Insider networking: UNU ICT workshop 2013

From 19-23 August 2013 the headquarters of UN University in Tokyo held the first ever ICT conference for staff of the various UNU institutes. While the content was technical, the aim was simple: to share skills and knowledge and get to know each other personally. For example, I’ve been in touch with Bruck Tadesse, my opposite number at WIDER, for several years but we’ve never actually met in real life.

Aug13Ictgroup Continue reading

Why India needs better skills and higher technology

There has been an impressive spurt in the outward foreign direct investment (FDI) activity of Indian Multinational Enterprises since the 1990s, says a recent working paper from UNU-MERIT. But despite the rhetoric, this growth has not been exceptional compared to other similarly developed countries, argues co-author Professor Rajneesh Narula. He recommends a policy emphasis on the manufacturing sector, and within that, promoting a shift from low-tech to higher technology. In answering the questions that follow, Rajneesh provides further details about his area of research and explains the significance of FDI in developing policy.

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Measuring innovation: the use of indicators in developing policy

The recently published ‘Handbook Of Innovation Indicators And Measurement examines indicators and statistical measurement in the context of innovation.  The book’s success, according to editor Fred Gault, is driven by the fact that the contributors are practitioners in this area; they know from first-hand experience what works and what doesn’t.  In addition, this collection also presents an agenda for the development of the subject and is expected to inform discussions at the next OECD Blue Sky Indicators conference.  

In answering the questions that follow, Fred provides further details about his area of research and explains the significance of innovation indicators in developing policy.

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The car killed Detroit

4129808416_eb14033725_zGiants also fall. The latest urban disaster took place in Detroit: the former ‘Car Capital of the World’. After the city’s bankruptcy application in July 2013, politicians in Latin America suddenly grew nervous. Our city planners are often inspired by trips to the USA where, speaking what they call fluent English (in Miami, for example), they pick up the ‘latest thinking’ and then turn our cities into replicas of Detroit.

The ‘Paris of the West’ was once an icon of the US urban model. In other words, anything but sustainable. For example, the city killed its public transport system (selling all its trams to Mexico City in the 1950s), while pushing the idea that bloated boat-like cars equal power and freedom. While in Amsterdam, ‘crazy’ youngsters were blocking streets, demanding better cycling infrastructure, in Detroit, they demanded highway extensions. Continue reading

Walk the Line: How to Reclaim our Public Spaces?

At some point every day, we use the most ‘human’ form of urban transport: our feet. Walking has always been the basis of human mobility and even now, in our mistaken belief that ‘development’ has to mean cities filled with highways and polluting vehicles, pedestrians are still fighting for recognition.

For many, this battle has intensified since the 1960s, thanks to Jane Jacobs’ book The Life and Death of Great American Cities. This challenged the US model of towns built for cars while criticizing previously ‘untouchable’ architects such as Le Corbusier and Robert Moses. Indeed, Jacobs’ public protest against Moses’ plans to build a highway over Washington Square Park in New York City is now legendary. Frustrated by the protests, Moses declared: “There is nobody against this. Nobody, nobody, nobody but a bunch of, a bunch of mothers.” In the end, the mothers won!

Washington Square Park, NYC Continue reading

First Impressions: Press Review March 2013

Welcome to our monthly internal press review, featuring the latest publications by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance: from working papers to policy reports to entire books.

Our March output includes 10 working papers, four journal articles, two PhD theses, and two research reports for the European Commission and United Nations Development Programme. For innovation, topics range from the aerospace industry, to nanotechnology, to R&D patents and productivity. For governance, we look into urban sustainability, economic vulnerability, and communities of learning. Geographically, the focus spreads from Latin America, through Europe and the Arab world, via Singapore to China, drawing on real-world data from more than 160 countries.

Students from the Khan Younis Training Centre in Gaza, run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), test drive a Formula 1-style car they have built, mostly out of recycled parts. Continue reading

Putting BOP on the Map

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)’.

CIMIC Tabarre Issa IDP Camp Continue reading