Thursday, 26 April 2012

Royal Society Report: People and the Planet

Must read this report.  An interesting balance emphasizing excess consumption, population growth, and global inequality.  Get the full report here.

Rapid and widespread changes in the world’s human population, coupled with unprecedented levels of consumption present profound challenges to human health and wellbeing, and the natural environment. This report gives an overview of how global population and consumption are linked, and the implications for a finite planet.

Key recommendations
Key recommendations include:
  1. The international community must bring the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1.25 per day out of absolute poverty, and reduce the inequality that persists in the world today. This will require focused efforts in key policy areas including economic development, education, family planning and health.
  2. The most developed and the emerging economies must stabilise and then reduce material consumption levels through: dramatic improvements in resource use efficiency, including: reducing waste; investment in sustainable resources, technologies and infrastructures; and systematically decoupling economic activity from environmental impact.
  3. Reproductive health and voluntary family planning programmes urgently require political leadership and financial commitment, both nationally and internationally. This is needed to continue the downward trajectory of fertility rates, especially in countries where the unmet need for contraception is high.
  4. Population and the environment should not be considered as two separate issues. Demographic changes, and the influences on them, should be factored into economic and environmental debate and planning at international meetings, such as the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development and subsequent meetings.
Other recommendations made in the report focus on:
  • the potential for urbanisation to reduce material consumption
  • removing barriers to achieve high-quality primary and secondary education for all
  • undertaking more research into the interactions between consumption, demographic change and environmental impact
  • implementing comprehensive wealth measures
  • developing new socio-economic systems.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

CFR Report. The New Global Health Agenda

Get the report here   From Council on Foreign Relations

The New Global Health Agenda

Universal Health Coverage

Authors: Oren Ahoobim, Project Manager, Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Daniel Altman, Director of Thought Leadership, Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Vicky Hausman, Partner, Dalberg Global Development Advisors and Yanzhong Huang, Senior Fellow for Global Health


The field of global health is witnessing a shift in focus from disease-driven initiatives to projects aimed at increasing the sustainability and strengthening of health systems. A crucial component to this is universal health coverage (UHC), which seeks to address financing schemes for health, separate from efforts to provide both adequate numbers of health workers and structures for health-care delivery. UHC may be provided by government or through a combination of private insurance schemes, public-sector planning, and employer-based programs. Countries across the world, from China and India to Rwanda and Mexico, are beginning to implement different universal health coverage schemes, marking a rise in interest and political will for universal health coverage. In The New Global Health Agenda: Universal Health Coverage, authors Oren Ahoobim, Daniel Altman, Laurie Garrett, Vicky Hausman, and Yanzhong Huang discuss this rise in support for universal health coverage and the financial benefits that may be reaped by implementing such schemes, and provide examples of models used to date by countries in establishing universal health coverage.
The New Global Health Agenda - the-new-global-health-agenda

Sunday, 22 April 2012

the Economist's take on Jim Kim's WB presidency

from The Economist.  jump here.  reader comments also interesting.

The World Bank

Kim for president

Apr 16th 2012, 19:22 by J.P. | LONDON
IN THE event, the controversial and closely fought contest to become president of the World Bank ended in exactly the same way as all the earlier stitch-ups: the American candidate won. Jim Yong Kim, currently head of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, will take over from Robert Zoellick in July. But the contest has raised awkward questions both about the bank and Mr Kim himself which will not be laid to rest so smoothly.
The contest was unprecedented from the start, not least in that it was a contest. For the first time, America’s favourite was challenged by two serious contenders, both from emerging markets. They were Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the finance minister of Nigeria, and José Antonia Ocampo of Colombia, who pulled out late in the day. A group of American professors and development experts, led by William Easterly of New York University and Lant Pritchett of Harvard’s Kennedy School, criticised Mr Kim for having too narrow a field of expertise to run the world’s premier development institution. (The Economist also supported Mrs Okonjo-Iweala.) Members of the administration and Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University who was himself nominated for the World Bank job, supported Mr Kim vigorously.
Unfortunately, while the nominations were refreshingly open, the competition itself reverted to type, which means the job was decided behind closed doors. Dr Kim held no public discussions of his views and when a Washington think-tank, the Centre for Global Development, tried to hold televised question-and-answer sessions for all the candidates, he did not attend, citing scheduling conflicts.
The secretiveness drew the ire of some World Bank members. South Africa’s finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, told the Financial Times “there are serious concerns about the levels of transparency.” Leaders of international NGOs, such as Oxfam and Save the Children, joined in the criticism. And Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese-born businessman,pointed out that “no one can lecture developing countries on how to manage their processes if [global public institutions] so brazenly do not conform to the same standards.”
But, as Dan Drezner of the Fletcher School at Tufts University pointed out, Barack Obama was never, in an election year, going to give his opponents any unnecessary ammunition by failing to get his choice for the World Bank accepted.
No one can know in advance how Dr Kim will fare. Forecasts in this area have a way of going spectacularly awry. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was widely expected to be a disaster before he took over the bank’s twin sister organisation, the IMF. But until his public humiliation at the very end of his term, the Frenchman proved to be a successful IMF chief.
Michael Woolcock, a World Bank staffer, suggests that two rather different models of development have been pitted against one another in the contest for president. On the one hand is what he calls Big Development, whose aim is the transformation of entire countries through investments in national education, justice and public health. Governments are essential to Big Development because they are responsible for the overall policy. And the World Bank is pre-eminently a Big Development institution. On the other hand is Small Development. “Inspired less by transformational visions of entire countries,” Mr Woolcock argues, “and more by the immediate plight of particular demographic groups (AIDS orphans, child soldiers, 'the poor') living in particular geographic places (disaster zones, refugee camps, urban slums), Small Development advocates focus not on building systems in the medium run but on compensating for the failure of systems in the short run. ‘Development’ thus becomes an exercise in advocacy, in accurate targeting, in identifying particular ‘tools’ that ‘work’”.
In this scheme of things Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, the former finance minister, represented Big Development; Dr Kim, a public-health advocate, Small. Dr Kim was almost certainly picked because of his passport. But if his background is any guide, his tenure as chief is likely to shift the bank more towards Small Development. Whether that is a good thing on balance remains to be seen.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Value of OECD aid drops for first time in 15 years

