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Global CEOs Call for Greater Disclosure of Climate Risks
- Heads of major global businesses urge G20 nations to formally accept and act on the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure, chaired by Michael Bloomberg
- The business leaders, convened by the World Economic Forum, argue that companies should disclose the material financial risks they face from climate change in an open message to the G20
- They say this is critical in delivering the Paris Agreement and the stability of financial markets
- The statement with signatories is available here and http://wef.ch/environment
Geneva, Switzerland, 21 April 2017 – The heads of major global businesses are urging G20 governments to formally accept that companies should disclose climate-related financial risks.
The 27 business leaders were convened by the World Economic Forum and include the chief executive officers of global banks, consumer goods and utility companies.
They are asking G20 leaders to act on the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), an industry-led body chaired by the UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
Together, the business leaders represent $4.9 trillion in assets under management and almost $700 billion in total revenue.
In an open message, they say that climate change is not only an environmental problem but also a business one. Improving disclosure of the material financial risks companies face from climate change is critical to the financial stability of markets and would enable greater investment in low-carbon and climate-friendly opportunities.
The message is timed as G20 finance ministers meet in Washington DC for the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund.
The business leaders stress that G20 support would “send a strong signal that government leaders desire more transparency from business on the short- and long-term impact of climate change on their operations’”. They added that they “welcome the current TCFD recommendations and will actively support their successful implementation”.
They believe that universal agreement on climate disclosure would help investors make more informed long-term decisions while highlighting the financial risks of the physical impacts of climate change and liability risks that may arise from inaction.
“There are real financial risks associated with climate change and financial opportunities for companies in transitioning to a low-carbon economy,” said Richard Samans, Head of the Centre for the Global Agenda, Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum Geneva. “One of the biggest risks to market stability and performance is asymmetry of information. Increasing companies’ disclosure of their climate risks – and standardizing that disclosure – will go a long way to addressing this current market failure and will help governments deliver the Paris Agreement.”
It would also create greater visibility on how companies are managing these risks and where they are able to take advantage of new opportunities. Greater visibility of climate risks would help an orderly transition to a low-carbon economy.
The group said that risk disclosure was not a climate change panacea but should be part of a suite of complementary approaches to recalibrate the financial system to support the transition to low-carbon economies, citing the need for effective carbon pricing and the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies.
Below is a list of the business leaders. Quotes from them are available here.
- Oliver Bäte, Chairman of the Board of Management (Chief Executive Officer), Allianz SE
- Jean-Louis Chaussade, Chief Executive Officer, Suez
- Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Chief Executive Officer, Solvay
- Oleg Deripaska, President, UC Rusal
- José Manuel Entrecanales Domecq, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Acciona
- Sergio P. Ermotti, Chief Executive Officer, UBS Group
- J. Erik Fyrwald, Chief Executive Officer, Syngenta International
- Ignacio S. Galán, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Iberdrola
- Bernardo Gradin, Chief Executive Officer, GranBio Investimentos
- Stuart Gulliver, Group Chief Executive, HSBC Holdings
- Ralph Hamers, Chief Executive Officer, ING Group
- Gregory Hodkinson, Chairman, Arup
- Isabelle Kocher, Chief Executive Officer, ENGIE Group
- Xiande Lee, Chairman of Jinko Solar Co., Ltd.
- Vineet Mittal, Chairman, Avaada Group
- Alex Molinaroli, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson Controls
- Bob Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC
- Christian Mumenthaler, Chief Executive Officer, Swiss Re Group
- Pierre Nanterme, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Accenture
- Eric Olsen, Chief Executive Officer, LafargeHolcim
- Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever
- Eric Rondolat, Chief Executive Officer, Philips Lighting
- Feike Sijbesma, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Managing Board, Royal DSM
- Francesco Starace, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Enel SpA
- Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Schneider Electric
- Sandra Wu Wen-Hsiu, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Kokusai Kogyo Co., Ltd.
- Ion Yadigaroglu, Managing Partner, Capricorn Investment Group.
"The solar off-grid grid space is fascinating. Like telecom it is an example where development and private interests are fully compatible."
Exclusive interview with Harald Hirschhofer, Senior Advisor, The Currency Exchange Fund (TCX), The Netherlands. Harald is organising a TCX Risk Mitigation workshop during the F&I Forum at African Utility Week, taking place in Cape Town from 16-18 May, and will address attendees on "Understanding of risks and their pricing – how can the supply of long-term local currency financing and hedging be improved?"
1) Let’s start with some background about your respective organisations and your role there?
TCX is a unique global provider of innovative currency hedging solutions. We have a very strong development focus and over the past 10 years we have protected millions of borrowers in frontier and emerging markets from the horrible financial consequences on their firm and household budgets from sudden exchange rate depreciations. I am working very closely with our CEO to develop new strategic initiatives to promote local currency financing, both within the domestic financial system as well as cross border from DFIs or private investors.
2) What is the most exciting project you have worked on in Africa so far?
The solar off-grid grid space is fascinating. Like telecom it is an example where development and private interests are fully compatible. Mobile banking applications have created new credit channels and even the poorest can now build a credit history and gradually accumulate assets. However, the gap between the local currency receivables and the hard-currency funding of the sector are still an Achilles heel. TCX is working with the leading firms, such as M-KOPA, and industry associations like GOGLA to reduce such systemic risks. These firms should be financed in local currencies, or if that is not possible, reduce the fx mismatch.
3) What did you learn from the investments that did not do so well?
Well, TCX does not provide funding. We are providing risk management tools like swaps and forwards to all kind of investment projects around the world. Like with any other type of insurance provider, having losses is part of our business. Our losses protect our clients. For example, we lost more than US$40m in one day when the Central Bank of Azerbaijan could not defend its peg anymore, but that probably saved thousands of local firms and borrowers from heavy financial difficulties.
4) What in your view is the biggest misconception that people have about investing in Africa? And about renewable energy?
I think there is too much fear about the uncertainty of some renewable business models which drive up credit spreads. For example, solar technology is well tested now, project implementation risks are low in many countries, and pay as you go schemes work with low default rates. Bankers do not yet fully appreciate this. More needs to be done to share performance information of existing firms and train bankers and investment officers. An industry association like GOGLA is well placed to make progress in this and we at TCX would certainly like to contribute.
5) Which countries on the continent are doing the right things? Where are the opportunities?
Many countries have understood that a stable and modern regulatory, legal, and judiciary environment combined with stable macro-economic policies are critical for development, especially for capital intensive sectors. We must do more in standardization of contracts and processes across Africa, learning from more advanced countries. Africa is in the unique position to leapfrog, or as some of my African friends say, to jump like an antelope across older technologies. Let us mobilize the solar and fintec entrepreneurs and empower then to find new solutions for the benefits of all. I hope that vested interests and stranded assets will not be allowed to stand in the way of new and better technologies.
6) You are organising the TCX Risk Mitigation workshop in the F&I Forum at African Utility Week this year. What will be your message to attendees and what can they expect of this workshop?
Do not speculate! Entrepreneurs should strive to only accept those risks in their business model which they are able to somehow control and manage. For example, project implementation risks, supply risks. Risks which they cannot influence should be insured and the insurance costs made part of the cost envelop. FX risk, which manly consists of market fluctuation and in-convertibility risks, is one of those risks, which should be eliminated from the business model. Otherwise, an otherwise healthy firm and its customers and funders can suffer huge losses, because of events which lie completely out of their control. Think of the copper price in Zambia, or the Tuna bonds in Mozambique. We still need to make a lot of efforts in awareness building and deepen the understanding how modern financial instruments like those offered by TCX can help. The Risk Mitigation workshop at African Utility Week is an opportunity to make progress.
