Global Development Update: September 2017

FEATURED STORY

Widespread climate migration a very real threat
If the advancement of climate change continues apace, there are estimated to be anywhere between 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by the year 2050. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, the havoc of natural disasters displaces three to ten times more people than conflict and war, and will only get worse as the planet warms and weather patterns become more unpredictable.

GLOBAL PEACE & JUSTICE

Kenyan election results nullified by the Supreme Court
Citing election irregularities, Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the reelection of sitting President Uhuru Kenyatta. It is the first time such a decision has been made by an African court, and comes after Kenya’s disputed presidential election in 2007, which set off protests that killed approximately 1,300 citizens. 

‘Hybrid war’ a moving target
The term ‘hybrid war’ is defined by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis as a merging of “different modes and means of war” to characterize the diverse arsenal of tools that countries employ to advance their geopolitical interests. Security experts note that the diffuse nature of modern warfare makes it an ever-evolving threat. 

HUMAN RIGHTS

 The purpose of Trump’s attacks on the media
UN human rights expert David Kaye says President Trump’s attacks on the media amount to a conscious attempt by the president to undermine the credibility of journalists, limit free speech, and drive coverage in a direction that he deems acceptable. 

GENDER EQUITY

The link between dowries and violent conflict
75% of the world lives in societies where a wealth transfer—or “brideprice”—occurs upon marriage. New research published in the academic journal International Security has found a correlation between fluctuations in these payments and the onset of violent conflict. 

Technology as a catalyst for advancing the rights of women with disabilities
A visually impaired woman herself, Sri Lankan disability activist Manique Gunaratne has established online training and mobile labs to help women with disabilities obtain the requisite technology training to find opportunities for meaningful employment.

ENVIRONMENT & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

 The looming water crisis and how to prevent it
As the climate warms, the planet is increasingly susceptible to desertification and more extreme precipitation patterns. Population growth, depletion of groundwater stores, failing infrastructure, and waste are all factors making this precious resource even scarcer.

Global warming and flight safety
According to a study by Colombia University, warming air temperatures make it difficult for planes to generate the lift necessary to take off safely, and may ground one-third of all aircrafts worldwide in future decades. Other studies warn of the effects climate change will have on increasing turbulence and headwinds, causing significant delays.

Why sand matters
Sand comes second only to water as the world’s most used natural resource. Sand is vital to the construction, electronics, glass, oil, ceramics, and automobile industries, and is in particularly high demand in rapidly developing parts of Asia.

POVERTY REDUCTION & INCOME INEQUALITY

 Food insecurity worse in conflict zones
A new United Nations joint report has found that climate shocks and widespread conflict have catalyzed severe hunger and famine around the world. Furthermore, conflict zones pose a unique set of challenges that make addressing these food crises particularly complex.

GLOBAL GOVERNANCE & CONNECTIVITY

Internet users the customer, not the product
In a revealing interview with the Harvard Gazette, renowned cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier illustrates how Internet users in the United States have few privacy protections from the collection of their data by big companies.

Book links technology and citizen engagement
While clear evidence demonstrating the effects of technology on the political engagement of citizens is scant, a new book uses case studies to highlight examples of how digital platforms have been used to amplify citizen voices in the political process.

Headlines

Global Development Update: August 2017

July 2017 Newsletter

March 2017 Newsletter

How the Other Tenth Lives

The Mythology of Freedom and Democracy

U.S. will be ‘rogue’ state if it ditches climate accord: U.N. envoy

A Social-Ecological legacy: An integrated perspective of humans-in-nature more important than ever for both science and development

World Cities Report 2016

Global Development Update: September 2017

FEATURED STORY

Widespread climate migration a very real threat
If the advancement of climate change continues apace, there are estimated to be anywhere between 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by the year 2050. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, the havoc of natural disasters displaces three to ten times more people than conflict and war, and will only get worse as the planet warms and weather patterns become more unpredictable.

GLOBAL PEACE & JUSTICE

Kenyan election results nullified by the Supreme Court
Citing election irregularities, Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the reelection of sitting President Uhuru Kenyatta. It is the first time such a decision has been made by an African court, and comes after Kenya’s disputed presidential election in 2007, which set off protests that killed approximately 1,300 citizens. 

