Pat’s picks

Pat Duggan is a long term indigo foundation supporter (in fact her membership card is #1!) and an experienced and highly regarded development practitioner. Over the last 30 years Pat has worked for the UN, DFAT, Care Australia and most recently was responsible for managing Australian Government’s development cooperation to ASEAN, delivered through its Secretariat in Indonesia.

‘Pat’s Picks’ is her selection of recommended short reads on development. So if you don’t have time to research, but want to be kept informed about global developments in development – Pats Picks is for you! 

While much of the global discourse is a long way away from the grassroots communities we partner with, these global dynamics ultimately, and in the long term, shape change and opportunity in all the communities we work with.

Pat has briefly summarised the content of each article and given a link, so you can decide if you want to go further. The links take you to the website of each organisation/blog – and there, you can be linked a world of words on development.


The focus this issue is the refugees, with some useful blogs on the Refugee Summit, held in September in New York and which went nowhere.

1. September summits on refugees: Background, commentary and resources

I recommend to you the first blog – from UNSW’s Kaldor Law Centre – an excellent one stop shop for those wanting to brief themselves on refugee policy, scope and law.   In fact, it’s all you need!

2. Amnesty:  UN Refugee Summit Talks End in Abject Failure

Unsurprisingly, countries preparing words for the 19 September global summit on refugees could not agree a global compact to shape a global approach and standards to the new reality on refugee flows.  Shame on them.

Read Amnesty’s comments here.

The Summit was thus forgettable.  The Refugee Council of Australia’s report below shows just how forgettable it was:

United Nations summit on refugees and migrants

3. Human Rights Watch and Human Rights Law Centre

“As failed states proliferate, as non-state actors become more abusive, and as climate change drives ever-more migration, the need to protect a broader set of vulnerable migrants forced to leave their homes will be more compelling than ever” – …..but the Summit was a missed opportunity to realign the global response to reflect this reality.

Link here.

The Australian Government’s intervention at the leaders’ Summit the day after was both dishonest and self serving.  Here is the Human Rights Law Centre’s response to the intervention.  The ABC has reported on it extensively as well.

On refugee children, and the importance of educating them, I tripped over this gem – from the Lebanon d. representative of Human Rights Watch: “Educate refugee children or lose them forever

And this, handy outline, updating you on the history, scope and nature of refugee flows into Malaysia

Some country-level analysis which might be worth a look….

4. Aleppo is screwed. Thanks everyone (IRIN)

Penned by senior IRIN journalist Ben Parker in late July, and prescient given recent weeks of horror in Aleppo.  What should aid agencies – the UN, international NGOs –  do in a place like Syria?  A question highlighting the moral dilemmas…

…’As the donors make demands, the NGOs and media bash the UN, the auditors bash the NGOs, and the kaleidoscope of aid agency alliances shifts, the international system is starting to look a little like the Syrian conflict’.

Read in full here.

5. Aid and Afghanistan’s future (Dev Policy blog)

Countries will meet with the Government of Afghanistan in Brussels in October.  Essentially another pledging conference, it’s a chance to consider how the international discourse on aid to Afghanistan has evolved since 2001.  indigo foundation’s effort is local and community-based, and we are not engaged in this national level discussion but it’s good to know the broader policy picture.  The focus here is the Government’s experience of aid. Some interesting recurring problems appear here – capacity, effectiveness, and leakage…

Read this DevPolicy commentary for more.

6. Israel Declares War on Gaza’s NGOs (Foreign Policy)

You will have heard about the harassment, arrest and jailing without charge of World Vision’s Director in Gaza.  It seems the aid community in Gaza is seeing a wider pattern emerging…”An ongoing crackdown on international organizations is paving the way for the next armed conflict with Hamas”.

Read more here

Next time, we’ll revisit two recent stories:

An update on Ethiopia – the roots and political economy of the current unrest caused by forced land reform (which led to the Olympic runner’s protest); and the food crisis – did the news agencies just move on? or was it averted?  what happened?

