information and news on accountability.

Nigeria's Progress Harming the PoorNigerian top officials have pledged to make Nigeria the region’s – or more ambitiously, Africa’s – leading business center. The progress that Nigeria has made in recent years is hard to miss and it is harming the poor. Last week, former President Bill Clinton traveled to Nigeria to help unveil the Eko Atlantic City, reclaimed land that, a recent New York Times article says, has been built up into a “Dubai-style shopping and housing development built out into the Atlantic Ocean.” Nigeria reclaiming this land means big things for its economy and will provide a lot of job opportunities for local community members. Clinton even praised the Eko Atlantic City project for being a destination hotspot for global investment.

However, there is an ugly side to Nigeria’s progress that is going unnoticed as this push for progress in Nigeria is actually displacing and harming the poor. In Lagos, the government’s vision for progress plowed over hundreds of wooden dwellings in the slum of Badia East, leveling it in 6 hours. This left thousands of Nigeria’s poorest residents without homes and without hope. The land on which people’s homes sat were seen as areas of prime real estate or areas where improvement and money could be made. In the future, new homes will be built on the land. Yet, the chances of the displaced being able to afford these homes are basically nonexistent, according to the Lagos State Commissioner for Housing.

Within 6 hours, thousands were displaced, many saying “they were [only] given 20 minutes, at most, to pack up their belongings” and leave, according to the New York Times article. In the wake of uplifting global development, it is important to remember that, despite progress, there will always be those who live on the fringes of society whose livelihoods must be taken into account when designing the frameworks of the future.

– Angela Hooks

Sources: NY Times, All Africa
Photo: Habitants

How To Stop Climate Finance CorruptionLast December, the non-governmental organization Transparency International released its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) that documents levels of perceived public sector corruption in many countries. This document was published at the same time as the UN climate conference in Qatar. These two events are related because many of the countries with the highest ratings of corruption in the CPI are the countries that need the most urgent funding for climate change-resilient infrastructure. The United Nations cannot afford to let climate change finances be diverted by corruption. The two most important things to keep in mind when investing in climate finance are that anti-corruption is cheaper than corruption and that the time to act is now.

Taking climate funding away from corrupt countries and giving it to nations that are perceived to be less corrupt is not an option. The countries that were originally allocated funds during the UN conference need and deserve them. We must then focus on how to best reduce the corruption of climate financing in these poverty-stricken countries. This takes more money in the short-term but will pay off in the long run. Installing accountable policies, systems and personnel is an important step to making sure that the money is not squandered. The monetary gain of investing more money, in the beginning, is evident in a recent study of North Africa by the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis. In the current corrupt environment, a particular solar power project was projected to cost $2 trillion dollars. However, when they adjusted for a 5% reduction of corruption in the region, the price tag for the project dropped to $750 billion. This huge monetary difference, in the long run, would more than cover the necessary funds to set up a less corrupt system now.

There is no time to lose when installing anti-corruption systems. Climate finance initiatives are a new phenomenon. This makes it easier to tackle problems with corruption than it will ever be. If we can make sure that the system is as secure as possible in its infancy, then there will be no need to do the tedious business of trying to untangle and rebuild a system that never worked efficiently. The keys to fighting corruption are transparent payrolls, budgets and decision-makers, explanations of why decisions are made, input from citizens and monitoring by independent sources. These are technical necessities for an anti-corrupt system, but more importantly, there must be a political will to make them a reality. Climate finance could change the face of our future for the positive, but it is up to people and governments to invest in it.

– Sean Morales

Source: AlertNet
Photo: SABC News

3 Important Factors For Haiti Earthquake Recovery
Despite global outreach following the massive earthquake on January 12, 2010, Haiti has been stalled in effectively alleviating the widespread poverty historic to the island, which has increased dramatically after the disaster. President Michel Martelly, elected twenty months ago, has recently proposed a five-point plan of employment, rule of law, education, environment, and energy to help lift his country out of turmoil. But this plan will not affect stagnation unless Haiti addresses its dysfunctional political system, public frustration, and donor fatigue.

1. Political System
The political system in Haiti is one factor that is working against the Haiti earthquake recovery. The system is conducive to winner-takes-all politics, which makes compromise, an essential aspect of a stable political system, difficult to attain. It is also unhelpful that President Martelly faces an opposition-dominated parliament that only exacerbates the inability to compromise. Haiti does not currently have any strong political parties that represent the majority of its poor citizens. This has lead to a system that relies mainly on cronyism rather than public support in order to get things done.

2. Public Frustration
The unfair political climate has led to frustration among the Haitian public. A staggering 350,000 citizens that lost their homes during the earthquake over two years ago are still living in camp settlements across the capital. These people are waiting to see tangible improvements to their daily lives. Their plight has not been made any easier by the drought, two tropical storms and rising food prices. The president faced 128 public protests across Haiti between the months of August and October alone, according to the International Crisis Group.

3. Donor Fatigue
Not only the general public, but also foreign aid donors are feeling frustration over Haiti’s political gridlock. The lack of transparency with foreign aid funds and lack of progress in reconstruction is causing Canada, one of the biggest supporters of Haitian renewal, to reconsider tens of millions of dollars that was meant for the country. According to figures published by the United Nations, only half of the $6.04 billion pledged to Haiti since the earthquake has been disbursed to the country thus far, and only ten percent of that figure was distributed directly to the government. Until Haiti finds a solution for its political woes, the financial aid that Haiti’s earthquake recovery needs could be in a gridlock of its own.

While these issues are important to consider for the Haiti earthquake recovery, it is also important to keep in mind that the international community is still deeply interested in seeing a Haitian recovery. Identifying the key obstacles to any issue is the first step to solving them. Hopefully, steps two to infinity will present themselves sooner rather than later.

