A strong evidence base is the backbone of our operations in communications, trade, investment and consultancy. We gain this knowledge from our own research, thought leaders, research institutions and other key sources of information. We stay abreast of developments in sustainability and industry innovation to keep our network members well informed. Click on categories to see a full list of our thematic areas.
A Primer on Blockchain Technology and its Potential for Financial Inclusion
The invention of Bitcoin in 2008/2009 gave consumers and businesses the possibility to transfer money nationally and internationally on a truly peer-to-peer basis (i.e. without a trusted central party such as a bank). Few people realised the full potential of the technology in the early days, but today blockchains are often referred to as the “internet of trust”. This term relates to the universal potential of blockchain technology, which goes beyond payment systems and enables people that do not trust each other to directly exchange (digitally representable) goods and services with each other. Today’s variety of blockchain technologies, including many crypto currencies, is impressive. Start-ups and IT incumbents are constantly reducing the speed, cost and effort it requires to transfer crypto currencies globally, while also increasing transaction capacity and offering services that go beyond payments. This discussion paper characterises the 10 biggest crypto currencies in terms of market capitalisation and explains the functioning principles of their underlying technologies. These variants of the technology are also essential for non-financial applications.
A focus of this paper is the potential of blockchain technologies to improve (international) payments and land registries. Bitcoin-enabled payments were the first application of blockchain technology, and frictionless (international) payments are an essential part of financial inclusion. In contrast, improving land registries is a more innovative use of the technology, but the connection to financial inclusion is not straightforward. However, land registries may indeed play an important role in fostering access to credit for financially underserved people.
Almost any technology comes with new risks, and blockchains are no exception to this rule. Although blockchains can provide a very high level of safety and immutability, it depends on the concrete design of the implementation whether this potential is realised. In addition, some blockchain technologies are very energy-intensive, which is an environmental risk. Finally, the high levels of volatility of most crypto currencies represent an economic risk for their users. National and international regulators are challenged by the rapid evolvement of the technology and should aim to mitigate its risks without compromising its potential.
Download PDF0.9 MB
World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2018
This edition examines the current state of the labour market, assessing the most recent developments and making global and regional projections of unemployment, vulnerable employment and working poverty.
Mapping Water Governance Results
The GWP network delivers results and this month we launch an online, interactive map showing how we have contributed to improving water resources management over the years. You can use several filters to see the results according to different categories.
Water insecurity keeps hundreds of millions of people in poverty. It hampers human development and economic growth, and since 2012 the water crisis has been continuously listed among the top five global risks in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report.
“In contrast, the map we offer you to dive into, tells a different story: one where water, when managed well, is an enabler of inclusive, sustainable growth, and a solution to many of the challenges of sustainable development, from achieving food and energy security to alleviating poverty, promoting equitable societies, reducing disaster risk, and combating climate change” explains GWP Resource Mobilisation and Partnership Manager Nicolas Delaunay.
Explore the Results
Behind the many dots on the map are stories where a new water policy, a national adaptation plan, a transboundary management agreement, an investment plan or strategy, a regional planning framework, strengthened legislation or institutional reform led to stronger water governance.
“This is a condition sine qua non to ensure real development and socioeconomic benefits through increased investment in appropriate infrastructure, empowerment of marginalised groups and more sustainable use of resources, across many of the most vulnerable countries, regions, water basins”, says Delaunay.
With the overall vision of achieving water security and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), GWP supports countries to advance governance and management of water resources for sustainable and equitable development.
In the little over 20 years since GWP was founded, the network has successfully influenced more than 400 outcomes that have contributed to improved water governance. These results are the most demonstrable illustration of GWP's achievements and progress in reaching the vision of water security through the incorporation of IWRM and water governance.
The map can be searched through filtered results - global, regional & transboundary river basins, and country – and by key pillars of IWRM and themes. It also responsive and adapats to all devices. The content will be updated continously.
Africa is paving the way to a climate-resilient future
Photo credit: Flickr
Since the presentation of the World Bank’s first Africa Climate Business Plan at the COP 21 in Paris in 2015 and the Transport Chapter in Marrakech in 2016, a lot of progress has been made on integrating climate adaptation and mitigation into our transport projects.
The World Bank initially committed about $3.2 billion toward mainstreaming climate action into transport programs in Sub-Saharan Africa in the form of infrastructure investments and technical assistance. Following the Paris Agreement, and building on African countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the size of this portfolio grew to $5 billion for 2016 to 2020. In 2017, the institution added another $1.9 billion to that amount, bringing the total to $6.9 billion in projects with climate co-benefits— more than twice the size of the original portfolio. These investments will help improve the resilience of transport infrastructure to climate change and improve the carbon footprint of transport systems.
Climate change has already started to affect African countries’ efforts to provide better transport services to their citizens. African transport systems are vulnerable to multiple types of climate impact: sea level rise and storm surge, higher frequency and intensity of extreme wind and storm events, increased precipitation intensity, extreme heat and fire hazard, overall warming, and change in average precipitation patterns. The increased frequency and intensity of extreme climate event challenges the year-round availability of critical transport services: roads are damaged more often or are more costly to maintain; expensive infrastructure assets such as ports, railways or airports can be damaged by storms and storm surges, resulting in a short life cycle and capacity than they were originally designed for. Critical infrastructure such as bridges continue to be built based on data and disaster risk patterns from decades ago, ignoring the current trend of increased climate risk. For Sub-Saharan Africa alone, it is estimated that climate change will threaten to increase road maintenance costs by 270% if no action is taken.
Since the adoption of the first concept of the Africa Climate Business Plan, several success stories have demonstrated how the World Bank is continuing to standardize the approach to accounting for climate finance in its projects and define the contribution each project is making to the reduction in GHG emissions. The move will lead to more uniform reporting of mitigation and adaptation co-benefits, particularly as explicit inclusion of climate-smart measures becomes more common in World Bank-financed operations.
In the Central African Republic, for instance, a new project to upgrade rural roads has been developed to take climate change into consideration through every step, from infrastructure design to road construction works and maintenance arrangements. This long-term, climate-smart approach is expected to improve the durability of road improvements by a significant margin. A community-based maintenance system will make a particularly important contribution to the climate resilience of the targeted roads.