Link to interview online: http://www.african-utility-week.com/TCX-HaraldHirschhofer-interview
More interviews like this: http://www.african-utility-week.com/expertinterviews
More about African Utility Week: http://www.african-utility-week.com/pressreleases
Why There Is No Role for Storytelling in Your Sustainability Report
We recently presented on “The Role of Storytelling in Corporate Reporting” — a subject that many organizations struggle to address properly.
Our view on the subject is straightforward: A report is not for storytelling.
Very few stakeholders spend time reading dense, formal corporate reports, and those that do want two things:
- An explanation of how sustainability and/or CSR create long-term value for an organization and its many stakeholders
- Data (evidence) to supports these claims
The audiences who read formal sustainability and/or CSR reports are not concerned with the touching, human-interest stories that resonate with audiences on websites, social media and elsewhere.
That doesn’t mean that reading these reports can’t be an engaging experience. It just means that the majority of report readers are interested in engaging with a different type of content.
Here are a few tactics to make reports interesting for the people who actually read them (For a deeper dive into the different audiences of sustainability, check out our piece on the evolution of sustainability reporting — it includes tips, insights, and examples of how to meet the needs of a few specific stakeholder groups):
The business case
During our session and throughout the conference, we noticed an interesting theme: Many of the people we spoke with and heard from mentioned a spike in interest in ESG-related content from analysts, investors and business leadership. The business community at large is increasingly becoming concerned with how ESG and/or sustainability can contribute to the long-term value and/or viability of a business.
However, although interest from the investment community seems to be increasing, there’s still a gap between the information that these readers are looking for and what companies actually provide (PWC, EY, BlackRock and others have been touting this disconnect for a couple years now). Investors, analysts and business leaders have a limited appetite for the majority of content that typically ends up in a sustainability report; what they desire is more information than most companies provide about how sustainability relates to strategic alignment, company goals and value creation.
If they want to know more about how sustainability positions an organization for long-term growth, why would we keep this information from them? The business case for sustainability is the most important narrative of a sustainability report — and will make your report an engaging read for those who are interested.
Explain why sustainability is core to the viability of your business, describe external environmental and social trends that impact your bottom line, and show how sustainability helps your organization navigate the bumpy waters of business. How do your strategic pillars and key material issues align with your business strategy? What goals and targets have you set, and what is your progress against them? Be transparent and explain why you’re progressing well against some and not others. Investors will read attentively.
Less is more
For the record, just because there is value in a reporting narrative doesn't mean your report should be a 100+-page document. Unless you’re being paid to read a report, the odds are you’re not going to read it cover to cover. Honestly, when was the last time you read an entire report?
All of us are inundated with far too much content these days and have very little time to take it all in. As is often the case, less is more. A business case for sustainability can be conveyed in less than 20 pages. Keep it simple, impactful and visual. An overview of your sustainability strategy is enough to pique the interest of the reader to want to dive deeper, if need be. Many companies are increasingly taking a “modular” approach to reporting, with an overview or summary document as the centerpiece supported by a variety of supplemental materials such as videos, infographics, single-issue fact sheets and reports. This approach allows organizations to provide a menu of digestible content in ways that meet the needs of their various stakeholder groups.
An integrated approach
Of course, we can’t fail to discuss the merits of integrated reporting. From a reporting standpoint, there’s no more effective way to frame sustainability/CSR inside of an organization’s business case than combining non-financial and financial information into a single narrative.
However, we heard from many organizations where this simply wasn’t possible — for a variety of reasons. If an organization is not in a position to integrate reports, they should not assume that the investors will think to look for and read a sustainability report. Instead, consider integrating the business case narrative into existing investor relations communications — your corporate site, annual financial reports, investor decks, targeted email campaigns, roadshow presentations, quarterly calls, etc.
Sustainability/CSR reports as we know them are not aligned with the needs of the diverse audiences of different corporate stakeholders — yet many businesses feel handcuffed by the limitations of their team’s resources, capacity and budgets to meet the requirements of ever-evolving reporting standards.
To overcome these challenges, we need to think differently and to remind ourselves that most successful sustainability communication presents specific audiences with information that focuses on what’s most important to them — and presents that information in ways that resonate with that group. For the readers of your formal report, the audience’s priorities are extremely clear — cut right to the business case.
If these users want storytelling, they’ll be able to find it on your website.
Jeff Sutton is Vice President of Client Strategy at thinkPARALLAX, a communications consultancy dedicated to building brands with purpose. Jeff has worked alongside leading business and brands in the U.S, UK and Canada, helping them transform for the… [Read more about Jeff Sutton]
ZNFU: "Zero rate agriculture needed to make Zambia breadbasket"
"The only way we can achieve the status of being a breadbasket is to zero rate agriculture" says Mr Jervis Zimba, President of the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU), the owners of the upcoming Agritech Expo Zambia, in Chisamba from 27-29 April.
In the run-up to the fourth edition of the massive open air farming exhibition in the heart of Zambia’s farming hub, Mr Zimba says the main challenge facing farmers today is the cost of production that is becoming higher while returns are becoming lower.
"The farmers have no control over the prices and therefore their returns are always diminishing," Mr Zimba explains, "and we are engaging with Government how to reduce the cost of production. And we have always told Government, if you want agriculture to be the mainstay of the economy, then instead of introducing this tax and that tax, they need to zero rate agriculture completely. If there is a zero rate for a couple of years we will see investments coming through. We are hoping that in the next budget perhaps, they can lend us an ear. The only way we can achieve the status of being a breadbasket is to zero rate agriculture."
The ZNFU President says the region has struggled for the past two seasons because of the drought, adding "but this year we seem to have a good season and therefore I think in terms of maize, which is our staple crop, we should be able to have some surpluses for exports. Of course, generally, the outlook for the region seems to be good as all the countries might post slight surpluses or reduced imports from markets that we have been importing before."
Passion and patience for agri
Mr Zimba, who has been a fulltime farmer since 1992, says he inherited his love of farming from his parents, who were also teachers. "Agriculture is purely a passion” he adds, “if you have no passion for agriculture, and patience, you can never, never like it."
The ZNFU President encourages farmers of all scales to visit Agritech Expo at GART next week, to which entry is free: "We as ZNFU are pushing the agenda of diversification. Most of our farmers are small scale, and they want to grow maize, cotton and soybeans. But now we are seeing that our farmers are trying to diversify to other crops. And we are looking at the issue of mechanisation, getting away from the old traditional way of doing our work."
The full interview with Mr Zimba is available here: http://www.agritech-expo.com/ZNFU-interview2017
In the heart of Zambia’s agri-hub
Agritech Expo at GART in Chisamba will once again offer free, interactive workshops offering practical advice as well as live demonstrations to help farmers combat challenges such as the armyworm, explore new technologies such as aquaculture as well as learn from experts on improving efficiency of operations and yields on their farms.
Last year, the event drew a record-breaking attendance of 17 605 visitors. This year even more small-scale, emerging and commercial farmers are expected to descend on the GART research centre where the latest farming products and services will be showcased. The three-day expo will furthermore feature an even greater international presence with international pavilions from Germany, Zimbabwe, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the UK and France already confirmed.
