In with the old and with the new: Meeting mountain farmers’ technological needs

By Filippo Barbera, Professor of Economic Sociology at University of Turin and member of Forum on Inequality and Diversity

Coffee farmer in the fields of Colombia. Photo: Shutterstock

In 53 countries of the world, mountainous areas cover more than 50% of national surface, in another 46, they cover between 25% and 50%. And in many other countries they play key roles, like serving as water reserves. In agriculture, modernisation has whittled away at the scale of assets held by individual farmers or local communities, such as land, labour and local knowledge. The voices of marginal mountain farmers have not been able to find space in this process. However, by combining traditional methods with modern tools and techniques, technology that is place-based and socially embedded can help meet mountain farmers’ needs and make governance more inclusive of mountain areas.

The process of modernisation in agriculture has led to an organisational dominance of the institutional and technological environment, and governance decisions have shifted from farm to industries that produce technological inputs. Consequently, farms have had to reorganise in ways more suitable for development models based on economies of scale. At best, these models serve the needs of lowland agribusiness.  

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How can research help Least Developed Countries achieve sustainable development?

By Kunal Sen, Director of United Nations University – World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)

 Portuguese church, Mozambique

The next decade is a make-or-break for the world’s most vulnerable countries. To tackle the unprecedented confluence of COVID-19, climate, and economic crises, new solutions are desperately needed. Scientific research is one key for finding long-lasting solutions.

Least developed countries (LDCs) are low-income countries that face severe structural impediments to sustainable development. These countries are highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks and have low levels of human assets. Most LDCs suffer simultaneously from multiple development challenges, ranging from socioeconomic and environmental ones, to those related to security and governance. This makes settling on a sustainable development path a particularly daunting task – one that is aggravated by the often dire lack of data and evidence on which a country could effectively plan its policies, and weak financial resources to produce new knowledge.

Mozambique – a country rich in both natural resources and problems

The above is the case for Mozambique — a country rich in natural resources yet with one of the highest poverty rates and lowest ratings in educational attainment. A country that is prone to climate change-induced extreme weather events, with an ongoing natural resources-related armed conflict, and a debt crisis. Data and evidence are scarce, even for Mozambique’s priority sectors, and most of it is produced within one-off donor-driven projects, leading to a lack of comparable data over time.

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Interconnexion des infrastructures de transport: clé de succès de l’intégration régionale ouest africaine

Par Alain Tchibozo, Chef Économiste de la BOAD, avec la collaboration de l’équipe des Économistes chargés de la Stratégie et des Études

Paysage urbain de pointe à Accra, Ghana. Photo: Shutterstock

Une approche fondée sur une plus grande intégration régionale, visant à pallier les contraintes liées à l’étroitesse des économies de chaque État membre ès sa création en 1994, l’Union Économique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA) s’est fixé pour objectifs : i) le renforcement de la compétitivité des activités économiques et financières dans le cadre d’un marché ouvert et concurrentiel, et d’un environnement juridique rationalisé et harmonisé ; ii) la mise en œuvre de politiques et actions communes notamment les transports, l’aménagement du territoire, l’agriculture, l’énergie, les télécommunications. Au cours de ses 26 premières années d’existence, l’UEMOA a ainsi bénéficié d’un développement d’infrastructures dites structurantes, en particulier dans le domaine des transports avec un effet amplificateur sur l’expansion des échanges intra-régionaux.

Prioriser la réduction du déficit infrastructurel en matière de transport a conduit l’UEMOA à mettre en œuvre plusieurs programmes déterminants.

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Donor countries should use IDA20 to address a blind spot in development finance

By Creon Butler, Research Director, Trade, Investment and New Governance Models, and Director, Global Economy and Finance Programme, Chatham House and Harald Hirschhofer, Senior Advisor, TCX

Developing countries need external finance on a very large scale to meet the Sustainable Development Goals; the COVID-19 pandemic has not only increased the amount they need but also made it harder to access private funding. This makes public Development Banks more important than ever, especially to catalyse investments by pension funds and other institutions in socially productive assets.

But to achieve this they urgently need to address a long-standing blind spot by giving much greater weight to helping developing countries access the risk management tools necessary to protect their finances against global shocks. Climate change and the increased incidence of pandemics make shocks affecting critical economic sectors, such as commodities and tourism, or the availability of international finance, more likely.

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Without help for oil-producing countries, net zero by 2050 is a distant dream

By Ali Allawi, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Iraq and Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA)

Flames rising from oil refinery pipes in Basra, Iraq. Photo: Shutterstock

This blog post was originally published by the Guardian

In the Middle East and north Africa, global warming is not a distant threat, but an already painful reality. Rising temperatures are exacerbating water shortages. In Iraq, temperatures are estimated to be rising as much as seven times faster than the global average. Countries in this region are not only uniquely affected by global temperature rises: their centrality to global oil and gas markets makes their economies particularly vulnerable to the transition away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner energy sources. It’s essential the voices of Iraq and similar countries are heard at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow this November.

To stand a chance of limiting the worst effects of climate change, the world needs to fundamentally change the way it produces and consumes energy, burning less coal, oil and natural gas. The International Energy Agency’s recent global roadmap to net zero by 2050 shows the world’s demand for oil will need to decline from more than 90m barrels a day to less than 25m by 2050. This would result in a 75% plunge in net revenues for oil-producing economies, many of which are dominated by a public sector that relies on oil exports and the revenues they produce.