Another example of how the World Bank has successfully assisted African governments in incorporating climate adaptation and mitigation into project design is the $300 million Dakar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) pilot project which was approved by the World Bank in 2017. The project design includes the construction of 18.3 kilometers of fully segregated bus lanes in Dakar, build or provide terminals, metro-style stations, bus fleets, and intelligent transportation systems (ITS), improve access for pedestrians, better integrate the system into the urban environment, and restructure the public transit network.
The project is expected to reduce long-term greenhouse gas emission by 1.5 million tons of CO2 emissions equivalent by shifting riders from older buses to new, efficient, high-quality buses and by adopting a holistic, integrated land use and transport planning policy.
For the people of Dakar, the project will increase access to public transit services, reduce travel time, and improve comfort and safety. For public transit users within a one-hour radius, it will increase access to employment opportunities by 7%. By 2020, two-thirds of the population will have access to at least 8,000 more job opportunities than they do today. The increase will disproportionately benefit poorer areas in the northern suburbs, where access to more than 120,000 employment opportunities will be made possible.
This pilot project is included in Senegal’s Nationally Determined Contribution and can easily be expanded or replicated in other African cities facing the same mobility challenges as Dakar. The project is the backbone of an ambitious and comprehensive strategy for sustainable urban mobility and low-emission transport modes. It is included in the Emerging Senegal Plan, the government’s plan to make Senegal an emerging economy by 2035.
The road connectivity program in the Central African Republic and the Dakar BRT are among many projects that demonstrate how interventions looking to improve mobility, boost economic growth, and create jobs can also deliver significant climate co-benefits. This is at the core of the World Bank’s approach to sustainable development: our work is based on the premise that socioeconomic gains and climate action shouldn’t be seen as conflicting interests, and instead can reinforce each other. With the expected surge in urbanization and infrastructure investment across Africa, the region has a unique opportunity to grow in a way that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. The World Bank’s Africa Transport team stands ready to support these efforts and develop innovative solutions that will help turn this vision into reality.
Base Titanium at Kenya Mining Forum: "Key message is to show what is possible to achieve in Kenya"
Being awarded official flagship status by Kenya’s Vision 2030 for the Kwale Mine is a proud achievement for Base Titanium says Joe Schwarz, the company’s general manager external affairs and development. He adds: "this represents a significant milestone in the partnership between the Government of Kenya and Base in promoting further development of the sector."
Base Titanium is once again the exclusive diamond sponsor of the Kenya Mining Forum that is returning to Nairobi from 4-5 December.
Currently Base is at the forefront of Kenya’s mining industry, with official statistics showing that in 2016 the Kwale Mine represented close to 60% of the country’s total mineral output value.
According to Joe Schwarz "there have been many stand out highlights since acquiring and developing the Kwale Mine – the rapid and successful development of Kenya’s first large-scale, modern mining project, plant commissioning and ramp up, a justifiably proud safety record, upskilling and developing our Kenyan workforce and our community development programmes. To this list we can now add environmental rehabilitation."
Potential of mining in Kenya is clear
At the upcoming Kenya Mining Week Mr Schwarz says "Base’s key message is to show the world what is possible to achieve in Kenya. Kenya’s mining industry is still in its infancy. However, recent initiatives spearheaded by Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu, including the enactment of new mining legislation and regulations point to a concerted effort by the Government of Kenya to promote the industry as a new growth sector."
He adds: "the potential, however, for the mining sector to be a significant contributor to economic growth and development is clear. In an assessment by Ernst & Young on the economic impacts of Base’s Kwale Mine it was found that for every direct job created on the mine site a further four jobs were supported in the wider economy."
To read the complete interview with Base’s Joe Schwarz, go to http://www.kenyaminingforum.com/BaseTitanium-interview
Varied and practical programme
This year Kenya Mining Forum is once again hosted by the Kenya Ministry of Mining, in collaboration with the Chamber of Mines.
A varied conference programme focuses on industry issues and challenges ranging from finance, legislation, women in mining, the gemstone sector to CSR. The expo showcases leading technology and services for the sector while a practical workshop programme offers free training and up skilling for mining professionals.
Mining and infrastructure events
The Kenya Mining Forum is organised by Spintelligent, a well-known trade conference and expo organiser on the African continent. The company has particular expertise and experience in mining and infrastructure development events; including the long running flagship shows such as DRC Mining Week in Lubumbashi, Nigeria Mining Week in Abuja, Future Energy East Africa (formerly EAPIC) in Nairobi, Future Energy Nigeria (formerly WAPIC) in Lagos and African Utility Week in Cape Town.
Kenya Mining Forum dates and location:
Conference and expo: 4-5 December 2017
Venue: Safari Park Hotel & Casino, Nairobi, Kenya
Gomez-Baggethun: Assessing the Potential of Regulating Ecosystem Services as Nature-Based Solutions in Urban Area
Abstract: Mounting research assesses the provision of regulating ecosystem services by green infrastructure in urban areas, but the extent to which these services can offer effective nature-based solutions for addressing urban climate change-related challenges is rarely considered. In this chapter, we synthesize knowledge from assessments of urban green infrastructure carried out in Europe and beyond to evaluate the potential contribution of regulating ecosystem services to offset carbon emissions, reduce heat stress and abate air pollution at the metropolitan, city and site scales. Results from this review indicate that the potential of regulating ecosystem services provided by urban green infrastructure to counteract these three climate change-related pressures is often limited and/or uncertain, especially at the city and metropolitan levels. However, their contribution can have a substantially higher impact at site scales such as in street canyons and around green spaces. We note that if regulating ecosystem services are to offer effective nature-based solutions in urban areas, it is critically important that green infrastructure policies target the relevant implementation scale. This calls for a coordination between authorities dealing with urban and environmental policy and for the harmonization of planning and management instruments in a multilevel governance approach.
Keywords: Regulating ecosystem services; Urban green infrastructure; Global climate regulation; Local climate regulation; Air quality regulation; Multi-scale assessment
"This open access book brings together research findings and experiences from science, policy and practice to highlight and debate the importance of nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation in urban areas. Emphasis is given to the potential of nature-based approaches to create multiple-benefits for society. The expert contributions present recommendations for creating synergies between ongoing policy processes, scientific programmes and practical implementation of climate change and nature conservation measures in global urban areas".