‘Hybrid war’ a moving target
The term ‘hybrid war’ is defined by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis as a merging of “different modes and means of war” to characterize the diverse arsenal of tools that countries employ to advance their geopolitical interests. Security experts note that the diffuse nature of modern warfare makes it an ever-evolving threat. 

HUMAN RIGHTS

 The purpose of Trump’s attacks on the media
UN human rights expert David Kaye says President Trump’s attacks on the media amount to a conscious attempt by the president to undermine the credibility of journalists, limit free speech, and drive coverage in a direction that he deems acceptable. 

GENDER EQUITY

The link between dowries and violent conflict
75% of the world lives in societies where a wealth transfer—or “brideprice”—occurs upon marriage. New research published in the academic journal International Security has found a correlation between fluctuations in these payments and the onset of violent conflict. 

Technology as a catalyst for advancing the rights of women with disabilities
A visually impaired woman herself, Sri Lankan disability activist Manique Gunaratne has established online training and mobile labs to help women with disabilities obtain the requisite technology training to find opportunities for meaningful employment.

ENVIRONMENT & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

 The looming water crisis and how to prevent it
As the climate warms, the planet is increasingly susceptible to desertification and more extreme precipitation patterns. Population growth, depletion of groundwater stores, failing infrastructure, and waste are all factors making this precious resource even scarcer.

Global warming and flight safety
According to a study by Colombia University, warming air temperatures make it difficult for planes to generate the lift necessary to take off safely, and may ground one-third of all aircrafts worldwide in future decades. Other studies warn of the effects climate change will have on increasing turbulence and headwinds, causing significant delays.

Why sand matters
Sand comes second only to water as the world’s most used natural resource. Sand is vital to the construction, electronics, glass, oil, ceramics, and automobile industries, and is in particularly high demand in rapidly developing parts of Asia.

POVERTY REDUCTION & INCOME INEQUALITY

 Food insecurity worse in conflict zones
A new United Nations joint report has found that climate shocks and widespread conflict have catalyzed severe hunger and famine around the world. Furthermore, conflict zones pose a unique set of challenges that make addressing these food crises particularly complex.

GLOBAL GOVERNANCE & CONNECTIVITY

Internet users the customer, not the product
In a revealing interview with the Harvard Gazette, renowned cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier illustrates how Internet users in the United States have few privacy protections from the collection of their data by big companies.

Book links technology and citizen engagement
While clear evidence demonstrating the effects of technology on the political engagement of citizens is scant, a new book uses case studies to highlight examples of how digital platforms have been used to amplify citizen voices in the political process.

Global Development Update: August 2017

FEATURED STORY

UNHCR warns of famine in the Horn of Africa

Source: UNICEF USA

Source: UNICEF USA

More than 20 million people in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen are currently at risk of famine. Drought and a funding shortfall are conspiring to make an otherwise avoidable humanitarian crisis a tragic inevitability. As a result, levels of internal displacement are on the rise.

GLOBAL PEACE & JUSTICE

Harvard University launches new digital democracy initiativeunnamed-1
Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, and Matt Rhoades, Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager, are joining forces to lead a recently launched bipartisan initiative entitled “Defending Digital Democracy” (DDD) at the Harvard Kennedy School. 

HUMAN RIGHTS 

Fighting human trafficking with math
An estimated 27 to 45.8 million individuals are trapped in some form of modern-day slavery. The scourge is present in every country in the world. Preliminary evidence suggests that data science has great potential to help identify vulnerable populations, disrupt trafficking networks, and cut down on demand.

GENDER EQUITY

Proposed changes to Tunisia’s inheritance law sparks larger conversation

Source: Al Jazeera

Source: Al Jazeera

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi recently announced his government would review a law that grants men twice the share of an inheritance as women. While Tunisia is seen as a leader for women’s rights in the Middle East, such efforts to legislate gender equity have been met with broad resistance, as many Tunisians view these measures as infringing on the larger issue of whether Tunisia should adhere to civil or religious law.

