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Hi all,

NRC's Giulio Coppi as well as Dante Licona & Léa Salwan from IFRC's social media team joined our Glocal Classroom this week & it was such a powerful reminder of how important it is to invite practitioners to share their knowledge with students; it was also a great reminder of what a fantastic network I have access to & that with all the criticism and sometimes cynicism in the sector there are many, many excellent people doing great digital work!

But there is also a more sobering #globaldev week in review from sexual violence in Sudan, trouble at various development banks, a complicated story of a Belgium prince in DRC, charter cities reloaded & reflections on a sector that needs to change + a reading section with open access articles & much more!

My quotes of the week
Celebrities here can take an easy stand, without crossing domestic partisan political lines. Everyone from Korean megastars BTS to American actors like Matt Damon and Goldie Hawn use UNGA as a platform for their causes. (...)
Accessing UNGA doesn’t cost $50,000 a person — as the World Economic Forum does — and New York shopping is better for dictators’ wives. It’s no wonder UNGA has become WEF on steroids.
(UNGA is dead. It’s the sideshows that really matter)

Even where INGOs have ‘co-created’ or ‘co-facilitated’ programmes, theirs has been the bigger voice, and local counterparts have learnt to toe the line. It is a pecking order; from donors to INGOs to local NGOs. INGOs have been good at creating local organisational ‘mini-me's’ that have adopted development speak and jumped through compliance hurdles (with INGO support of course) but are still totally dependent on INGOs to unlock the resources they need to function and meet the needs of their communities. (Why INGOs need to do the heavy lifting)

Development news
Alleged sex abuse by aid workers unchecked for years in UN-run South Sudan camp
Aid groups in Malakal told reporters they would investigate cases that had been uncovered, and said they are constantly working to bolster measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.
More broadly, many aid organisations have also vowed to increase the number of women aid workers they employ, although nearly a dozen groups working in South Sudan did not disclose the current numbers when contacted by reporters via email in August.
While the fate of the Malakal camp is unclear – there has been more talk of potentially turning over control to South Sudan’s government – aid groups say they are committed to providing a “survivor-centred approach”.
But for many women who fled South Sudan’s war, justice and accountability are even harder to come by when the means of survival are often provided by aid agencies and NGOs, according to Atem, the South Sudanese feminist activist.
“It’s not a matter of having beautifully written zero tolerance policies,” she said. “They must serve and protect victims and survivors without any compromises.”
Sam Mednick & Joshua Craze for the New Humanitarian reporting from Sudan.
IDB directors unanimously recommend firing of Claver-Carone after ethics probe
The Inter-American Development Bank's board of directors voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend firing President Mauricio Claver-Carone after an independent ethics investigation found misconduct, three sources familiar with the vote said.
The recommendation throws the final decision regarding Latin America's largest development bank to its senior-most body, the board of governors, which will vote from Friday through Tuesday, one of the sources said.
Andrea Shalal & Cassandra Garrison for Reuters on another #globaldev bank being in a spot of trouble this week...

UNGA is dead. It’s the sideshows that really matter.

Celebrities here can take an easy stand, without crossing domestic partisan political lines. Everyone from Korean megastars BTS to American actors like Matt Damon and Goldie Hawn use UNGA as a platform for their causes.
What was once a chance for national leaders to deliver speeches on a global stage or grab the U.S. president’s ear in a corridor is now a late-summer version of Davos, but bigger.
“When I first came to UNGA in the 1990s it was very sterile. One prepared speech after another. Today it’s the opposite of sterile, it’s where global ideas get tested,” said Werner Hoyer, president of the European Investment Bank.
Accessing UNGA doesn’t cost $50,000 a person — as the World Economic Forum does — and New York shopping is better for dictators’ wives. It’s no wonder UNGA has become WEF on steroids.
Ryan Heath for Politico with a critical look at the global UNGA gathering.

Guns, Gorillas and Netflix: A Belgian Prince in Congo
“Emmanuel” is Emmanuel de Merode, the director of Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest protected area and in many ways the front line of human-wildlife conflict. And the source of Violet Affleck’s consternation isn’t so much Mr. de Merode’s mission to save Virunga’s mountain gorillas and use the park to help bring economic stability to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country plagued by violence and a persistent stripping of its rich natural resources. Instead, Violet was zeroing in on the fact that he’s a Belgian prince in a country with a violent colonial past.
There is an additional undercurrent in the story of Virunga and Mr. de Merode that’s hard to reconcile. For all of his accomplishments and resilience, the inescapable reality here is that a white man, descended from a Western European country that once ruled Congo, brutally stripping resources and killing natives, is at the head of an organization whose decisions affect hundreds of thousands of Congolese.
Belgium’s Princess Esmeralda agreed that a European in charge “can look wrong,” but said that Mr. de Merode “has enormous expertise because he’s lived his entire life in Kenya and the DRC. We have to understand he was chosen by the Congolese, he was not imposed by anyone else.”
Many Congolese say the biggest problem isn’t race. They’re resentful of being forced off their land by Virunga policies — even if they are farming or living illegally in the national park — and while park development does help many gain electricity or jobs, not everyone will benefit, a sticking point in a region where unemployment is high.
Adam Popescu for the New York Times with a nuanced look at a white-but-there-is-more-to-him-savior story from DRC.

