Podcast: Can a TV show change gender discrimination in India?

Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of Population Foundation of India-PFI, in conversation with Gaelle Ferrant, Economist for the OECD Development Centre’s Gender Team

Poonam Muttreja is the Executive Director of Population Foundation of India-PFI. She has over 35 years of experience in promoting women’s health – reproductive and sexual rights, rural livelihoods, public advocacy, and behaviour change communication. Under her direction, the successful Indian television show, “I, a woman, can achieve anything”, is promoting behaviour change to improve the lives of women and men in the country.

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The Sahel: responding to emergencies with efficiency

By Abdoul Salam Bello, Senior Fellow, Africa Center, Atlantic Council

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Image by Anton Wagner/Pixabay

The situation in the Sahel is concerning as community conflicts add to existing security, humanitarian and development challenges. What is now at hand is an emergency requiring the Sahel countries to respond with a sense of urgency. And not only is a greater and effective State presence necessary, but also improved synergies and coordination amongst stakeholders, including beneficiary communities and the private sector whose role is often overshadowed and underleveraged.

Here’s what we know: security challenges in the Sahel region put additional pressure on governments’ budget. This consequently generates significant macroeconomic and fiscal costs. Mali, for example, almost quadrupled its military spending from USD 132 million to USD 495 million from 2013 to 2018 according to figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Over the same period, Niger increased its military spending by 2.5-fold, from USD 91.6 million to USD 230 million, while Burkina Faso doubled its expenditures from USD 142 million to USD 312 million. Mauritania spent 4.1% of its GDP on security spending in 2016, while Chad spent the equivalent of 5.6% in 2013. Such security expenditures often crowd out social investments. In 2018, for instance, Niger spent 17% of its total budget on security compared to 11% on health. If this trend persists, it would hinder the States’ ability to implement critical social programmes needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Continue reading

Should firms in developing countries pursue independent R&D or adopt technology to innovate?

By Dai Jianjun and Yang Jianlong, Policy Research and Advice, OECD Development Centre (on secondment from the Development Research Center of the State Council of China)

Research-and-developmentInnovation promotes the global economy’s sustained growth, and innovation in developing countries can be achieved through two main means: independent research and development (R&D) or technology adoption. It is generally believed that developing countries can achieve development at a lower cost and faster by adopting technology. Even though enterprises are subject to certain restrictions in their technology adoption, such as mergers and acquisitions (M&As) that may be rejected due to national security factors, is it still relevant to depend on the adoption of technology for innovation to achieve continuous development?

To help answer this question, two companies in China, Huawei and Lenovo, offer perspectives in analysing different innovation models and their achievements. Both companies are engaged in the information technology industry and were established basically around the same time in the 1980s, experiencing first-hand the process of China’s implementation of the reform and opening-up policy to achieve economic catch-up. Currently, both are Fortune 500 companies, leading in their segmentation and having adopted different innovative approaches. Given the good comparability between the two companies, they offer relevant inspiration and analysis on innovation strategies and performance. How?

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Constructing Schools to Curb Conflict?

By Dominic Rohner, Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC Lausanne), University of Lausanne and Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), and Alessandro Saia, Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC Lausanne), University of Lausanne

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A classroom in Kudus, Indonesia

Armed conflict is a major obstacle to human happiness and prosperity. The most visible consequence of warfare is, of course, the human death toll, leaving millions of families shattered. But below this surface, the grim consequences of fighting go further. The economic cost is very considerable, with the average war leading to a total loss of about 15% of GDP, human capital accumulation is slowed down, inter-group trust is threatened, and psychological suffering and trauma become widespread.1

While academic research on conflict has boomed in recent years, the lion’s share of contributions has focused on factors that are well-suited for statistical analysis but that are difficult to modify by policymakers. In particular, while we know that ethnic diversity, adverse weather shocks and natural resource discoveries play a role in the occurrence of conflict, there are not many obvious policies that can modulate these parameters.

