Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Busan: Yes we could

Today’s post originally appeared on the OECD Insights Blog 
We’ll start with a close-up of a woman on her knees. She seems to be scrubbing some tiles. We track back and see that in fact she’s scrubbing the tyre tracks off a forecourt. Back a bit more and we see that she and her colleagues are in front of a huge conference centre. It’s covered with banners in Korean and English announcing the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid EffectivenessHLF4.  There’s a metaphor there somewhere, and it’s called Busan, the host city and the world’s fifth largest port.
Busan is like a life-sized lesson for participants in this conference. As the Korean president Lee Myung-bak reminded delegates in his speech to the conference, when he was a child, this was one of the poorest countries in the world, and Busan was used to import food to stop people starving after the civil war. In From Poverty to Power, Oxfam’s Duncan Green makes this point too, recalling that 50 years ago Korea’s main export was wigs made from human hair.
Aid played a part in this, and it’s worth looking at why Korea succeed in moving from being a recipient to a member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee, the donor group that oversees Official Development Assistance (ODA).
The first lesson is that ODA has to be stable and reflect a long-term commitment. Korea could count on the US and Japan, and knew from one year to the next what funding to expect. Volatility makes programme management harder, or even impossible. I’ve heard stories from the field of health, education, and other projects that were started, were going well and then had to be stopped because promised funding suddenly dried up. The OECD says that the value of aid is reduced by 15% to 20% when it is unpredictable and volatile.
For the outsider, one of the more opaque terms of the “aid community’s” particularly opaque jargon is “ownership”. What it means is that countries receiving aid take charge of the process. Korea didn’t always agree with its partners, but the results show that it knew best what strategy corresponded to its needs and resources. It wanted non-military aid rather than the guns, tanks and planes it was being offered, and it insisted on focusing on large enterprises rather than the small and medium-sized businesses foreign development experts told it were the key to success. Samsung and Sons would no doubt have been a great little shop for the latest Japanese and American gadgets.
However, to “own” the development process a country needs to develop a whole range of skills and institutions. For instance, if it’s going to export, it needs lawyers who understand international trade rules and port managers who can get the goods onto the ships on time. This is what’s meant by “capacity building”. Countries can’t be expected to acquire all these capacities on their own, but they shouldn’t depend on outsiders either. While over 1500 foreign experts were sent to Korea between 1962 and 1971, over 5 times as many Koreans received training abroad.
Another thing about aid programmes is that the best ones become useless because they’re no longer needed. In the 1950s and 1960s, practically all of Korea’s foreign funding came from grants, but by the mid-70s, grants only represented 11% of funds, the rest being loans. The fact that Korea respected repayment conditions reassured private finance and encouraged foreign direct investment in the country. 
Korea also proves that it’s possible to recover from even the most desperate situation. At the end of the 1950s this was a mainly agricultural country still suffering from a war that had killed or injured over 2.5 million civilians. If conference delegates want to see a success story, they just have to look around them. And if they want a reminder that the fruits of economic success aren’t always shared equally, they can look at those women scrubbing the ground they walk on.

By Patrick Love
 Useful links

Friday, 25 November 2011

The week in review

The week in review 25.11.2011
Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review - a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the  Wikiprogress Community Portal. 

Looking forward
The World in 2012 (The Economist 22.11.2011)
Next Friday the Economist will be hosting ‘The World in 2012’, a conference that will discuss the trends, issues and ideas that will shape the year ahead. In the lead up to the conference, @The Economist is asking for ideas via twitter on important themes of 2012.