Implementation and effectiveness of sustainability initiatives in the palm oil sector: a review
This study is the first publication from IDDRI’s initiative on the links between global trade and local biodiversity management. It focuses on the impacts of palm oil production in Southeast Asia and on the ability of existing sustainability initiatives to bring substantial improvements to the situation. Consideration of the sustainability of palm oil production must be based primarily on the fact that three modes of production coexist, which have different impacts on the three dimensions of sustainable development considered here: deforestation, rural poverty and working conditions, and respect for customary land rights. Regarding all three dimensions, the information gathered here suggests that independent smallholder production is the most efficient.
- PALM OIL IN SOUTHEAST ASIA: THE SUSTAINABILITY OF A TWOFOLD SYSTEM INTO QUESTION
In Southeast Asia, two broad types of palm oil production systems coexist: industrial plantations and independent smallholders. Recent research suggests that while smalholder production lags clearly behind the industrial one in terms of yields/productivity, it tends to have lower impact on deforestation and better impact on rural development/rural poverty alleviation. As a consequence, taking action to improve the sustainability of the sector means simultaneously (i) helping smahollders to improve their yields while monitoring their environmental and social performance to continue enhancing their level of sustainability, and (ii) supporting private actors to meet their sustainability commitments through both incentives and regulations.
- SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES: CERTIFICATIONS, COMMITTED BUSINESS, TERRITORIAL APPROACHES
Existing initiatives to encourage sustainability in the palm oil industry inlude: certification schemes (whichever standard is considered); private commitments that are independent from or go beyond certification standards; and territorial approaches, based on "production area". Their respective level of stringency results from the relationships that exist between actors that bear each of them, and has gradually increased over the last 5 to 10 years, following a very positive "race to the top". Their actual impact is however still well below what they aim to achieve and there are avenues for improvement.
- GUIDELINES FOR PROMOTING THE SUSTAINABILITY OF PALM OIL PLANTATIONS
The improvement of certification schemes relies first on: developing independent audit systems, in which the direct client-supplier relationship between the auditee and the auditor is severed; strengthening dispute settlement procedures; and ensuring the recognition of the protected status of forests, and more specifically of HCV and HCS forests, in all existing standards. Other policy recommendations include better documenting the negotiation processes between actors of the value chain to reinforce the effectiveness of corporate commitments, and strengthening international cooperation to transform agricultural and rural development policies
Future Energy East Africa Industry Awards to recognise region's top energy reporter
East Africa’s top energy reporter will be honoured at this year’s edition of the Future Energy East Africa Industry Awards that are taking place on 29 November in Nairobi.
"The Energy Reporter of the Year is a new award category" says Future Energy East Africa event director Claire O’Connell, “and we felt it is high time that we honour those journalists that have taken a keen interest in the energy industry and have followed and reported the sector’s on-going challenges and successes. The media remains a key partner in Africa’s journey towards available and affordable energy for all on the continent."
She adds: "we invite all East African energy reporters to either nominate themselves or for news and industry organisations to put forward their top choice for the journalist that has covered the sector in an innovative yet objective manner. We look forward to honouring the Energy Reporter of the Year along with the other award winners in categories ranging from Outstanding Energy Project Award to Innovative Technology of the Year Award."
The hugely successful awards, formerly known as the East African Power Industry Awards, take place during this year’s rebranded Future Energy East Africa conference and exhibition from 29-30 November at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi. The glamorous gala dinner brings together 180 of the region’s most renowned power professionals to recognise and celebrate the leading industry pioneers and projects in six different categories.
The nomination form can be downloaded here: http://www.future-energy-eastafrica.com/nomination and the deadline for all submissions is Thursday 19 October.
The Future Energy East Africa Industry Awards categories are:
- Outstanding Contribution: Power
This award celebrates the accomplishments of an individual in a senior position from a utility, public or private company who has displayed passion and commitment to the power industry, whilst also demonstrating leadership, vision and success.
- Energy Reporter of the Year
This award recognises a professional journalist who produced outstanding work in 2016/17 for the public, either independently or as an employee of an editorially independent news entity through their reporting on the power sector in East Africa.
- Future Energy Leader Award
This award recognises a person under the age of 35 who has made an outstanding contribution to the energy industry. This young professional has had outstanding career achievements to date and a strong potential to play a leading role in their sector going forward.
- Outstanding Energy Project
The Outstanding Energy Project rewards a project launched by a utility, off-grid producer, IPP, government, minister, regulator or investor within the last 24 months (August 2015 – July 2017).
- Community Initiative of the Year
This important and prestigious award honours an organisation that demonstrates high standards and initiatives that enrich East African citizens. The award aims to recognise the values that form the cornerstone of a good business from its approach to knowledge transfer, suppliers, the environment and a sustainable future.
- Innovative Technology of the Year
This award will acknowledge a business that has achieved commercial success from energy-focused advanced technology, research or developing products, services, or solutions relevant to the energy sector.
East Africa’s energy journey
Formerly known as the East African Power Industry Convention or EAPIC, which was a firm, favourite fixture on the region’s power calendar for the last 19 years, Future Energy East Africa, with the official support of the Kenyan Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, will once again host many of the region’s leading energy decision makers from 29 – 30 November 2017.
The event is recognised as being a distinctive gathering of stakeholders within the power value chain which includes governments, power generation companies, transmission and distribution companies, off takers, developers, investors, equipment manufacturers and providers, technology providers, EPCs, legal and consulting firms all with a shared goal of supporting the on-going implementation of finding lasting solutions to East Africa’s energy challenges.
The 19th edition of the event once again enjoys widespread support from the industry with Lucy Electric, a global secondary distribution leader in the electricity sector, already confirmed as platinum sponsors.
Future Energy East Africa is organised by Spintelligent, a multi-award-winning Cape Town-based exhibition and conference producer across the continent in the infrastructure, real estate, energy, mining, agriculture and education sectors. Other well-known events by Spintelligent include African Utility Week, Future Energy Nigeria (formerly WAPIC), Future Energy Central Africa (formerly iPAD Cameroon), Future Energy Uganda, Agritech Expo Zambia, Kenya Mining Forum, Nigeria Mining Week and DRC Mining Week. Spintelligent is part of the UK-based Clarion Events Group.