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Leveraging Asia’s investment potential for a green recovery

By Jong Woo Kang, Principal Economist, Economic Research and Co-operation Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Rolando Avendano, Economist, Economic Research and Co-operation Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Developing Asia is estimated to have fended off the scarring impact of investment decline relatively well during the pandemic compared to other developing regions such as Latin America and Africa. For example, the People’s Republic of China and India still posted a positive growth rate in FDI in 2020. Meanwhile global FDI flows collapsed in 2020, falling by 35%, their lowest level since 2005, according to the UN. The impact was felt the most in developed countries where FDI declined by 58%, while developing countries weathered the storm better, with an 8% decline. Latest estimates for the first quarter of 2021 suggest an overall 10% decline for global FDI flows and 12% for Asian FDI inflows, according to firm level data. Adding to this is the fact that the pandemic has prompted economies, in the region and globally, to implement stricter screening and regulatory measures to oversee FDI. While the arguments for these restrictive measures are compelling from the perspective of national security or public health, economic impact and implications should be taken into account. Policy makers in the region could also seize the moment as an opportunity to introduce higher social and environmental standards for investment. 

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Making Special Drawing Rights work for climate action and development

By Members of the Task Force on Climate, Development, and the International Monetary Fund1

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is proposing a Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST), aimed at helping countries build resilience, respond to climate change and make the necessary transitions that can support both development and climate. With the proper modalities and regular replenishment, and without onerous conditionalities or increasing member country debt burdens, such a facility would strengthen the climate finance architecture and put the IMF on the climate change map.  

The IMF is considering an RST initially financed through ‘re-channelled’ Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) from the recent $650 billion in SDRs approved by the IMF this summer. The 2021 SDR allocation was the largest in history, but given the structure of SDR allocations the vast majority of SDRs will flow to high-income countries that will not need them. Indeed, just over one percent of the SDR allocation will go to the poorest countries. In recognition of these asymmetries, G7 leaders recently pledged to re-channel upwards of $100 billion of their allocations for “step change” in investments, including clean energy and green growth in low-income countries.

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How emerging markets can leapfrog into the digital age

By Angel Melguizo, Vice President, External & Regulatory Affairs, AT&T VRIO Latin America; Eduardo Salido Cornejo, Public Affairs and Policy Manager Latin America, Telefónica; and J. Welby Leaman, Senior Director, Global Government Affairs, Walmart, Inc1

IPhone, Google, Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, Bitcoin, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Uber, Rappi: how many of them have you used today? And if so many of the things that impact our day-to-day lives, creating common experiences across the globe, did not exist 25 years ago (see John Erlichman’s tweet), what can an increasingly connected world create over the next 25 years? The next 60?

The transformative impact of digitalisation affects not just our personal lives but also governments, public services and businesses. For instance, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has advanced rapidly in recent years and is being applied in settings ranging from health care, to agriculture, to financial markets. Accelerated by the surge in digital services, including essential public services, during the COVID-19 crisis, AI has the potential to transform business models, government systems and policy making through greater adoption across the private and public sector. Already today, 40% of internet traffic is not human but generated by machines; an unstoppable consequence of digitalisation.

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How Brazil’s schools are overcoming education inequalities through student-centred learning

By Camila Pereira, Director of Education, Lemann Foundation

With over 180,000 schools closed from March 2020 to August 2021, remote learning became the only option for Brazil’s 47 million students. Despite huge efforts by educators, public officials and families to support children while they were away from classrooms, a big impact on learning is expected. Brazilian education has long suffered from deeply entrenched inequalities and gaps that have been worsened by COVID-19. What solutions are needed for Brazil to overcome these inequalities?

The health crisis could set Brazilian education back four years, according to a study commissioned by the Lemann Foundation, which works to improve access to high-quality public education for Brazilians of all backgrounds. As schools start to reopen, it is urgent that teachers have the resources and support needed to mitigate this impact, which has varied widely between pupils. In this context, student-centred learning is a means of structuring learning experiences according to each student’s needs and interests. It means making sure each lesson meets students where they are in terms of prior knowledge and skills so that learning can be engaging and meaningful for them. And it also demands applying innovative teaching methodologies, such as differentiated instruction – adapting teaching methods to each individual student – in order to navigate nuanced classroom realities.

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The Development Assistance Committee at 60

By Susanna Moorehead, Chair of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC)

The DAC’s 60th anniversary is a good moment to pause and take stock with some honest self-reflection.  Like any 60 year old, the DAC has grown up, changed a great deal, at times become a bit set in its ways, but it has also learnt to adapt, flex, respond to shocks, be less risk averse and better able to meet new challenges, incorporate new members and work with others.

The DAC’s – an international forum of many of the largest providers of aid -, middle age was defined by the Millennium Development Goals.  Human development was paramount. Children born in 2000 who are alive, healthy and educated thanks to development successes are now 21 and need jobs.  Many live in conflict-affected and fragile places. Many still go to bed hungry, without access to power or other necessities. Many have less and less freedom to express their views or exercise basic rights and liberties. Many young women live with more not less discrimination and violence.  Many have mobile phones that empower them and show them what a better future could look like. Everyone is living with the climate crisis.

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