This week’s hot links include rethinking the Robin Hood principle, justice and governance, innovation policy and how regional bodies can help deliver Sustainable Development Goal 16.

22 Jun

“We must all embrace those [sustainable development] goals — they’re the recipe for our survival on this planet.” Fiji’s ambassador to the United Nations, Peter Thomson, has been elected as president of the UN General Assembly, the first person from the Pacific Islands to hold the position. Thomson said climate change and saving the world’s oceans would be at the top of his agenda. “Whether you look at ocean warming — or whether it’s ocean acidification, declining fish stocks, marine pollution — the ocean is dying, and we’re here to tell the world that is not good enough, we’re going to turn it around.” Fiji was the first country to ratify the Paris climate deal on global warming. Mr Thomson said he would push for progress on achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. “The fact is we have to implement that agenda again if we’re going to produce an environment, or sustain an environment, where our grandchildren can live on this planet. Anybody who hasn’t familiarised themselves with those [goals] is not playing their full role as a human being.”

Angus Deaton, the 2015 Nobel laureate in economics, Professor of International Affairs and Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Department of Economics at Princeton University discusses the principles guiding international development aid in a new opinion piece published in Economia entitled “Rethinking Robin Hood.” Professor Deaton addresses concerns with the use of this philosophy as a guide for economic development, health, and humanitarian emergencies. He states that ‘international development aid is based on the Robin Hood principle: take from the rich and give to the poor. National development agencies, multilateral organisations, and NGOs currently transfer more than $135 billion a year from rich countries to poor countries with this idea in mind.’ ‘But several million Americans – black, white, and Hispanic – now live in households with per capita income of less than $2 a day, essentially the same standard that the World Bank uses to define destitution-level poverty in India or Africa.’ Deaton further discusses his pioneering work on health and inequality with The Economist.

Writing for Open Democracy, Myles Wickstead CBE, a Visiting Professor (International Relations) at King’s College London implores that reducing poverty is not just about income, it’s giving people a voice. ‘The number one objective of the global Sustainable Development Goals is to alleviate absolute poverty by 2030. The commitments in these goals hold governments to account, helping people to feel more empowered.’ Wickstead writes that ‘Leaving no-one behind’ is not just a function of economics and financial well-being; it is also a function of justice and governance.’ ‘We need to remember that poverty is not just about levels of income. It is also about voice, and people being able to have some control over their lives through understanding their rights.’ He concludes that ‘raising standards of governance is central to the elimination of poverty’.

“UK Research & Innovation must contain a small but highly effective strategic brain at its centre, with the aim of making sure that we invest every pound wisely.” – John Kingman. Jen Rae Senior Researcher – Innovation Policy,  Stian Westlake Executive Director of Policy and Research and Louise Marston – Director of Innovation Policy and Futures all at Nesta describe how to make a “strategic brain” for innovation policy. The writers offer ‘a better alternative… bring together some of the existing capabilities to make up this new smart centre. This would simultaneously improve the evidence for innovation investments, and increase the policy impact of the analysts.’ The writers further identify that ‘despite recent positive developments, innovation policy is still, for the most part, not very data-driven. Increasing its analytic capability would help government make better innovation policy.’

Temitayo O. Peters, Global Legal Advocacy Fellow at Namati writing for People, Spaces, Deliberation blog, World Bank describes four ways regional bodies can help deliver justice commitment made through the Sustainable Development Goals more specifically SDG16. ‘Regional and sub regional bodies are uniquely placed to assist governments with implementing and monitoring justice commitments made through the SDGs. Learnings from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) show that countries that integrated the MDGs into existing regional strategies were far more successful in meeting the MDGs’ objectives than countries that did not have the support of an existing regional strategy.’ O.Peters suggests four ways regional bodies can help countries implement and monitor justice commitments made through the SDGs to ensure their success including promoting multi-sector collaboration, supporting the development of strong systems and promoting knowledge sharing.


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