The CSS Blog Network

The Inconvenient Truth about Foreign Aid

Courtesy of torbakhopper/Flickr. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

This article was published by Transformation at openDemocracy on 6 February 2017.

For recipients aid has been a very mixed blessing, but for donors it’s been a bonanza.

It’s astonishing when you think about it. Why should an old and poorly-performing industry carry on, burdened with even more tasks, and provided with yet more money? I’m talking about foreign aid, whose mixed results have been reconfirmed countless times in the last 70 years.

For aid’s backers, such skepticism is unfair or at best premature. Successes, from combating diseases to promoting the ‘green revolution,’ are held as self-evident. With new, smarter policy formulas and management focused on results, failure is soon going to be minimized. Across most of the Left-Right spectrum, aid still enjoys political backing. Western spending continues largely upward. New aid donors from Turkey to Thailand are joining in. And tasks are expanding.To achieve the 169 targets of the world’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030, global leaders concur that foreign aid is vital.

» More

Peering into a Murky Crystal Ball; Where Will Africa be in 2030?

Somalia Famine Food Aid

Courtesy of Surian Soosay/Flickr. CC BY 2.0

This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on 5 January 2017.

Africa will miss most of the internationally-agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the target date of 2030. But it might just reach ‘escape velocity’ enabling it to break out of its extreme poverty orbit by 2045 or 2050.

This is the sense of experts who participated in a seminar on Africa’s future at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria recently.

‘Almost no Sustainable Development Goals will be met without truly revolutionary improvements in governance and the way services are delivered,’ said ISS chairperson Jakkie Cilliers, who also heads the institute’s African Futures and Innovation programme.  Even in an optimistic ‘Africa Rising’ scenario projected by the ISS, most African countries would not meet the 17 SDGs.

The principle SDG is to eliminate poverty. But extreme poverty (quantified as living on US$1.90 per person, per day or less) was unlikely to be eliminated by the 2030 SDG target date in any plausible scenario, Cilliers said.

» More

What Should the World Bank Do?

 Robert B. Zoellick

Who will replace Robert Zoellick as World Bank President? (Photo: World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr)

NEW YORK – I have been honored by World Bank directors representing developing countries and Russia to be selected as one of two developing-country candidates to become the Bank’s next president. So I want to make known to the global community the principles that will guide my actions if I am elected – principles based on lessons learned from development experience.

That experience has taught me that successful development is always the result of a judicious mix of market, state, and society. Trying to suppress markets leads to gross inefficiencies and loss of dynamism. Trying to do without the state leads to unstable and/or inequitable outcomes. And trying to ignore social actors that play an essential role at the national and local levels precludes the popular legitimacy that successful policymaking requires.

Indeed, the specific mix of markets, state, and society should be the subject of national decisions adopted by representative authorities. This means that it is not the role of any international institution to impose a particular model of development on any country – a mistake that the World Bank made in the past, and that it has been working to correct. Because no “one-size-fits-all” strategy exists, the Bank must include among its staff the global diversity of approaches to development issues. » More

Contradicting Developments

On Monday 6 February the ISN examined three different ways of thinking about development. High up on the international agenda are both human development and sustainable development. That makes sense. After all, those of us who are lucky enough to lead healthy and fulfilling lives still make up a minority of the world’s population. Too many people are trapped in conflict zones, live in fear of oppression, or do not even get a basic education. At the same time, climate change, resource depletion and environmental pollution have become serious security issues, and many would agree that effective measures to counter a number of worrying ecological trends need be implemented sooner rather than later.

But just how sustainable is human development? Well, as the following chart illustrates, until now it has not been sustainable at all. The chart plots countries’ HDI scores against their ecological footprint. The HDI score measures human development. The ecological footprint, which was explained in more detail in yesterday’s blog, tells us how many planets would be required if every person in the world wanted to have the same lifestyle as the average citizen in a given country:

» More

Surviving the Coming Scarcity

Middle-class consumption patterns place additional stress on already diminishing resources, photo: Daniel Kulinski/flickr

The world appears to be in the midst of transitioning from a planet of relative surplus to one of scarcity. This week the ISN examines what happens when ever-more acute resource limitations meet unsustainable consumption patterns.

This ISN Special Report contains the following content:

  • An Analysis by Vivian Brailey Fritschi about what happens when ever-more acute resource constraints collide with the entrance of new, insatiable consumers.
  • A Podcast interview with Stefan Giljum from the Sustainable Europe Research Institute on the unique challenge of non-renewable resources running out..
  • Security Watch articles about resource conflicts from Africa to the Middle East.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including the Institut für Strategie- Politik- Sicherheits- und Wirtschaftsberatung on ‘The Geopolitical Dimension of Resource Scarcity’.
  • Primary Resources, like the full-text of UN Security Council Resolutions on natural resource depletion as a threat to international peace and security.
  • Links to relevant websites, such as the Oxford Research Group’s Sustainable Security website, which provides the latest news, comment, analysis and research relating to threats to global security and sustainable responses to those threats.
  • Our IR Directory, featuring the Global Footprint Network, an international think tank working to advance sustainability through use of the ecological footprint, a resource accounting tool that measures how much nature we have, how much we use and who uses what.
Page 1 of 2