From the Guardian.  Jump Here

Value of OECD aid drops for first time in 15 years

Despite an increase in cash terms, aid from the world's richest countries was worth less in 2011 as inflation reduced the purchasing power of their currencies

Aid from the world's richest countries was worth 3% less last year compared with 2010, as inflation ate away at what their currencies could buy. Disregarding years of exceptional debt relief, this was the first drop since 1997, taking inflation into account, according to figures from the OECD club of rich countries.
In 2011, aid from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD came to $133.5bn, or 0.31% of their combined gross national income (GNI). In absolute numbers this was more than the 2010 figure of $128.5bn – the year net official development assistance (ODA) reached its peak. However, adjusted for inflation and weaker currencies, last year's figure actually represents a 2.7% drop. This does not necessarily mean governments have cut their aid budgets, but that the money is worth less because of inflation.
"The fall of ODA is a source of great concern, coming at a time when developing countries have been hit by the knock-on effect of the crisis and need it most," said Angel Gurría, the OECD's secretary general. "Aid is only a fraction of total flows to low income countries, but these hard economic times also mean lower investment and lower exports. I commend the countries that are keeping their commitments in spite of tough fiscal consolidation plans. They show that the crisis should not be used as an excuse to reduce development co-operation contributions."
NGOs expressed particular concern that aid has fallen to the world's 48 poorest countries – the group of least developed countries. The LDCs saw a fall in net bilateral ODA of 8.9% in real terms, to $27.7bn. "This fall suggests that aid is not as targeted as donors claim," said Jo Rea of Bond, the NGO group.
Bilateral aid to sub-Saharan Africa was $28bn, representing a fall of 0.9% in real terms compared with 2010. By contrast, aid to the African continent increased by 0.9%, to $31.4bn, as donors provided more aid to north Africa after the revolutions in the region.
Until 2011, aid had been steadily increasing for more than a decade. Net ODA rose by 63% between 2000 and 2010.
In past crises, such as the Mexican debt crisis in the early 1980s and the recession of the early 1990s, aid has served as a cushion for hard times. This time, however, recession in several DAC donor countries has already severely squeezed their aid budgets and pressure may mount on other donors in the years ahead, said the OECD.
"While I am disappointed that some countries have failed to maintain their commitments, the overall level reflects the growing awareness that global challenges – from disease to security threats to climate change – cannot be resolved without development progress," said Brian Atwood, chairman of the OECD-DAC.
In 2011, the largest donors were the US, Germany, the UK, France and Japan. In real terms, the largest rises in ODA were registered in Italy, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland. By contrast, ODA fell in 16 DAC countries, with the largest drops recorded in Austria, Belgium, Greece, Japan and Spain. G7 countries provided 69% of DAC aid, and EU countries 54%.
EU members need to move more aggressively to meet the 0.7% aid target by 2015, the EU's development commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, said as the union's aid dipped slightly last year. EU official development aid reached 0.42% of EU GNI last year, down from 0.44% in 2010.
With €53bn in development aid in 2011, the EU and its 27 member states remain the world's biggest aid donor, providing more than half of all global official aid.
Despite the financial crisis, 16 EU members managed to increase their aid. Three are ranked among the five largest donors worldwide and four of them – Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden – have already reached the 0.7% target. But with only three years left until 2015, it will take a miracle for the EU to hit the 0.7% figure formalised in 1969. On current projections, EU aid is set to reach €44.13bn, leaving the bloc €46.51m short of its target.
"We need a more aggressive approach on the issue," said Piebalgs. "Investing in development aid will make the world safer and more prosperous. Solidarity must remain our guiding principle. I call on member states to reaffirm their determination of achieving the goal of increasing ODA to 0.7% of GNI by 2015. Aid must be part of the EU response to global challenges."
Only the UK is projected to join the quartet of EU states that meet or exceed the 0.7% target (Britain should hit the figure next year). Last week, UK peers urged the British government to drop its commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on aid, arguing it prioritised spending over results and jeopardised the quality and effectiveness of aid programmes.
In 2005, EU member states pledged to increase official aid to 0.7% of GNI by 2015, the target date for the millennium development goals on halving poverty, and included an interim target of 0.56% by 2010. These were based on individual targets of 0.7% for the EU 15 and 0.33% for the 12 countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007.

OECD aid flows

Click heading to sort table. Download this data
2011 ($ millions, current)
2010 ($ millions, current)
2011 ODA ($ million, at 2010 prices)
Percent change 2010 to 2011 in real terms
New Zealand42934237910.7
United Kingdom137391305312951-0.8
United States307453035330086-0.9