The WDR 2017 on Governance and Law: Can it drive a transformation in development practice?

January 31, 2017
  Stefan Kossoff (DFID’s governance czar) reviews the new WDR, published this week. For those of us working on governance this week’s publication of the 2017 World Development Report on Governance and Law (WDR17) has been hotly awaited. And I’m pleased to say the report–in all its 280 page glory–does not disappoint (there’s a 4 page summary for the time-starved).
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Is the Anti-Politics machine still a good critique of the aid business?

January 11, 2017
Just been re-reading a great 6 page summary of James Ferguson’s 1994 classic critique of the aid industry, The Anti-Politics Machine. Read this and ask yourself, apart from the grating use of the term ‘Third World’, how much has changed? ‘Any question of the form ‘what is to be done?’ demands first of all an answer to the question, ‘By
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Power, Poverty and Inequality: a ‘love-peeve’ new IDS bulletin

December 6, 2016
I have something of a love-hate relationship with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton, or more accurately, a love-peeve. I love the topics, the commitment to bottom-up approaches, and the intellectual leadership IDS has shown over the years on a whole range of issues dear to my heart. The peeve stems from its preference for abstruse language and
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If politics is the problem, how can external actors be part of the solution? New World Bank paper

August 2, 2016
The new paper comes from Shanta Devarajan, the Bank’s Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa Region, (recently drafted in to help get the WDR to the finishing line) and Stuti Khemani, Senior Economist at its Development Research Group. The World Bank seems currently to be awash with fascinating reflections and rethinking on politics and power. This one’s
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The World Bank is having a big internal debate about Power and Governance. Here’s why it matters.

July 26, 2016
Writing flagship publications in large institutions is a tough job. Everyone wants a piece, as different currents of opinion, ideology or interest slug it out over red lines and key messages. Trying (and failing) to write one for Oxfam once put me in hospital. So no surprise that the flagship of flagships, the World Bank’s annual World Development Report, on
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The Politics of Inclusive Development: Two Books; One Title

May 17, 2016
Guest review from Alice Evans, Human Geography lecturer, Cambridge The age of ‘best practice’ is over. The time of politics has come. Rather than identify and rollout effective policies, we need to understand the political struggles and coalitions by which socio-economic and political resources come to be redistributed more equitably – across classes, genders, ethnicities and spaces. The Politics of
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Why those promoting growth need to take politics seriously, and vice versa

October 14, 2015
Nicholas Waddell, a DFID Governance Adviser working on ‘Governance for Economic Development’ (G4ED) explores the links between governance and economic growth.  Should I play it safe and join a governance team or risk being a lone voice in a sea of economists and private sector staff? This was my dilemma as a DFID Governance Adviser returning to the UK after
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What are governance advisers missing with ‘Political Economy Analysis’? How can they do better?

October 8, 2015
From a restaurant in Jakarta, David Hudson & Heather Marquette with some new thinking on power, politics and governance What advice would you give to a novice governance advisor working for a bilateral donor going into the field for the first time? Want to know how some of the top governance experts, advisors, researchers and academics would say? Well, wonder
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Why is it so much harder to talk about politics than about policies?

August 12, 2014
I’ve been running into some resistance recently in writing about politics, and some interesting patterns are starting to emerge. Firstly, when I sent round a draft piece on the politics and policies of national redistribution (i.e. when you look at the countries who have reduced inequality, what did they do and what were the politics that led to them doing
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How can politics change to serve future generations (on climate change, but lots of other stuff too)?

July 24, 2014
No-one objected to yesterday’s rehash of a recent BS (blue sky, OK?) session, so here’s another. An hour in a cool café in Brixton market with Kiwi academic Jonathan Boston, wrestling with the really big question on climate change and the survival of our species: how could political institutions emerge that govern for future generations? Jonathan, who used to run
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Ending poverty is about the politics of power: guest piece for the OECD

December 9, 2013
This guest rant of mine appeared in the OECD’s Development Cooperation Report 2013, published last week. The report, subtitled ‘Ending Poverty‘, is worth a skim – it’s a good survey of current debates on poverty and aid, with contributions from piles of wonks, followed by a donor-by-donor aid overview. A necessary starting point in any discussion of ending poverty is
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Thinking and Working Politically: an exciting new aid initiative

November 27, 2013
Gosh I love my job. Last week I attended a workshop in Delhi to discuss ‘thinking and working politically’. A bunch of donors, academics, NGOs and others (Chatham House rules, alas, so no names or institutions) taking stock on how they can move from talk to walk in applying more politically informed thinking to their work. That means both trying
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