Future Energy East Africa dates and location:
Strategic conference: 29-30 November 2017
Venue: Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya
This survey of the 2016 replenishments of three multilateral development bank soft funds and of the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria shows that a significant re-set of the multilateral development finance system is taking place, with grant funding fr
This survey of the 2016 replenishments of three multilateral development bank soft funds and of the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria shows that a significant re-set of the multilateral development finance system is taking place, with grant funding from traditional donors generally in decline (the Global Fund is an exception), but with the accessing of the ‘hidden equity’ in soft loan-based funds offering a large increase in such funding (most notably in the World Bank’s soft fund, the International Development Association).
‘Graduation’ of countries away from eligibility for highly concessional multilateral finance is also changing the context. This paper underlines the need for more consideration of these wider structural issues.
Courting Catastrophe? Humanitarian Policy and Practice in a Changing Climate
Humanitarian crises appear dramatic, overwhelming and sudden, with aid required immediately to save lives. Whereas climate change is about changing hazard patterns and crises are in reality rarely unexpected, with academic researchers and humanitarian and development organisations warning about possible risks for months before they take place.
While humanitarian organisations deal directly with vulnerable populations, interventions are part of global politics and development pathways that are simultaneously generating climate change, inequities and vulnerability. So what is the level of convergence between humanitarian interventions and efforts to support adaptation to climate change, and what lessons can be drawn from current experience on the prospects for reducing the risk of climate change causing increased burdens on humanitarian interventions in the future?
This IDS Bulletin is a call for increasing engagement between humanitarian aid and adaptation interventions to support deliberate transformation of development pathways. Based on studies from the ‘Courting Catastrophe’ project, contributors argue that humanitarian interventions offer opportunities for a common agenda to drive transformational adaptation. Changes in political and financial frameworks are needed to facilitate longer-term actions where demands move from delivering expert advice and solutions to vulnerable populations to taking up multiple vulnerability knowledges and making space for contestation of current development thinking. Yet while the humanitarian system could drive transformative adaptation, it should not bear responsibility alone. In this issue, alternative pathways and practical ways to support local alternatives and critical debates around these are illustrated, to demonstrate where humanitarian actions can most usefully contribute to transformation.
Women's invisible power
Picture: Social scientist Dorcas Kamuya (right) discusses her research with a group of women in Kilifi, Kenya. Credit: Kemri–Wellcome Trust Research Programme
Women hold the key to improving people's health in sub-Saharan Africa. They bear the brunt of such scourges as HIV and diabetes. And they are the primary care-givers, so their health can affect their whole community.
But tailoring health solutions to African women is not easy, partly because their access to care is often compromised by patriarchal family structures and norms, particularly in the poorest communities, which hold tightest to traditional gender roles.
Carrying out research on the mechanisms and treatments of disease in sub-Saharan Africa is difficult for similar reasons. Poverty and disease go hand in hand, so the work is often conducted in the most traditional and patriarchal communities. These social structures complicate such processes as gaining consent and giving participants feedback on the findings. But researchers have begun to learn an important lesson: by making an effort to better understand African gender roles and traditions, they — and those who plan health programmes — can help to ensure the success of their projects.
Consider an HIV-negative woman who walks into a rural clinic in Zimbabwe. Her doctor might ask her if she wants to enrol in a clinical trial of a new HIV prevention tool. The woman says that she must consult her husband. A few days later, the woman returns with her husband, who says that she can take part in the study on condition that he accompanies her.
From an ethical point of view, this situation is problematic. If the man has so much power over the decision, can the researchers be sure that the woman is participating willingly? Scientists have proposed workarounds for such scenarios, for instance by providing the women with information that targets the male head of the household while also explicitly stating to participants that male endorsement is not a substitute for a woman's consent.
Historically, much of the discussion about such issues has been carried out by foreign researchers from vastly different backgrounds from the people being studied. But African researchers have increasingly been adding nuance to the discussions, clarifying the value of learning about how women in their study populations wield power in their communities.
One of these researchers is Dorcas Kamuya, a Kenyan social scientist who has worked for more than ten years to improve community engagement in health research. “It's easy to come to our societies in Africa and say they are patriarchal,” she says. But having grown up in one of these societies, Kamuya knows that women do have power. It is just a different kind of power from that of men, and is wielded differently. “Being an African woman making decisions for myself, and watching my mother make decisions, I always struggled with the idea that women don't make decisions,” she says.
Ruth Verhey/Friendship Bench Zimbabwe
Women can discuss problems with a 'grandmother' (right) in Zimbabwe's Friendship Bench Project.
Kamuya recently published a paper1 exploring the influence of gender roles on public-health research on the Kenyan coast, where extended families ruled by male heads of households remain the norm. She and her collaborators looked at family decision-making in two community-based studies: a small study examining the transmission patterns of respiratory syncytial virus, which causes mild cold-like symptoms in adults but can cause pneumonia in infants; and a malaria-vaccine study involving 900 children.
The researchers found that although health decision-making remained strongly patriarchal at face value, and women who openly went against the wishes of the male head of the household would be censured, the women often found other, more subtle, ways to influence decisions. For example, if a woman disagrees with her husband, she might ask her mother-in-law to change her husband's mind, because a mother-in-law holds more power in the household than a wife yet is also sensitive to a wife's priorities as a woman.
Nuances such as this need to inform the way researchers approach communities, Kamuya says. She does not think researchers should abandon the idea of individual consent, or that the universal principles of research ethics need to change. “What I advocate is the idea that the way they are implemented in practice needs to take account of the context,” she explains. This might entail, for example, designing studies to make it easier for participants to consult their families about taking part if they wish.
By understanding local customs, researchers can harness traditional gender roles to keep their study running smoothly. One example is Zimbabwe's Friendship Bench Project, which aims to treat depression, anxiety and other mental-health disorders. These under-diagnosed and highly stigmatized conditions are estimated to affect more than one in four Zimbabweans, but few people want to discuss them with a doctor. The friendship-bench initiative, which has been running for ten years, pairs people who have suspected mental-health issues with elderly female lay health workers, known as 'grandmothers'. The pair meet for one-on-one sessions that take place on a secluded bench in the grounds of a clinic.
According to Dixon Chibanda, co-founder of the initiative and a mental-health researcher attached to the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, the project was designed to leverage the powerful role of elderly women in society. “They are seen as custodians of the local culture and they are rooted in the community,” he says. Grandmothers receive equal respect from men and women, breaking some of the social barriers that prevent men from talking to women doctors, he adds. Grandmothers can even mediate between parties in domestic disputes involving spousal abuse.