On happiness
Balloons for Bhutan (Jonathan Harris)
Bhutan is internationally recognised for their use of Gross National Happiness as the primary measure for national well-being. In his latest artwork Balloons for Bhutan, artist and statistician Jonathan Harris visualizes 599 accounts of happiness in Bhutan in an effort to capture ‘a portrait of happiness in the last Himalayan Kingdom’
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on Gross National Happiness

On inequality
The launch of Perspectives on Global Development 2012 has received a lot of media attention this week. This Guardian article highlights the importance of emerging economies such as China, India and South Africa addressing issues of inequality caused by two decades of rapid economic growth.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on social cohesion

On gender equality
Launched on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, this 16 day campaign aims to trigger action and raise awareness across the word.
See more and contribute to the Wikigender article on violence against women

That’s all from us this week. We hope you tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us @Wikiprogress or post it on our Facebook page. 

Yours in Progress,

Philippa Lysaght

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Social cohesion: making it happen

Today’s post originally appeared on the OECD Insights Blog and is from Anne-Lise Prigent, editor in charge of development publications at OECD Publishing

A famous Deng Xiaoping quote goes : “Let some people get rich first”. Yet, in Spring 2011, the Beijing city authorities banned all outdoor advertisement of luxury goods on the grounds that they might contribute to a “politically unhealthy environment”.
The trouble with growth is that inequalities tend to rise with it. Growth does not necessarily translate into better life satisfaction – far from it, as the experience of Thailand or Tunisia shows. What happens when the fruits of growth are not shared, when people feel that income inequalities are rising and food prices soaring? Well, that’s when the so-called “politically unhealthy environment” sets in.
Millions voiced their frustration during the Arab Spring. From Tahrir square to the streets of Tunis, a huge emerging middle class showed that it has a tremendous capacity to mobilize people. It demands governments that are open and transparent, as well as more and better services. How can governments answer these demands? How can they go about redistributing the fruits of growth?
A new policy agenda is needed: one that focuses not only on growth but also on openness, fairness and inclusion. Social cohesion needs to be at the centre of policy making. Failing this, we may (re)enter a vicious circle where inequalities create a sense of injustice, which in turn can lead to (mass) protest and sometimes violence. As a result, social peace and stability, as well as long-term growth, may be jeopardized.
How can governments foster social cohesion? Perspectives on Global Development: Social Cohesion in a Shifting World from the OECD Development Centre, answers this. With this latest report, the Development Centre again proves that it is engaged with the world we live in, whether discussing tax revenues or the merits of football as a factor of social cohesion: having a sense of community can make a difference. That, along with equality of opportunities is what social cohesion is all about.
The report first shows how the world has undergone a shift of historical significance over the past decade, with the centre of economic gravity moving towards the East and South. The figures speak for themselves: in 2000, OECD countries represented around 60% of global GDP but by 2010 this was down to 51%, and it will be only 43% by 2030. In fast-growing economies, per capita growth rate was more than double that of high-income OECD countries over the last decade.
It is precisely this shifting wealth that opens a window of opportunity for development and social cohesion. In fast-growing economies, fiscal revenues rose from 20% of GDP on average in 2000 to 27% in 2008. These countries now have the (fiscal) resources to finance social policies that can make the difference – or, can they?
This report argues that public policies can make a difference. OECD countries with initially high income inequalities manage to redistribute income through taxes and transfers. The challenge is to leave no one behind. A cohesive society reduces inequality between groups and ensures that all citizens – the poor, the middle-earners, and the rich – are socially included.
Over the last decade, hundreds of millions of people were lifted out of poverty. This report argues that the emerging middle class should not be ignored either. Today, nearly 1 billion out of the 2 billion people living on 10 to 100 dollars a day in the world – the global middle class – live in fast-growing countries. This number is projected to exceed 3 billion in 2030.
The emerging middle class is a critical economic and social actor because of its potential as an engine of growth, particularly in the largest developing countries such as China and India. Its contribution to social cohesion can be high, and its expectations are sharply rising. What is needed is a social contract between citizens and the state, which entails more and better services in exchange for paying taxes. This would foster a virtuous circle that boosts social cohesion as well as growth. Citizens are more willing to pay taxes in societies where they feel a sense of belonging. Fiscal policy is thus a good place to start.
As the report highlights, fiscal, social and employment policies should go hand in hand. With recent innovations in social protection, the poorest are covered by social assistance and the wealthy by either contribution-based or private alternatives. Yet, a considerable number of (informal) middle-class workers are stuck in the uncomfortable “missing middle” of coverage. More comprehensive social protection systems should protect all sections of the population.
Stronger labour market institutions are also needed. They should aim to create more “good” jobs and reduce the duality in labour markets – between standard and non-standard contracts or between formal and informal workers. This will be critical in reducing inequalities and fostering social cohesion.
A series of cross-cutting issues have to be addressed coherently as well, including education, gender equality, food policy, the integration of immigrants, and institutions.
As Albert Einstein once said, “Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one”. Ignoring people’s desires and the reality in which they live is perilous. Technocratically good policies that do that just won’t work and giving space to dissenting voices is essential to the creation of a sustainable, socially cohesive society.
Social cohesion is a means for development as well as an end in itself. What if social cohesion were the 21st century’s holy grail? A holy grail that can only be attained with some long-term vision and commitment – and a smile. Failing that, there might be rough times ahead.
Useful links

