In the latest news and analysis…
Aid Transparency Index
Publish What You Fund has released its first Aid Transparency Index, in which the list of donor countries that performed ‘poorly’ includes the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan and Norway.
“In the course of the research, a number of countries provided worrying examples of how poor reporting can distort perceptions of whether aid is well spent:
• Almost the only information available about one of France’s biggest aid beneficiaries, Cote d’Ivoire, related to a project commemorating 20 years of research into chimpanzees
• Greece provided no information about its current aid activities, but an annual report from 2009 included pictures of a half-built block of flats in Serbia as evidence of an ‘implemented project’
• Austria is the fourth biggest recipient of Austrian Development Agency aid according to the government’s database of ‘agreed contracts’”
Mining and inequality
Yao Graham of Third World Network-Africa argues booming profits for mining companies are not translating into comparable increases in revenues for the African countries in which they operate.
“The case of Zambia, for which copper makes up about 80 per cent of export earnings, is a good illustration of the asymmetry of power and benefits between mining companies on the one hand and African states on the other. Zambia levies a derisory 0.6 per cent royalty on copper in some cases.
In 2004, with copper prices averaging $2,868 US per tonne, it earned $8 million US in budget revenue from 400,000 tonnes of copper exported by foreign mining companies. This is a mere fraction of the $200 million US it earned in 1992, before privatization, from the same volume and similar price of copper. In the meantime, with the quadrupling of copper prices between 2002 and 2008, firms operating in Zambia such as the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals, have seen sharp jumps.”
The Fairtrade Foundation’s Aurelie Walker presents 10 pieces of evidence to support her contention that the World Trade Organization’s so-called Doha Development Round of negotiations has seen the marginalization of the very countries it was supposed to help.
“The WTO has failed to live up to its promises over the past decade, which reveals a wider systemic problem in the global community. True and lasting solutions to global economic problems can only come when the model of global competitiveness between countries becomes one of genuine cooperation.”
California State University, Sacramento’s Angus Wright discusses the obstacles and necessary conditions to addressing global environmental challenges.
“The secret we seek is what inspires humans to act positively and creatively in the face of huge challenges. As humanity faces the environmental crisis, this is its greatest challenge: How do we elicit the kind of collective and individual action and creativity that will be needed?
I think previous experience implies that it cannot be fear alone, nor opportunity alone, nor persuasion alone, nor organisation alone, but a blend of these elements, with much else. We have been able to lump these things together successfully in the past in something called patriotism – a powerful force for good and ill – and now we need something like a planetary patriotism. But no planetary patriotism can be built without acknowledging and dealing with the major things that divide us as well as the challenge that must unite us. Putting on a happy face won’t cut it.”
Sustainable Development Goals
The Overseas Development Institute’s Claire Melamed argues that truly sustainable development will require more than simply coming up with eco-focused counterparts to the Millennium Development Goals.
“If economic growth is to be truly green, developing countries will need to leapfrog over much of our recent history of technological development and have immediate access to the kind of shiny new technologies that are still prohibitively expensive in much of the rich world.
This is possible – with dramatic changes to intellectual property laws, and with the kind of subsidies that until now have been reserved exclusively for the wealthiest farmers. Neither are particularly likely, and this is just a taster of the huge changes in policy in almost every country if ‘sustainable development’ is to become a reality. We might even have to broach the subject of how more growth in one country might mean less in another.”
The Copenhagen Consensus Center’s Bjørn Lomborg argues political rhetoric about greening economies does not correspond to what is currently feasible in the real world.
“Danish politicians – like politicians elsewhere – claim that a green economy will cost nothing, or may even be a source of new growth. Unfortunately, this is not true. Globally, there is a clear correlation between higher growth rates and higher CO2 emissions. Furthermore, nearly every green energy source is still more expensive than fossil fuels, even when calculating pollution costs.”
Drones and literature
Reuters’ Myra MacDonald argues a recent short story about drone strikes in Pakistan is illustrative of a narrative she considers both problematic and increasingly important.
“We will return to the short story later, but first step back a bit and consider that the narrative gaining traction, at least in urban Punjab, is that the people of the tribal areas have been radicalised by American drone attacks. Pakistan’s rising political star, Imran Khan, attracted tens of thousands to a rally in Lahore last month with a version of this narrative. Stop the drones, and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, can be engaged in peace talks to end a wave of bombings across Pakistan.”
Philanthropy and facts
In his overview of current trends in philanthropy, Oxfam’s Duncan Green suggests the Arab Spring and networks are hot, while the State and analysis are not at the ongoing Bellagio Initiative Summit.
“I don’t attend many discussions where I find myself wishing for fewer stories, and more analysis, but this was one of them – more NGO than the NGOs when it comes to substituting heart-warming anecdotes for academic rigour.”