As in previous years, Agritech Expo enjoys extensive support from the agri industry with well-known suppliers AFGRI and John Deere returning as platinum sponsors again. Confirmed gold sponsors are Action Auto, Agricon, BHBW, Case Construction, Case Agriculture, Gourock and SARO.
Multi-award winning Agritech Expo
Agritech Expo Zambia recently won two coveted awards at the AAXO ROAR Organiser and Exhibitor Awards in Johannesburg which honour excellence in the exhibition and events industry on the continent. Agritech Expo won for Best Trade & Consumer Exhibition +12000 sqm and for Distinction in Social Responsibility.
The expo has an outreach programme at the local Golden Valley Basic School, where, with the assistance of numerous event sponsors, it is assisting the school with much needed infrastructure upgrades, equipment supplies and management of the school’s farm.
Agritech Expo Zambia is owned by the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) and is organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. Other well-known agri events by Spintelligent include Agritech Expo Tanzania and Agribusiness Congress East Africa.
Agritech Expo Zambia 2017:
Dates: 27-29 April 2017
Location: Gart Research Centre, Chisamba, Zambia
In Pursuit of Big Data: An Analysis of International Funds Transfer Reporting
Based partly on a detailed study of IFTR requirements in six countries – Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Norway and Romania – this paper asks whether IFTR requirements are necessary and proportionate, and therefore whether their impact in limiting fundamental rights can be justified. It concludes that, while IFTR requirements have intelligence value and are a feasible and likely cost-effective option, decision-makers should carefully explore a number of regulatory considerations as well as alternative policy options.
This paper recommends that policymakers take into account the following eight key issues when considering the adoption of IFTR requirements in their jurisdictions:
- Compare apples with apples: This paper assesses a range of policy and regulatory considerations for policymakers. While international experiences are useful, they cannot replace detailed national assessments. The population, financial sectors, social policy needs, crime risks and ability to enforce compliance differ greatly between countries. It is important for policymakers to avoid comparing apples with oranges.
- Benchmark success: One of the key challenges faced by countries implementing bulk data collection measures, such as IFTR requirements, has been the ability to produce compelling evidence demonstrating the success or value of the policy. Better articulation of the indicators of success, particularly where those indicators require nuanced, qualitative assessments, is vital at the outset of policymaking.
- Explore alternative options: Policymakers should consider alternatives to IFTR requirements and determine whether they might adequately meet the identified tactical, operational and strategic analysis needs of FIUs. Several other methods are discussed in this paper.
- Balance national security interests with protection of individual rights: Benchmarking success and arguing the need for IFTR requirements above and beyond alternative options, which have less impact on the right to privacy, are important in taking an informed position that balances national security interests with the protection of individual rights.
- Adopt robust data-protection measures: Sound justification should underpin the need for any agency to have access to IFT data and the purpose for which they may be used. Policymakers should consider oversight mechanisms, including the option of an independent body responsible for this.
- Consider adopting a reporting threshold: Monetary thresholds for reporting may be useful in mitigating resource burdens for both FIUs and financial institutions. However, they can also have consequences that diminish the value of IFTR requirements. Countries should assess their crime risks and consider whether reporting thresholds inhibit the detection and disruption of high-risk crimes.
- Assess IT capabilities: An investment in IT will be necessary, and may also be crucial in limiting resource impacts on both FIUs and financial institutions. Policymakers should assess the ability of their country’s financial institutions, particularly small and medium-sized institutions, to access and use technology to promote compliance with reporting requirements.
- Support remittances and financial inclusion: Policymakers should ensure that IFTR requirements work to complement, not conflict with, remittance and financial inclusion objectives. Reporting thresholds and IT solutions might assist in mitigating the impact on resources for remittance service providers.
Could blockchain technology revolutionise development?
A new IDS Rapid Response Briefing unpicks the hype around blockchain, with a ten-point checklist for development policymakers and pracitcal examples of how the technology could be applied.
Image: BTC Keychain / Flickr
Begin to read about blockchain and expert commentators will often include phrases such as ‘the potential to be more transformative than the internet’ and ‘turning traditional banking systems on their head’, but what is the mysterious ‘blockchain’ and the more well-known 'bitcoin'? This is what the new IDS Rapid Response Briefing ‘Blockchain for development – hope or hype?’ seeks to answer, along with some practical examples of how it can support development and how to discern if and when the technology could offer positive alternative solutions, or potentially cause more harm than good.
The potential use of blockchains has attracted widespread attention from the media, the IMF and governments, including the UK Government’s own Chief Scientific Advisor. With the reported potential to replace powerful financial institutions it also has the potential to offer new ways to track aid and tackle corruption, facilitate smart-aid contracts and cut costs for international payments. The briefing cautions against thinking blockchain could have all the answers however, asserting that components for successful innovation – including the use of blockchain - are ‘technical feasibility, business viability and human desirability, all of which come together within social, cultural, political and economic settings that ultimately determine contextual achievability.’ The aim is to achieve a place where all these components interconnect in to a space of ‘grounded innovation’.
With many possible benefits to be gained from blockchain, such as achieving greater transparency in the dispersal of aid and more decentralised systems, the research suggests development policy makers should give the technology careful consideration. As the briefing also states however, with any new technology it will not be a silver bullet and policy makers must look carefully at the pros and cons of applying blockchain technology, and ultimately be hopeful, but avoid the hype.
Development Malpractice In Ghana
By Kevin Starr
Last week, I went to see a water organization called Saha in northern Ghana. Saha works in hot, flat country where hard seasonal rains are followed by long dry spells. There are few year-round streams, and underground water is impossibly deep, so villages collect and store rainwater in big, open ponds known as dugouts. These ponds are unprotected, and the water people take home is liberally seasoned with the excreta of various two- and four-legged animals. It starts out bad and gets worse as the dry season goes on.
Saha has a great fix. They find entrepreneurial women in local villages, and set them up with a chlorinating business that uses simple materials and simple procedures. The women collect water in a barrel and add alum, a cheap and easy-to-get chemical that binds with sediment and clarifies the water. The clear water goes into a big plastic tank. When the tank is full, the owner drops in a precise number of chlorine tablets—available in nearby markets—and opens for business. Saha provides every household in the village with a 20-liter plastic bucket equipped with a lid and a tap, and customers pay a little more than two cents to fill it. At four liters per person per day, two days of clean water for a family of five costs about a nickel.
Saha makes it really easy to get clean water that will stay clean. The water is affordable even for the very poor, and the business sits right next to the dugout. Pairing the residual effects of chlorine with the protection of a well-designed container prevents recontamination. The fact that these are profitable businesses using local materials keeps the whole ball rolling.
And Saha does rigorous ongoing monitoring, with systematic collection and analysis of random water samples from business and homes. They’ve set up businesses in a hundred villages so far, and all are still running. In random checks of all businesses, 99 percent of the water coming out of the tap is clean—free of bacteria—and 98 percent of the Saha home containers have clean water in them. Those are the best numbers I’ve ever heard of in the industry, but the Saha team is not satisfied; they believe they can—and should—do better.
Saha is a not-for-profit. They realized a long time ago that to hit a price that all can afford, they would have to subsidize the cost of the initial business set-up and the ongoing monitoring support. Here’s the thing, though: That subsidy works out to about 13 bucks per person for 10 years of clean water. Jaw-dropping.