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The week in review

Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review - a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the  Wikiprogress Community Portal

On the #occupy movement
The New Progressive Movement (New York Times 12.11.2011)
Development Economist Jeffrey Sachs comments on the Occupy Wall Street movement as a turning point in modern history; according to Sachs the last thirty years or ‘Reaganomics’ have ended with the rise of the new progressive era.
See more on and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on progress in the US

On philanthropy
New directions in philanthropy- report from the Bellagio Summit (From Poverty to Power 15.11.2011)
Duncan Green blogs on the ‘Future of Philanthropy and Development in the Pursuit of Human Wellbeing’ summit hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation this week. Green gives a brief scorecard of what’s hot and what’s not according to philanthropists working in development.

On gender equality
Mexican Women Demand Climate Justice (IPS 14.11.2011)
In a recent meeting hosted by Mexicans Against Inequality, issues were raised about the displacement of women throughout Mexico due to ecological disasters such as drought, water scarcity and socioenvironmental conflict.
See more and contribute to the Wikigender article on gender and climate change

On happiness in the UK
The wellbeing agenda isn't navel-gazing, it's innovation and survival (Guardian 13.11.2011)
Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron have both played very significant roles in the development of a well-being agenda; the Stiglitz Commission launched in 2009 and general well-being (or GWB) have been invaluable to the momentum of the global progress movement.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress

On Visualisation of data: Afghanistan
Asia Foundation Unveils Data Site “Visualizing Afghanistan” for 2011 Survey of the Afghan People (PR Web 17.11.2011)
To accompany the broadest and most comprehensive public opinion poll of Afghan citizens, "Afghanistan in 2011: A Survey of the Afghan People," The Asia Foundation has launched an interactive mapping platform and data visualisation site, "Visualizing Afghanistan." Through "Visualizing Afghanistan," the Foundation is making its Afghan survey data available and downloadable to researchers and the public to use and republish, with citation.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on the Afghanistan.

That’s all from us this week. We hope you tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us  @Wikiprogress  or post it on our Facebook page.

Yours in Progress,

Philippa Lysaght

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A quick one on Hungarian Progress

By Angela Hariche

Just returned from a trip to Budapest. We arrived on what was St. Martin's Day, November 11th. Each year on that day, you  must eat goose and drink the new wine to ensure financial growth and well-being for the coming year. St. Martin is indeed the patron saint of well-being.

Lake Balaton, Budapest. Photo:

So, we did what we were told and ate our goose and drank our wine. I will report back this time next year with findings.

Then, in honour of St. Martin, I got back to the office and did a bit of digging around Wikiprogress and the Hungarian Central Statistics Office for well-being indicators. Here is a sampling of what I found:

Sustainable Development Indicators in Hungary: This publication is in Hungarian but Google translate does help. Also, the table of contents is in English.

