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News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: www.prlog.org

The testing facilities for bio-safety containment technology at the Takenaka Research & Development Institute in Inzai-City, Chiba, Japan, are air-tight and gas-tight thanks to Roxtec seals. The seals prevent leakage from containment rooms.

Enhancing the international mobility of workers is arguably the most powerful engine for global prosperity and income redistribution. Yet we in the development community seem to have turned our back on this concept, focusing instead on a defensive strategy that is proving disastrous. The costs of this omission are unbearable and it’s time for reform. When it comes to human displacement, most development organisations are better at explaining what they do not like than what they do. Three years into the most important crisis of forced displacement on European soil since the second world war, the bulk of our work has been aimed at either calling attention to human rights violations, or guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to refugees. Both areas are essential. But they are also insufficient. Try to find ambitious systemic alternatives, however, and NGOs and development agencies are nowhere to be seen. In part, their attitude is the same as other players – a protectionist and paternalistic position best summarised as: “Let’s help them not to move.” It is harder to explain the collaboration of public and private development organisations with the EU’s effort to externalise border control. Multimillion development programmes are being implemented in destitute regions of Africa and elsewhere with the intention of creating economic alternatives so that people stay where they are. There is another way to harness migration for development, one that would allow increasing numbers of poor people to seek security and prosperity under a more flexible, predictable and safe regime. The gains of reform are hard to estimate, not least because the real-life precedents of (more) open borders are scarce. But a few pieces of work allow us to glimpse the potential that may lay along this route. A fascinating experiment in which a group of 14 Haitians were granted temporary visas to work in the agricultural sector of the US was documented by Michael Clemens and Hannah Postel, at the Center for Global Development. The programme was designed as part of the American government’s response to Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, and its results were surprising in a number of ways. Firstly, households with a worker within the initiative were able to double their annual income in just one month or two. Secondly, more than 85% of the workers’ earnings were brought home, benefiting hard-hit families in Haiti. And thirdly, in one month each of the migrant workers generated $4,000 (£3,100) for the US economy, and $3,000 (£2,300) for the Haitian economy. The multiple ways in which migration flows have a positive impact on the prosperity of both sending and destination countries have been extensively documented in the last decades. Their scale is far above other development strategies that get more attention from donors, academics and practitioners. An estimation by the World Bank in 2006 suggested that a modest increase in the number of migrants in OECD countries (equivalent to a 3% of the total labour force) could generate over $350bn (£270bn) in global gains by 2025. More recent reports from a diversity of institutions, such as the OECD and the international consulting firm McKinsey, have confirmed this argument and taken it forward. We can only imagine what could happen if instead of the 14 individuals from Haiti, the US would allow 14,000 workers to join a similar kind of development-oriented temporary migration programme. Or 140,000. Or, even better: what if donor countries in Europe, North America and Oceania complemented aid commitments with a new 0.7% target in the form of an equivalent percentage increase in the number of legal temporary migrants from poor origin communities? Take the existing total number of migrants as a reference (around 244 million worldwide), and that would mean some 1.7 million workers per year who could be distributed across developed regions according to agreed objective criteria (size of population in destination countries, for instance). Considering that in any year between 2010 and 2013, three countries (US, Germany and UK) received at least that many people between them, the idea doesn’t seem inconceivable. The development gains could potentially be unprecedented. One of the key messages of the OECD and World Bank studies is that increased migration levels do not come at the expense of jobs and salaries in destination economies. As a matter of fact, the reverse is often true: according to McKinsey’s report, “40–80% of labour force growth in top destinations between 2000 and 2014 was contributed by migrants”. Short-term negative effects are real for certain groups (pdf) such as low-qualified native workers. But these can be neutralised by active social and fiscal policies that cushion the effects on low-income families and redistribute monumental gains in the benefit of the broader interest. When governments fails to do so – as Spain did during the past decade – countries are bound for a conflict among the vulnerable. These are the facts. But we are sucked into a largely emotional debate that is proving to be impermeable to facts. Is it gullible to campaign for more open borders when the likes of Trump, Orbán and May are wielding political power? Quite the contrary. The storm of frogs brought upon us by conservative populism is awakening improbable partners that used to be comfortable with the status quo. Cities, business, academics and activists, liberals and agnostics alike, are joining forces across the planet to fight for facts, justice and intelligence. They have understood that there is no space for neutrality and that the only way to avoid moving backwards is to move forward decisively. That implies a profound reconsideration of the norms, policies and institutions that have governed international workers’ mobility up until now. It could be the start of a struggle that resembles other multi-generational achievements such as women’s suffrage or civil rights. Sadly, the development community is still not part of this vanguard. This should change as soon as possible. Gonzalo Fanjul is the co-founder of porCausa Foundation and a research associate at the Overseas Development Institute. To pitch an idea for our Optimistic thinking for 2017 series, email globaldevpros@theguardian.com. Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow @GuardianGDP on Twitter.