When we went out to see the work, the first few Saha businesses looked great: lots of customers, decent profits, equipment in good order, homes with full containers of clean water. Then we got to a village called Kulaa, where the business was on the verge of failing after two years of struggle. I thought we were going to hear about the difficulties of overcoming long-held customs or the challenges of running a business when you’re barely literate, but instead we sat under a tree talking to a slightly dazed-looking woman who told us of an exhausting uphill battle against the forces of good intentions.
She’d gotten off to a reasonably good start—she’d mastered the business, every household in the village had a Saha container, and her customer base was growing. So far, so good. Then people from the government came through (that’s who people thought they were, anyway) and distributed ceramic filters—a sort of bowl mounted on top of a 50 liter plastic bucket—for free to every household. Everybody started using those filters instead of buying Saha water, but by about six months in, most of the filters had either broken or clogged. The filters could be cleaned, but nobody knew how, and of course there was no way to replace ones that broke. (The buckets remained useful, though—we saw one serving as a nice little clothes hamper.)
The ceramic filter episode killed Saha’s initial momentum, but the business survived, and things were starting to look up when some American church group blew into town with a truckload of LifeStraw Family gravity filters. Distribution was hit or miss, but most households managed to get one. The LifeStraw Family filter is a bit fiddly and slow, and the filter must cleaned just so, but villagers seem to have made an effort to use it (“What the hell, it’s free!”). Who knows how much the church group did to train people to use and clean the filter, but it wasn’t enough (it never is). We managed to find three of them, only one of which was in use. Two had broken and no one had any idea how to get them fixed or find another one. The one that was still in use had clogged and the owner didn’t know how to clean the filter element. Somehow he was still getting water through it, though, and while the water was still turbid, he – reasonably – figured it must be clean enough to drink. It wasn’t. We tested the water in the lab – it was positive for E. coli and coliforms, which means there was shit in it.
Then—then—some other NGO came through and gave the village a “backpack” water filtration thingy. It’s a big blue plastic box with carrying straps, a hose coming in from the pond, and a little tap coming out. I think there is a sand filter inside. We trooped out to the pond to see it. The water coming out of the tap was clear, but it came out slowly. It took a full minute to fill a 1500 cc container. That translates to about 13 minutes to supply the 20 liters one family needs to get through the day. That means that the hundred or so households in the village would need about 22 hours to fill their containers, even if they were willing and able to wait in line around the clock. Absurd. Oh, and we tested the water; it was clean coming out of the tap, but when we tested it in the homes, it was contaminated.
In sum, this village has seen four water interventions. The last three didn’t work, and each of them managed to screw the one that would have. It’s a tawdry story that does all-too-good of a job illustrating some basic principles of development, namely:
1. There is a huge opportunity cost to failure. When you do something stupid, you either a) wreck something that is working or could have worked, or b) or blow the people’s one chance to get anything ever. Once a well is drilled, a clinic built, or a program delivered, an NGO or government official checks a box, and future resources go somewhere else. Failure is worse than nothing.
2. Most “training” for end users is useless. Some guy came by my house the other day to teach me how to keep the wifi up and running. The next day, I screwed it up. So it is for things like water filters. If a product or technology intended for consumers requires “training,” it’s probably going to fail.
3. It’s all about follow-up. If you can’t provide repair and replacement, if you can’t monitor performance over time, don’t do it. If you can’t make a strong case that, say, two years from now, things will still be working—and in a way that inspires confidence that it will work over the long haul—don’t do it. Stuff breaks in ways you can’t even imagine, people use things in completely unpredictable ways, and unintended consequences rule supreme. The devastation of lake ecosystems in Africa from fishers repurposing fine-mesh mosquito nets is a fine example of the kind of debacle that could be avoided with some decent monitoring over time.
I could go on, but these are the big rules that were violated in poor Kulaa. This is development malpractice: Kids died because of a series of ill-conceived projects. If you designed them, you’re responsible. If you implemented them, you’re responsible. If you were part of another organization, recognized this was bad, and said nothing, you’re responsible. And perhaps most of all, if you fund crap projects like this, you’re responsible, whether you’re a church group, a foundation, a development agency, or the government. We can’t keep doing this.
So. If you see something, say something. If you become aware of someone planning/doing/funding stuff like this, talk to them, educate them, dissuade them. Do it respectfully and thoughtfully. If that doesn’t work, call them out in whatever forum you can. If they work for you, fire them. Make them accountable. Don’t let these things happen. Don’t let yourself become cynical. Do something.
In the end, what really set Kulaa up for failure was its proximity to Tamale, the biggest town in north-central Ghana, and one where NGOs are the primary growth industry. Kulaa is poor, but it’s easy to get to—you can do your ineffective training and be back for a refreshing Coke by early afternoon. The villages where Saha thrives are the ones farthest out, beyond the reach of other development NGOs. That pretty much says it all.
Kevin Starr (@mulagostarr) directs the Mulago Foundation and the Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program.
Source: Stanford Social Innoation Review
What makes a CEO 'exceptional'?
By Michael Birshan, Thomas Meakin, and Kurt Strovink
We assessed the early moves of CEOs with outstanding track records; some valuable lessons for leadership transitions emerged.
New CEOs face enormous challenges as they start assembling a management team and setting a strategic direction in today’s volatile environment. To provide some guidance for transitioning CEOs, we looked at the experiences of exceptional CEOs, those defined as the very top performers in our data set of roughly 600 chief executives at S&P 500 companies between 2004 and 2014.
Our focus was on the top 5 percent of the CEOs in our sample as a whole whose companies’ returns to shareholders had increased by more than 500 percent over their tenure. We contrasted this group both with our full sample and with a subset of CEOs whose companies achieved top-quintile performance during their tenure as compared with their peers.1
The exceptional group includes some leaders who managed remarkable performance in part due to unusual circumstances, for example, by guiding a company through bankruptcy proceedings and then returning it successfully to the public markets. It also includes CEOs who were able to deliver the highest returns through strategic repositioning and operational discipline over many years, within more normal industry and economic conditions. Overall, the exceptional CEOs were neither more nor less likely to be found in particular industries, to lead companies whose size differed from the mix in the broader S&P 500, or to join particularly high- or low-performing companies. Here are three lessons that emerged from close scrutiny of these exceptional leaders.
The outsider’s edge
In our earlier research, we found that on average, CEOs who are hired externally tend to pull more strategic levers than those who come from within and outperform their internal counterparts over tenure. Our research on exceptional CEOs reinforced this finding: these CEOs are twice as likely to have been hired from outside the company as the average CEO in our data set (Exhibit 1), and roughly 1.5 times as likely to have been external hires as the other top-quintile CEOs.
Still, 55 percent of the exceptional CEOs were internal hires. Clearly, insiders can move aggressively and achieve outstanding results. Doing so often means cultivating an outsider’s point of view to challenge the company’s culture with greater objectivity and overcome the organizational inertia that sometimes limits an insider’s span of action.
The findings offered additional insights on how CEOs may gain a clear-eyed perspective for action. In our sample as a whole, CEO’s joining low-performing companies derived the biggest benefits from conducting a strategic review. Our exceptional CEOs did not join struggling companies in disproportionate numbers, but they were significantly (about 60 percent) more likely to conduct a strategic review in their first two years on the job versus the average CEO in our sample (Exhibit 2).
Informed by this view of the company’s past—and potential future—performance, this elite group was bolder than other top-quintile CEOs, far surpassing them in the average number of strategic moves they made in their first year. Changing strategic direction typically requires freeing up resources, often in part by cutting costs in lower-priority parts of the company. While cost-reduction programs are, according to our earlier research, a no-regrets move for all CEOs, the exceptional CEOs were significantly more likely to launch such initiatives than the average CEO, thereby building strategic momentum.
