on all aspects of aid, the UK put out its new humanitarian policy, Saving Lives, Preventing Suffering and Building Resilience, a couple of weeks ago. Not every word is new – it owes a lot to the review DFID …

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Will the 2012 Earth Summit be a flop? Guest post from Sarah Best

admin - August 2, 2011

    You’re Invited!   20th Anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit 4-6 June, 2012, Rio de Janeiro Gift list: to be determined   You’d be forgiven for not clocking that that there’s a major UN sustainable development conference on the horizon.  In less than a year, governments will convene in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, 20 years on from the 1992 Rio ‘Earth Summit’.  …

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The future of emergency response – the international system v national governments

admin - July 8, 2011

Yesterday the big cheeses moved on to fragile states and humanitarian (emergency) response. I may write something on fragile states next week, but it was the humanitarian bit that got my attention. Here are some highlights from the internal discussion paper: “There is growing awareness that global humanitarian response needs to be turned on its head, shifting capacity and power to the South, particularly to …

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Will the new UN Panel on Global Sustainability have an impact?

admin - August 11, 2010

The diplomatic circus is full of high level commissions and panels on this and that, most of which deliberate, publish and sink without trace. But the UN’s new High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, launched this week by Ban Ki-moon, may just be an exception. It certainly has a hell of a job description: ‘finding ways to lift people out of poverty while tackling climate change …

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The co-creator of the UN's new Multidimensional Poverty Index defends her new baby

admin - July 29, 2010

Sabina Alkire responds to the previous posts by Martin Ravallion and me on her new ‘Multidimensional Poverty Index’. She is director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). “As Martin Ravallion points out, we agree that poverty is multidimensional. The question is whether our efforts to incorporate multiple dimensions into the very definition of who is poor and the measurement of poverty “contributes …

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