Book review: Sustainability and wellbeing. Human-scale development in practice. By Mònica Guillen-Royo.

By James Copestake

Sustainability and wellbeing. Human-scale development in practiceBy Mònica Guillen-Royo. 2016. Abingdon and New York: Routledge. xiii+187 pages.

Addis, New York, Paris – 2015 may best be remembered for efforts to build an integrated global vision of sustainable development. But what next? One answer is to revisit approaches that start with small, participatory and practical local steps. What role do they have, and what prospects for synergy in a world that is more inter-connected than ever, but also experiencing renewed fragmentation? Continue reading

Global conflict and the sustainable development goals (SDGs)

By James Copestake

The decision of the international ‘community’ to come up with a new set of development goals to take over from the MDGs in 2015 and to see us through to 2030 was not one that readily filled me with excitement. Even their formal approval at the UN General Assembly in New York in September largely passed me by. And when I discovered they comprised no fewer than 17 goals and 169 targets then, yes, it did occur to me that this might be a hugely costly bureaucratic exercise: a fable of synergy, partnership and rationality jarring against a global reality of sharp trade-offs, conflict and insanity… Continue reading

Islamist food aid won’t radicalise Pakistan’s earthquake survivors

By Ayesha Siddiqi

(This blog was originally published by the Guardian)

The magnitude 7.5 earthquake that rocked parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan last week has left hundreds dead, most of them in the far more densely populated Pakistan. Rescue and relief efforts have swung into action, albeit hampered by the constraints of reaching hard-hit communities in remote, mountainous areas. And alongside these efforts come the usual politicking and promotion of political agendas that take place after a natural disaster. Continue reading

If Complexity was a person, she would be a Socialist

By Jean Boulton

(This blog was oringially posted at – From Poverty to Power Oxfam Blog)

Dr. Boulton was inspired to write this following the CDS 40th anniversary conference entitled “ Inequality everywhere: What is development about?” Looking at things through a complexity lens emphasises that inequality inevitably rises in a free market and that there is a need for some form of regulatory processes to uphold the voices of the disadvantaged and of the environment.

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Imagining war, Selling charity

(This blog was oringially posted at – The Conversation)

by Oliver Walton

Sainsbury’s Christmas advert has stoked considerable controversy. It involves a cinematic re-telling of the “Christmas Truce”, where Allied and German soldiers ceased fighting on Christmas Day and played a friendly football match together on the stretch of No Man’s Land between their trenches. While the film’s power has been widely acknowledged, the propriety of the subject matter for advertising and fundraising has also been questioned. Continue reading

Faith in a post-development world?

By James Copestake

Still from the Book of Mormon

Still from the Book of Mormon

Musicals aren’t really my thing, but reviews of The Book of Mormon were intriguing and we went. It lived up to its billing: fast, foot-tapping fun; irreverent and unrestrained in lampooning zealous religiosity and revelling in our bodily obsessions. But what, you may ask, has it got to do with international development? The answer Continue reading

Key learning points from the results measurement for sustainable private sector Development and the DCED global results seminar 2014

By Anne-Marie O’Riordan

How can we capture and understand the true extent of impact that aid channelled through challenge funds can have on poverty reduction? This question lies at the heart of my current job as a University of Bath ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate‘ working with the firm Triple Line Consulting on the management and evaluation of challenge funds as a way of supporting business-led innovation, job creation and poverty reduction. Last month I attended two events in Bangkok Continue reading

Still a future for development discourse?

By James Copestake

Has the word development been rendered meaningless through over-use, or does it still provide a useful discursive space within which to explore ideas about how our well-being can be improved? A short recent book by Esteva et al. (2013) reasserts the case for confining the term to history as a failed Western project. While they may struggle to predict the precise date of its demise, the authors do offer one for its birth: 20 January 1949, or the day of Harry Truman’s inaugural address as 33rd President of the USA, when he declared the country “pre-eminent among nations in the development of industrial and scientific techniques” and proposed a “bold new program for sharing these benefits “for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas” and for the people living there “…in conditions approaching misery.” The book argues that this project has mostly promoted Western interests, and perpetuated underdevelopment elsewhere. In so doing, it updates the ideas put forward in the Development Dictionary edited by Wolfgang Sachs in 1992, to which Esteva also contributed. It attacks advocates of the “social cancer” of neo-liberalism, and of state-led provision of basic needs with equal gusto; and adds global “ecological overshoot” to the catalogue of things that Truman’s vision of development can be blamed for.

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The state-of-the-ART Project (Update 1)

By James Copestake

“I never publish anything that hasn’t been through five drafts” is what the celebrated economist Kenneth Galbraith reportedly said when asked the secret of his ability to write so well. Well, I confess this blog doesn’t meet his standard, but I can report that a sixth draft of the Qualitative Impact Protocol (QUIP) for Assessing Rural Transformations can now be downloaded Continue reading

‘Divided brain, divided world?’: International development and Ian McGilchrist’s right-hemisphere deficit thesis

By James Copestake

Ian McGilchrist’s heavyweight work, The Master and his Emissary, is primarily a contribution to neuroscience and psychology but claims also to be saying something more general about “the making of the Western World”. This wider ambition is explored in Divided Brain, Divided World, a text featuring a dialogue between McGilchrist and Jonathan Rowson, which informed a workshop with policy makers and academics, organised by the RSA Social Brain Centre in November 2012. Philosopher Ray Tallis led those who doubted that better understanding of cranial circuitry can help much to explain history. But others, Continue reading