In our research on CEOs overall, organization redesign appeared to be a critical part of the typical high-performing CEO’s tool kit, and management reshuffles were particularly important for CEOs taking over lower-performing companies. Our sample of exceptional CEOs, though, was less likely than the average CEO to undertake organizational redesign or management-team reshuffles in the first two years in office. This could be a function of the strategic game they were playing: they may have inherited high-performing companies (which can be hurt by reshuffles) or prioritizing, since there are only so many initiatives and changes that organizations and people can absorb in a short space of time. Indeed, since the exceptional group contained an above-average proportion of outsider CEOs launching fundamental strategic rethinks, the data may reflect a sequencing of initiatives, with structural change following strategic shifts.
Article - McKinsey Quarterly - April 2017
Climate-resilient planning: reflections on testing a new toolkit
Planning and implementing resilient basic service delivery systems on the ground can be challenging. This report explores how the Building Resilience and Adaption to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) Knowledge Manager in collaboration with two BRACED implementing partners developed a Climate resilient planning toolkit to guide staff through this process.
- Basic service delivery is critical to community resilience to climate extremes and disasters. People’s ability to absorb, anticipate and adapt is enabled through their access to basic services, such as health, water supply, sanitation and education.
- Tools already exist to increase the resilience of service delivery systems, but there has been no in-depth exploration of ways to apply systems thinking to basic service delivery.
- To address this gap, the BRACED programme has developed a toolkit that supports users to identify vulnerabilities along the service delivery chain and to reflect on the best ways to increase resilience from both a component and a systems perspective.
Global distribution of revenue loss from tax avoidance
AUTHOR Alex Cobham and Petr Janský
Re-estimation and country results
International corporate tax is an important source of government revenue, especially in lower-income countries. An important recent study of the scale of this problem was carried out by International Monetary Fund researchers Ernesto Crivelli, Ruud De Mooij, and Michael Keen.
We first re-estimate their innovative model, and then explore the effects of introducing higher-quality revenue data from the ICTD–WIDER Government Revenue Database. Whereas Crivelli et al. report results for two country groups only, we present country-level results to make the most detailed estimates available.
Our findings support a somewhat lower estimate of global revenue losses of around US$500 billion annually and indicate that the greatest intensity of losses occurs in low- and lower middle-income countries, and across sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South Asia.
How Do State's Business Relations Shape Sustainable Development?
The achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals will depend on the ways in which states and businesses engage with one another.
While state–business interactions can take many forms, they inherently involve processes of negotiation through which actors in both camps pursue their own interests. Successfully accelerating sustainability, generating inclusion or reducing inequalities will depend on whether such negotiations build on and support interdependencies, create trust, and develop shared ideas about challenges and potential solutions. But the factors that determine the nature and outcomes of state–business relations are not yet well-enough understood, particularly in relation to goals beyond economic growth, where trade-offs are often more apparent.
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Beneficial openness? Weighing the costs and benefits of financial transparency
Public financial transparency is increasingly advocated as a solution to concerns over legal tax planning by multinational corporations, and illegal tax evasion, fraud and money laundering. In particular there are calls for mandatory publication of beneficial ownership (the ultimate owners of companies and trusts), and country-by-country reports by multinational corporations (detailing revenues, assets, employment, profits and taxes paid in each jurisdiction). Other proposals include publication of tax rulings and profit and loss accounts for all companies. The broad case is made that the problems are huge, and that public transparency is the only solution. However, the author of this Insight argues that caution is warranted since the scale of revenues at stake are in fact smaller than is often perceived, while experience suggests that data transparency is not a simple route to accountability.
For complex problems to gain political and public momentum, it is helpful to be able to point to simple, clear solutions. Public registers of beneficial ownership and country-by-country reporting have played this role for the issues of illicit financial flows and profit shifting. But, there is a danger both for governments and civil society that iconic transparency measures provide ‘form’ rather than the ‘function’ in seeking to solve these problems. Ultimately, the aim should be to iterate towards mechanisms that enable more responsive public institutions, trusted legal systems, more effective markets and a stronger social contract between governments and their people.
Ten of world's leading think tanks launch new debate platform to address global issues
On March 4, 2017, The Genron NPO hosted a public forum at the U Thant International Conference Hall at the United Nations University in Tokyo, as a part of the Tokyo Conference 2017, a newly launched multilateral debate forum to address global issues. Representatives from leading think tanks from India, Brazil, Indonesia, and all of the Group of Seven (G-7) countries took part in discussions based on the theme, "The Future of Democracy, Liberalism, and the World Order."
The think tanks represented at the conference all share concerns about a potential decline in individual freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. Their discussions at the conference resulted in the drafting of a joint five-point message that will be delivered by a representative of the Japanese government to the government of Italy, which is chairing the G-7 summit to be held in May 2017. Details on the content of the message can be found on the Genron NPO website.
Session 1: Populism and the Future of Democracy
Genron NPO President Yasushi Kudo provided an outline of the results of a questionnaire conducted by the organization, then began Session 1 of the public forum by introducing Shinsuke Sugiyama, the Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, who provided a speech.
Sugiyama began by suggesting that a calmer approach to the current global situation may be prudent. He referred to the writing of British diplomat Sir Robert Cooper, who claimed that the years 1919 and 1989 were major turning points in international relations over the last century. The Paris Peace Conference in 1919 laid the foundations for the League of Nations, while 1989 was the year of the Malta Summit - a meeting between U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev - during which the two leaders declared the Cold War over.
Sugiyama asked whether future historians looking back on 2017 will see it as being equivalent to 1919 and 1989 in terms of impact. He cautioned that, while there may be undercurrents to the Trump phenomenon that should be analyzed, panicking is the wrong approach.
Ichiro Fujisaki, chairman of the Sophia Institute for International Relations, who also serves on the Advisory Board of The Genron NPO, moderated the Session One discussions, a selection of comments from which can be found below.
James Lindsay, senior vice president at the Council on Foreign Relations in the U.S. spoke first, stating that while he believes this is a time of "turbulence and uncertainty," much will depend on how policy makers react. In fact, one possible outcome of change is a new, better and revitalized order.
Whether democracy is in crisis or not is a difficult question, he added, noting that while democracy is fundamentally about people having the right to choose, it "doesn't guarantee that the people will choose wisely, or perhaps more accurately, that they will choose how we wish them to do so."
Next to speak was the representative from the United Kingdom, John Nilsson-Wright, senior research fellow in the Asia Programme at Chatham House.
Nilsson-Wright discussed how one possible explanation for the rise of populism is that it emerged out of a sense of economic grievance with the emergence of low cost-labor competition, and a "growing easternization" - i.e. the movement of the center of economic gravity into Asia.
Another explanation behind the increase in populism is anti-elitism fueled by resentment and irritation. Part of that comes from the failure of communities, he said, and to fix that it is necessary to create a sense of community that "transcends national boundaries."
Barbara Lippert, director of research at the German Institute for International Security Affairs, pointed out that even before the arrival of Trump, there was a trend towards populism in Europe, fed by the populist distaste for the common values espoused by the E.U. Lippert also said that it should be remembered that populism isn't limited to the right of the political spectrum; it's on the march on both right and left, "but it's only one part of the broader political scenery." It is not a coherently organized movement, but rather one with "many faces".
