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Analysis

The development industry needs an overhaul of strategy, not a change of language.

This crisis of confidence has become so acute that the development community is scrambling to respond. The Gates Foundation recently spearheaded a process called the Narrative Project with some of the world's biggest NGOs - Oxfam, Save the Children, One, etc. - in a last-ditch attempt to turn the tide of defection. They commissioned research to figure out what people thought about development, and their findings revealed a sea change in public attitudes. People are no longer moved by depictions of the poor as pitiable, voiceless "others" who need to be rescued by heroic white people - a racist narrative that has lost all its former currency; rather, they have come to see poverty as a matter of injustice.

The third high-level event will commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen, on 6-12 March 1995. The Summit’s outcome, the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, constituted an agreement to give social development goals the highest priority. It set an ambitious people-centred agenda aimed to promote social progress, justice and the betterment of the human condition, based on full participation by all.

Six newly published RCTs show limited impacts on poverty

Two influential movements within the development industry collided head-on this month: the microcredit movement and the movement to subject development policies to rigorous impact evaluation. As Rachel Glennerster, the director of MIT's Poverty Action Lab put it:

The endorsement of a leftist party is a vote against global lenders imposing governance prescriptions on countries in crisis. If Greece successfully pushes back against its lenders, it will open the door to countries of the Global South to restructure their relationships with lenders such as the World Bank and IMF.

One of the myths outlined in the report The Poor Are Getting Richer and Other Dangerous Delusions that Global Justice Now (previously WDM) released last week to coincide with the Davos World Economic Forum, is that Africa needs our help. A variation of this myth, that African agriculture needs help from rich Western countries, is constantly spun out by the media, investors, agribusiness companies and other transnationals. It sometimes feels like we’re being forced to participate in a modified version of the BBC Radio 4 show The Unbelievable Truth where panellists have to give a lecture full of lies while smuggling a handful of truths past the other players. In the case of the ‘Africa needs our help’ narrative, the game is played so that a handful of truths are used to smuggle some hugely significant lies past unsuspecting governments, NGOs and civil society.

In a world of globalised industry, where many States’ policy has increasingly been dictated

by private sector interests and transnational corporations, it is worth examining how the

Right to Food and the emergence of social movements that represent peoples’ local food

systems and food sovereignty are swaying the balance in their favour.

Read the report


If people stash their wealth or earn income overseas, that is just fine — as long as their tax authorities get the information they need to tax that wealth or income according to the law, and as long as money laundering and financial crimes can be effectively tracked, and so on. Where there are cross-border barriers to legitimate tax collection, law enforcement and other instruments of democratic societies, then there is an offshore problem.

The only credible way to provide the necessary information is through so-called automatic information exchange (AIE), where governments make sure the necessary information is available across borders, as a matter of routine.

Unemployment will continue to rise in the coming years, as the global economy has entered a new period combining slower growth, widening inequalities and turbulence, warns a new ILO report.

By 2019, more than 212 million people will be out of work, up from the current 201 million, according to the World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2015  (WESO). (read the report)

“More than 61 million jobs have been lost since the start of the global crisis in 2008 and our projections show that unemployment will continue to rise until the end of the decade. This means the jobs crisis is far from over so there is no place for complacency,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said.

The employment situation has improved in the United States and Japan, but remains difficult in a number of advanced economies, particularly in Europe.

Extreme inequality is the defining challenge of our time, but it is not inevitable, and can be tackled. Much can be done to even it up, and make the world a fairer place. The richest 1 % will have more than all the rest in 2016!

Read the new Oxfam Report on inequality


Working people and their families need a new business model to stop the disintegration of democracies and economies. The world needs investment and jobs, said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.

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