MAY 2016

1.  Climate Change:  The Paris Agreement

Comment on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is mixed, but largely positive.  This might be a function of very low expectations going into the Paris meeting after Copenhagen four years ago.  As Timmons Roberts at Brookings says “The spectre of another train wreck of that magnitude hung over the Paris negotiations from the start to the very end”.  People are both optimistic and skeptical about the Agreement’s content – and the world’s capacity to change its behaviour sufficiently anyway, particularly our reliance on fossil fuels. The first blog from Brookings reflects the optimism.  The second, from the DevPolicy blog at ANU (by an ex-senior aid official who worked on climate change) analyses how the Agreement demands greater accountability….Finally, several articles giving us a reality check….the first from India, then from several who remain deeply concerned that Paris did not go nearly far enough.

a.  In Paris, the United Nations delivered. Now it’s up to the rest of us to transform society away from fossil fuels

…Alot remains unfinished:  How adequate and predictable climate finance will be delivered to help developing countries cope with climate impacts and make the transition to clean energy is not clearly addressed. Critically, the Paris Accord is still a voluntary system, with neither binding mechanisms or clear ways to enforce compliance. While laying out the ambitious goal of keeping warming under 2 degrees Celsius, the agreement will still leave the planet vulnerable to major impacts.

…but:  in Paris, the UN has finally delivered. Now it’s up to the nations, companies, civil society and all our institutions—from universities, churches, hospitals, service agencies and local governments—to immediately and aggressively move this effort forward.

Read more

b.  A fragile symmetry: climate finance in the Paris Agreement 

Read more 

The Paris Agreement has two elements: mitigation commitments and financing commitments.  At the very least, it provides a great deal of purchase to those looking to exact greater accountability.  Desirable processes have been set in motion, but ….inertia and bickering might well break the “symmetry” of the Agreement. An omission is that it contains no figures for financing mitigation efforts in developing countries. The existing mobilisation goal of US$100 billion per annum by 2020 (set in Copenhagen) will be considered a floor until 2025, and a higher collective goal will be adopted before 2025 – by a Conference of [all] Parties – (not just the developed countries “donors club”…)

What does the final COP 21 outcome mean for Australia’s development assistance for climate change? It means our “modest” level of support under the UNFCC will be much more under the international spotlight.  “It is hard to believe that Australia will not sooner or later respond to pressure to do more overall…”.

c.  Paris climate deal won’t affect India coal plans

Read more

India still plans to double coal output by 2020 and rely on the resource for decades afterwards, a senior official has revealed, just days after….

India, the world’s third-largest carbon emitter, is dependant on coal for about two-thirds of its energy needs and has pledged to mine more of the fuel to power its resource-hungry economy while also promising to increase clean energy generation.

d.  Paris climate deal throws ‘frayed lifeline’ to the poor

Those concerned with social justice are skeptical:  “This deal offers a frayed lifeline to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” said Helen Szoke, chief executive of aid agency Oxfam Australia.

Read more

While representatives of small island states who pushed hard for 1.5% (global warming goal) claimed this deal was “the best we can hope for”, Oxfam was more direct:  Only a “vague promise” of future funding was agreed and “the deal does not force countries to cut emissions fast enough to forestall a climate change catastrophe”.

e.  Climate migrants could dwarf other refugee flows – experts

The figures suggest that the Agreement does not reflect a central reality which may overwhelm us all: Last year, 11 million people fled conflict or violence in Syria, Afghanistan and other troubled regions of the world. As well, the average number of people displaced globally by natural disasters, including floods, storms and droughts, has averaged 22.5 million a year since 2008 and is growing.

Read more

f.  Why have we waited so long to address climate change?

An interesting historical analysis from a former senior Vanuatu official involved in international negotiations since the early 1990’s.  He points to the importance of a more concerted engagement to involve all –  civil society, business, and others – in shaping global answers to climate change.

Read more 

2.  Refugees and Migration

What’s been happening in Europe might give Australian political leaders some pause for thought….

a.  Migration crisis: ‘Who can refuse these human beings? Who?’ asks UN official

 “The wave was 10cm high two years ago,” he said. “Now it’s about 40cm high. But for your children, it will be 30 metres high. Why? Because 2 billion people in the world earn less than $1.25 a day. The difference between now and 20 years ago is that everybody looks at everybody now – it’s the globalisation of the economy and the globalisation of communications: internet, TV, radio. It’s very new.”

Read more 

b.  This could be the largest refugee resettlement intake in Australia’s postwar history – here’s what it means

Do you know how the 12000 Syrian refugees fit with Australia’s overall annual refugee intake, past and present?  Useful summary from the Guardian.

c.  Migration can help to forge a more prosperous world, says World Bank

The World Bank’s  2015  Global Monitoring Report, points to the implications for migration, poverty and development of the far-reaching population shift of today.  The large-scale migration of people from poor countries to richer ones will “reshape economic development for decades”   Overall trends are stark: while more than 90% of global poverty is concentrated in lower-income countries where populations are young and fast-growing, more than 75% of global growth occurs in higher-income countries where women have fewer children, where there are fewer people of working age and where the proportion of elderly people is on the increase.

Read more 

3. Ethiopia’s 2015 – 16 drought

The unfolding drought in Ethiopia. This year I want to explore more how are we at this point again in Ethiopia…?

a. No reason for famine (IFPRI)

From one of my favourite African food security think tanks, IFPRI….. The 2015-16 drought and production shortfall need not have caused a famine. By heeding the lessons of past famines, Government can ensure sufficient cereals and transfers in cash and in kind to provide households with their needs. Other food security issues will still need to be resolved, including ensuring adequate nutrition for all individuals.

Read more.

b. More child marriage in drought-hit Ethiopia with risk of ‘full-blown disaster’

As well, child marriage is on the rise in Ethiopia due to the worst drought in decades, the government and agencies said on Friday, as Oxfam warned of a ‘full-blown disaster’ unless more than $1 billion in food aid is found for 10 million people. Agencies predict the El Niño weather phenomenon will cause record levels of malnutrition in Africa’s second most populous nation, famed for war- and drought-induced famine in 1984. More than one in ten of Ethiopia’s 92 million people, most of whom depend on rain-fed agriculture, are short of food

c. The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine Is Not Drought, It Is Authoritarianism

Written by a post-grad student in Washington for the Huffington Post. Why is it still the case that so many – millions of – Ethiopians lead a marginal life…?

Read more

d. Famine and Government Neglect in Ethiopia

Punchy…I haven’t seen this site before but might be one to watch…..

Read more

e. Ethiopian girl wins $150,000 for rape, abduction and marriage at 13

A strike for women’s justice. One in two girls in Ethiopia are brides by the age of 18, according to government data. Abusive practices include marriage by abduction — as in Woineshet’s case — and forced unions between cousins.

Read more

4. And just a couple more

a.  Five humanitarian crises largely overlooked in 2015

…and the losers are:  Central America’s Hidden Displacement,  South Sudan’s refugee crisis, Central African Republic, Yemen, Global Impact of El Nino, Republic of Congo..these five received less media attention and funding than all the others…this article demonstrates tragically, yet again, that need is not enough to trigger response from those with the capacity to do so….

b.  Scant aid for low-caste villagers hit by Chennai floods in south India

And while we are speaking of the powerless, Dalit communities miss out, yet again in India….

Read more

c.  Three reasons why supporting peace is more important than ever

A very useful and pithy reminder from an expert…

TIP for those wanting more:  The Thomas Reuters Foundation site is a mine of information on Climate Change, Migration, Human Rights and Humanitarian issues.


Global Development

  • UN Targets Trillions of Dollars to Implement Sustainable Development Agenda

After more than two years of intense negotiations, the U.N.’s 193 member states have unanimously agreed on a new Sustainable Development Agenda (SDA) with 17 goals — including the elimination of extreme poverty and hunger — to be reached by 2030.

The new agenda could cost as much as 3.5 trillion to 5.0 trillion dollars per year. Ambitious, given the world current raises hundreds of billions, not trillions for its development agenda each year!   A major difference with this new Agenda is its universality. All countries are required to finance the new global development agenda – and all must work towards the achievement of the goals nationally. Financing will be through various international – privately financed – funds AND from the ‘domestic’ resources of developing countries. No new international funding is being committed.

The July Addis Ababa Financing Conference’s failure to agree a strategy for improving taxation systems is all the more disappointing when you consider the main approach of the newly announced Sustainable Development Goals the ‘2030 Agenda’.   In keeping with the Addis Ababa conference outcomes, the new SDGs will be marked by universality: ‘all countries are to take action toward sustainable development, including the rich and powerful. Developing countries will be required to raise finance for implementing key aspects of the new Agenda nationally, and so tax policy will be critical to help develop domestic resources in a way which does not exacerbate poverty. This distinguishes the new agenda from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of 2000-2015, which were based on an explicitly donor-recipient model of aid from the rich countries to the poor.’ Click here.

  • U.N. Post-2015 Development Agenda Adopted Amidst Closed-Door Deals

This, from the Third World Network, outlines concerns about what transpired at the mammoth recent New York meeting to finalise the draft, and who really ‘won’. (The draft will be rubber stamped by the UN SDG Summit later in September)……

‘The new global development agenda has powerful potential to make an ambitious and universal dent of urgently needed progress in our economies, societies and environments. At the same time, process is also important.’

  • Rich countries provide a poor outcome at Addis Financing for Development Conference: Oxfam

Our last issue flagged the three important global development summits this year: Financing for Development (July); Sustainable Development Goals (September) and Climate Change (December). This blog gives Oxfam’s views on the first – the Financing For Development Conference held in Addis Ababa in July….

Unresolved rigged tax rules and privatized development are the major drawbacks of the UN Financing for Development Conference outcome, says Oxfam. The key disappointment for developing countries was the failure of the Conference to agree a new regulatory mechanism to build fairer tax systems – ‘vital in the fight against poverty and inequality’.

Various initiatives were agreed ‘and are welcome’, but they can never be a substitute for ‘fundamental changes to the international financial system that are needed.’

The specific outcomes of the Conference are listed at the end of this link:

SPOTLIGHT – Agenda 2030: Sustainable Development Goals – what are they anyway? A nice and brief orientation for you about the goals and, thus, the new global agenda on development…. click here.

  • New UN development goals will drive nations ‘nuts’-Indian economist

Ah yes, the devil is in the detail – this reports a scathing blast from a senior Indian economist ….He points to the obvious impracticality of Governments trying to implement (and measure the success of implementing) the Goals at country level. Click here.

Humanitarian aid

  • Aid reform: Turkeys won’t vote for Christmas

A nice summary of the debate by IRIN, the news agency of the UN’s humanitarian agency, OCHA.

UN Consultations with humanitarian stakeholders in the lead up to the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul (May 2016) have thrown up two key priorities for changing substantially how the world does humanitarian action: localising response, and (if we are serious about this), finding new models for financing humanitarian response. Basically, a successful Summit should mean a significant move away from the traditional global top down, donor-driven humanitarian response towards on which better prioritises local priorities.

A key challenge for the sector, with its complex and competing interests, is its sheer size: international NGOs (INGOs) are now larger, more numerous and more corporate than ever before.   Oxfam’s recently-released research on the subject is entitled ‘Turning the Humanitarian System on its Head’. Worth a read.

In parallel, researchers at the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG), part of London’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI), have embarked on a two-year project entitled ‘Constructive deconstruction: rethinking the global humanitarian architecture.’

As one ODI senior researcher put it: ‘We can’t just give more money to local organisations to keep on doing things we’ve been doing all this time and expect it to work.’ Click here.

Climate Change

SPOTLIGHT: Migration and Climate Change – this link takes you to a range of useful and short articles gathers by Thomas Reuters Foundation on the issue.

SPOTLIGHT:   Women and Climate Change – fascinating, and sometimes inspiring, stories from the field – Africa and Asia – of great efforts at adaptation, by women. Click here.

  • Obama Takes Lead on Climate Change Ahead of U.N. Talks in Paris

It’s an important announcement: As set down in the final rule from Aug. 3 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the CPP requires power plant owners to reduce their CO2 emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Between 2005 and 2013, carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by 15 percent, meaning the U.S. is about halfway to the target. The CPP could prove to be the green legacy of Obama’s presidency. Sara Chieffo, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), told IPS: ‘This historic plan puts in place the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants – the nation’s single largest source of the pollution fuelling climate change. Click here.

Refugees and Europe

Crushing repression of Eritrea’s citizens is driving them into migrant boats

This article was published just after over 900 refugees, mainly from Africa and Syria, died when a boat carrying them to Italy sank off Lampadusa earlier this year. It tells the not often told shocking story of Eritreans, who make up a large proportion of those arriving in Europe now, escaping their repressive and brutal government. Click here.