Ettore Greco, director of Italy's Istituto Affari Internazionali, pointed to a number of factors contributing to the rise of populism. One factor is the widespread anxiety about the long-term economic future, especially among the young. Globalization has had a devastating effect in some areas, and there need to be policies that protect those who "are left behind".
Another factor is the public's growing uneasiness with increased diversity and issues with integrating immigrants. People are looking to have better border control, and perhaps, there is also a need to think about sharing the burden of migrant flow globally.
Sunjoy Joshi, director of India's Observer Research Foundation, intimated that it would be better to define what we mean by "democracy" before engaging in such discussions. It would be wrong, he said, to assume that democracy should guarantee the liberal order of free trade and open markets. Also, the rise in populism should be seen as a sign for those in the World Economic Forum and the "bankers on Wall Street" that perhaps a "course correction" is in order.
Joshi believes that judicious application of policy is necessary, pointing to the inherent complexities in the system, and stating that our governments need to be far more resilient and adaptive. As Joshi stated, the world has moved far beyond the requirements of the 18th or 19th century. He believes that rather than worry about "why", the G-7 should be made more democratic by including others - including countries like India, Brazil and Indonesia - at the table.
Akihiko Tanaka, who formerly served as president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency and is currently a professor at the University of Tokyo, noted that two potential events would result in large changes in the global status quo on a level similar to the changes of 1919 and 1989.
The first would be drastic changes in current security treaties. Trump made various claims while campaigning that could lead to such changes, though Tanaka pointed out that he has since pledged to continue supporting the U.S. -Japan alliance.
The second potential catalyst would be a failure of liberal democracy in the U.S., and a rise of an authoritarian regime in the country. Tanaka noted that the U.S. constitution was designed to be powerful enough to limit the possibility of such a situation.
In wrapping up the first session of the public forum, Fujisaki offered his opinion that
the populist pendulum may swing back in the other direction. The major strength of the U.S. over China and other nations is the "richness of its democracy, and its tradition of protecting basic human rights and freedom of speech." People want to share these basic values, not those of modern China.
He also reiterated comments made by numerous participants that there needs to be a greater focus on those who have been negatively affected by globalization.
Session Two: Trump Administration and the Future of the International System
Session Two was opened with a speech by Japanese Vice-Minister of Finance for International Affairs, Masatsugu Asakawa, who described how there are two methods of coordinating policy in a globalized society: "multilateralism + globalism" and "regionalism + bilateralism."
Asakawa said that the international cooperative framework has leaned towards both in differing measures at different times over the past 20 years, but he asserted that neither method negates the other.
Asakawa cited the Chinese economy as being a potential risk to international finance.
"There is still high capital outflow momentum," Asakawa said. "However, Chinese authorities are intervening in the fall of the renminbi by purchasing more of the currency and implementing controls on capital outflow, and we support their efforts."
Asakawa concluded by emphasizing the importance of how China deals with the issues it faces, from excess production facilities and bad loans to the introduction of a social security framework and financial resources with its aging populace and declining birthrate.
Genron NPO President Kudo took over as moderator for the second session, and asked participants to provide insight on the new Trump administration and the future of the international system.
Thomas Gomart, director of the French Institute of International Relations, stated that it is necessary for the world to address the effects of the internet. Gomart described that while the internet is a path for "empowerment, entrepreneurship, and freedom," at the same time, it has become a tool for censorship and control by some states. The world must think about the future of digital governments, particularly in terms of the G-7.
In the current climate, the U.S. will continue to dominate, but Gomart believes, "it has lost its moral leadership." China appears to stand as the emerging power and Russia stands as the declining power, which "represents some risk". In addition to the great powers, Gomart touched upon the fragmentation of the Middle East and emergence of Africa, both of which are concerns. Keeping the world open to globalization is the responsibility of the G-7, according to Gomart, but also of other countries like Brazil, India and South Africa. All of which "must defend the principles of moderation and public goods, and defend the principle of the fight against climate change."
Rohinton Medhora, president of the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Canada, referred to a question Asakawa posed about whether globalization and nationalism are compatible. Medhora believes that they are, and in fact, he believes that "nationalism will save globalization". Each country can invest in its own safety nets, innovation strategies, and investment in research and development, and that is just one way through which nationalism can direct the path that globalization takes.
Medhora also referred to a story in the New York Times claiming that there are two factions in Trump's White House: one demanding that the U.S. should "keep denying climate change, and exit the Paris Agreement," and another faction (which includes the Secretary of State and Trump's own daughter) that argues that the current systems and processes can be used to benefit the U.S. and still allow the country to meet international norms.
"New global governance mechanisms, along with traditional ones like trade, can converge, even in the current era," Medhora concluded.
Carlos Ivan Simonsen Leal, president of Brazil's Getulio Vargas Foundation, provided a perspective that differed from those of others on the panel.
He first asked the panel to consider what the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) truly promotes. Perhaps it promotes more trade, perhaps greater isolation of China, he said. Regardless, Trump making the decision to leave the TPP is not simply a sign of his desire to appease voters at home; it is also necessary for him to focus where U.S. money goes.
"It's not so insensible," he emphasized. "Fiscal limits have been reached, maybe surpassed."
The U.S. must be careful with its investments, and in Leal's opinion, the TPP "would weaken the United States, contrary to what most people think."
Leal also pointed to the increased polarization of world trade with commodities and energy on one side, and high aggregated value products on the other. The questions of integrating services and industry are largely ignored and "we still think about these problems in the same way as we used to think 30 or 40 years ago" when world trade was simpler.
According to Leal, the world has changed and new strategies are necessary, and although he pointed out that it is too early to make any judgements, he doesn't see what is happening as a series of blunders as yet. Someone must think outside of the box in order to fix the issues the world faces, and perhaps Trump is doing just that.
Philips Vermonte, executive director for the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Indonesia, pointed out three factors that contribute to the advancement of globalization, and the roadblocks related to each. The first factor is that of technological advancements destroying barriers to trade, or as Vermonte put it, "the dissolution of distance by technology, both ICT and transport." Technology will continue to advance, he said, so this factor will remain.
The second factor is comprised of reduced obstacles to trade such as tariffs, domestic subsidies, and preferential treatment, while the third factor is political, including facets both cultural and domestic.
While the first factor encourages continued advancement of the globalization agenda, Vermonte said that the second and third factors continue to create obstacles. However, he believes that one solution may lie in the founding of regional organizations. The European Union is currently in disarray, but in Southeast Asia, and for the ASEAN Plus 3 nations, the death of the TPP leaves the alternative of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. While the major powers must accept such agreements for them to succeed, Vermonte believes that regional organizations must take up the responsibility of maintaining the momentum behind continued open trade.
Yasuchika Hasegawa, chairman of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. who also serves on the Advisory Board of The Genron NPO, was also asked to comment and he referred to a McKinsey survey that revealed that increases in global wealth, services, salaries, data, and freedom of movement have contributed to increasing the world's GDP by about 10 percent over the last 10 years. In contrast, he noted, in the period between 1980 and 2008, there was no growth in personal income for those in the lower half of incomes in the OECD member states. Hasegawa stated that the data showed assets belonging to the top 1 percent increasing by about 70 percent, all while income disparity continued to expand.
