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Taming Cerberus

Taming Cerberus





I tried out the argument of Taming Cerberus at an event for the Italian aid agency in Rome. A summary is below. The lecture with audio and powerpoint is here. If you just want to skip through the powerpoint, it is here.


‘Development’ has been an astonishing success over the past generation – and Italy has played its part.

A new phase began in 2015, with Sendai (disaster risk reduction), Addis Ababa (Financing for Development), New York (SDGs) and Paris (climate). The SDGs, in particular, provide a framework for the future. But do the SDGs amount to an objective or a roadmap? Probably, the former.

There is unfinished business, especially in fragile states and with respect to global public goods. There are big implications for offical development assistance, not least in handling cross-border spillovers (like migration).

In addition, next generation development will have to confront three big issues:

First, overcoming the uneven impact of globalisation, affecting ‘forgotten communities’ in developed countries, as well as many in developing countries. Is development a zero sum game in which China gains and former industrial areas in developed countries lose? There are hints in the US and the EUEuropean Union that this is what some people think.

Second, tackling climate change, which will require a new industrial revoluton, with all the disruption that entails. Mitigation and adaptation actions at country level are only the beginning.

Third, the forthcoming impact of automation and artifical intelligence, working through supply chains in all sectors,  and having an impact on the location of jobs and on skill levels. The risk is that premature de-industrialisation in Africa will accelerate, and that jobs will not be found for a rapidly growing population.

The three big future issues all raise similar issues about managing rapid and discontinuous change, especially the question of ‘who gains and who loses’, defning the role of the state, and finding the right balance between investment in ‘human development’, including safety nets, and investment in ‘growth’, including infrastructure and ‘aid for trade’.

Policy can approach these problems in different ways. Three broad positions can be seen: the neo-liberal, focusing on free markets and liberalisation (a classic structual adjustment stance?); the populist or nationalist, focusing on self-sufficiency and state intervention; and the social democratic or social market, seeking a judicious balance between state and market, and between growth and social welfare.

Development agencies cannot turn their backs on the big challenges facing the world, and cannot be immune from the debates about policy orientation. There are very practical implications for the ‘who, what, where, why, when, how, how much’ of development policy: the size and use of oda; issues of policy coherence; and the organisation of development cooperation within national governments. Does it even make sense any more to talk of developed and developing countries?

The implications for Italy, both independently, and as a siginificant actor in the universes of European and global development cooperation,  are for discussion.


# none any moreJens Schulthes 2017-11-06 17:33
Simon, thanks for keeping me in your mailing list.

Your presentation is impressive and many of the statitical fugures are very helpful.

But I miss in this presentation (as in all of your others - or have overlooked something?) a head-on addressing of what I think is a priority of priorities: the coming migration out of Africa, not temporary refugee movements, not the "spilling over" out of a few pracarious countries, but massive and growing pressure of Economic Migration. Ignorant or dishonest politicians talk about more "development aid" (as if the past experience was any guide), some even of a "Marshall Plan for Africa" (the German Min. of Cooperation for instance). Nobody dares to bite the bullet: Try to even start to addess the type of difficulties and order of magnitude of the cost for bringing African countries anywhere near to keep their people from leaving. Without that, any discussion of the future of development aid remains unrealistic.

Cheers! Jens
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