– Sean Morales

Source: AlertNet
Photo: Christian Science Monitor

5 Reasons Why Social Responsibility Matters in BusinessBusinesses and economic systems are bending under the expectations and obligations to be socially responsible. On a global level, governments and private corporations must be more and more accountable for their impact on the environment, and for who they help or hurt.

Here are 5 reasons why social responsibility matters in business:

1. Consumers Look For Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

  • More than 88% of consumers think companies should try to achieve their business goals while improving society and the environment
  • 83% of consumers think companies should support charities and nonprofits with financial donations

2. Employees Look For and Perform Better for Socially Responsible Businesses

  • 32% of employees would seriously consider leaving their job if their company gave no/little money to charity
  • 65% would seriously consider leaving their job if their company harmed the environment
  • 83% would seriously consider leaving their job if their employer used child labor in sweatshop factories
  • CSR practices are seen as important to employee morale (50%), loyalty (41%), retention (29%), recruitment of top employees (25%) and productivity (12%)

3. It is a competitive advantage (Harvard Business Review)

  • Every company needs “a unique position – doing things differently from competitors.” Philanthropic projects show a particular and distinctive identity.
  • “CSR can be much more than a cost, a constraint, or a charitable deed – it can be a source of opportunity, innovation, and competitive advantage.”

4. Capitalism focused strictly on profit is no longer viable

  • Investors will sever business ties with companies that are caught damaging the environment or engaging in socially damaging practices.
  • A fourth sector of the economy is emerging – “for-benefit.” Different from non-profit, for-profit, or governmental sectors, this is a group that operates on earned income but gives top priority to an explicit social mission over profit for the sake of profit.

5. It is a moral obligation

  • Domestically – businesses need to give back to the communities and nations that provided them the opportunity to succeed
  • Globally – economic and security concerns/events can immediately have a negative global impact. Investing, developing, and doing-no-harm will strengthen all sectors of business.

– Mary Purcell

Source: Movingworlds.org
Photo: Chieforganizer.org

 

William & Mary Discuss the AidData Centre for Development Policy
Financial foreign assistance is one of the most powerful ways that developed nations can help lower-income countries fight their ways through poverty, also yielding some of the most immediate results. That being said, many in aid-giving communities criticize foreign aid because there exists the idea that the money invested is wasted, used to line administrators’ pockets or be lackadaisically distributed to corrupt governments.

Futuregov estimates that annually, around $150 billion is contributed globally “to support human and socio-economic development worldwide.”

Given the global community’s demands for greater accountability and transparency in funding, the AidData Centre for Development Policy has been created as “a joint venture between the College of William & Mary, Development Gateway, Brigham Young University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Esri. The Centre’s work will initially be funded through a five-year $25 million cooperative agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).”

The program will combine the efforts of experts in a menagerie of different fields to track and make public the effects of specific foreign aid projects. The purpose of the program assessments is also self-reflective; ideally, the more stringently programs are criticized, the less money will be needed to affect a large impact.

Hopefully, AidData will put USAID back on the map of the United States’ foreign policy agenda and silence the naysayers against providing money for foreign aid.

– Nina Narang

Source: futureGOV
Photo: The Flat Hat

USAID Claims Further Transparency and Accountability

Financial foreign assistance is one of the most powerful ways that developed nations can help lower-income countries fight their way through poverty. It also provides the most immediate results, given that aid investment is effectively distributed both to short-term direct programs as well as long-term indirect programs. Many in aid-giving communities, including the United States, criticize foreign aid spending because they believe it a wasteful investment, used to line administrator’s pockets or be lackadaisically distributed to corrupt governments.

Futuregov estimates that annually, around $150b is contributed globally to aid and assist socio-economic and social development.

Given the global community’s demands for greater accountability and transparency in funding, the AidData Centre for Development Policy organization was established.  The organization is “a joint venture between the College of William & Mary, Development Gateway, Brigham Young University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Esri.” AidData will be funded $25 million over five years in its conjoined efforts with the United States Agency for International Development.

The program will combine the work of experts in a menagerie of different fields to track and make public the effects of specific foreign aid projects. The purpose of the program assessments is also self-reflective, as programs become more stringently criticized. The aim is to have less money spent will have efficiently maximized impacts.

Nina Narang

Source: futureGOV
Photo: BIPPS

Save the Children Builds on MDGs - Goals for 2030Save the Children has proposed its goals for a post-2015 development agenda. Ending Poverty in Our Generation lists ten major goals, aiming to end extreme poverty globally by 2030. Building on the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose progress on its 8 development goals have not been consistent, Save the Children hopes to play a part in realizing the eventual global impacts by delineating their priorities.

Save the Children’s Chairman Harpal Singh praises the MDGs for raising 600 million people out of poverty and providing 56 million children access to schools and education. This significant improvement in the past couple of decades shows that the end of extreme poverty is attainable. To work towards that end, Save the Children acknowledges the faults in the MDGs’ framework, which should be addressed dynamically, while also proposing new targets for creating a sustainable future.

The report proposes that the political process at the level of the UN needs to be cohesive, that inequality has to be tackled at its roots for the progress of every group of people to advance, and that a mechanism should be created to hold governments accountable in global cooperation for development.

The 10 goals proposed by Save the Children, aiming for progress by 2030, are as follows:

  1. Ending extreme poverty by generating growth inclusively
  2. Securing universal access to sustainable food, water and sanitation
  3. Providing universal basic health care, and preventing child and maternal mortality
  4. Providing education for children everywhere, and ensuring that the children are learning
  5. Creating a global environment where children can live free from violence and are protected in any conflict
  6. Creating accountable governance
  7. Establishing strong global partnerships in working for development
  8. