It is always good to have a quick read through the OECD DAC high level meeting communique. Two specific points caught my attention this year. One, the club of 30 richest countries agreed on the accounting rules for in-donor refugee spending. Certain costs can now be reported as official development assistance (ODA) during the first year of refugees in host countries with no cap on expenditure levels (Annex II). Provision of food, shelter, healthcare and education, rescue at sea, and voluntary resettlement costs are eligible. Spending associated with detention, border control, return and resettlement following asylum rejection is not eligible. Two, DAC members decided to explore the possible “reverse graduation” of rich countries affected by natural disasters or humanitarian crises (paragraph 41). This decision was triggered by the U.K. seeking ODA eligibility when supporting their Overseas Territories in the Caribbean following hurricane Irma. This is important as there has been, up to now, no rule for high income countries experiencing crises-induced GDP drops to be re-instated as aid recipients. As these two developments have implications for the redirection of ODA away from the poorest countries, these conversations are worth monitoring and, I would argue, engaging with. For the second-time in 40 years of its existence, the DAC high level meeting allowed civil society participation and NGOs issued common statements – a possible entry point.
In “It is time to end the opacity and secrecy of social media” Ghonim and Rashbass suggest to develop standardized public interest APIs (application programming interfaces) to improve the transparency of social media. The idea is to create “public good” algorithms to scan and surface problematic content and sponsors on digital platforms. I found this interesting because it does not only look at the symptoms of the on-going social media crisis. As we have argued before, the root causes of the problem have to do with the ethics of digital platforms design and what drives their expansion (money, not societal progress). But, of course, there are also limits in using tech to fight tech.
My graph this week is from Heidrick and Struggles in “To understand whether your company is inclusive, map how your employees interact”. It shows the results of a network analysis done with employees of a large professional services firm to understand whom they trust and turn to to ask for help with decisions. In that particular example, we see that women (red dots) have less connections than men (blue dots); that there are more same-gender ties than cross-gender ones; and that women are less central than men in the innovation network. This type of evidence is key to understanding diversity and inclusion at a deeper level than counting the number of staff from different groupings.
My quote of the week is from Pekka Kuusi’s “Social policy for the 60s: A plan for Finland” (H/T Ronald Wiman) referring to the universal child grant system introduced when Finland had a GDP per capita equivalent to that of 2015 Namibia: “A heavenly gift to a country where there was scarcity of everything – except of number of children”.