As Global Leadship Shifts, What Does That Mean for Development?

The world is changing rapidly these days. A lot of what we have always assumed about political interaction and outcomes has been undermined recently for any number of reasons – one rather specific one in relation to US domestic politics – and I am sure that I am not the only one who has come to question my capacity to predict what will happen next, between whom, and who will emerge the leader. Continue reading ‘As Global Leadship Shifts, What Does That Mean for Development?’ »

What Social Media Can Tell Us About SDG Localization

Social media is both a saving grace and a thorn in the side of intelligent discussion. For all of its failings, people are certainly more, if not accurately, aware of the world around them. Politicians and government both bemoan the impact of social media (that fickle public needing more accountability and rapid change) and love it (the scandals and downfalls of opposition governments and politicians due to community mobilization on social media).

My personal beef with social media is that it is too addicting and I don’t spend enough time doing things like exercise or reading actual books. Continue reading ‘What Social Media Can Tell Us About SDG Localization’ »

Media-driven Conflict Management: Time for a new partnership?

Happily, I am not old enough to know how conflicts used to be addressed, but these days, without a doubt, response is driven by media action. I remember driving across snowy Saskatchewan (in Canada…) listening to live coverage of the 1991 invasion of Iraq over AM radio (indeed, you may need to google that), and in later years, 24 hour coverage by CNN of conflicts around the world. I came of age during the Yugoslav wars and the genocide in Rwanda. Elder sons of my parents’ friends served in both places as peacekeepers. Our neighbour lead forces in Syria. My own father played a role in the end of the Cold War and so it feels like my entire life lead up to studying and engaging in conflict resolution. I worked in Georgia (the country, home of wine), Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo and later Indonesia and Solomon Islands. I have never not worked in a post-conflict country. It’s what I do.
Continue reading ‘Media-driven Conflict Management: Time for a new partnership?’ »

Vaccinations: Don’t let fear trump science

For more than three years now, this website has aimed to highlight the gaps between development and conflict management theories and what actually happens in development and conflict management implementation. A lot of what happens in both fields is driven by long held ideas and ‘best practices,’ mostly, but not always, conceived of based on western liberal thought, with the aim of improving the lives of all through health care, education and good governance of our theoretical and natural assets. Continue reading ‘Vaccinations: Don’t let fear trump science’ »

Let’s Not Get Distracted: Climate Change is Still the Biggest Threat

The world is up in arms – as it should be – about the chaotic and damaging path that the new US President is taking. It is terrifying but we saw it coming. Leopards don’t change their spots, as they say. Who is pulling the strings, who makes the decisions? There are a plethora of theories and a lot of commentary. And it’s been super distracting – I, too, have been caught up in the ‘resistance’ as they say, because I don’t want to look back 40 years from now and regret having stayed quiet in the face of what can only be called blow hard fascism. Continue reading ‘Let’s Not Get Distracted: Climate Change is Still the Biggest Threat’ »

Innovation is good, but action is better

A quote grabbed my attention the other day: “Innovation won’t cure global inequality – political action will.” The idea behind this quote struck me so ferociously that I actually took the time to read beyond the headline, read the article and think about it. It was on healthcare, not a field that I can claim much expertise in from a development perspective but which I am well versed in personally. Continue reading ‘Innovation is good, but action is better’ »

New Year, New Ideas

I’m going to keep this short. Collectively, most of 2016 was spent talking about how 2017 will be better. But if we learned anything, it was that how things have normally worked (ie. elections, sigh) seem to not be working quite like they should; like we have come to expect them too. The world is changing and our understanding of how it should work and how much actual work it will take to make it work is not keeping pace. Continue reading ‘New Year, New Ideas’ »

My Breaking Point: Burning Bridges for Rakhine

I rarely comment publically on Myanmar (who knows, I may want to take a job there someday) but the events of the last few weeks have brought me to the point where I’m willing to burn some bridges because it’s the right thing to do. Because with all of the horrific stuff going on in the world (in South Sudan, in CAR, in Nigeria, in Syria, in Iraq… the list feels endless at the moment) I often feel too powerless to do anything. Because I’m just one person, right? I mean, how far can my voice actually carry?

At some point there is a breaking point, however, that prods you into action, and I know my writing is my voice. In theory, does it do much? Who can really say. In practice (in keeping with the title of this Journal)… we have to try, or risk sacrificing our own morals and slippery grasp on humanity. Continue reading ‘My Breaking Point: Burning Bridges for Rakhine’ »

Greater Global Inequality. Here’s One Reason Why

They say overall extreme poverty has declined since 2000, with a lot of credit given to the advent of the MDGs, serving its purpose as a coordinating framework for the plethora of existing development commitments already made by developed countries, particularly those belonging to the OECD, in the 1990s.

We should give credit where credit is due.

One of the unanticipated results of the development gains emanating from the MDGs, however, was that there was increased global inequality during the same period. The rich got much richer, and the very poor stayed the same. And the global revolt against capitalism and globalization is pretty astounding. I mean, well, look at the rise in populist leaders. It’s a reaction to increased inequality, but it doesn’t speak to the root of the problem. In my opinion, it may just exacerbate the problem, but more on that in a bit. Continue reading ‘Greater Global Inequality. Here’s One Reason Why’ »

Sometimes We Need to Step Back

The development and humanitarian fields are chalk full of people who are super committed (interspersed with the people who don’t know when to retire and people who have confused development professions with ‘charitable giving back’. But I digress).

Super committed people are one of the best things about these fields because they sacrifice so much in order to really make a difference for others. They are also the reason that the behemoth of international development and humanitarian bureaucracy actually results in something. You have to be dedicated to go toe-to-toe with procedure and planning and LOAs and MOUs and the finance people every day. (And don’t forget the IT people – they can be terrifying. I think I downloaded a virus trying to access information from a highly questionable source today. I’m terrified to tell them. On the other hand, my office access card isn’t working and ALL of the IT guys are in a workshop this week so no one is around to fix it. So I have to knock on the security glass every time I need to go somewhere… including the washroom). Continue reading ‘Sometimes We Need to Step Back’ »