News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Aid workers have been discussing the issue of expat versus local worker salaries for some time now. From one side of the argument, it looks pretty simple: why should expat workers swing into town and get paid far higher rates than their national colleagues? It’s worth taking a more nuanced assessment of the professional realities in the aid industry that are changing rapidly. We also need to put aside ideology and look at the administrative realities of living the expat aid worker life. And finally, we need to think about how we can move the debate forward beyond salaries. The aid industry, including both humanitarian and development work, has been changing significantly over the past few years. “Localisation” is a term being used to describe this: large international NGOs such as ActionAid and Oxfam have moved or will move their global headquarters to the global south. And despite the fact that a recent Overseas Development Institute report states that development organisations are “behind the curve” on changes in the workplace, discussions are taking place that will transform the sector. Aid work is professionalising and that will mean more opportunities for local workers and changing roles for expats. Skilled professionals for project management, IT and creative industries are already in demand in growing economies across Africa and Asia, and the relatively small aid industry will have to offer incentives to attract and retain local talent. A new generation of internationally educated, global professionals with local language skills is sought in many sectors. That said, expat aid workers will continue to exist. And the fact is that most of them are embedded in a secondary financial economy, as well as the country they have been posted to. The unexciting reality of earning a taxable income abroad, maintaining a link to their home countries and preparing for a life after aid work means they need to earn a higher salary to make aid work a viable career. The simple truth is that most aid workers do not have generous UN or diplomatic housing, or moving allowances. And since claims of paying professionals a professional salary apply globally just as they do locally, it also means finding a balance between paying a project officer in Brussels or Nairobi. Despite anecdotal evidence about local prices hikes, a study from 2006 (pdf) suggests that UN missions, often the epitome of expat aid work, contribute significantly and in diverse ways to the local economy. Often, local staff in the back office work close to a regular 9-5 job, whereas many expats work different – often longer – hours, travel more or need to engage with global headquarters across time zones. National staff’s long-term perspectives may also differ from a six-month contract for an expat colleague, so comparing the two is tricky. And yet, this discussion strikes a chord with many professionals in the industry. I agree that the issue of benefits such as travel allowances or schooling support for local staff in addition to their salaries needs more attention. The truth is that many expat NGO workers probably live less privileged lives than those in diplomatic missions and they can’t always freely chose how to live, as they are entangled in security protocols and the desire of their home countries to create a competitive and comparative global service across countries – regardless of where they are posted. One issue that seems to get lost in the salary discussion is the risk of aid work being reduced to a capital city-centered endeavour. The global elite is as much present in Geneva or London as it is in Bangkok or Nairobi, but the bulk of aid work takes place in the field and we need to ensure adequate benefits for local and expat aid workers in different environments. So how can we ensure that frontline health workers or drivers in the regional hubs are included in the conversation rather than focusing on who should have the right to send their children to the private American school? There should be a more nuanced discussion on absolute and relative privilege beyond salaries that takes more dimensions of wellbeing and professional development into consideration. How can stress, long-distance relationships and the ethos of aid work as an impartial and solitary endeavour be redefined in a globalised world with many challenges? Expat aid workers are also needed as vocal advocates for public debates around global development at home. Rather than approaching the topic purely from a moral perspective of “Do expat aid workers deserve higher salaries?” we should also discuss how entrenched inequalities, outside the control of the aid industry, cause different salaries and benefit structures to exist. Tobias Denskus is a senior lecturer in communication for development at Malmö University, Sweden and edits the Aidnography blog. Follow @aidnography on Twitter. Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow @GuardianGDP on Twitter.