In contrast, key policy choices of governments related to the biggest areas of public activity have received only very limited attention. This is hardly surprising. Any quantitative appraisal of major government policies, such as, education, health or welfare state policies, faces important statistical challenges. In particular, given that these policies are endogenously chosen, one can think of many confounders that jointly determine, say, education spending and peace-building. For example, a benevolent and capable government may boost both education perspective and the scope for peace. Hence, if Singapore and Finland benefit from peace and good education outcomes, while, say, Libya and Somalia have a more dismal schooling performance and greater levels of political unrest, this may not reflect any causal impact of education on peace but could be entirely driven by the general quality of governance. Put differently, any positive correlation on the country-level between good education outcomes and peace may be spurious and not reflect any causal impact of education on peace. Continue reading

Bringing Impact Investing into Focus

By Neil Gregory, Chief Thought Leadership Officer, IFC

planting-moneyLooking to invest for impact? Better put on a good pair of glasses, because at first glance so much of it looks rather fuzzy. Is it a USD 500 billion market or a USD 1.3 trillion market, as reports by the GIIN and UNPRI state? Is it only a private equity and debt play or do green bonds and public equity funds count? Many investment products say “impact” on the label, but what is really inside the wrapper?

This fuzziness reflects the rapid growth in interest from retail investors and asset owners to put their money to work in ways that generate impact alongside financial returns. The impact investing industry has scrambled to keep up with this growth in interest, rapidly outscaling the size of the small specialist impact funds that once dominated the market. As mainstream asset managers and investment banks move in, it is understandable that investors find it hard to get a clear view on which investments will truly deliver impact and which ones are just exercises in branding. Continue reading

Look East instead of West for the future global middle class

By Kristofer Hamel, Chief Operating Officer, and Baldwin Tong, Research Analyst, World Data Lab

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South City Mall in Kolkata, India

Poverty is declining worldwide. Yet, reducing poverty is not equivalent to a rising middle class. A large share of the world’s population earns between USD 2 and USD 11 a day (in 2011 purchasing power parity). Only once people start earning more than USD 11 do they tend to have enough extra spending power to make purchases that go beyond basic needs and therefore enter the global middle class. First-time middle-class purchases include personal transportation (motorcycles), housing (first-time renting or low-end purchases), finance (first savings account or loan) and education (tertiary).

Over the next decade, middle-class spending power will shift from west to east due to the huge growth in the middle-class segments (USD 11-USD 110 per day) of India and China. The middle classes of these two countries will represent over 83% of their respective country’s spending power, meaning that businesses should consider their tastes and preferences. Combined, the world’s two most populous countries are expected to represent over 43.3% of the global middle class by 2030.
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How the public sector can support sustainable business

LJD

By Frederique Mestre, Senior Legal Officer, UNIDROIT


This blog is part of a special series exploring subjects at the core of the Human-Centred Business Model (HCBM). The HCMB seeks to develop an innovative – human-centred – business model
based on a common, holistic and integrated set of economic, social, environmental and ethical rights-based principles. Read more about the HCBM here, and check out an event about it here
The HCBM project originated in 2015 within the World Bank’s Global Forum on Law, Justice and Development and is now based at the OECD’s Development Centre

Development-Finance-shutterstock_524218915How can we ensure economic development while advancing social and environmental objectives? How can we promote sustainable growth – a concept that in today’s real world may sound like an oxymoron? These questions are at the core of governments’ concerns at a time when the planet and humanity are faced with greater and more pressing challenges than ever before.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a milestone amongst the many political and legal instruments forming global standards, policies and procedures adopted by the international community for a more sustainable planet. The SDGs call for action to respond to social and environmental challenges. They outline obligations for governments toward their citizens to promote political and social cohesion and a responsibility for them toward future generations to advance long-term sustainable ecosystems.1

In this context, governments should be responsive to virtuous stakeholder initiatives and support them with enabling policies and appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks. And one such stakeholder that can’t be overlooked is the private sector. Recognised as a major driver of productivity, inclusive economic growth and job creation, the private sector has an essential role to play in contributing to sustainable development.2 Continue reading