NGO retracts ‘waste colonialism’ report blaming Asian countries for plastic pollution
An environmental watchdog has retracted an influential report that blamed five Asian countries for the majority of plastic pollution in the ocean.
The report, Stemming the Tide, from the US-based environmental advocacy group Ocean Conservancy, also included incineration and waste-to-energy as “solutions” to the plastics crisis. Published in 2015, it was decried as “waste colonialism” by hundreds of environmental, health and social justice groups across Asia.
The watchdog has now publicly apologised for unfairly “creating a narrative” about who is responsible for producing plastic waste and removed the report from its website.
Karen McVeigh for the Guardian on a long learning process...

Children as young as nine say they are ill from work recycling plastic in Turkey
Children as young as nine are working in plastic waste recycling centres in Turkey, putting them at risk of serious and lifelong health conditions, according to Human Rights Watch.
Workers including children, and people living in homes located “dangerously close” to the centres, told researchers they were suffering from respiratory problems, severe headaches and skin ailments.
In a new report, HRW accuses the Turkish government of exacerbating the health and environmental impact on the workers by failing to enforce laws that require strict licensing and regular inspections of recycling centres.
...and with an update on the global plastic-recycling-industrial complex...

Build cities, not camps: A proposal for addressing refugee crises
Rather than increasing competition over available jobs between local populations and incoming refugees, SCCEs would attract investments and create employment opportunities for residents of neighboring communities. While operating under their own charters, they will not be completely autonomous or sovereign but will be integrated into regional and national development plans. The links between the SCCEs and regional economies would grow over time, changing the perception about refugees who, rather than intensifying competition over low-paying jobs (particularly in economically lagging regions), would be seen as transforming an economic hinterland into an economic hub with benefits beyond the immediate goals of managing the influx of refugees.
Michael Lokshin & Jan-Peter Olters for the Brookings Institution; charter cities are a bit of a cockroach of a #globaldev idea: You think you kicked them out of your house, but no matter what they refuse to die & come back every time...

Why INGOs need to do the heavy lifting
Even where INGOs have ‘co-created’ or ‘co-facilitated’ programmes, theirs has been the bigger voice, and local counterparts have learnt to toe the line. It is a pecking order; from donors to INGOs to local NGOs. INGOs have been good at creating local organisational ‘mini-me's’ that have adopted development speak and jumped through compliance hurdles (with INGO support of course) but are still totally dependent on INGOs to unlock the resources they need to function and meet the needs of their communities.
In the catalyst workshops, no one needed to consult their counterparts in low- and middle-income countries to identify the barriers that stop INGOs from moving beyond the ‘shifting the power’ rhetoric to actually walk the talk. The sector has known for some time what it needs to do – but it has been stuck.
Angela Zamaere Smith for BOND on 'localisation' & power in INGO relationships.

#WeMove: Dreaming of an Anti-Racist Charity Sector
These points were the result of half an hour of conversation in a room full of minds who want to work in a sector that is anti-racist in practice, rather than performative statement. But the current manifestations of money, power, and relationships are purposefully blocking this from becoming a reality. Emergency funds and diversity hires are not enough - we demand structural change and a return of all that has been appropriated and stolen.
An anti-racist charity sector is very possible, despite what we have been indoctrinated to believe. While the discussion was powerful to hear, it was far more valuable to experience the building of community and shared understanding that this dream of a sector they are proud and safe to work in is within reach.
Charity So White with an overview of their recent workshop.

I just did my first round of grant assessing, here's what I learned.
95% of the application documents I reviewed were Word documents with no images, icons, different colours or logos. Many were great walls of text with no paragraphs or subheadings. This made them hard (and boring) to read. When you're reading this many applications back to back, you really notice it when one looks a bit different and stands out. One that I read was designed using something like Canva, it was newspaper column style with icons, images and different fonts and colours. Thankfully the content was great too but boy did it catch my eye and break the monotony of all those Word documents! I will definitely be taking this approach in future for applications where you're able to attach your own application document.
Vic Hancock Fell for Fair Development on reviewing grant applications.

