Durban deciphered; China's bubble will burst; African democracy v growth; weird eurocrats; Martin Luther v Facebook; human rights v religion; celebrating failure: links I liked (and see you in 2012)

Harvard’s Robert Stavins provides a nice post mortem of the Durban climate summit. George Monbiot fumes  – if you’ve come across any really good ones, please send me the links. [h/t John Magrath] Something inevitable about this – Paul Krugman thinks the Chinese bubble is about to burst Evan Liebermann’s excellent new blog on African […]

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Christmas special: what happens when an NGO edits the Ten Commandments?

Tis the season to be jolly; the shortest/grimmest day of the year etc etc, so here’s a Christmas scoop. As part of our ongoing discussion of religion and development, someone inadvertently submitted the Ten Commandments to Oxfam’s sign-off procedure. The result provides a fascinating insight into how NGOs think and communicate, although it perhaps lacks some […]

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Honduras is building a charter city? This is never going to work

A couple of years ago, I wrote a pretty critical post on Paul Romer’s proposal for ‘charter cities’. According to last week’s Economist, Honduras is now about to try and turn that blueprint into reality. I’m prepared to make a small bet it won’t work – any takers?  Romer proposes building cities from scratch in […]

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Food fight at the WTO: de Schutter v Lamy on whether trade leads to food security

The WTO ministerial (there was a ministerial?) was predictably forgettable, apart from the accession of Russia (the last major economy still to sign up) and a pretty outspoken attack on WTO boss Pascal Lamy (right) by UN Food Security czar Olivier de Schutter (below), who accused Lamy of ‘defending an outdated vision of food security’. […]

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Northern winter, Southern spring + Gramsci rules: looking back on 2011

Here’s my contribution to the flood of ‘2011 retrospective’ articles, published on the Guardian site today What you make of 2011 depends on your vantage point. The year’s events look completely different depending on whether you are sitting at the bottom or the top, in the old north or the old south. From the bottom, […]

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Learning, leadership and the case for strategic interns

Another good paper from the consistently excellent Developmental Leadership Program, this time on ‘Learning and Leadership: Exploring the linkages between higher education and developmental leadership.’ Its basic argument is that there is ‘a symbiotic relationship between higher education and the broader political, social and economic environment, in which they both influence the development of each […]

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Mobile phones and farmers – what are the benefits?

There’s a ridiculous amount of hype talked about mobile phones, but they clearly are having a significant impact on poor people everywhere in lots of unexpected ways. Last year I met a group of Ethiopian coffee farmers who had no running water or electricity in their homes, but each family had a phone. When I […]

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Ethiopia's lost wealth; climate change adaptation in action; Busan and Durban unpacked; Britain v Europe; who needs leaders? NGOs send emails: links I liked

A giant sucking sound – Ethiopia’s losses due to illicit financial outflows amounted to $3.26bn in 2009, which was more than the combined value of the development assistance it received and the products it exported. [h/t Beyond Aid] Climate change adaptation in Uganda and Ethiopia: What is the impact of climate hazards, variability and change […]

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The next World Development Report is on Jobs, and I'm worried about it

Here we go again. Last week, a bunch of us NGO types had an initial discussion with the World Bank on its next flagship World Development Report, the 2013 edition of which will be on jobs (defined as ‘productive activity that is remunerated’), to be published in late 2012. Great subject, and one that is […]

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Investing in people or building more stuff: which is better for reducing disaster risks?

This is a guest post from Chris Anderson, Oxfam’s global adviser on disaster risk reduction  While the global humanitarian response system is more effective and sophisticated than ever before, in its current form it’s being outstripped by the pace of increasing risks. The answer is Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), which makes great financial sense if […]

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Thick problems, thin solutions and the future of NGOs

Normally I avoid discussions about the future of NGOs like the plague – they either involve a bunch of academics with only the vaguest idea of what we actually do all day, or a lot of senior managers emitting sonorous pronouncements on how we need to be more agile in a multi-polar world and use […]

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Busan washup; lego-relief; supermarket wars; is the Global Fund collapsing?; migration myths; Nandos under fire; economists 4 Occupy: links I liked

Nancy Birdsall summarizes the outcomes of a whole lot of talking at the big aid conference in Busan. Headline? China Officially Joins the Donor Club. Another wrap up from the Guardian. Meanwhile on the margins, Jonathan Glennie interviewed Erik Solheim, development minister of one of aid’s unsung heroes: ‘Norway’s model is to pick a few […]

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