Topic: NGOs

Degrowth – is it useful or feasible?

Thought I’d check out what this ‘degrowth’ idea is about so went to a public meeting organized by a couple of new economics thinktanks (CEECEC and nef). It was a combination of seriously old school (standing room only; two and a half hours of speeches) and new (the bar was open throughout the event; death […]

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What can be done to improve the lives of migrant construction workers?

What can be done to improve the wages and conditions of the millions of migrant workers who flock to the Gulf States from South Asia? I recently had a fascinating discussion with a UK construction entrepreneur working in the Gulf States on this.   According to the construction guy, there are now nearly $2 trillion […]

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Using mobile phones to combat medicine shortages in Africa

Most of the coverage (and hype) around mobile phones and development is based on their potential to improve access to markets for small farmers, especially those in remote areas and to provide easy ways to transfer small amounts of money in the absence of functioning bank networks. But mobiles, which are rapidly becoming ubiquitous in […]

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Tobin tax update: how momentum is building for a Financial Transactions Tax

The momentum behind the Financial Transactions Tax (a tiny levy of 0.005% on all financial trades would raise about $30bn a year for climate change, development and/or filling fiscal holes) continues to grow since my last post (Why has the Tobin Tax gone mainstream?). The French government, which as far back as 2003 was the […]

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(lots of ) Other worlds are possible

‘We are confronted with two alternatives: to be a demagogue or to be a realist. If, based on the law of supply and demand, I say that there is a greater demand in the world for bread than for plastic surgery; and much more for the treatment of malaria than for apparel of haute couture; […]

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Oil melts glaciers, Gandhian climate marchers and hitch-hiking polar bears

A Thanksgiving and pre-Copenhagen treat – this vintage 1962 Life Magazine advert from Humble Energy – which became Exxon after its merger with Standard Oil. In those days, big oil really told it like it was [h/t Alex Evans]. By the way, if you’re somewhere between Oxford and Copenhagen and you see a footsore Indian […]

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Which governments are best/worst at ending hunger?

League tables are a powerful weapon in the armoury of NGO advocacy. Politicians in the country that ends up in the top slot feel like they are getting some fleeting recognition for their efforts, while those at the bottom are annoyed and hopefully prodded into action. Newspapers love them too as they reduce a complex […]

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Why has the Tobin Tax gone mainstream?

So the Tobin Tax finally went large at the G20 finance ministers’ meeting last weekend. Gordon Brown supported a financial transactions tax to repay some of the costs of the bailout and provide extra cash for development and climate change action, and a predictable backlash promptly consumed the finance pages. I won’t rehearse the press coverage […]

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Eight introductory powerpoints on development – please plunder

I recently gave a two week introduction to development (undergrad level) at the University of Notre Dame, consisting of eight 45 minute lectures – here are the powerpoints for anyone wanting to nick them. Each lecture includes a brief illustrative video clip of campaigns, social movements etc. Subjects covered are: Risk and Vulnerability; The Global […]

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Why demanding 'political will' is lazy and unproductive

I find myself getting increasingly exasperated by the term ‘political will’. Let me explain. The standard NGO shtick, whether on development, environment or pretty much anything else, is a three parter a) description of the problem b) clever proposal for solving the problem c) call for leaders to show ‘political will’ in adopting the proposed […]

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Can the law advance education and healthcare in poor countries?

I recently spent two weeks doing jury service in an inner London court – a grim experience of leaking municipal toilets, undrinkable coffee, frequently incompetent barristers and Dickensian judges, overseeing a squalid litany of petty crime. In between the alleged threats and beatings, I read Courting Social Justice, a new book on the use of […]

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Migration and development: how to improve on a feeble new Human Development Report

The Human Development Report, published by UNDP, is traditionally the best of the UN annual tomes. This year’s HDR, entitled Overcoming Barriers, discusses migration. It’s a critical issue in development – moving in search of work and a better life has always been a strategy for people living in poverty as most modern-day Americans and Australians can […]

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