Reading corner
Capitalism and extreme poverty: A global analysis of real wages, human height, and mortality since the long 16th century
This paper assesses claims that, prior to the 19th century, around 90% of the human population lived in extreme poverty (defined as the inability to access essential goods), and that global human welfare only began to improve with the rise of capitalism. These claims rely on national accounts and PPP exchange rates that do not adequately capture changes in people’s access to essential goods. We assess this narrative against extant data on three empirical indicators of human welfare: real wages (with respect to a subsistence basket), human height, and mortality. We ask whether these indicators improved or deteriorated with the rise of capitalism in five world regions - Europe, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and China – using the chronology put forward by world-systems theorists.
Dylan Sullivan & Jason Hickel with a new open access article in World Development.

The ideology of innovation: philanthropy and racial capitalism in global food governance
While a range of actors promote innovation as a solution to transform food systems, Bill Gates has leveraged his vast philanthropic funding to advocate for a particular vision of technology-driven innovation led by the private sector. This article elaborates Gates' ‘ideology of innovation' and analyzes its continuities with an earlier ideology developed to legitimize racial capitalism-improvement. In doing so, it reveals how Gates’ ideology serves to reproduce racialized regimes of ownership and relations of dependence in the information economy.
Matthew Canfield with a new paper for the Journal of Peasant Studies.

Journalism and the Global South: Shaping Journalistic Practices and Identity Post “Arab Spring”
It has since been eleven years since the rise of the “Arab Spring”: a series of anti-government uprisings that spread across the Arab world, ultimately leading to regime changes in several countries including Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Using social media and other digital platforms to communicate and strategize, pro-democracy activists demanded increased transparency and freedom from their long-serving leaders. This special issue has sought to probe ways through which journalism is evolving in non-Western societies over a decade since the protests began.
Bruce Mutsvairo & Saba Bebawi with an open access introduction to the latest issue of Digital Journalism.

Is co-production a ‘good’ concept? Three responses
Whilst the concept of co-production appeals within and for futures studies, foresight and anticipatory politics, its conceptual messiness has been widely critiqued. Drawing upon an integrative literature review of co-production and concept formation in the social sciences, we identify three approaches that scholars of co-production have sought to mobilise in order to address this critique.
Catherine Durose, Beth Perry & LizRichardson with an open access article in Futures.

In other news
The Tragic Science: How Economists Cause Harm (Even as They Aspire to Do Good)
Economists are taught that all harms that people suffer from policy decisions, no matter how severe, can be fixed through monetary compensation. Now, I’ve never met an economist who actually believes that, but the methods we’re trained to use in evaluating policy require that way of thinking.
George DeMartino introduces his new book for Next Big Idea Club.

We need to deal with data privacy in our classrooms

As a sector, we don’t have to cede our educational infrastructures to corporate entities and data brokers. We could use our collective voices and procurement power – on postsecondary campuses and in K-12 – to demand that educational technology platforms post clear, plain language, and pedagogically-focused data privacy assurances. As institutions and individuals, we could refuse tools that don’t comply. We could protect our students from extraction and surveillance, while educating them – and ourselves – about privacy in this brave new world.
This would take a culture shift. Like everyone else living through the last decade, educators have become acculturated to a “click yes and ignore” approach to data.
Bonnie Stewart for University Affairs; a sentence I thought I'd never write: Thank you EU for GDPR! But all jokes aside: this is a basic framework to protect at least some data & privacy not just in #highered.

What we were reading 5 years ago

(Link review 245, 11 August 2017)

Reporting the Retreat (book review)
I think it is important that Reporting the Retreat ends on a note that neither romanticizes nor dismisses the journalists’ engagement and hints at important structural challenges of how media and news have always worked. It is quite remarkable that war reporting and journalism from foreign places still evokes similar debates than it has done throughout the last eight decades.
Woods presents a really interesting case study by analyzing a broad range of material that deserve more attention from development or media scholars as well: Notebooks, diaries and memoirs together with media outputs help us to better understand the limitations and circumstances of how media discourses and public perceptions are shaped.
Me, reviewing an interesting book...

Why do some UN peacekeepers rape?
Through conversations with UN peacekeepers and officials, gender experts, academics, researchers and activists, as well as through an investigation of UN data, in this four-part series, we try to navigate these competing accounts to answer the question: How did some peacekeepers become predators?
Azad Essa for Aljazeera with an earlier investigation into the UN & sexual violence.

Neither Radical nor Revolutionary: The Preservation of Privilege in Social Justice Activism
Social justice movements should be looking directly to folks like us as the real impetus for change. So stop talking about us, stop looking past us as not worthy of participating in conversations that effect us the most. Stop facilitating standards for participation in social justice activism that favor those who are the most privileged in society. And most of all stop pretending like the responsibility to address inclusion and access are a burden.
Laura LeMoon on power & privilege in activism.


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