Chibanda says that his project differs from the well-intentioned but misguided Western-style mental-health programmes that were plonked into Africa in the past. Psychotherapy interventions introduced in Rwanda after the genocide in 1994, for instance, left locals feeling more depressed because of the emphasis on recalling sad events.
But Chibanda was more sensitive to local traditions and used input from the grandmothers in designing the friendship-bench concept, even down to deciding which words to use. The grandmothers were trained in problem-based therapy, a form of cognitive behavioural therapy, but they decided not to call it 'therapy' — a word that in their culture implies that the recipient is weak. Instead, the sessions are about “opening up the mind”.
The interventions work. A 2016 study2 found that Zimbabweans who received friendship-bench support were less likely to have depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts six months later than others who had not received it. The project is expanding to rural Zimbabwe, and Chibanda has been asked to help set up other schemes in Malawi and Zanzibar.
New technology can bring fresh ethical problems and gender-based issues. Internationally, it is standard practice for information derived from research to be fed back, as far as possible, to the individuals who participated. But in human genetic research, which is on the rise in Africa, many of the scientific concepts conflict with traditional notions of heredity and the causes of disease. Feedback to families participating in genetics research can create distress, jeopardizing continued cooperation.
Guida Landouré, a geneticist at the University of Bamako in Mali, negotiates this minefield while looking for genetic markers for neurological problems. In Mali it is common for men to take several wives, and for the first wife to be a relative, such as a cousin. This practice has created pockets of the population with increased prevalence of recessive genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anaemia. A man whose first wife has children with disease while his other children are healthy might conclude that the mother of the affected child is to blame. When researchers try to introduce the idea of inherited disease, such men can react badly. “For them, it's a diminution of their standing to say they communicated the disease,” Landouré says.
To avoid such problems, Landouré designed his study so information about genetics is introduced carefully to participants. He sometimes delays giving feedback on genetic tests until the participants have a better understanding.
As well as educating patients in the clinic, Landouré and his colleagues also hold public information sessions on TV and radio. This work is having an effect, he says. Young people in particular are becoming more aware of genetic disorders in the family, and many are taking this into account when choosing who to marry or whether to have more children.
But even when people are educated about genetics, blame can still be shifted onto women. A Kenyan study3 conducted in-depth interviews with families of children afflicted with sickle-cell disease in poor, patrilineal communities. It found that fathers who had a good understanding of genetics — who understood that traits are inherited from both parents — were more likely to question the paternity of their sick children. Rather than shoulder the blame themselves, they preferred to believe that a different man must have passed on the disease. The authors of the study — who include Kamuya — found that it was often helpful to speak about genetic illness as something that was passed down through generations, rather than as traits carried by mothers and fathers, because this was a better fit with local ideas of inheritance and helped to reduce individual blame.
If research is to be fruitful, projects must take heed of traditional decision-making processes, which are often more democratic than they seem from the outside, says Jantina de Vries, a bioethicist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. “It's absolutely essential that there is African leadership in the design of these projects,” she says.
Kamuya believes that research in Africa is becoming more sensitive to local communities, and that this will lead to more effective protocols and real benefits. Her own work is feeding back into international discussions about research ethics, challenging the existing stereotypes that help neither the women in these societies nor the researchers studying them. “It shows the resilience of African women, the understated influence they wield to leverage their decisions,” she says, “and thus the invisible power they wield.”
- Author information
- Kamuya, D. M., Molyneux, C. S. & Theobald, S. BMJ Glob. Health 2, e000320 (2017).
- Chibanda, D. et al. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 316, 2618–2626 (2016).
- Marsh, V. M., Kamuya, D. M. & Molyneux, S. S. Ethnic. Health 16, 343–359 (2011).
Investment Laws Navigator
United Nations Conference on Trade and Investment (UNCTAD) has recently released the Investment Laws Navigator on UNCTAD's Investment Policy Hub. The new database contains detailed mapping of over 100 investment laws around the globe. Together with UNCTAD's databases on policy measures, international investment agreements and dispute settlement, it represents the key features of national and international investment policies.
The Investment Laws database allows users to access the full text of the national investment laws and search for key topics (e.g. entry conditions, investment promotion, dispute settlement) as well as for individual law articles (e.g. definition of investment, national treatment, expropriation clause).
The new UNCTAD Investment Laws database also offers a tool for policymakers, companies, academics and others to compare investment laws between countries and analyse their coherence between national investment laws and international investment agreements.
Supporting governance for climate resilience: working with political institutions
Political institutions, formal or informal, embody the underlying rules and norms within which organisations such as governments, NGOs or companies, operate (North, 1990) and play a defining role in how people and organisations respond to climate-related shocks and stresses. Democratic relations between national and local government, for example, influence capacities for quick response in an emergency, and these responses can in turn affect economic prosperity, competitiveness, livelihoods and well-being. Governance provides us with a broad term for understanding the institutions working across the state, market and civil society. This working paper identifies an agenda for research and practice to create governance that can support human resilience to multiple shocks and stresses.
Bottom-up Accountability Initiatives to Claim Tenure Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa
Summary of the research
This section summarises an on-going action-research project run by Masifundise Development Trust (MDT), an NGO working to empower Small-Scale Fishers (SSF) in the Republic of South Africa (RSA). The research examines the ways in which in one community, Arniston in the Western Cape’s South Coast region of South Africa, access to tenure rights are impacted by various governance arrangements. The research project uses the FAO Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food sovereignty (hereinafter 'the tenure guidelines' or VGGT) as a tool to assess the impact of various governance frameworks on small scale fishing communities and uses the guidelines to empower communities to protect their tenure rights in the context of promoting their food sovereignty. This research unpacks the experiences of a small-scale fishing community who face different struggles as a result of governance structures impinging on their fishing rights and food sovereignty. This community is adjacent to a Marine Protected Area (MPA) and this case illustrates how MPAs impact small scale fishers’ tenure rights, and how communities resist and negotiate the challenges of exclusion. Furthermore, this research examines other governance frameworks such as the soon to be implemented Small-Scale Fishing (SSF) policy and how it complements the rights enshrined in the VGGT.