ENVIRONMENT & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

100 companies responsible for the majority of global emissions
The recently released Carbon Majors Report identifies 100 companies that have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. Published in collaboration between CDP and the Climate Accountability Institute, the pioneering report is the first of a series that will highlight the responsibility companies and their investors have to address climate change.

Maldives applies for Security Council seat to push climate change agenda
Scientists expect the sea to rise by at least three feet by the year 2100. By seeking a two-year non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, the low-lying island of the Maldives hopes to highlight the threat posed by climate change and sea level rise to small island developing states (SIDS).

China providing leadership on green financing 
unnamed-3The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is pushing a “green finance” agenda, by supporting programs tailored towards sustainable development and combatting climate change. This new financing model has taken root over the past three years, as China has attempted to put aside polluting industries in favor of projects use resources more efficiently.

 

UN body agrees to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
In July, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) committed to accelerating the pace of implementation for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, following voluntary national reviews presented by 44 different countries regarding their experiences implementing the agenda.

GLOBAL GOVERNANCE & CONNECTIVITY

UN body begins talks to conserve the high seas
After two years of dialogue, UN diplomats took initial steps towards a treaty for marine conservation on the high seas. Intense diplomatic bargaining remains, however, as the 193 member states who are weighing in have disparate and vested commercial interests in high seas fishing and resource extraction.

While development aid rises, developing countries aren’t receiving benefits
Development aid has hit a new high, with 22 countries allotting a greater share of their budget to the challenge in 2016. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, however, most of this money is staying in wealthy countries to address the refugee crisis, while aid to the least developed countries in the world actually fell last year by 3.9% 

Shifting the narrative about immigrant workers
A special UN session convened to highlight the valuable contributions of migrant workers around the world, including: $575 billion in remittances transferred abroad by international migrants; a filling of the labor market at all skill levels in developed countries; and a tendency towards entrepreneurship, 20% of all entrepreneurs in the United States are immigrants.

Global support for the US is on the decline
Support for the United States abroad has declined steeply in at least 37 countries, new evidence shows. While a median of 64% expressed confidence in President Barack Obama, only 49% say the same when asked about President Donald Trump. A majority of Israelis and Russians, however, report increased confidence in the new administration.

POVERTY REDUCTION & INCOME INEQUALITY

Emerging markets outpacing the G7 in contributions to global growth

Source: World Bank

Source: World Bank

The global economic outlook is brightening, with global growth expected to rise to 2.7 percent in 2017, and 2.9 percent over 2018-19. A particular bright spot are the economies of the so-called “EM7”: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia and Turkey, which together accounted for 24 percent of global economic output between 2010-2016.

July 2017 Newsletter

Featured Story

 65 million people are displaced worldwide

According to the annual Global Trends study produced by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 65.6 million people were displaced from their homes because of conflict and persecution by the end of 2016. Of those, nearly half of all refugees are children, and approximately 20 people are newly displaced every minute of the day.

 

Global Peace and Justice

 Legal obligation to help refugees

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres summarily rejected recent trends to seal borders to refugees, instead arguing that the protection of refugees is both a collective imperative and a legal obligation.

 

Human Rights

UN Reform

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivered a speech at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland in which she outlined reforms to the UN Human Rights Council that the U.S. would like to see before committing to continued participation.

LGBT Rights in Russia

The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that Russia’s prohibition of what it considers the promotion of homosexuality is discriminatory and violates freedom of expression.

 

Gender Equity

Gender equity is a good business

The Stanford Social Innovation Review makes a compelling case for why gender equity could be the next frontier in socially responsible business endeavors, much as just as environmental stewardship has become central to many mission-driven Fortune 500 companies over the past 30 years.

 

Environmental Stewardship and Sustainable Development

Actions speak louder than words

China remains in the Paris Climate Agreement and appears to be turning a new leaf in the fight against climate change. New data suggests, however, that more than 700 new coal plants are under development by Chinese corporations around the world.

Heat wave 

Temperatures above 120°F grounded planes in Phoenix, Arizona, which was both an inconvenience to travelers and an example of what some scientists are referring to as the “hidden cost of climate change.”

 We’ve been warned

The New York Times created an interactive map based on data from the Climate Impact Lab. The resource demonstrates how the incidence of 95-degree will continue increase, even if countries take only moderate climate action.