Hasegawa believes that this illuminates the length of time it takes for the benefits of globalization to be felt by everyone, and pointed to that "benefit lag" as a cause of the opposition to globalization. He believes that the growth of liberal democracy in many countries is a good thing, but more care must be taken, as the fruits of that growth are currently disproportionately allocated to the wealthy.
Kudo wrapped up Session Two by reminding those in attendance that while globalization continues to be important for the common good, up until now, there have been no mechanisms in place that allow its benefits to reach more people.
Educating people on its benefits can prevent the loss of freedom and, in the extreme case, a return to fascism. The world's nations must continue to make use of the multilateral frameworks in place, and continue to promote democracy in each country, he said.
Interview with Noj Barker about Sponsor a Dot for World Water Day
How did you begin to develop your style of dot painting?
I started painting with gouache in 2007. It was then I became a dot painter. Applying voluminous droplets of paints which descend onto the canvas and dry quickly. I created a language with a specific set of rules and for three years I was down an obsessive-compulsive rabbit hole of elaborate jigsaw puzzles. Culminating in spending nine months on one huge painting comprising of literally millions of dots.
Creating these pictures must take considerable concentration:
Well, I am engaged in a self-absorbing meditation where my focus is on a very small area. As I create more and more circles and more and more dots the repetition is like a never-ending mantra. It's the same, but ever-changing. In nature we see patterns, but everything is unique. The more dots I paint the more beautiful, intricate and complete it becomes. For as long as I can remember I have always had an urge to obsessively count things and I attach huge significance to what I am counting.
It seems you had successful shows up to 2010 and then stopped exhibiting:
I had reached a point where my work was attracting attention and good sales were being made from the shows, but I felt I wanted to concentrate primarily on my young children, work on my painting in the studio and not focus on the demanding aspects of exhibiting. We moved out of London to live in the countryside, focused on family life and now It now feels like the future has caught up with me. I have gained a basic understanding of social media and the tremendous opportunity to reach a broad audience. The most exciting aspect of my work has resulted form the development of scanning technology, which means that my very detailed pictures can now be magnified to previously unimaginable proportions. In 2013 I made the video, Dot Painting To Schubert, and this year decided to promote it on Facebook. As it has just reached 750,000 views I am realizing the huge power of these platforms. Using this network to help others is a very positive step.
The video has a mesmerising quality, the music is beautiful, do you paint to music?
Yes, it helps with the focus and classical music is my first love. Although I am inspired by many other genres too and styles from all over the world.
Has access to water always been important to you?
Definitely! In the Western world we forget how important it is to be able to simply turn on a tap to get water. Considering the riches of the world, the fact that so many people can't do this simple thing is really distressing. It just seems incredibly obvious that if you can dig a hole deep enough to find water where people above ground are thirsty we ought to be helping to do that.
Why did you particularly decide to paint a picture for World Water Day?
I have always thought that the process of painting these pictures is like rain falling. It was recently pointed out to me that the endurance required to paint a picture is like running a marathon. So why not be sponsored like a runner? Each drop of paint can represent provisions of water wherever it is needed. This is a really exciting prospect.
When did you first hear about WaterAid?
I came across WaterAid at Glastonbury Festival in 1994. We asked if they came to assist Oasis! I realized then how important their work is and I thought one day I would like to do something significant for them.
Thank you for your time Noj, and I wish you every success with Sponsor A Dot for World Water Day.
Visit: The Sponsor A Dot page at nojbarker.com more about Noj at nojbarker.com
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For more information, print-ready pictures and availability for interview:
Contact Noj by email: email@example.com
Dot Painter Noj Barker is Going Blue for World Water Day
National Water Week and World Water Day: are PPPs the solution to Africa's water struggles?
South Africa’s National Water Week kicks off on Monday, 20 March while globally World Water Day is celebrated onWednesday, 22 March.
In the informal settlement of Langrug in Franschhoek, an innovative wastewater treatment project is changing the lives of the community for the better while reversing the effects of water pollution in the Berg River. “The only way to stay healthy is to work hand in hand with each other and with Genius of Space, since they are trying to change our lives in the community,” says Vumile William Dlova, who is working as a flow agent in the Biomimicry Genius of Space project.
He adds: “This system changed the community because our children are now playing in a clean, dry place with no dirty water running between houses. There are no more flies around. We are living in a healthy environment.”
Although water and sanitation are generally available in Langrug informal settlement, these services are limited and have led to the disposal of wastewater and solid waste throughout the settlement, causing a health hazard and flowing into storm water drains and ultimately into the Berg River and polluting it.
The Genius of Space system gives Langrug residents the opportunity to dispose of their grey water in disposal drums where it is filtered. The water then flows into a system of underground pipes into tree gardens were it gets treated. Some 500 Langrug residents are currently using the 27 disposal points in the settlement.
During the upcoming African Utility Week in Cape Town in May, water conference delegates will attend a special site visit to the Genius of Space project at Langrug to see a successful project based on biomimicry principles in action. Biomimicry means the design and production of a system that is modelled on biological processes.
Strong focus on all aspects of water
As always, water management forms an important part of African Utility Week and this year the conference will focus on how private public partnerships can assist water utilities to become more responsive and efficient in their practices.
“Drinking water and wastewater utilities in Africa are struggling to cope with the increasing demand for services, especially in rapidly growing urban areas” says African Utility Week event director Evan Schiff, “and responding adequately to this ever increasing demand necessitates strong and active partnerships between the private sector in particular and municipal governments.”
He explains: “these partnerships need to identify and secure much needed finance, as well as clean and more efficient technology to achieve the water and sanitation targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, improve the environmental footprints of utilities and municipalities in response to the Paris Agreement. The water track at African Utility Week 2017 will bring together experts from public and private sectors to support utilities and municipalities become more responsive and efficient in their practices.”
Here are some of the featured experts who will address the water conference sessions:
- Phillip Gichuki, CEO, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company, Kenya
- Alfonso Chikuni, CEO, Lilongwe Water Board, Malawi
- David Onyango, Managing Director, Kisumu Water & Sewerage, Kenya
- Dr Anton Earle , Director Africa Regional Centre, Stockholm International Water Institute, SA
- Dr. Paul T. Yillia, Program Manager (Water-Energy Nexus), Sustainable Energy for All (Se4All), United Nations
- Antonino Manus, Water Lead, Infrastructure and Major Projects, KPMG
Real world expertise shared in Cape Town
The 17th annual African Utility Week will gather over 7000 decision makers from more than 80 countries to source the latest solutions and meet over 300 suppliers. Along with multiple side events and numerous networking functions the event also boasts a five track conference with over 300 expert speakers.
The conference programme will once again address the latest challenges, developments and opportunities in the power and water sectors: ranging from generation, T&D, metering, technology and water. These include two exclusive plenary keynote sessions featuring the most sought-after international speakers.
Already leading global advisory firm KPMG has confirmed that it is returning to African Utility Week, this time as its exclusive diamond sponsor. Other industry stalwarts EPG, Huawei, Landis+Gyr, Lucy Electric, Ontec and Shell are platinum sponsors while Conlog, Oracle, SAP and Vodacom are gold sponsors again.
The African Utility Week expo offers an extensive technical programme sessions that are CPD accredited, free to attend, hands-on presentations that take place in defined spaces on the exhibition floor. They discuss practical, day-to-day technical topics, best practices and product solutions that businesses, large power users and water utilities can implement in their daily operations.
The fourth edition of the African Utility Week Power Industry Awards brings together 800 of Africa’s most renowned power and water industry professionals. The Power Industry Awards is the leading gathering to recognise, reward and celebrate the successes of Africa’s power and water sectors during 2016/17.