News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

The president of the World Bank has told Theresa May that cutting the UK’s aid budget could lead to an increase in conflict, terrorism and migration and would damage Britain’s international reputation. In a strongly worded response to reports that the government was considering dropping its commitment to devote 0.7% of national income to aid each year, Jim Yong Kim said the money the UK provided was vital not just for developing countries but for the future of the world. His comments came after Bill Gates told the Guardian that lives would be lost in Africa if the government dropped the commitment because plans to eradicate malaria would be jeopardised. Like Kim, the Microsoft founder also stressed that the UK would lose influence. At £13.3bn in 2016, Britain’s aid budget was the third biggest in the world after Germany and US. Of the G7, only Britain and Germany currently meet the UN’s 0.7% target for aid, and Britain is also one of the biggest donors to the World Bank. Kim said the UK’s Department for International Development had played a vital role in efforts to rid the world of poverty. “We were extremely encouraged when prime minister David Cameron fulfilled the commitment to 0.7%,” Kim said at a press conference to mark the opening of the spring meetings of the Bank and the International Monetary Fund. “It is important for people in the UK to understand just how significant that was in expanding the UK’s influence in the world. It would be very unfortunate for the UK to reduce its efforts. I would say the 0.7% that has been committed to is critically, critically important, not just for developing countries but for the future of the world.” The 0.7% pledge was originally made by Labour but it was only achieved after Cameron became prime minister in 2010. May is under pressure from the Tory right, Ukip and Conservative-supporting papers to cut aid spending. She pointedly refused this week to say she would keep to the commitment in the event of winning the forthcoming general election, prompting strong speculation that it will be abandoned. Kim said Britain’s aid money had never been more important, joining a chorus of voices opposing the idea of reneging on the 0.7% pledge. Romilly Greenhill, a senior research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, said it allowed Britain to punch above its weight on the international stage. “Bill Gates is right to say Britain’s aid contribution is saving lives and putting children in school,” he said. “The first message is that it is needed, the second is that it is effective, and the third is that, in terms of a global Britain, it is very significant. “I’ve observed a lot of UN negotiations and developing countries and richer countries see it as a real indicator of Britain’s place on the international stage. It buys Britain a lot of kudos. Particularly when we leave the EU, it will demonstrate that we are punching above our weight.” Tamsyn Barton, the chief executive of Bond, the UK membership body for development groups, said: “It would be a travesty if the UK’s 0.7% commitment, made to help the world’s poorest people, was not committed to by all political parties. This is not the time to shirk our global responsibility or step back from the world.” Charlie Matthews, ActionAid’s head of advocacy, said: “A truly global Britain must be outward looking. UK aid and the commitment to 0.7% is helping to feed millions of hungry people in east Africa whose lives have been devastated by drought. Aid saves lives and helps the world’s poorest people, especially women and girls.” Jeff Crisp, a research associate at the Refugees Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, said dropping the aid pledge was not inevitable, but would be one way for May to appease the Tory right before difficult Brexit negotiations. “She will have to appease the right wing of her own party. One of the ways will be to get rid of it or to reduce it. Another way she could appease the right wing of the party would be to increase the way the overseas development budget will be used for things that are not strictly development.” Kim said: “We’re meeting at a time when we face overlapping crises, both natural and man made, all which add urgency to our mission: conflict; climate shocks; the worst refugee crisis since the second world war; and famine in parts of East Africa and Yemen, which the UN has called the worst in 70 years. With the famine in particular, the world was caught unprepared.” Kim said the multiple crises were linked to rising aspirations prompted by greater internet access. Aspiration matched by opportunity could create dynamic societies, he added. “But if those rising aspirations meet frustration we are very worried about more and more countries going down the path to fragility, conflict, violence, extremism and, of course, eventually migration. Because the other thing that access to the internet does is it increases people’s desire to migrate.” Kim said there was a need to create successful developing countries that would buy goods from the developed west and so ensure that rising aspirations were not met with frustration. “This is not something that’s theoretical. It’s happening in front of our eyes. People have to think of aid as more than just giveaways.”