There are 10 domains for sustainable development in this publication, these being:

Socio-Economic Development
Sustainable production and consumption
Social inclusion
Demographic changes - migration 
Public health
Climate change and energy
Sustainable transport
Natural resources
Global partnership
Governance and public life

I encourage you to have a look at this publication as their indicator breakdown is interesting and very specific. I very much like the "global partnership" and "demographic changes" domains. Nice to see that migration is included. 

Establishing Indicators for Measuring Social Progress in Hungary is also an interesting overview of measuring progress in Hungary, with emphasis on the need for indicator sets to better understand progress. 

And finally, here is a paper by GPRNet member, Laszlo Pinter, et al.: Developing a System of Sustainability Indicators for the Lake Balaton Region, which looks at measuring progress in a small area in Hungary

Our concierge in Budapest said that all this week "counts" as St. Martin day, so you still have time to eat that goose and drink that never know.



Friday, 11 November 2011

11.11.11 The Week in Review

11.11.11 on such a unique date Wikiprogress has prepared a week in review that we plan on revisiting next year on the 12.12.12 to see how far the world has progressed. The week in review is a collection of news items that caught our attention this week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the Wikiprogress Community Portal

On technology
The Secretary-General of the United Nations has called for an increase in the use of real-time data tools in development strategies and the use of new and emerging technologies in anticipating crises.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on Interactive Web Applications

On gender equality
Women, War and Peace is a five part television series that looks at the impact the post-Cold War proliferation of small arms has on war and what this means for women who have become the primary targets and suffer unprecedented casualties. The last part of the series aired on Wednesday and is now available to watch online.
See more and contribute to the Wikigender article on Women, Peace and Security

On happiness
Ten signs of Happiness (BBC 01.11.2011)
The UK Office for National Statistics recently published a list of 10 indicators of well-being. The ONS has embarked upon a three-month consultation that will finalize the list as part of David Cameron’s ‘happiness index’.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on progress in the UK

Stiglitz on Occupy
The Globalisation of Protest (Project Syndicate 04.11.2011)
From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement, Joseph Stiglitz looks at the wave of protest movements sweeping across the world and analyses the roles that governance and inequality play and how they are interrelated.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress series on the Arab Spring

That’s all from us this week. We hope you tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us @Wikiprogress or post it on our Facebook page.

Yours in Progress,

Philippa Lysaght

Friday, 4 November 2011

The week in review

Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review - a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the Wikiprogress Community Portal

On progress
In an interview with Channel 4 News, Richard Layard, one of the founding members of Action for Happiness and key thinker in the progress movement, talks about why governments need to focus on increasing general well-being, not GDP.
See more and contribute to the article on comprehensive indicators

On the G20
The G20 make up 80% of the world’s GDP. The Guardian Data Blog has created a diagram of world financial power breaking down population, GDP per capita, unemployment rates and human development indicators for each of the G20 economies.
See more and help us update recent news items in the Wikiprogress Community Portal

On the global gender gap
The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2011 shows that the UAE has improved on gender equality performance significantly over the last year and continues to lead the Arab world on the Global Gender Gap Index. However the MENA region is lagging with just 59 per cent of the gender gap closed and the lowest average of all regional score.
See more and contribute to the Wikigender article on the global gender gap

On 7 billion and child well-being
Of Kissing, the less the better (OECD Insights 31.10.2011)
As the world’s population reached 7 billion on Monday, OECD blogger Patrick Love looks at what population growth means for child well-being, as many of the leading international reports show that there has never been a worse time to be a child.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on population growth

On the environment 
Sixty per cent of the Colombian Amazon is forested area with varying degrees of protection. Amazonas 2030 Index shows the role that the natural environment and indigenous communities play on economic, social and institutional dimensions of development.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on Colombia

That’s all from us this week. We hope you tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us @Wikiprogress or post it on our Facebook page.