 

Global Governance and Connectivity

 Shortfall in Humanitarian Aid

A recent UN report concluded that the global community is falling short of its financial obligation to provide financial assistance to an estimated 141 million vulnerable people around the world, with donations reaching a mere 26% of what is needed.

 

Poverty Reduction and Income Inequality

The downside of innovation

Fears are rising about the threat that automation poses to the economic growth potential of developing countries, which rely on wage competitiveness to attract investment.

March 2017 Newsletter

Featured Story

Cost-benefit analysis

The costs of not participating in the Paris Agreement are more than just environmental, according to the Brookings Institute.

“In terms of returns on investment, climate finance is ridiculously cheap for what America gets for it: goodwill and cooperation, less warming, clean and resilient growth, and, importantly, fewer refugees.”
Global Peace & Justice

Finding kindness in cruelty

To make progress against the greater evils in the world, individuals need to connect on a personal level, argues American ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers.

Russian, Syrian forces both guilty

A UN investigation has created a confidential list of suspected war criminals to share with a new body in Geneva.

Human Rights

Populism fueling intolerance

Antonio Guterres asked the Human Rights Council to “be part of the cure” for what he called the spreading disease of “disregard for human rights” during his first address of the council as UN chief.

Gender Equity

“The biggest robbery in history”

At the latest meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, the UN and International Labor Organization teamed up with celebrities and activists to create the Equal Pay Platform of Champions.

Does it really take a village?

Decreased stigma and increased economic status for women have been contributing factors in the rising rate of out-of-wedlock births.

“Violent extremism, human rights violations, xenophobia” endanger women

The UN Secretary General described global threats to women’s rights in an apparent reaction to Trump administration anti-refugee travel bans and recent decriminalization of domestic violence in Russia.

Environment & Sustainable Development

A planet in hot water

A new method in ocean temperature measurements means scientists can now show that the speed of upper ocean warming quadrupled between 1960-1991 and 1992-2015.

Dirty air, water, kill 1.7 children annually

The World Health organization estimates that 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 are caused by environmental pollutants.
Global Governance & Connectivity

“U.S. losses from TPP are everyone else’s gains”

With the U.S. pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, countries are swooping in to take advantage of reduced tariffs.

The magic (or maybe not) of the internet

Tech moguls are eager to point to internet access as the quick fix to international development. But is connectivity really the way to growth?

How the Other Tenth Lives

On October 2nd, the World Bank reported that 767m people live in extreme poverty, subsisting on less than $1.90 a day, calculated at purchasing-power parity and 2011 prices. The latest figures should arouse mixed feelings: the poverty headcount is worth cheering because it is so much lower than it was, but 767m is still a lot of people and it is hard to imagine how anyone could subsist on so little. Read more from The Economist

The Mythology of Freedom and Democracy

The world’s first systematic review of how well countries uphold fundamental civic freedoms – to protest, organize and speak out – reveals a significant deterioration in the protection of these constitutional rights in the US. The US is not alone, of course, and there are dozens of countries around the world in which governments are cracking down even harder on protest.
Read more from IPS News

U.S. will be ‘rogue’ state if it ditches climate accord: U.N. envoy

After U.S. President-elect Donald Trump promised to pull the United States out of that global climate accord, Mary Robinson, a former Irish president and human rights advocate, warned that the United States would become “a kind of rogue country” if it followed through on this promise. It would leave the world more vulnerable to droughts and other climate extremes. Read more from Reuters

A Social-Ecological legacy: An integrated perspective of humans-in-nature more important than ever for both science and development

The focus of international development efforts and science is slowly shifting from viewing the environment as an externality to the biosphere as a precondition for social justice, economic development, and sustainability. Stockholm Resilience Centre researchers explore how this approach has developed over the years and why it is more important than ever both in science and development efforts. Read more from the Stockholm Resilience Centre

World Cities Report 2016

UN Habitat has produced a new “World Cities Report” examining and analyzing urban development from the past twenty years. It found that the current urbanization model is unsustainable in many respects and needs to change in order to better respond to the challenges of our time, including inequality, climate change, insecurity, and the unsustainable forms of urban expansion.

Read more from UN Habitat: