Natural disasters

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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Ten Signs of an impending Global Land Rights Revolution

Duncan Green - March 16, 2017

Exfamer Chris Jochnick, who now runs Landesa, the land rights NGO, sets out his stall ahead of a big World Bank event next week. The development community has experienced various “revolutions” over the years – from microfinance to women’s rights, from the green revolution to sustainable development.  Each of these awakenings has improved our understanding of the challenges we face; each has transformed the development …

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A masterclass on cash transfers and how to use High Level Panels to influence Policy

Duncan Green - March 10, 2017

One of the things I do in my day-a-week role at LSE is bring in guest lecturers from different aid and development organizations to add a whiff of real life to the student diet of theory and academia. One of the best is Owen Barder, who recently delivered a mesmerizing talk on cash transfers and the theory of change used by his organization, the Center …

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How Change Happens (or doesn’t) in the Humanitarian System

Duncan Green - February 15, 2017

I’ve been in Stockholm this week at the invitation of ALNAP, the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action, which has been holding its annual meeting on the banks of a frozen Swedish river. I was asked to comment on the background paper for the meeting, Changing Humanitarian Action?, by ALNAP’s Paul Knox-Clarke.  I read the paper on the flight over (great …

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What role for local actors in system change? Fighting climate change in the UK

Duncan Green - November 29, 2016

Ruth Mayne, Oxfam’s senior researcher on the effectiveness of influencing, reflects on some personal influencing she was involved with before (re)joining Oxfam. In the development world we often emphasise the importance of strengthening community action but is it really possible for local, rather than national and international, actors to contribute to system change? And if so, why and how does this happen, and under what …

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Climate Change: Meeting sea level rise by raising the land

Duncan Green - November 8, 2016

  As the COP 22 meeting on climate change gets under way in Marrakech, Joseph Hanlon, Manoj Roy and David Hulme introduce their new book on climate change and Bangladesh Community groups in coastal Bangladesh have shown that the land can be raised to match sea level rise. Their success has been hard fought, initially contested by aid agencies, engineers and the police. But they …

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Why systems thinking changes everything for activists and reformers

Duncan Green - November 4, 2016

This week, the Guardian ran a very nicely edited ‘long read’ extract from How Change Happens covering some of the book’s central arguments, under the title Radical Thinking Reveals the Secrets of Making Change Happen. Here it is: Political and economic earthquakes are often sudden and unforeseeable, despite the false pundits who pop up later to claim they predicted them all along – take the …

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On World Food Day, 5 reasons why cash transfers aren’t always the best option

Duncan Green - October 14, 2016

Since the Asian Tsunami of 2004, providing cash to people in an emergency has become increasingly mainstream. But (babies, bath water) there is more to food response than ‘just give them the money.’ On World Food Day, Oxfam Social Protection Adviser Larissa Pelham sets out the case: The King asked The Queen, and The Queen asked The Dairymaid: “Could we have some butter for The …

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Parts of the aid system just don’t work – the dismal cycle of humanitarian response

Duncan Green - July 21, 2016

Every now and then an email stops me in my tracks, reminding me that Oxfam is stuffed full of bright, motivated, altruistic people. Here’s one I got a few weeks ago from Debbie Hillier, one of our Humanitarian Policy Advisers, in response to my request for thoughts on the state of the aid business. Her views are fleshed out in ‘A Preventable Crisis’, a new …

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Desertification is a dangerous Myth – A new book explains why

Duncan Green - July 14, 2016

Oxfam researcher John Magrath reviews an explosive new book I started off life as a newspaper journalist so I appreciate the power of a good story. And that’s what the concept of desertification provides. Since the great Sahelian droughts of the 1970s and 1980s, we’ve become familiar with the idea that humans cause environmental desiccation and destruction on a huge scale; local people, usually, herders …

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