Energy Revolution Africa will provide a unique forum for solution providers to meet with the new energy purchasers such as metros and municipalities, IPPs, rural electrification project developers and large power users, including mines, commercial property developers and industrial manufacturers. The latest innovations and projects in the sectors of renewables, future technology, energy efficiency, micro/off-grid and energy storage will be showcased.
African Utility Week and Energy Revolution Africa are organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and part of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. Huawei has also been a longstanding supporter of another flagship event of Spintelligent, formerly known as WAPIC (West African Power Industry Convention) in Lagos, and rebranding as Future Energy Nigeria and returning in November this year.
Other leading events in Spintelligent’s power portfolio are Future Energy East Africa (formerly EAPIC), Future Energy Uganda and Future Energy Central Africa.
Dates for African Utility Week and Energy Revolution Africa:
Conference and expo: 16-18 May 2017
Awards gala dinner: 17 May 2016
Site visits: 19 May 2016
Location: CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa
Linkedin: African Power Forum
More about the Genius of Space project:
Putting theory into practice: how DFID is doing development differently
To tackle today’s big global challenges, we need to move beyond the classic aid assumption: that if only we provide enough money and technical knowledge, these problems will be solved. We need to engage with the underlying social, political and economic systems, and the incentives and behaviours of the actors within them. Doing this is not easy. It requires a focus on testing, learning and adapting, working with local reformers to define, debate and refine problems and their solutions, and being politically smart about how donors work in diverse contexts.
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has begun to take some of these challenges seriously, focusing on how its own processes and systems need to adapt. This report reflects the experience of staff from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in supporting these efforts within DFID throughout 2016. It is particularly timely: commitments to do development differently have particular relevance as DFID is coming under considerable political and media scrutiny and scepticism.
We found that DFID’s portfolio of programmes increasingly exhibit some ‘doing development differently’ features, across sectoral work on governance, private sector development, basic service delivery, conflict and gender. There is a growing emphasis on being ‘problem driven’ – setting aside standard formulas and templates and focusing instead on specific constraints to development that need to be unlocked to enable progress. Less encouragingly, DFID programmes have found it harder to commit upfront to experimentation and ‘learning by doing’ as a core method of work.
We therefore recommend DFID takes action in the following areas:
- build leadership vision and a supportive management culture;
- make adaptation more strategic;
- move towards more ‘adaptation by design’;
- streamline approval and procurement to manage uncertainty; and
- find new ways to support locally led problem solving.
Women's economic empowerment at the international level
Women’s economic empowerment is a transformational process, in which women gain increased access to, and power over, economic assets and economic decisions. Taking into account inequalities and discrimination, and the way they are experienced by different women, is critical to secure progress.
Much of women’s paid work remains informal and highly precarious and on average women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men. Women’s economic empowerment cannot be achieved while significant gender gaps in women’s paid and unpaid work exist globally.
This briefing note was prepared for the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) of the European Parliament for their mission to the 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 13 to 24 March 2017. The note focuses on the key priority theme of the 61st Session: 'Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work'.
Smallholder finance solutions gain traction (at last)
New and innovative technology is now emerging that can help developing world farmers handle finance and access markets
Changing demographics continue to shift our global demand for food. A world population that is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030 – and the middle class segment set to increase from 1.8 billion in 2009 to 4.9 billion by the end of the next decade – further compounds the strain on our food systems.
As such, smallholder farmers are vital to sustain the flow of produce – after all, 500 million small agricultural producers supply more than 80% of the food consumed in the developing world.
And they need ongoing support, to improve their health and wellbeing. In 2014, the World Bank suggested that more than 800 million people working within the agricultural sector were living below the global poverty line.
It is little surprise that the issue has featured prominently in the discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Among the recommendations set out by WEF’s new scenarios analysis on the future of global food systems is for business to “contribute to greater resiliency in global markets, increase the resource efficiency of business operations, and leverage technology to address social and environmental challenges in food systems”.
It has of course been in the interests of big food, drink and retail businesses to support the smallholder community to ensure they are running effective, viable and sustainable operations in their own right.
If the farmers are struggling to develop beyond a subsistence level, there is a significant risk that a future supply of commodities – from coffee and corn, to palm oil and rice – will stagnate or dry up entirely.
And it is in the use of technology on farms and in fields that there has already been some interesting developments, particularly when it comes to unlocking one of the biggest barriers to smallholder sustainability: access to finance.
While the idea has perhaps been around for a while, Mastercard has announced a new servicethat will support thousands of farmers across east Africa who will now be able to use their mobile phones to buy, sell and receive payments for their goods using an app and SMS technology.
The service, which the company says “paves the way to a cashless agricultural sector” has been picked up by coffee business Cafédirect who will pilot its use with 2,000 of its smallholders in Kenya. “Eighty percent of farmers in Africa are classified as smallholder farmers, having less than one to two acres of farming land, making it extremely difficult to drive growth and prosperity,” says Daniel Monehin, Mastercard’s president for sub-Sahara Africa, who argues that mobile technology is ubiquitous among farmers in Africa, and can be used to improve financial access, bring in operational efficiency and facilitate faster payments.
Elsewhere, MFarms has launched in Ghana. The new online produce-trading platform connects farmers and buyers, so rather than sell agricultural products too cheaply, the mobile and web-based system links farmers up with the agricultural value chain, giving better market data, including prices.
Other technologies, such as Ignitia – a scientifically accurate weather forecast system for the tropics (a notoriously difficult place to predict the weather) – are playing a role in helping farmers to reduce waste, boost yields and save money. Its roster of users includes Unilever, among others.
More and more companies recognise that engaging smallholder farmers more closely, to find out their pressure points and identify risks, is a sound strategy for ensuring security of supply for the longer term. What’s interesting is that technology, connectivity and innovation are now combining to develop new tools that can boost productivity and manage finances better.
10 Commonwealth policy priorities for trade and development
The Commonwealth, with its historic links between states, a population of 2.3 billion, a combined economy of more than $10 trillion and annual GDP growth in excess of 4%, is uniquely placed to become a driving force behind global trade for development.
Ahead of the 2017 meeting of Commonwealth trade ministers, ODI and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Trade Out of Poverty put forward 10 policy priorities for trade ministers to consider.
Reframing Gender Justice in an Unequal, Volatile World: IDS's Directions for Future Research on Gender and Sexuality in Development
Edström, J., Chopra, D., Müller, C., Nazneen, S., Oosterhoff, P., Wood, S. and Zambelli, E. with Bannister, A., Brambilla, P. and Mason, P. Publisher IDS Download this publication (9MB)
We here aim to outline priority directions for future research on gender and sexuality in development, which are needed to advance our understanding of gender and sexuality in an increasingly unequal, polarised and volatile world.
We also aim to build support and collaboration in this endeavour, with funders, policymakers, partners and colleagues, by outlining the key questions raised and recommended ways of approaching research to provide answers in support of transformative responses for social justice.
The agenda represents the outcome of a nine-month collaborative effort building on lessons from global work by the Institute of Development Studies, partner organisations and networks over the past decade. It draws in perspectives from external experts and policymakers through two small targeted surveys and expert interviews, as well as discussions and consultations at a range of events during 2016.
It comes at a time not only of major changes in global politics and trends, but also of major shifts in international development itself, following the establishment of the global goals for sustainable development or ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ in Agenda 2030.