Digital economies at global ‘’margins’’

By Mark Graham, Professor of Internet Geography, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford; Turing Fellow, The Alan Turing Institute; and Research Affiliate, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

digital-economies.jpgBillions of people at the world’s economic ‘’margins’’ are experiencing a moment of changing connectivity. In Manila, Manchester, Mogadishu, the banlieues of Marseille and everywhere in between, the world is becoming digital, digitised and digitally mediated at an astonishing pace. Most of the world’s wealthy have long been digitally connected, but the world’s poor and economically marginal have not been enrolled in digital networks until relatively recently. In only five years (2012–2017), over one billion people became new Internet users (ITU 2016). In 2017, Internet users became a majority of the world’s population. The networking of humanity is thus no longer confined to a few economically prosperous parts of the world. For the first time in history, we are creating a truly global and accessible communication network.

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We now have a Paris Agreement rulebook, where do we go from here? Insights on environmental policies from randomised impact evaluations

By Iqbal Dhaliwal, Executive Director, and Rebecca Toole, Senior Policy Associate, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

 

gas-pollutionAt the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2018 (COP24), parties agreed to a rulebook that lays out how governments will measure, report and verify emissions under the Paris Agreement. Now countries need to act — and know whether policies and programmes are meeting their climate goals.

Thanks to innovations in research design, improvements in measurement technology and an increasing political will to know what works, more opportunities to rigorously evaluate and learn from real-world environment and energy policies exist than many might think.

Take, for example, our work at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) to ensure that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL is anchored by a network of 171 affiliated professors at more than 50 universities who conduct randomised impact evaluations to answer critical questions in social policy. Our Environment & Energy sector measures the real-world impacts of environmental and energy policies on everything from pollution reduction to climate change mitigation and resilience.

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The role of philanthropy for the SDGs is not what you expect

By Benjamin Bellegy, Executive Director, Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS); Michael Mapstone, Director of International, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF); and Lorenzo Pavone, Deputy Head of Networks, Partnerships and Gender Unit, OECD Development Centre

philanthropy-SDGsWhat will philanthropy do to get the world closer to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030?

When doctors see symptoms that are associated with common ailments, they are told to think that a typical disease, not an exotic one, is the cause. If a child arrives to a clinic with a fever, doctors first look for a common infection that could explain the symptoms, not Kawasaki. The general thinking is that the most likely explanation is often the correct one. When you hear hooves, for example, think that a regular horse is nearby, not a zebra. What does this have to do with philanthropy and development?

To many, philanthropy is a welcome source of funding for development programmes across the world. The size of philanthropic funds heading to developing countries is anything but trivial and has increased markedly over time: Recent OECD estimates show that philanthropy for development between 2013 and 2015 was around USD 8 billion a year, most of it directed towards health and reproductive health programmes, but also sectors like education and agriculture. The Foundation Center finds similar results for US foundations, estimating international giving at an average of USD 7.5 billion for the same period. Moreover, measures of generosity are increasing on a global scale, particularly in Africa according to the World Giving Index; with the expansion of the global middle class, the possibility for domestic philanthropy to play an even larger role in development is becoming even more salient. These sizable private resources are tackling social issues that other private international flows, like private investment, often can’t reach or aren’t interested in doing so. Because of all this, many are beginning to see philanthropy as a key financing source that could help close the SDG funding gap, estimated at USD 2.5 trillion up until 2030. Continue reading

Towards a Human Rights Based Approach to Bridging Africa’s Gender Digital Divide

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By Nadira Bayat, Programme Director, Global Economic Governance (GEG) Africa1


This blog is part of a special series marking the launch of the updated
2019 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI)


SIGI-Digital-Human-RightsThe rapid rise of the Internet, together with emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), advanced robotics and drones, Blockchain, the “Internet of things” (IoT) and 3D printing, are unleashing new opportunities and transforming the global economy. While these technological advances can address some of the most pressing 21st century challenges – from education, health care and public services to agriculture, economic inclusion and the environment – the benefits are not being shared equally. Despite Internet connectivity having finally reached 50% of the world’s population in 2018, the rate of Internet access growth has slowed down considerably.2 In Africa, specifically, only about 20% of the population has regular Internet access3 – a challenge with significant implications for harnessing the transformative power of the technology-driven Fourth Industrial Revolution for inclusive and sustainable development.

Women from developing countries comprise the majority of the unconnected. The gender divide has narrowed in most regions since 2013, but it has widened in Africa. The proportion of women using the Internet on the continent is 25% lower than the proportion of men.4 Notwithstanding the significant potential of mobile phone technology to spur women’s entrepreneurship through mobile banking and payment services as well as improved access to information and finance, sub-Saharan Africa follows South Asia with the second largest average gender gap in both mobile ownership and mobile Internet use.5 A widening gender digital divide concerning the availability, affordability, accessibility, and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) negatively impacts women’s economic empowerment. It further undermines full gender equality that lies at the core of human rights and is integral to the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Social protection systems: not simple, but worth the effort

By Alexander Pick, Economist, OECD Development Centre


Check out the upcoming international conference Together to achieve Universal Social Protection by 2030 for more on this topic


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School kids in Kabupaten Karimon, Indonesia. Photo: Shutterstock

A systematic approach lies at the core of universal social protection. However, it is not immediately obvious what the term means, or why it is so important. After all, do we not take other systems for granted, like the system of government or health and education systems?

A social protection system must reflect the needs of the people it covers — ideally the entire population, throughout their lives and whatever their income — and it must incorporate the full range of different programmes that exist as well as the multitude of institutions involved. It must also harness different financing mechanisms for sustained and sustainable expansion. The fundamental objective of a social protection system is to get these moving parts working together to ensure coordination and coherence – to fill gaps, avoid duplication and optimise resource allocations to provide effective coverage against the most important risks people face. Continue reading

Investing in Resource Efficiency – The Economics and Politics of Financing the Resource Transition

By Florian Flachenecker, Junior Economist, OECD, and Jun Rentschler, Economist, The World Bank1

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Various factors are putting increasing pressure on policy makers, researchers, firms and investors to explore pathways towards sustainable and efficient resource management. These factors include: high and volatile resource prices, uncertain supply prospects, rising demand, and environmental pressures. Moreover, rapid technological transitions that are changing lives for the better are also adding to the challenge. The significant increase in renewable energy technologies, such as solar power, electric vehicles and smart-phone use, are improving people’s lives. While these developments are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they are also driving up demand for critical natural resources.

Resource efficiency investments could help solve these challenges, yielding substantial benefits both economically and environmentally. And yet, global resource efficiency has increased by a mere 1% per year over the past three decades. This is insufficient to counterbalance ever-increasing resource demand. Continue reading