Preliminary findings suggest that the fishers have great insight into the ecosystem and, because it is their only source< of income, they have great respect for marine resources and the protection thereof. Their historical tenure arrange- ment, which was more collective than individual, ensured food sovereignty for the entire community and protected their human dignity as a people. Crime was almost non- existent and the general wellbeing of the community was marked by a harmonious life style where they were all equals. Their daily catch and fish was freely bartered with neigh- bouring farmers for vegetables and sometimes meat. According to members of this fishing community, Arniston used to have a rich tradition of making sour fig jams. These jams would be sold at community festivals. Today the farms are privately owned and the fishers need to get permission from the farmer, and a permit from Cape Nature Conservation (NCC), to be able to continue to make the jam. They feel that they are being squeezed out of their tradition and cul- ture. In the view of this fishing community, today players like Government and conservation agencies have impinged on their tenure, as well as their fishing rights and food sovereignty. They believe that, without the interference of new policies and legislature, Arniston would have been a thriving community today. Further to this, the research shows that the impacts of decisions made outside of the discussions with the fishing community of Arniston continue to jeopardize their access to food sovereignty and are in direct opposition to their basic human rights to food, security, freedom etc. They are extremely vulnerable, especially during the winter months as they can no longer access the vywes (fishing traps made with rocks) to harvest fish trapped in them. The women have also lost access rights and freedom to access intertidal resources, and therefore food security, during winter months.
They also fear that now that the 2016 elections are over, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) may not have the political will to implement the SSF policy. Over the past 3 years most members of this community feel that they have seen great injustices in the rights allocation system and fear that they might be excluded when the right under the SSF policy is implemented. They also feel that they have been done an injustice by their forefathers who allowed DENEL to erect a weapon testing plant so close to their community. Amidst contradicting views on the 6 | Bottom-up Accountability Initiatives to Claim Tenure Rights in Sub-Saharan Africaeffect of DENEL on their fish stock, most of the current generation strongly feel that the relationship between DENEL and the community must be revisited and, as will be read in sections four and five of this report, they have engaged in actions and negotiations with DAFF to demand some accountability in this respect. In a nutshell, most members of this community identified the following as a threat to their future as a traditional fishing village:
• No access to food during winter months;
• Less fish in the fishing grounds due to military testing;
• No access to land and sea;
• Women are denied access to food in the intertidal zone during low tide;
• Community has become divided with an increase in intra-community conflicts;
• Education is affected during times of military testing due to lot of noise and disturbance;
• Fishers are criminalised for exercising their customary rights to land and sea;
• Customs and traditions are compromised;
• Fishers are unemployed during times of military testing because they are not allowed to engage in their Livelihood activities;
• Environmental destruction because of military testing (fires, noise and air pollution, destruction of fishing grounds.
South Africa Country Report (pdf, 3.42 MB)
Global development trends and challenges: horizon 2025 revisited
In July 2012, we published Horizon 2025: creative destruction in the aid industry, which analysed some of the major forces shaping change in development cooperation, as we knew it then. Five years on we look again at our 2012 scenarios. 2017 is a milesteone shrouded in great uncertainty arising from recent political developments such as Brexit and Donald Trump's presidency. This report analyses how our previous scenarios have stood the test of time, what we missed and what we have learned since.
Our starting point is the enormous change in the landscape within which development finance agencies are operating. On the one hand there are large, unexpected factors that potentially cause massive change, but whose legacy might yet prove ephemeral. These include the populist ‘roar’ and national-interest-first movement; the global agreement on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, with their attendant change from business-as-usual to a transformational agenda, albeit with less consensus on how to to achieve it; and the surge of migrants and refugees from conflict, and its lasting impact both on the content of development assistance and public support for it. On the other hand, there are trends with mostly larger impact which were already apparent and in most cases identified in our earlier work, but which have grown faster or changed direction compared to what we had anticipated. These include:
- increasing concentration of poverty in fragile states, with a corresponding slowdown in global poverty reduction;
- the surge of refugees from conflict, and of migrants generally, and its lasting impact on both development assistance and the public support for it;
- the changed role of the business community from an ad hoc player;
- the continued activity on climate change, but the arguable reduction in the use of aid; and
- finally, China’s ‘big push’ on development, which has injected a geopolitical dimension to aid.
Infographic | October 2017
Working Paper Backsliding and reversal: The J-Curve revisited
Ian Bremmer published a treatise on the stability of states built on the notion that states fall along a curve resembling a slanted “J” when plotting their stability against openness. States in the turnover process are considered unstable, and are at risk of either reversing to a closed and stable system or even collapsing.
Our paper shifts the J curve’s associated conditions to a model to more accurately specify the causes of reversal in which crises of instability and backsliding occur. We define stability as a function of two state dimensions: authority and capacity, and apply the remaining state dimension of legitimacy as a proxy for openness.
We find that transitions can reverse, oscillate, or simply stall, which are exemplified in the different types of states we categorize. The paper concludes with implications for policy and the application of the model to conflict prediction.
Working Paper: Patterns of international capital flows and their implications for developing countries
According to a standard economic theory, capital should flow from rich capital-abundant countries to poor capital-scarce countries. However, a reverse pattern has prevailed in the world economy. This is the so-called Lucas paradox.
In addition, it has been shown that counterintuitively there is negative correlation between capital inflow and productivity growth across developing countries. This is the so-called allocation puzzle.
This survey attempts to shed light on the following questions: 1) What are the patterns of international capital flows in the world economy? 2) What are the most plausible explanations for these patterns? 3) What are the possible implications of these developments for developing countries?
Exchanges with impact
Stock exchanges increasingly guiding markets on sustainability reporting. A stock exchange is often seen as only a market for trading stocks – a virtual point where buyer meets seller – but its role in ensuring the proper functioning of the market where it operates involves much more than providing the platform where stocks are bought and sold. Historically, stock exchanges have educated and trained both business and investors on a series of topics from listing rules and investment tools to regulation and product development.
Stock exchanges are the intersection between issuers, investors, capital market regulators, and policy makers, and as such they are constantly evaluating new demands from investors and policy makers and translating them to issuers. As the sustainability challenges facing capital markets and the corporate sector evolve, stock exchanges are adapting, and guiding both issuers and investors in this process by facilitating the information flow between them. One of those areas of guidance is sustainability reporting.
At one time, an investor’s toolbox for analysing investment opportunities contained only the company’s financial bottom line, usually reported in a quarterly manner, making capital markets inherently short-sighted and therefore misaligned with financing needs of sustainable development. But now, shareholders, fund managers and other capital market players are expanding their appraisals of a company by also evaluating its environmental and social practices.