News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.marketwired.com

MCLEAN, VA--(Marketwired - February 14, 2017) - The MITRE Corporation, a private systems engineering and technology company, today announced that its Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Jason Providakes as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective March 6, 2017. Dr. Providakes previously held the position of Senior Vice President and General Manager of MITRE's Center for Connected Government. Dr. Providakes will succeed Mr. Alfred Grasso, who previously announced his intention to step down. Mr. Grasso will continue as a member of the Board of Trustees. "This is a superb company, dedicated to supporting the government with objective, technical expertise," said Dr. John Hamre, Chairman of MITRE's Board of Trustees and President and CEO of the Center for Strategic & International Studies. "We are entering a dynamic and challenging new phase for government, and we believe Jason will set the right tone, energy, and structure for MITRE's future." Since joining MITRE in 1991, Providakes has spearheaded major programs to modernize federal infrastructure and create mission capabilities for national security, population health, our Veterans, and civil agencies. He has served as the Director of the Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute, and of the Joint and Defense-Wide Systems Division within the National Security Engineering Center. An expert in optical and remote sensing technologies with extensive systems engineering experience, he has served as a member of the Army Science Board and contributed to several National Academy studies. "I am honored to lead MITRE in the next phase of its proud history of service to America," said Providakes, "and I am committed to advancing our international reputation for technical excellence and innovation. Public-sector challenges are dynamic and complex, and our cross-domain approach and enterprise-wide systems thinking to collaboration between government, industry, and academia have never been more critical than they are today." "I know that Jason is the right CEO for MITRE at this moment in our history," said Al Grasso, who announced on December 19, 2016 that he would step down once a successor was named. "He was selected with unanimous support of the board, informed by our highest ambitions. With Jason's leadership, we will continue to impact complex challenges of national and global significance." With the addition of Providakes, MITRE's Board of Trustees consists of Dr. John Hamre; Dr. George Campbell Jr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture; Mr. Nicholas Donofrio, former IBM executive vice president for innovation and technology; Mr. Robert Everett, former MITRE president; Ms. Michèle Flournoy, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security; Mr. David Fubini , director emeritus at McKinsey & Company; Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr., retired from the U.S. Navy; Mr. Alfred Grasso, former MITRE president and CEO; George Halvorson, former chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente; General C. Robert Kehler, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Strategic Command; Mr. Cleve Killingsworth, former chairman and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts; General Robert T. Marsh, USAF (Ret.), Air Force Systems Command; Ms. Cathy Minehan, managing director of Arlington Advisory Partners, LLC; General Montgomery C. Meigs, U.S. Army (Ret.), former president and chief executive officer of Business Executives for National Security; Dean Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, Dean Emerita of the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific; Mike Rogers, former Congressman and founder, the Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence and Global Affairs; Mary Schapiro, formerly chairperson of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Rodney Slater, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Mr. John Stenbit, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence. The MITRE Corporation is a not-for-profit organization that operates research and development centers sponsored by the federal government.

