It is always good to have a look at the OECD-DAC High Level Meeting Communiqué. The main take away this time around is the expansion of the ODA definition to include certain military and security activities. The donor rhetoric used to justify the change is that “development, human rights, and peace and security are indivisible and interrelated”. This Devex article gives a good overview of what the redefinition entails. Last week I flagged how “our” issues were increasingly on the agenda of security gatherings. Here we see that “our” crowd takes steps towards securitizing ODA. Activists rang alarm bells arguing that this would take even more aid money away from poorest countries, including fragile ones. Helen Clark agreed. Let me highlight 3 other points from the Communiqué that clearly relate to our work. One, a DAC definition of “violent extremism” [footnote 19 page 16] and a list of new ODA-eligible activities to prevent violent extremism that include education; working with civil society to prevent radicalization and promote community engagement; and research on the causes of violent extremism in developing countries. This sends a strong signal that violent extremism is no longer a taboo topic for development organizations. Two, donors are revisiting the use of the Rio markers to better track environment-related development finance. We could learn from this to track the environmental contributions of development operations. Three, donors are still discussing the ODA eligibility of in-donor refugee costs. This is another trend affecting ODA flows to poorest countries.
While all tech eyes are on the Mobile World Congress, some fintech entrepreneurs are meeting in South Africa to discuss how blockchain technology could disturb Africa’s financial infrastructure the same way mobiles reinvented Africa’s communication infrastructure. Elizabeth Gould’s “Africa’s big banks are betting on fintech startups and bitcoin to beat disruption” provides illustrations of the possible transformative power for the continent and quotes Barclays’ Head of Innovation: “Blockchain could be the most significant social and political innovation to impact Africa in 100 years”.
I also need to recommend Charles Duhigg’s “What google learned from its quest to build the perfect team”. The key to a perfect team is not about members being smart or having complementary competencies. It is all about “social sensitivity”. Trust me, read this. It will speak to you.
The Money Project’s “All of the world’s money and markets in one visualization” is mind-blowing. I could not cut and paste the whole graph so below is only the tip of the iceberg. Click on the link and scroll down to discover where the world’s money is. If, like me, you thought that the accumulation of global debt was one of the scariest economic trends, think again. There is worse, big-scale worse.
My quote this week is from Bill Gates’ 2016 Annual Letter: “Within the next 15 years—and especially if young people get involved—I expect the world will discover a clean energy breakthrough that will save our planet and power our world.”