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.
The Whole Spectrum: A Holistic Approach to Climate Resilience
Climate change is a growing threat to global stability and national security. Decades of fossil fuel combustion and unsustainable land use have contributed to carbon dioxide levels in the planet’s atmosphere that are higher than in the past 4 million years. With so much carbon dioxide trapping heat in the atmosphere, the planet is getting warmer. Last year—2016—was the hottest year on record and seas around the world have already risen an average of nearly 3 inches. We are already experiencing increased impacts from extreme events, such as floods and drought: while it is difficult to attribute any one event to the broader phenomenon of climate change, Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines caused 6,100 deaths, displaced 4 million people, and damaged 1.1 million houses in 2013, with an estimated financial cost exceeding US$7 billion.
Climate change also magnifies existing risks to health and livelihoods, particularly in developing countries, which can drive refugee flows and conflict over basic resources, such as food and water. Poor people are more susceptible to climate-related diseases such as malaria and diarrhea. Higher food prices caused by climate-driven declines in agricultural productivity also threaten food security in poorer regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Absent climate-informed development policies, climate change could force more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.
Addressing the global climate challenge requires a multifaceted and holistic approach, and DAI has been at the forefront of helping clients around the world reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Our approach works across the entire spectrum of climate change mitigation and adaptation, supporting countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas to develop and implement international and national policies that catalyze individual action, such as increasing microfinance for climate-smart farming in Kenya or improving water use efficiency in Thailand. We translate and communicate scientific evidence and atmospheric modelling to inform action-oriented development programming, and bridge hard climate science with local knowledge. We also help governments and the private sector meet their commitments to reduce their carbon footprint and green their supply chains.
In partnership with clients such as U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), DAI has translated policy into action through real-world solutions. Our experience has shown the following approaches to be critical:
1. Bridge science and local knowledge to help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change. Climate change is already causing shifts in agricultural planting seasons, fish migrations, and the timing and availability of critical water resources for drinking and irrigation. DAI is downscaling sophisticated climate modeling to help communities better plan for the future while integrating their local knowledge into the development and implementation of adaptation strategies.
Through the USAID-supported Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change project, for example, DAI facilitated community vulnerability assessments and the implementation of adaptation activities—such as water harvesting and the use of climate-smart rice varieties—that benefit 30,000 people in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. On the Coastal Community Adaptation Project, DAI supported local communities in 12 South Pacific Island nations to conduct climate change risk and asset mapping and then build climate-resilient infrastructure projects that benefit more than 20,000 islanders. DAI has also built adaptive capacity in environments as diverse as Indonesia, Kenya, and Nepal.
2. Expand climate-smart agriculture and catalyze finance for business models that reduce pressures on forests and land-based emissions. Agricultural production and land use conversion account for 24 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, which makes it critical to reduce slash-and-burn farming and lower the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of key global commodities such as palm oil, livestock, wood products, and rice. Changing practices requires establishing appropriate incentives along the entire value chain; DAI applies economic drivers to encourage better environmental stewardship that reduces pressure on forests and lowers greenhouse gas emissions.
Thanks to USAID’s ProParque project in Honduras, for example, eco-friendly fireplaces that run completely on sugar cane pulp rather than firewood have reduced production time by half—delivering both an economic and environmental benefit to local producers. On DFID’s Strengthening Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change in Kenya Plus project, DAI worked with microfinance institutions to increase investment in climate-smart dairy, cassava, maize, and sorghum value chains, which increases farmers’ resilience to drought and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Again, we have employed our approach—incentivizing sustainable agriculture and reducing deforestation—with positive results in various contexts, from Indonesia and the former Soviet Union to the Philippines, Bangladesh, Mozambique, and Liberia.
3. Drive investment in clean and renewable energy and energy-efficient technology to accelerate the transition to a green economy. Modern energy services are crucial to human well-being and to a country’s economic development, yet 1.2 billion people are without access to electricity and 2.7 billion rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking, which is associated with approximately 3.5 million deaths annually from indoor air pollution. In more developed countries, outdated and inefficient systems that burn fossil fuels contribute to high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. DAI’s approach is to drive investment in clean and renewable energy and energy-efficient technology by removing barriers to investment and collaborating with governments and the private sector to create the enabling conditions for clean energy to flourish.
On EBRD-funded sustainable energy financing programs in Poland and Morocco, DAI provided technical assistance to credit facilities focused on financing energy efficiency and small-scale renewable energy investments worth €270 million. The Polish program achieved energy savings of 166.4 GWh/year and avoided carbon dioxide emissions of more than 100,000 tons/year. DAI has catalyzed finance for clean energy and energy efficiency in Honduras, Kenya, Somalia, and elsewhere.
4. Move communities beyond subsistence and create safety nets that build household resilience to shocks and extreme events. Insurance company Swiss RE estimates that total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2016 was $158 billion, with approximately 10,000 people losing their lives. Climate change increases the risk of weather-related extreme events—such as droughts, cyclones, and floods—which disproportionately harm the most vulnerable communities, such as those in Africa’s Sahel region. DAI takes a holistic approach to increasing resilience by helping communities move beyond subsistence and reinforcing the base of economic, social, and environmental resources required for communities to recover from disasters and help them break out of the cycle of poverty.
