Should we (and everyone in Davos) worry about extreme wealth? New Oxfam briefing

January 21, 2013
Good to see Oxfam highlighting inequality in its media briefing ahead of this week’s annual gathering of power & plutocrats in Davos. Because inequality is about the relationship between different social groups, it is inherently more political and more controversial than poverty. As our head of campaigns Ben Phillips, who packs a mean sound bite, said in his Al Jazeera

Why don’t people in power do the right thing – supply, demand or collective action problem? And what do we do about it?

January 18, 2013
My last few days have been dominated by conversations around ‘convening and brokering’, including an exchange between assorted ODI wonks and a bunch of NGOs on the findings of the Africa Power and Politics Programme, and a ‘webinar’ (ugh), with our Latin American staff on the nature of ‘leverage’ (a closely associated development fuzzword). Yesterday I set out the best example

‘Convening and Brokering’ in practice: sorting out Tajikistan’s water problem

January 17, 2013
In the corridors of Oxfam and beyond, ‘convening and brokering’ has become a new development fuzzword. I talked about it in my recent review of the Africa Power and Politics Programme, and APPP promptly got back to me and suggested a discussion on how convening and brokering is the same/different to the APPP’s proposals that aid agencies should abandon misguided attempts to

‘Resource Futures’: good new report on how to confront resource scarcity and conflict

January 15, 2013
Looks like this is going to be crystal ball week on the blog – must be the time of year. Just read Resource Futures from Chatham House (inventors of the ubiquitous Chatham House Rule). The analysis is pretty good, but it really raises the bar on communication, with great interactive infographics and killer facts. Advocacy wonks everywhere, take note. The

Global Trends 2030: top report from US intelligence

January 14, 2013
My inbox regularly receives the latest ‘global trends 20XX’ reports from thinktanks and futurologists, and a lot of them are pretty bland, and the scenarios they describe threadbare and unconvincing. The new ‘Global Trends 2030’ report from the US National Intelligence Council shares the usual flaws on its scenarios, and is understandably US-centric (the NIC is a US government body),

Should men speak on all-male panels? Summary + time to cast your vote

January 11, 2013
Right, I have now waded through dozens of comments, tweets and my own tangled thoughts on Monday’s post. What stood out? Boycott v constructive engagement: is it better to politely push conference organizers, suggest female panelists, and express ‘strong disinclination’ to take part in testosterone-fests, or to play hardball with a blanket ban? And is the crime less heinous for a

What’s New in Development? Introducing the Second Edition of ‘From Poverty to Power’

January 10, 2013
Here’s what the new edition of FP2P adds to the first (in case you want to save yourselves a few quid). This was recently published by the UN University as part of its ‘WIDER Angle’ series Updating a book on contemporary events can be unnerving. In the intervening years, events and new thinking combine to expose theweaknesses of any text.

Development optimism from Justin Lin: review of ‘The Quest for Prosperity’

January 9, 2013
‘Every developing country has the opportunity to grow at over 8% a year for 20-40 years, and to get rid of poverty within a generation.’ There’s something very refreshing about listening to East Asian development economists, in this case the prolific Justin Lin, a former World Bank chief economist, launching his new book The Quest for Prosperity, at ODI just

Should men boycott all-male panels at conferences?

January 8, 2013
A conversation on twitter this weekend triggered (yet another) ethical dilemma. Gosh it’s exhausting trying to be a do-gooder. Claire Melamed started it by sending round a link to an article arguing that men should sign a pledge stating publicly that they will refuse to take part in all-male panels at tech conferences (which are regularly men-only affairs, apparently). As

Civil Society, Public Action and Accountability in Africa

January 7, 2013
An important new paper from some big development names – Shanta Devarajan and Stuti Khemani from the World Bank, and Michael Walton (ex Bank, now at Harvard Kennedy School) – directs a slightly fierce (but welcome) political economy gaze at donor efforts to strengthen civil society (one of the more recent developmental fads). As with most such papers, after a

Book Review: Knowledge, Policy and Power in International Development: A Practical Guide

January 4, 2013
This review appears in the Evidence and Policy journal, where it is now available free online (after I protested about the scandalous, rip-off $30 they were charging). Or you can just read it here. Note to self: in future, I will not write anything for journals that are not open access (thanks to Owen Barder for that suggestion). In recent years, the public

Who needs wisdom when you can have data? FP2P 2012 blogstats and most-read posts

January 3, 2013
Forget wisdom, here’s some data: blogstats and most visited posts of 2012 Welcome back, Happy New Year to all etc. As everyone else is doing it, I thought I’d repeat last year’s exercise of kicking off the year with a look back at this blog’s stats and highlights for 2012. First the numbers: Overall for 2012: • Total number of