Economics

I am discussing the the future of development cooperation, and the role of Northern NGOs,, with the policy, advocacy and campaigns team at ActionAid UK this morning.  Powerpoint is forbidden.  I'm going to paint ten broad brushstrokes about the future of development cooperation:

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"If you add up all the aid that all OECD countries have given since they started counting it in 1960, and then assume that the only thing that this aid has achieved was the eradication of smallpox, then the whole thing would still be a bargain, costing less than half what the UK National Health Service spends on average to save a life."

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If we were measuring rhetoric, all our indicators would be in good shape. But rhetoric is not the same as reality. We have added up the scores for the 21 OECD countries which have been in the CDI since it began in 2003, suitably weighted, to see whether they have collectively lived up to their promises to improve their policies.

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One thing that the public knows, which many development experts apparently do not, is that poor countries are poor because they are badly governed and have institutions which prevent growth and permit a small elite to capture the nation's wealth. According to Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoğlu and Jim Robinson, the public is (as usual) basically right.

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In January, David Cameron nailed his colours to the mast with a speech in Davos that set out the three Ts agenda for the UK’s chairing of the June G8 meeting: taxes, trade and transparency. There have also been some raised eyebrows among the cognoscenti about a fourth T: turf.  Some worry that a Cameron-led G8 effort might step on the toes of the G20 and its existing working groups, perhaps stimulating production of “not invented here” antibodies that would make it hard for the initiative to gain global traction.

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In the second of a series of three Development Drums podcasts about the relationship between citizens, states and development, Duncan Green talks about effective states and active citizens. Duncan is widely known for his terrific development blog; he is also the author of an ambitious book, From Poverty to Power, which is now out in its second edition.

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Europe’s approach to development could be characterized as energetically tackling the symptoms of poor economic opportunities for developing countries by providing substantial and effective aid, while doing relatively little to tackle the underlying structural causes of poverty.

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