Despite all the global technological advances in the last decades, a large share of the world population at the Base of the Pyramid (BOP), still struggles with addressing its basic needs. In the developing world, 4000 children a day die from lack of access to clean drinking water, 80 per cent of the developing world does not have access to electricity, and Kerosene use leads to 1.6 million deaths a year due to smoke inhalation or fire.
- Sasakawa Peace Foundation
Shuan Sadreghazi: I was in Tokyo in early March 2013 for a series of meetings and workshops linked to a joint project of Sasakawa Peace Foundation and UNDP on ‘Technology Incubation for the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP)’.
When travelling it’s good to pay attention to local lifestyles, because what people eat and buy reflect a very intimate aspect of our societies. More and more, however, I’ve seen the same chicken soup, the same toothpaste, and the same soda in (more or less) the same plastic packaging in supermarkets wherever I go, be it Albania, Dubai or Ethiopia. Meanwhile I’ve seen kids scoffing the same Big Macs as far afield as Russia and Turkey.
It’s no secret that a dozen corporations have managed to become worldwide consumer ‘standards’, so that millions of people now eat pretty much the same ‘thing’ in any big city. On the one hand we’re locked into synthetic seeds from Monsanto, and on the other the ‘always low prices’ from Wal-Mart.
Welcome to our internal press review, featuring the latest publications by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance: from working papers to policy reports to entire books. Expect more from ‘First Impressions’ at the end of every month.
February 2013 brings five new working papers, on issues ranging from IQ performance to innovation capacity to fixing the global climate. Geographically, the focus spreads from the Netherlands to Brazil and across 24 developing countries.
In the first of a new series featuring illustrious alumni, we ask Dr. Lina Sonne to share her insights and impressions of the working world. Now based in Mumbai, she speaks of the city’s energy and optimism, as well as the challenges of breaking through years of patriarchy and bureaucracy.
It’s an exciting time to be living and working in India, not only to witness the massive social transformation but also to play a role in the whirlwind of top-down and bottom-up development. Change is now being spurred on several fronts, and academia is no exception. In particular, the setting up of new universities allows more students to follow tertiary education while improving home-grown research.
“Poor Mexico. So far from God, so close to the United States,” declared Mexican President Porfirio Diaz in the late nineteenth century. His words passed into history, summing up the interdependent relationship of these two powerful countries.
Today, as well as losing massive territories from California to Texas, modern Mexico is still overshadowed by its northern neighbour. For decades nearly all major Mexican cities have followed the failed US model of urban development: sprawling car-dependent cities with urban centres fractured by highways and overpasses. Besides destroying quality of life and human interaction in historic districts, this model is incredibly devastating precisely because it is self-perpetuating: more cars call for more highways; more insecurity in the centre causes more people to flee to the outskirts.
Intervention in fragile states will increasingly form the centre of the discourse on aid effectiveness, humanitarian relief and regional and international governance. Since the start of the Arab Spring and following on from the global economic crisis, we have seen various strategies of intervention in various fragile states – from Cote D’Ivoire, Libya, Somalia, DRC and more recently the question of how to design and execute intervention in Mali.
In Syria, where UN Security Council support for intervention, even for creating a no-fly zone over Syria for Assad’s air force, is absent, the model of intervention has been to isolate the regime financially and politically – as was the case in Libya and Cote D’Ivoire. But whereas in these cases military intervention was sanctioned by the UN, in Syria the absence of a UN sanction has lead to intervention strategies, at least at the time of writing, limited to supporting the creation of a more unified (and pro-Western) opposition.
Welcome to our first internal press review, featuring the latest publications by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance: from working papers to policy reports to entire books. Expect more from ‘First Impressions’ at the end of every month.
Our January 2013 edition presents nine new outputs — five working papers, two journal articles and two policy briefs — on issues ranging from green innovation to industrial productivity to diaspora engagement. The geographical scope is vast: from Chile to Costa Rica, China to India, Ethiopia to Syria, Moldova to the Netherlands.
Some birds fly south for winter, driven by the need for warmth and food in milder climates. They face neither physical borders nor restrictions on their movement. The situation for most of humanity, however, is much less straightforward — not least on the fringes of Europe.
The Western Balkans sits on a fault line of ethnic and religious tensions. The histories of Albania and Serbia among others are deeply marked by wars — wars that have sparked waves of migration over the centuries. Yet nowadays migration in and from the region is driven less by political unrest than by mass unemployment, linked in part to the Eurozone crisis.
During a recent trip to Greece, I found the situation there not exactly as they would have us believe. Over the last five years, Western media have been selling us the idea of a failed state, speaking of Athens as a dangerous city with constant outbreaks of crime and disorder. They make sweeping generalizations about the Greeks being corrupt and lazy people, who want only to free-ride off social services provided by the state. I even heard journalists blame the entire euro crisis on Greece, saying that kicking them out of the Eurozone would be a magic solution to the EU’s problems.
All this scaremongering obscures the actual situation of a proud people. The financial crisis afflicting this country has causes far beyond the rate of taxes paid (or not paid) by Greek citizens. First, the aftershocks of the US crisis in 2008 are still being felt not only in Greece but all across the old continent; some say it was the watershed in Wall Street that helped spark the Greek crunch. Second, many experts (including Spanish professor Jose Manuel Serrano) say that Greece’s political and economic suffocation is due to systematic control attempts by foreign governments.
Stunning Cape Town, South Africa, was the venue for our 6th Micro Evidence on Innovation and Development (MEIDE) conference, 21-23 November 2012, held alongside an OECD event on Innovation for Inclusive Development.
Professors Pierre Mohnen and Théophile Azomahou from UNU-MERIT were the main people in charge of this year’s conference. The HSRC Center for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII), based in Cape Town, did a superb job in taking care of the local organization.