Putting numbers on happiness – new efforts to measure well-being

GDP and income have long been criticized as extremely limited measures of well-being. When I asked my long-suffering 16 year old son Finlay over breakfast what makes people happy, he suggested a playstation (consumption), having kids (parental alarm bells), and a combination of friendship groups – a small tight-knit inner circle, and a wider group…

By admin December 10, 2008 Off

Nicholas Stern’s new paper on Climate Change: 8/10 on economics; 3/10 for politics (and the science is pretty questionable, as well)

We’re looking for a climate change researcher (interested? – applications by 15 July), so I’ve been mugging up a bit by reading Nicholas Stern’s new paper, Key Elements of a Global Deal on Climate Change. His university, the London School of Economics, has just set up the ‘Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the…

By admin December 9, 2008 Off

What’s Kerala’s Secret?

In a recent academic roundtable on From Poverty to Power in Canberra, Robin Jeffrey, professor at the Australian National University and dean of its College of Asia and the Pacific, had a stab at applying the ‘how change happens’ framework to the cause celebre of Kerala in South India. Here are my notes on his initial…

By admin December 8, 2008 Off

Chronic Poverty Report, published 8 July

This is the second report by the Chronic Poverty Research Centre, a consortium of universities and thinktanks led by the Overseas Development Institute. It builds on many of the themes in the first (2004-5) report, but adds some important new issues and twists. Not an easy read, but there is real meat in here and…

By admin December 8, 2008 Off

Meltdowns compared: Financial v Climate Crises

Some highlights from a thought-provoking exchange with my colleague Sarah Best, who works on private sector and climate change issues. Similar causes · The roots of the financial crisis lie in a failure to properly assess risk (e.g. of sub-prime loans), an absence of proper oversight and regulation (e.g. of complex financial instruments) and consumption beyond…

By admin December 7, 2008 Off

Killer facts: a user's guide

‘Killer Facts’, are those punchy, memorable, headline-grabbing statistics that are picked up by the media and politicians and have immediate impact. In influencing terms, the right killer fact can be more effective than dozens of well-researched reports.

By admin December 7, 2008 Off

It's G8 time again

In Hokkaido, Japan, this week, staff from across Oxfam International will be lobbying governments, talking to the press, and periodically donning the ‘big heads’ – giant replicas of the G8 leaders, which we lug around from conference to conference. Dreaming up stunts for the big heads is one of the more fun bits of summitry,…

By admin December 7, 2008 Off