If you only read one thing this week…

Unintended Consequences of Poverty Reduction by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 20, 2008, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, If you only have 15 mins, Megatrend

Read on for a summary of The Risks of Fighting Poverty too Well by Mark Lange, first published in the Christian Science Monitor. Or read the full article and see video footage here.

It is ironic that China’s stunning success in reducing poverty brings unintended consequences for the rest of the world. China’s breakthrough has created an explosion in greenhouse gases; it has triggered intense competition for resources which has led to China’s sponsorship of the world’s most savage and dysfunctional regimes. China’s enormous supply of workers makes it harder for other nations to contribute labor and trade in world markets. Within China, as poverty in declines, inequality is rising rapidly.  Continue reading

Attempting to better define fragile states by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 20, 2008, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, If you have 30 mins, Megatrend, Uncategorized

The Brookings Institute has just published a report that presents an Index of State Weakness in the Developing World, measuring weakness in 141 developing countries (as defined by the World Bank) against four categories: economic, political, security and social welfare. Each category has four indicators and each country received a score for each indicator and a subsequent average. The complete, beautifully color-coded table can be downloaded and printed here. Somalia scores lowest across all four categories and ranks at the bottom of the charts. The 24-page report shows some interesting correlations and between the different data sets.  For example, not surprisingly, there is a strong correlation between poverty and overall weakness which means that most of the world’s weakest (and failed) states are also the world’s poorest. Also, states that are more successful at political governance also tend to provide better social welfare. The report is easily accessible and at only 24 pages is an interesting read. Download the full report here.

Stephen Hawking looking for Africa’s Einsteins by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 13, 2008, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Articles, If you only have 15 mins

The Times Online is running a story about Hawking and a team of physicists and mathematicians including two Nobel laureates in physics, David Gross and George Smoot, and Michael Griffin, the head of NASA. Gates, Google and Sun are apparently interested in the project, which would fund centers for excellence in science and mathematics thought the continent. Read the article here.

Counterpoint on the food-crisis by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 13, 2008, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Book reviews, Development theory, If you have 30 mins

Thanks to our illustrious Tom Ewert, who writes to take issue with the analysis of the food crisis presented here, and wants to recommend an alternative view: He reading list includes ‘Starved for Science: How biotechnology is being kept out of Africa‘ by Robert Paarlberg – a Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College. Read the press release from Wellesley College here

Why the cylone in Myanmar was so deadly by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 9, 2008, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Articles, Environment, If you only have 15 mins

National Geographic is running Michael Casey’s analysis here on why the recent cyclone was so devastating. It’s an interesting read, and highlights a number of factors including a lack of risk reduction and planning, poor response, possible climate change factors, and plain bad luck.

by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek

As part of a larger article on philanthro-capitalism Galés Gabirondo of Global Policy Forum reviews Michael Edwards new book “Just Another Emperor” (you can buy the book, or download it for free here).

It’s a fascinating read – here is Galés’ summary “philanthro-capitalism is the term given to the movement taking hold that “promises to save the world by revolutionizing philanthropy, making non-profit organizations operate like business, and creating new markets for goods and services that benefit society.” This neo-liberal brand of philanthropy distinguishes itself from charity and progressive philanthropy by insisting not only on market-based results, but on business-based procedures for grant giving. Philanthro-capitalists seek business efficiencies and a financial “bottom line” from their “investments” and concentrate on making global markets work better. A logical extension of current of neo-liberal hegemony, philanthro-capitalism sees unregulated markets not only as engines for creating wealth, but as the ultimate drivers of social change. In this view, governments are too bureaucratic and corrupt, and social movements too unruly and inefficient. Only the market can save us from… well, the market.” (read the whole article here).

The rise and fall of globalized industrial agriculture by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
May 5, 2008, 7:55 pm
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, Environment, If you have 30 mins

The International Forum on Globalization went to press with their report The Rise and Predictable Fall of Globalized Industrial Agriculture last year, but the analysis they present is particularly pertinent as we try to understand the current global food crisis.

The surprisingly readable report first unpacks the massive shift in ownership of agricultural processes (from seeds and agricultural imports
to control of markets and food transport systems), and the role of global organizations and structures.

More importantly, it proposes a raft of alternative agricultural approaches that emphasize local production and food sovereignty, biodiversity and sustainable farming practices. It’s both an insightful read on the current issues, and a guide to potential paths out of the situation we’re in.