In northeast Kenya, for instance, we are managing a cash transfer program that scales up financial assistance from a base of 100,000 households to up to 375,000 households when the first signs of drought occur. Building household resilience to climate change is a feature of our work in Honduras and elsewhere in Central America, for example, as well as on a global basis.
5. Enable local-to-global access to climate and weather data that informs decision making and thereby reduces risk. Climate change science backed by data from satellites and other sources continues to enhance our understanding of changes in precipitation, temperature, droughts, and other environmental phenomena. With this increase in data comes an equally crucial need for timely and reliable transfer of knowledge on climate and weather to inform decision making around issues such as flood evacuations, hydropower operations, and agriculture planting windows. DAI is a leader in translating and communicating climate data, and packaging it for high-level and grassroots decision makers.
Through the SERVIR Demand Activity, for example, DAI inventoried climate decision support products, identified gaps in services and market demand, and worked with USAID and NASA to design products to “link space to village.” On the Regional Climate Change Program in Central America, DAI created a climate information platform—CentroClima—where regional leaders and other stakeholders access climate change data and decision support tools to make more informed adaptation decisions. Through CentroClima, DAI also helped develop the Coffee Cloud app, which connects decision makers around daily and seasonal forecasting for coffee crops, and reports outbreaks of diseases such as rust that affect coffee beans. In Indonesia, the APIK program (Adaptasi Perubahan Iklim dan Ketangguhan, or Climate Change Adaption and Resilience) is also collaborating with Indonesia’s Agency for Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics to improve public understanding and dissemination of weather data, including flood alerts.
Securing Our Future Together. Significant progress has been made over the past decade to raise global awareness, shift mindsets, and begin to tackle in a pragmatic way the complex problems—environmental, economic, agricultural, health- and security-related—that together constitute the global climate challenge. DAI’s practical experience supporting government, private sector, civil society, and community partners in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing resilience has contributed to a broader understanding of the complexities of climate change and its impact on people and their environment. If we are to rise to the threat of climate change, we will need to make continued progress on multiple fronts—from science and policy to mitigation and adaptation actions—and we will have to do so on a global and collective basis, from national and international government bodies to individual citizens. The stakes are too high for anything less.
As DAI’s Global Practice Leader for Environment and Climate Change,Jonathan Randall leads business development, technical assistance, and project management with a focus on climate change, environment, natural resource management, and water resources.
UNCTAD: Special Issue of its Investment Policy Monitor on the promotion of investment in the digital economy.
The digital economy – the application of internet-based digital technologies to the production and trade of goods and services – is becoming an ever more important part of the global economy. In many countries, this is reflected in digital development strategies and investment promotion priorities.
For the World Investment Report 2017 on Investment and the Digital Economy, UNCTAD examined to what extent digital development strategies address financing needs. It also conducted a survey of investment promotion agencies (IPAs) on investment promotion and the digital economy.
This Special Issue of the Investment Policy Monitor presents the findings of these two studies. Key findings include:
* The development of the digital economy is a key objective for almost all countries. Many countries and economies have adopted digital development strategies. An UNCTAD survey of the investment dimension in more than 100 digital development strategies shows that almost all such strategies acknowledge the need for investment.
* However, hardly any strategy contains a specific 'investment chapter'; most strategies discuss investment needs only at a general level. Less than 25 per cent contain details on investment requirements for infrastructure, and less than 5 per cent on investment needs beyond infrastructure, including for the development of digital industries.
* Policy measures to promote investment proposed in digital development strategies tend to focus on improving the enabling (sectoral) regulatory framework. Other measures include incentives and general facilitation, digital standards, and clusters and incubators for digital business development.
* Less than half of digital development strategies explicitly consider foreign investment as a source of finance. Investment promotion agencies mostly do not feature in the plans.
* Responses to a separate UNCTAD global survey of IPAs confirm that they are generally not involved in the formulation of digital strategies. Nevertheless, for most IPAs, the promotion of investment in digital infrastructure, digital firms, and the development of linkages in the digital sector, are priority objectives.
* However, while incentives and facilitation measures are frequently proposed in digital development strategies, only a minority of IPAs confirms the availability of investment promotion instruments for the digital economy.
* The results of the two surveys suggest that policy coordination, between investment authorities on the one hand and ministries and public institutions charged with digital development on the other, can be improved.
Considering the pressing need to increase investment in digital infrastructure and businesses, policymakers in charge of investment, on the one hand, and digital development, on the other, should work synergistically. The forthcoming World Investment Report 2017, on Investment and the Digital Economy, will provide policy recommendations on how to strengthen the investment dimension in digital development strategies.
For more details on these and other findings I invite you to download the Special Issue of the Investment Policy Monitor here
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.