Yours in progress,

Philippa Lysaght

Thursday, 3 November 2011

A Better Future for All

This post first appeared on Wikiprogress partner, UNDP's  Let's Talk Human Development

In June 2012 world leaders will gather in Rio de Janeiro to seek a new consensus on global actions to safeguard the future of the planet and the right of future generations everywhere to live healthy and fulfilling lives. This is the great development challenge of the 21st century.
The 2011 Human Development Report offers important new contributions to the global dialogue on this challenge, showing how sustainability is inextricably linked to basic questions of equity—that is, of fairness and social justice and of greater access to a better quality of life. Sustainability is not exclusively or even primarily an environmental issue, as this Report so persuasively argues. It is fundamentally about how we choose to live our lives, with an awareness that everything we do has consequences for the 7 billion of us here today, as well as for the billions more who will follow, for centuries to come.
Understanding the links between environmental sustainability and equity is critical if we are to expand human freedoms for current and future generations. The remarkable progress in human development over recent decades, which the global Human Development Reports have documented, cannot continue without bold global steps to reduce both environmental risks and inequality. This Report identifies pathways for people, local communities, countries and the international community to promote environmental sustainability and equity in mutually reinforcing ways.
In the 176 countries and territories where the United Nations Development Programme is working every day, many disadvantaged people carry a double burden of deprivation. They are more vulnerable to the wider effects of environmental degradation, because of more severe stresses and fewer coping tools. They must also deal with threats to their immediate environment from indoor air pollution, dirty water and unimproved sanitation. Forecasts suggest that continuing failure to reduce the grave environmental risks and deepening social inequalities threatens to slow decades of sustained progress by the world’s poor majority— and even to reverse the global convergence in human development.
Major disparities in power shape these patterns. New analysis shows how power imbalances and gender inequalities at the national level are linked to reduced access to clean water and improved sanitation, land degradation and deaths due to indoor and outdoor air pollution, amplifying the effects associated with income disparities. Gender inequalities also interact with environmental outcomes and make them worse. At the global level governance arrangements often weaken the voices of developing countries and exclude marginalized groups.
Yet there are alternatives to inequality and unsustainability. Growth driven by fossil fuel consumption is not a prerequisite for a better life in broader human development terms. Investments that improve equity—in access, for example, to renewable energy, water and sanitation, and reproductive healthcare—could advance both sustainability and human development. Stronger accountability and democratic processes, in part through support for an active civil society and media, can also improve outcomes. Successful approaches rely on community management, inclusive institutions that pay particular attention to disadvantaged groups, and cross-cutting approaches that coordinate budgets and mechanisms across government agencies and development partners.
Beyond the Millennium Development Goals, the world needs a post-2015 development framework that reflects equity and sustainability; Rio+20 stands out as a key opportunity to reach a shared understanding of how to move forward. This Report shows that approaches that integrate equity into policies and programmes and that empower people to bring about change in the legal and political arenas hold enormous promise. Growing country experiences around the world have demonstrated the potential of these approaches to generate and capture positive synergies.
The financing needed for development—including for environmental and social protection—will have to be many times greater than current official development assistance. Today’s spending on low-carbon energy sources, for example, is only 1.6 percent of even the lowest estimate of need, while spending on climate change adaptation and mitigation is around 11 percent of estimated need. Hope rests on new climate finance. While market mechanisms and private funding will be vital, they must be supported and leveraged by proactive public investment. Closing the financing gap requires innovative thinking, which this Report provides.
Beyond raising new sources of funds to address pressing environmental threats equitably, the Report advocates reforms that promote equity and voice. Financing flows need to be channelled towards the critical challenges of unsustainability and inequity—and not exacerbate existing disparities.
Providing opportunities and choices for all is the central goal of human development. We have a collective responsibility towards the least privileged among us today and in the future around the world—and a moral imperative to ensure that the present is not the enemy of the future. This Report can help us see the way forward.

By Helen Clark
Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)