If you only read one thing this week…

The Earth Summit in Rio – hopes and fears by Nick
April 27, 2011, 9:47 am
Filed under: Development theory, Environment, If you have 30 mins, News

Jim Thomas writes a fascinating article giving a short history of the last twenty years of climate and environmental negotiation, and their relationship to sustainable development efforts. What’s at stake, argues Thomas, is whether the future of the planet will be governed by financial markets and climate engineers, or whether we will see a genuine attempt to solve environmental problems in the context of larger social and economic goals such as reducing poverty and creating a just and sustainable society.

Read the Guardian Article here.

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What did USAID think of last year? by Anna
April 15, 2011, 3:29 pm
Filed under: If you only have 15 mins, News

In case you’re not sure about the results from your work and you’re not involved in monitoring and evaluation, check out this year’s annual letter from USAID Administrator Shah for a quick, optimistic, and colorful look at USAID’s year in review. Shah had quite a first year in office, beginning with the earthquake in Haiti only five days after he swore in. He concludes with the notion that more people today are interested in development work than ever before and this attention to these issues is what drives USAID forward.

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When will we Learn to Learn? by Anna
April 15, 2011, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We all want to see the results and pay-offs from our work. In development work it’s much tougher to see results right away than in many other fields. Recently, this quest for results has manifested in the growth of improved evaluations, especially randomized control trials. What the authors in this paper think though is that for an evaluation or study to have an impact on policies or program decisions, it often has less to do with how you go about it (the methods) than how you prepare the ground (institutional readiness) and communicate the results (timing, packaging, and follow up). For a quick read, check out the blog from the paper’s authors at the Overseas Development Institute. If you have more time, dive into the whole paper.

Where are we heading – two NGOs look into the future by Anna
April 6, 2011, 2:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Recently, two European NGOs, Actionaid and Trocaire published their predictions for what the development landscape will look like in the coming decade. Trocaire identifies five major global trends to watch in the coming decade: climate change, shifting geopolitics, demographic change, pressure on natural resources and widening inequality. Actionaid similarly discusses eight uncertainties in the near future: the shifting global balance of power, job uncertainty, the possibility of serious monetary reform, winners and losers in the “avalanche of technology”, declining global trade, the changing nature of political influence, and global shocks. Ramesh Singh from Harvard’s Hauser Center for Nonprofits writes an interesting blog providing his analysis and discussing some of the gaps he sees in Trocaire’s report, including that it has a distinctive European slant. To view the whole report click here. Alex Evans of Actionaid, who authors the report 2020 Development Futures writes a succinct blog summarizing the report here, or read the full report here. Each report’s top 10 recommendations for NGOs vary slightly, but both emphasized the importance of increasing accountability to beneficiaries. One of Actionaid’s most interesting points was to work for poor people not poor countries and to expect failure, but ensure learning afterwards. Trocaire recommends building a global culture of solidarity and to engage power and politics more openly.

Key Recommendations from the Report:

Actionaid recommends: to prepare for upcoming global shocks, focus on building resilient populations, put beneficiaries in charge, consider fair resource sharing, specialize in coalitions, think about emergency economies, look for innovation in marginalized groups, expect failure and look for the silver lining, work for poor people not poor countries, and strengthen storytelling. Trocaire’s recommendations include: increasing advocacy efforts, increase accountability to beneficiaries, increase flexibility and responsiveness to beneficiary needs, engage power and politics, improve civil society in developing countries, plan for alternative funding sources, develop a stronger local context analysis, increase engagement with developing societies, build a global culture of solidarity, promote innovation and technology.