The Development Dose – 15 November

Welcome back to another dose of very interesting development news, research and analysis harvested from the web this week. 
I was excited to see this Xin Hua story this week. Its about a recent poll of Chinese opinions on the challenges their country faces in sustaining their economic growth and development. It was great to see that the top issue was the significant and growing disparities in the country. Wealth gaps and vastly unequal access to decent services, like health and education, are a critical problem across the region. Will be interested to see how the government chooses to respond.

Poll: wealth gap greatest challenge for China’s growth
More than 75 percent of respondents said the wealth gap will be the biggest problem for China’s development in the next 10 years, followed by the abuse of power (59.4 percent), entrenched interest groups (52.8 percent), ecological and environmental degradation (52.6 percent) and infringements on the rights of disadvantaged groups (50.3 percent).

This is an interesting opinion piece from a CSR expert. His basic view is that CSR as we know it is dead and that the only way forward for companies is to ensure positive social impacts are a part of their business model. Not sure what the likelihood of that is right now, but an interesting perspective. What do you think? 

Is CSR as We Know It Obsolete?
Last week more than a thousand people from around the world participated in Business for Social Responsibility’s 20th Annual Conference in New York to consider how to put corporate social responsibility (CSR) into “fast forward,” the theme of this year’s conference. I’ve thought a lot about what I heard from the presenters and from speaking with many accomplished CSR professionals. Here’s where I ended up: I no longer believe that CSR is the best way to capture the relationship between business and society or an effective approach for addressing complex social issues.

Also read Paul’s follow up piece here

Following on with the “Business as critical to development” theme, here is a look at it from Save the Children’s perspective.

The role of business and post-2015
Save the Children has a briefing out today on the potential for business to contribute to the post-2015 development framework. Below is a guest post from David McNair, our head of growth and equity, setting out the main points.

This one is not so specific to development, but is fascinating none the less. It’s a conversation between two of the leading thinkers on our digital age and how privacy can, or should, be maintained. Let me know your thoughts on this issue. For UNICEF, it has obvious relevance as young people more and more live their lives to a large degree online there is a need to see how we translate their core rights into the digital realm.

Where Everybody Knows Your Name: How to Succeed in the Post-Privacy Age
At Obama HQ, there’s been a shift from voter participation (Yes We Can!) to voter targeting (We Know You). It’s a sign of the times. “Getting to know you” is the new MO of big data businesses and campaigns.

This is a piece looking at the fact that aid is being cut to some Middle Income Countries (MICs), such as India, despite the fact that these countries contain the world’s largest share of poor families and are wrought with disparities. What’s the answer? Should global aid focus exclusively on least developed countries or is the job of aid still critical in countries that have reached middle income status yet still have critical development hurdles to overcome?

Where should middle-income countries feature in the new aid landscape?
The role of middle-income countries (MICs) in the new aid landscape is one of the mostly hotly contested issues in development. There are two elements. First, there is the debate about whether aid should be sent to countries that have “graduated” to MIC status. In the UK’s case, India is the country most discussed, but this debate matters to the whole of Latin America, much of Asia and an increasing number of countries in Africa.

Another great story from Al Jazeera.

Moving Aid to Trade – As the world’s major aid donors face economic problems, can wealthier nations still afford to fund the poor
Britain plans to scrap development aid to India by 2015 as critics argue the fast-developing nation no longer needs the money – and the UK can no longer afford it. But some aid organisations have already voiced their concerns that India’s poorest will miss out.

Speaking of the future of development! This piece from the Council on Foreign Relations discusses what the MDGs got right (and wrong) and what the future global development agenda should be, reflecting the findings of an excellent report from the Korean Development Institute (KDI) and the Canada-based Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

Charting the Future of Global Development
Over the past dozen years the MDGs have been attacked on numerous grounds—for setting impossible goals (such as 100% primary school attendance), for neglecting critical requirements like good governance and strong institutions, and for placing unrealistic expectations on what foreign aid can actually accomplish. But whatever their shortcomings, the MDGs mobilized unprecedented global attention and financial resources for poverty alleviation, driving policy and budgetary decisions throughout the world’s aid agencies.

You can find the full KDI/CIGI report here

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