News Article | September 6, 2016
Site: cleantechnica.com

The G20 meeting in China may have been notable for the decision by both China and the US – the two biggest carbon emitters on the planet – to ratify the Paris climate treaty, an initiative that will almost certainly see the deal come into force by 2017, three years earlier than anticipated. But the grouping of the world’s most powerful nations is still taking little action on ending fossil fuel subsidies, despite agreeing to the move in 2009 to end what has been described as the “dumbest policy” in the world. The International Energy Agency estimates that countries spent $US493 billion on consumption subsidies for fossil fuels in 2014, while the UK’s Overseas Development Institute suggests G20 countries alone devoted an additional $US450 billion to producer supports that year. Throw in the unpaid environmental and climate impacts, and the International Monetary Fund puts total annual subsidies for fossil fuels at more than $5 trillion. Last week, the Bloomberg Editorial Board said fossil fuel subsidies were the dumbest policy they could find in the world, saying that the “ridiculous” outlays would be economically wasteful even if they didn’t also harm the environment. “They fuel corruption, discourage efficient use of energy and promote needlessly capital-intensive industries,” the Bloomberg team wrote. “They sustain unviable fossil-fuel producers, hold back innovation, and encourage countries to build uneconomic pipelines and coal-fired power plants. “Last and most important, if governments are to have any hope of meeting their ambitious climate targets, they need to stop paying people to use and produce fossil fuels.” The Bloomberg team said the G20’s pledge in 2009 is “no use” and “too vague”, and called on the governments to first agree on a standard measure to report various subsidies (Australia, for instance, rejects the claims by NGOs and others that it has $7 billion a year in fossil fuel subsidies) and to set strict timelines for eliminating them. They didn’t; despite the call being echoed by 200 civil society groups, and multi-national insurers with $1.2 trillion in assets, led by Aviva, who called on the G20 leaders to “kick away the carbon crutches” and end fossil fuel subsidies by 2020. “Climate change in particular represents the mother of all risks – to business and to society as a whole,” said Aviva CEO Mark Wilson. “And that risk is magnified by the way in which fossil fuel subsidies distort the energy market.  These subsidies are simply unsustainable.” But the G20 only went so far as to “reaffirm our commitment to rationalise and phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies  …  recognising the need to support the poor, even though most analysis says such subsidies mostly support the well off.  We … look forward to further progress in the future,” the G20 said. NGOs are now hoping that Germany, which will take over the chairmanship of the G20 for the next year, will deliver a tight deadline by the time the next summit. Some say it will be the “last chance” to agree on an end date. One significant step was the progress towards “green finance” and China’s initiatives, in particular, to create a “green financing system” drew attention and applause. “This will be the most capital intensive transition in human history,” said Ben Caldicott, from the University of Cambridge. China’s initiatives comprise 35 action points and present a roadmap to developing various green financial instruments and a range of “green” incentives such as central bank re-lending, guarantees, interest subsidies as well as the launch of a national-level green development fund. China is already the world’s biggest green bond market, accounting for one-third of the green bonds issued in the first half of the year. That was worth 75 billion yuan, but the task to meet the Paris goals is expected to cost more than 3 trillion yuan (around $US450 billion) annually. Of course, this comes at a time when the Australian government is trying to strip $1 billion in funding from the country’s primary supporter of new renewable energy technologies, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. HSBC says it would not be surprised if EU countries started to break ranks with historical diplomatic norms and started to ratify the treaty individually, to make sure that the numbers are delivered in time. “For instance, we think it is unlikely that France, the host of COP 21, can wait too long for other EU countries before formally joining the Paris Agreement.”   Drive an electric car? Complete one of our short surveys for our next electric car report.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.topix.com

Tata Power's TPSDI conferred for 'Capacity Building and Training' at the Central Board of Irrigation & Power Awards 2017 Tata Power, India's largest integrated power company has constantly endeavored to delivering excellence across all verticals and contributing towards the fast development of India's energy sector. In recognition of this commitment, Tata Power Skill Development Institute has been awarded for capacity building and training services in the power sector at the Central Board of Irrigation & Power Awards 2017.

