Reformers v lobbyists: where have we got to on tackling corporate tax dodging?

May 9, 2014
The rhythm of NGO advocacy and campaigning sometimes makes it particularly hard to work on complicated issues, involving drawn-out negotiations where bad guys have more resources and staying power than we do. Campaigns on trade, climate change, debt relief etc often follow a similar trajectory – a big NGO splash as a new issue breaks, then activists realize they need

Top new African Progress Report focusses on farms, fisheries and finance

May 8, 2014
The Africa Progress Panel (a group of the great and good, chaired by Kofi Annan) launches its 2014 Africa Progress Report today. It’s an excellent, and very nicely written (heartfelt thanks) overview of some key areas: agriculture, fisheries and finance. Some highlights: ‘For more than a decade, Africa’s economies have been doing well, according to graphs that chart the growth

Can complex systems thinking provide useful tools for aid workers? Draft paper on some DFID pilot experiments, for your comments

May 7, 2014
Ben Ramalingam, who wrote last year’s big book on complexity and aid (Aid on the Edge of Chaos) has been doing some interesting work with DFID and wants comment on his draft paper (with Miguel Laric and John Primrose) summarizing the project. The draft is here BestPracticetoBestFitWorkingPaper_DraftforComments_May2014 (just comment on this post, and the authors will read and reply where necessary,

What’s at stake in the South African and Malawi elections this month?

May 6, 2014
Max Lawson, Oxfam’s Head of Advocacy and Public Policy, reflects on impending elections in South Africa and Malawi Malawi and South Africa’s election cycle is identical.  Both had their first democratic multi-party elections 20 years ago this month.  Who can forget the incredible photos of black people queuing from before dawn across South Africa to exercise their right to vote

For tax dodging: ‘pounded by stone mallet, grounded by large stone’. A nice day out in Singapore

May 2, 2014
As you have probably guessed by now, I’ve been in Singapore this week. What you won’t know is that this is my first time here since 1969 (my dad was in the navy, which exited the island around then, along with the rest of Britain’s colonial baggage – Singapore promptly took off and has never looked back.) While the street

How can complexity/systems thinking help small island states?

May 1, 2014
‘It’s a big year for small islands’ announced the speaker before me, who revelled in the title ‘The Honourable Lord Tu’ivakano, Prime Minister, Kingdom of Tonga’ (right). When my turn came, how should I refer to him? (I’m hopeless at this kind of thing, must come from going to a state school.) His Lordship? Your Honourableness? ‘Yo Tu’ivakano’ (a la