This week’s hot links include financing development, gender equality and social mobility.

3 Aug

Khalid Koser and Eric Rosand writing for Foreign Affairs discuss A Better Way to Counter Violent Extremism- Why Business as Usual Won’t Work. They begin by stating that ‘there is something of a paradox emerging around global efforts to counter violent extremism. In the wake of terrorist attacks in Aden, Baghdad, Dhaka, Istanbul, Kabul, Nice, Orlando, and elsewhere, public awareness of the problem and the need to address it has never been greater.’ The writers explore existing emerging strategies and legislation, ‘The White House’s CVE summit in 2015 and the meetings that followed it, along with the January 2016 publication of the UN Secretary General’s Action Plan to Prevent Violent Extremism, have helped build high-level support for a response involving governments, the private sector, and civil-society organizations. Countries from Finland and Kenya to Canada and Nigeria are heeding the call put forth in that document, developing their own national plans to steer their populations away from violent extremism.’ The writers describe how ‘reliable funding for Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) programs is hard to come by, and donors have generally failed to coordinate their contributions and embrace the experimentation that experts argue is essential to reaping the full benefits of CVE programs.’

Tove Maria Ryding writes on wealth inequality for The Guardian Trade & Development describing debt and taxation in rich and poor countries are worlds apart. Ryding reviews last week’s UN trade conference in Kenya stating that ‘hopes for progressive action on debt crises and global tax standards foundered.’ Ryding states that ‘many had hoped this year would herald an ambitious political atmosphere, with grand self-congratulatory speeches turned into concrete change.’ ‘All governments ought to be able to embrace the focus of Unctad – namely to help developing countries mobilise financing for development, and improve global economic governance.’ Ryding outlines ‘a central issue was how to prevent debt crises in developing countries, or at least resolve them quickly when prevention fails’ but believes ‘Unctad has done excellent conceptual work on debt in recent years, including developing principles for responsible lending and borrowing, along with a guide to working out debt more fairly.’ Ryding concludes that ‘the conference was a disappointment to the many who hoped that decisions made in 2015 would kickstart a new era of progressive action.’

The Women on Top Theory. Studies show that when women comprise around 25 percent of a group, their influence dramatically reshapes culture. Is 2016 the year women change the world? Suzanne Nossel writes that for ‘the first time in history, the inner chambers of global leadership may go genuinely coed.’ However Nossel highlights that ‘they risk stepping in a minefield of stereotypes and preconceptions that history’s shortlist of female heads of major states — Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, and Benazir Bhutto — have already defied.’ Research and theory suggest that ‘once women attain a loosely defined “critical mass” of representation — generally accepted as between 20 and 30 percent — within institutions and decisional bodies, their influence grows perceptibly.’ After highlighting the challenges, Nossel believes that ‘there is some evidence to indicate — that this cohort of female leaders may turn to one another as a source of solidarity, forging effective partnerships that translate into policy results.’ ‘A prospect that seems obvious but could have far-reaching implications is that a group of global female leaders will probably make the welfare and concerns of women more central to global policymaking.’

Ulrich Graute, former senior adviser for UNDESA in New York, writing for Citiscape describes how the United Nations risks stifling its own progress on sustainable urbanization. Graute believes that ‘there will be no sustainable development without action by local authorities. Habitat III needs to discuss a new U.N. council or other body representing cities and regions.’ Graute writes that ‘the United Nations has continued to hesitate in clearly expressing that the governance and management of implementation will require the strong exchange of information and intensive cooperation between all relevant actors, including local authorities.’ He implores the ‘need to intensify cooperation with each other and to raise their voice in intergovernmental processes related to sustainable and urban development.’  As U. N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated in 2012, “The road to sustainability runs through our cities and towns.” ‘Now, it’s up to cities to decide whether they want this to happen with or without their active engagement.’

Writing for The Brookings Institution, Richard V. Reeves and Isabel V. Sawhill explore the topic of social mobility and inequality and state that it is a promise that could still be kept. ‘As a rhetorical ideal, greater opportunity is hard to beat. Just about all candidates for high elected office declare their commitments to promoting opportunity – who, after all, could be against it? But opportunity is, to borrow a term from the philosopher and political theorist Isaiah Berlin, a “protean” word, with different meanings for different people at different times.’ The writers consider differing definitions and analyses the different models against class and the geography of opportunity. With ‘some cause for optimism’ the writers conclude that ‘programs that compensate at least to some degree for disadvantages earlier in life really can close opportunity gaps and increase rates of social mobility. Moreover, by most any reasonable reckoning, the return on the public investment is high.’

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