In some markets investors are demanding new information on the sustainability activities of a company, and in others the move towards increased environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure is led by other market players. In all markets, stock exchanges have a key role to play. Led by a United Nations initiative, stock exchanges are fulfilling that role by guiding their issuers on how to disclose ESG information.
The United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative encourages stock exchanges to provide guidance to their issuers on ESG reporting and aids stock exchanges in doing so by providing a template that can be adapted to their local market, the “Model Guidance on Reporting ESG Information to Investors: A Voluntary Tool For Stock Exchanges to Guide Issuers.”
In September 2015, when the SSE launched its Model Guidance for exchanges, less than one third of stock exchanges around the world were providing guidance to issuers on reporting ESG information. As a result of the SSE Model Guidance campaign and their collaborative work with stock exchanges, the number of exchanges with sustainability reporting guidance has more than doubled (see figure 1).
The SSE is continuing its campaign and is working with its partners with the end goal of all stock exchanges providing guidance on reporting their ESG activities.
Figure 1: Number of Stock Exchanges with Guidance on ESG Disclosure
Anthony Miller is the Focal Point for Corporate Social Responsibility within the Investment and Enterprise Division of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
He has managed the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative since its launch by UN Secretary General in 2009. In 2011, the initiative was named by Forbes magazine as one of the “world’s best sustainability ideas” and by 2016 it included over 60 stock exchanges in the world representing over 70% of global listed equity markets.
Dr. Miller is a specialist on CSR, corporate governance and responsible investment, with particular emphasis on how these issues impact developing countries. He is a regular contributor to UNCTAD’s flagship World Investment Report and for over 10 years an annual guest lecturer on CSR and responsible investment at the Cambridge Centre for Development Studies. He holds an MPhil and PhD in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge.
UNEP FI Regional Roundtables on Sustainable Finance
UNEP FI is establishing Regional Roundtables to provide an opportunity for members and actors in the sustainable finance community to come together locally to discuss the latest trends and innovations, and share good practice. 2017 marks UNEP FI’s 25th anniversary, and in this landmark year, our first ever Regional Roundtables will be the focus of our celebrations.
September-December 2017 - Argentina, USA, Switzerland, South Africa and Japan. UNEP FI is establishing Regional Roundtables to provide an opportunity for members and actors in the sustainable finance community to come together locally to discuss the latest trends and innovations, and share good practice. Building on over two decades of successful Global Roundtables, these regional events are designed to create rich opportunities for UNEP FI members to connect with one another and to raise awareness of sustainable finance work in progress across banking, investment, and insurance. The Roudtable events will take place in Buenos Aires 5-6 September, New York 18-20 September, Geneva 16-18 October, Johannesburg 27-29 November and Tokyo 11-12 December.
Get more information on how to register for UNEP FI here
"Nigerian power sector knows what to do, needs to stand together and make it happen" says Future Energy Nigeria director
"I’m excited about Nigeria’s energy future, Nigeria IS the future" says a confident Ade Yesufu, who is heading up the Future Energy Nigeria initiative that is taking place in Lagos from 7-8 November.
As the Global Business Director for the upcoming Future Energy Nigeria, an event that has a solid reputation as a longstanding, high-level gathering place for the region’s power sector, Ade is currently in Nigeria to meet the country’s decision makers and pave the way for another ground-breaking power pow-wow in November.
"We have to restore investor confidence"
Ade Yesufu explains: "I don’t see the current recession as a reason to be negative or even cautious about Nigeria’s economic future. If anything, it has focused Government and industry alike to make sure we get the basics right to stimulate much-needed growth and we need a reliable and affordable power supply to do that. The Federal Government’s Nigerian Power Sector Recovery Programme is an important message to the rest of the world that Nigeria is planning significant improvements towards achieving structural economic change with a more diversified and inclusive economy. To me, this creates an important foundation to showcase the enormous business and investment opportunities that the sector provides and I cannot help but be very excited about that."
He adds: "we all know that there is a lot of work to do, we have to restore investor confidence, but we are ready to get everyone together and to make sure we showcase the myriad of opportunities in the sector; from gas to renewables, from generation to distribution and from actual building projects to providing specialised services. The power sector knows what to do, needs to stand together and make it happen. Nigeria is ready!"
New brand – same, innovative event
Formerly known as the West African Power Industry Convention or WAPIC, which was a firm, favourite fixture on the region’s power calendar for the last 13 years, Future Energy Nigeria, with the support of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, Distribution Companies and prominent Generation companies, will once again host many of the country’s leading energy decision makers from 7-8 November 2017 at the Eko Hotel & Suite Convention Centre in Lagos, Nigeria.
The rebranded Future Energy Nigeria will focus on the bold turnaround plan of the Nigerian government, known as the Power Sector Recovery Program, which is aimed at restoring investor confidence in the sector following reported problems in the country’s electricity market. U$D7.6-billion has been earmarked for this recovery process that the government developed in partnership with the World Bank.
The event is recognised as being a distinctive gathering of stakeholders within the power value chain which includes governments, power generation companies, transmission and distribution companies, off takers, developers, investors, equipment manufacturers and providers, technology providers, EPCs, legal and consulting firms all with a shared goal of supporting the on-going implementation of finding lasting solutions to Nigeria’s energy challenges. Co-located to the event is the Oil & Gas Council’s Nigeria Assembly.
Some confirmed conference speaker highlights:
- Lazarus Angbazo, CEO, Energy Connections Business, GE: Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria
- Hon. (Princess) Gloria Akobundu, CEO and National Coordinator, NEPAD, Nigeria
- Onyeche Tifashe, CEO, Siemens, Nigeria
- Akinwole Omoboriowo, CEO, Genesis Energy, Nigeria
- Patrick O. Okigbo III, Principal Partner, Nextier, Nigeria
- Sunkanmi Olowo, Head SME Banking, Ecobank, Nigeria
- Bart Nnaji, CEO, Geometric Power, Nigeria
- Joy Ogaji, Executive Secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies, Nigeria
- Joel Abrams, Managing Director, Nigeria Solar Capital Partners, Nigeria
- Olumide Noah Obademi, CEO, Afam Power PLC, Nigeria
- Nicholas Okafor, Partner, Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, Nigeria
- Olubunmi Peters, Executive Vice Chairman, North South Power Shiroro, Nigeria
- Segun Adaju, President, Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria, Nigeria
- Engr. Faruk Yabo, Director Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency, FMoPWH
The 14th edition of the event once again enjoys widespread support from the industry with Lucy Electric, a global secondary distribution leader in the electricity sector, and SkipperSeil Limited already confirmed as platinum sponsors, while Genesis and Jubaili Bros are gold sponsors and Conlog, Landis+Gyr, Hexing and Vodacom are silver sponsors.