News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: cleantechnica.com

A group of leading investors with a total of $2.8 trillion in assets under management have called on the governments of the G20 to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2020. Specifically, the group of sixteen investors — which include names like Legal and General, Aegon Asset Management, and Aviva Investors — signed an open letter urging “G20 governments to establish a deadline for the phase out of fossil fuel subsidies and public finance for fossil fuels at the 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.” As concerned investors, we were heartened by the G7 called for all governments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. Last year also saw major milestones in the fight against climate change, notably the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the focus on green finance by the G20, and the commitment by 48 of the most vulnerable countries to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050.i We believe this momentum provides the G20 with a unique opportunity – and responsibility – to finally deliver on their repeated pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies. Specifically, the investors called for the following statements to be made clear by governments at the July G20 Summit Meeting: Over the past few years there have been numerous reports outlining the crazy amounts of money being given over to fossil fuel subsidization. In November of 2015, a report published by the Overseas Development Institute and Oil Change Institute found that members of the G20 are providing $452 billion per year on fossil fuel production subsidies. A year later, the United States and China both published reviews of their current fossil fuel subsidy policies, showing that together, the countries are annually providing $20 billion for fossil fuel subsidies. Further research launched earlier this week, again by the Overseas Development Institute, in conjunction with the Global Subsidies Initiative, found that ending subsidies to global fossil fuel production would be the equivalent of erasing the emissions from the entire global aviation sector. “In line with the commitments already made by G20 governments, we need to see a clear plan to phase out subsidies to fossil fuels,” said Meryam Omi, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Investment Strategy at Legal and General. “The current level of inefficient subsidies and lack of transparency are jeopardising the global goal of meeting the Paris climate targets and of ensuring a secure, healthy and reliable energy system. “As investors, we are faced with a tremendous opportunity to finance the low carbon transition and, as such, we look for the governments to set a clear timeline and a plan for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies to enable an orderly transition.” “Global investors and insurers are sending a clear message to governments that burning public money through fossil fuel subsidies is not just bad for the planet, but bad economic policy too,” added Shelagh Whitley, Head of the Overseas Development Institute’s Climate and Energy research program. “G20 Ministers must heed investor voices, and ensure that the leaders of their countries commit to a firm deadline to end fossil fuel subsidies at the G20 Summit in Hamburg later this year.” Buy a cool T-shirt or mug in the CleanTechnica store!   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech daily newsletter or weekly newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

News Article | November 21, 2016
Site: www.businesswire.com

SEOUL, Zuid-Korea--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ILEDI (International Language Education Development Institute) is begonnen met een internationale donatiecampagne voor organisaties die taallessen Engels aanbieden Doel van de campagne is de verspreiding van de videozoekmachine Captionlook, speciaal gericht op Engelstalige video’s. De innovatieve zoekdienst kan als alternatief dienen voor taalcursussen van mensen wier moedertaal Engels is. Captionlook is ontwikkeld met steun van de Koreaanse overheid. Het pro

