Singapore: the politics of taking sand to make land

March 12, 2020
Madhumitha Ardhanari is a 2019-20 Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity at the International Inequalities Institute, London School of Economics. She has worked as a sustainability strategist and futures researcher at Forum for the Future, and has five years of experience coaching businesses and organisations to adapt to long-term sustainability challenges. Until six months ago, I didn’t care much

Doing a big Alaska: the case for a global social protection fund

March 14, 2013
Olivier de Schutter, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, is consistently interesting and provocative. This call to action is currently circulating on the interwebs (although the paper it’s based on came out last October): ‘If protecting human rights could be translated into a single political action, the creation of comprehensive social protection schemes would be it. Health

‘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

How can the global system manage scarcity?

November 16, 2010
Alex Evans is on a bit of a roll at the moment, with an excellent new paper on ‘Globalization and Scarcity: Multilateralism for a World with Limits’. It’s a great summary of the problems created by the threat of scarcity of food, land, water, energy, and ‘airspace’ (for greenhouse gas emissions). He confines his solutions to the implications for the

The Plundered Planet: review of Paul Collier’s new book and impending personal crisis

July 1, 2010
A new Paul Collier book is always a good workout in the brain gym and his latest, The Plundered Planet: How to Reconcile Prosperity with Nature, is no exception. You can either be seduced by his writing, conceptual acrobatics, anecdotes and soundbites (who isn’t sick of hearing ‘Bottom Billion’ in every seminar?) or you can choose the more exhausting (but

Lifting the Resource Curse (or how to make finding oil a blessing)

February 25, 2010
‘Lifting the Resource Curse’, a new Oxfam paper, revisits the difficult question of how to ensure natural resources are a blessing, and not a curse, for poor countries. Countries like Angola, where oil revenues (which represent 80 per cent of national income) are estimated at $10bn per year, yet 70 per cent of the population live on less than $2

Natural Resources and Development Strategy after the crisis: useful (but flawed) new World Bank paper

February 18, 2010
The World Bank’s influential PREM (Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network) team has a new series of topical notes, pulling together its research on breaking issues (they’ve obviously been reading the literature on using research for influence – rehashing existing research at the right moment for policy makers is one of the most effective forms of influencing). It’s called ‘Economic

Paul Collier on post conflict reconstruction, independent service authorities, how to manage natural resources and the hidden logic of the G20 London Summit

June 29, 2009
Paul came to give a talk to Oxfam’s big cheeses last week based on his new book War Guns and Votes (see my review here) and they invited me along. Here are some highlights: Post Conflict Reconstruction: The conventional sequence is ‘build the politics first, then the economics will follow’. Collier thinks the order should be reversed. Conflict is a zero

Taxation and development: a great new book

April 22, 2009
Finally finished an illuminating book on the link between taxation and development: (Taxation and state-building in Developing Countries), edited by Deborah Brautigam, Odd-Helge Fjeldstad and Mick Moore). Here are a few highlights – a bit long, but I’m trying to summarize a densely argued 260 page book, so bear with me. Taxation is the new frontier for those concerned with