Future Energy Nigeria is organised by Spintelligent, a multi-award-winning Cape Town-based exhibition and conference producer across the continent in the infrastructure, real estate, energy, mining, agriculture and education sectors. Other well-known events by Spintelligent include African Utility Week, Future Energy East Africa (formerly EAPIC), Future Energy Central Africa (formerly iPAD Cameroon), Future Energy Uganda, Agritech Expo Zambia, Kenya Mining Forum, Nigeria Mining Week and DRC Mining Week. Spintelligent is part of the UK-based Clarion Events Group.
Future Energy Nigeria dates and location:
Strategic conference: 7-8 November 2017
Venue: Eko Hotel & Suite Convention Centre, Lagos, Nigeria.
EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: The Secret Life of Green Finance
Simon Zadek is writing in his personal capacity, and currently serves as the senior advisor on finance in Executive Office of the Secretary General, is co-Director of the UN Environment’s Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System, and is Visiting Professor at the Singapore Management University.
Green finance’s meteoric rise has been a remarkable feature of the contemporary global financial landscape. From London to Nairobi, and Sao Paulo to Singapore, green finance has become the currency of high profile advocacy, policy and regulatory developments and increasingly market practice.
The G20’s embrace of green finance as a legitimate topic for finance ministers and central bank governors has catalysed action across the world, from the green finance work being led by the Reserve Bank of India to the European Commission’s High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance. The G7 has highlighted the growing focus of the world’s major financial centres on green finance as a basis for product innovation and competitiveness, such as the City of London’s Green Finance Initiative. And the darling of green finance, green bonds, has seen a ten fold increase in annual issuance over the last five years.
The logic of green finance’s rise is undeniable. Environmental challenges have impacted markets and returns, through droughts and other natural disasters, volatility in food and other commodity prices, and growing liability risks as the more stringent enforcement of environmental and climate-related regulations become a global norm. Climate change necessitates accelerated action by the world’s largest emitters, both to keep global temperature rises below 2 degrees, and to more effectively manage investor risks.
Beyond downside risks, environmental stewardship and resilience has become a source of value. Renewables have transitioned from a side-show to the main game across global energy markets, stranding along the way carbon intensive assets. Electric vehicle and battery technology threatens to overturn the all-powerful auto industry and reward investors who have backed businesses at the nexus of environmental concerns, policy responses, and breakthrough technologies.
Financial regulators have woken up to systemic risks in such a transition, especially those linked to climate, requiring the financial community to demonstrate their will and capability to manage this new generation of risks and report accordingly.
History’s impeccable logic alone, however, rarely guarantees the right response. People make a difference, and the secret life of green finance is a disparate band of people who have made it their mission to green the global financial system. Dr Rahman, for example, placed Bangladesh on the global map by championing the development role of central banks in advancing financial inclusion and green finance.
Dr Ndung’u, likewise, as Kenya’s central bank governor, was a key player in turning Kenya into a global leader in digital finance, which now underpins the country’s growing eco-system of green financing innovations connecting mobile payment platforms, distributed solar and now also crowd-sourcing, block chain and crypto-currencies. Muliaman Hadad, until recently Commissioner of the Indonesian Financial Regulatory Authority, has championed what was arguably the world’s first ‘sustainable finance roadmap’. And in Brazil, Murilo Portugal, president of the powerful bankers association, Febraban, has championed the greening of the country’s banking community.
Further north, Mark Carney, Bank of England’s charismatic governor, delivered a world first in championing a prudential review of climate risks to the UK’s all-important insurance sector, and then in his role as Chair of the Financial Stability Board established the Task Force on Climate Related Risk Disclosure. Meanwhile, in another part of London, Mark Campanale led the charge with the Climate Tracker Initiative in effectively inventing and then globalising the narrative about climate-related stranded assets, just as ‘down-under’ Sean Kidney has worked tirelessly to advance the cause of green bonds around the world.
Across the English Channel, the Dutch pensions regulator, Frank Elderson, along with researcher and civil society activist Rens Tilburg, mobilised the country’s pension industry alongside its banks and insurance sector in advancing a national sustainable finance dialogue and strategy. And across the pond, it would be wrong to ignore the contributions made by such luminaries as Mary Shapiro 29th Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Mindy Lubbers as inveterate green investor campaigner, and Al Gore in his role as co-founder and Chair of the sustainability-minded Generation Investment Management, along with co-founder David Blood.
Yet it has been in China that the most ambitious game plan has been hatched and progressed to green the country’s rapidly developing financial system. Early leadership came in the form of Yi Yanfei, a modest champion buried deep in the China Banking Regulatory Commission, in advancing the Green Credit Guidelines, encouraged and ably supported by Rachel Kyte’s team when she was at the World Bank. More recently, however, leadership has come from Dr Ma, without doubt one of the world’s more unusual central bank chief economists.
Catalysed into action by China’s destructive air pollution, Ma Jun advanced first an ambitious domestic green finance initiative, working with a UN-based initiative launched by Achim Steiner, then head of the UN Environment Program, making full use of the central bank’s convening and signalling power. Then at the IMF Annual Meetings in Lima in 2015, his boss, Deputy Governor Yi Gang, announced that China would take the topic of green finance to the G20 under its Presidency in 2016, a move that has catalysed action on green finance across the G20 and elsewhere.
Leadership counts, all the more so when the need for transition is so urgent, and the scale of change required is so great. Dragging a reluctant mainstream into the future, requires the kind of inspiration and persistence that is too often absent from either corporate or public technocrats. Such leadership is, however, more of a relay race than a marathon.
The success of today’s leaders depends on the unsung efforts of their predecessors, just as tomorrow’s efforts will be taken forward by others. More recently, for example, key leadership has come from that most unlikely source, central banks and financial regulators, reflecting their broader rise to power over the last decade. Going forward, other sources of leadership are likely to become more important, such as the world of digital finance and its intersection with big data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.
This article first appeared in Thomas Reuters