News Article | November 28, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Progress on shifting humanitarian funds from international to local organisations has been stalled due to red tape and weak policy, campaigners say, six months after an international summit agreed a ground-breaking new target in favour of the global south. The Grand Bargain, widely seen as the World Humanitarian Summit’s most significant success, promised significantly stronger support to local NGOs by increasing the current rate of direct local humanitarian financing from 2% to 25% by 2020. The agreement, negotiated in Istanbul in May between 30 major donors and aid agencies, was a nod to activists like Kenyan-based NGO Adeso’s Degan Ali, who has long called for more direct financing for organisations in the global south such as hers. “The WHS process brought forward the frustration and desire for a genuine shifting of power and enhancing local leadership,” Ali told the Guardian. “Ultimately the biggest indicator of success is if we are more accountable and responsive to affected people in a meaningful way; decision making is decentralised to national and local governments; and we surpass the 25% target of direct financing to local organisations.” But even meeting the 25% target may prove difficult, warn campaigners, who claim that the Grand Bargain’s 25% deal, earmarked for “local and national responders”, is watered down by weak language, which could cloud its capacity to promote change in the sector. “There are many things that are still unclear, particularly when it says this funding is meant to be ‘as direct as possible’,” says Ed Schenkenberg, executive director of humanitarian thinktank HERE-Geneva. “Who are these ‘local and national responders’? Are they local organisations? Are they indigenous or government actors? At which level do they work? Are they franchised organisations – for example, when large INGOs like World Vision set up a local organisation, like a local Starbucks if you will, will they be getting this international funding? And is it new funding or reallocation of existing funding? All that remains to be sorted out.” Charlotte Lattimer, policy and engagement adviser at Development Initiatives (DI), agrees. “Some of the wording in the commitments is unclear,” she says. “The implementation really needs to start getting more concrete. For example, in the commitment on more support for local and national responders, who are we talking about? NGOs as well as local authorities? And what does ‘as directly as possible’ mean? Discussions to clarify these questions are happening now. Once agreed, the commitments should be clearer and the tracking of their implementation more focused.” Medecins Sans Frontieres also pointed to this lack of clarity in a recent paper on armed conflict and localised aid, warning that “the current thinking driving the localisation agenda fails to make an essential distinction between the different humanitarian contexts, and ignores the challenges faced by local actors in conflict settings”. The Grand Bargain’s promise of aid efficiency is another issue. While the summit agreed on reducing overhead costs, introducing collective needs assessments, and increasing transparency among aid agencies and the UN, just how these agencies will report and manage their finances is unknown, particularly as donor states are under no commitment to do so. “The big question for the WHS writ large, is about what the monitoring and the reporting will be,” says Lattimer. “I am very happy to see IATI [International Aid Transparency Initiative] mentioned in the commitment and DI, which acts as technical lead within the IATI secretariat, is also offering support to organisations that are facing challenges regarding the standard. But [transparency] is one of those issues that cross-cuts with other areas: to know whether people are actually achieving the target they set, there needs to be greater transparency. The ‘holy grail’ now is to set up some kind of process, which can link to IATI reporting, to track the indirect humanitarian funding that local and national actors receive.” Schenkenberg, who points to the fact that 60% of World Food Programme-provided aid in Syria is currently delivered by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, argues that much more research is needed into tracing humanitarian funding as a whole, both direct and indirect, before changes can be made. “At this stage, it would be a Herculean task to calculate,” he says. “My estimate is that it’s much higher than the 2% figure, as local agencies work as implementing partners for the UN and international NGOs. But this does not show in the statistics. Aid agencies are often very unclear as to who in the end is actually doing the implementation. Instead of working top-down [to figure it out], we need to work from the bottom up.” In September, UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon launched an online database, the Platform for Action, Commitments and Transformation, where aid agencies and donors are invited to submit progress reports, showcase results and make new partnerships in regards to commitments made at the WHS. As for greater transparency in humanitarian funding, Lattimer hopes to see agencies and donors commit to reports that provide quality data, rather than just “tick in the box reporting”, and believes that agreeing publicly to do so may force them into action. More generally, feelings are mixed about the summit, which took four years to organise and is rumoured to have cost tens of millions of dollars. Campaigners agree that strides were made in technical areas of education, innovation, cash-relief programming and emergency preparedness. But on greater political issues, including conflict security and respect for humanitarian law, progress is debatable. Overall, says Schenkenberg, who calls the conference “a waste of money”, the mood regarding the summit has been sour. “The summit could not have come at a worse time,” he says . “If you look at the political stalemate in Syria, the outgoing UN Secretary-General [Ki Moon] in his final months, the state of multilateralism in the first place – the whole timing of it and the lack of clear agenda or clear objectives on what it was meant to do or deliver, made it a failure.” However, Sara Pantuliano, managing director of the Overseas Development Institute, told the Guardian that the summit was productive as it “generated a global discussion about critical issues that brought to the fore key players who were not in the discussion until now”. “The global conversations were valuable and led to spontaneous initiatives,” she said. “But the process was not well conceptualised, and the amount of money that went into generating that conversation was not desirable.” Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow @GuardianGDP on Twitter.

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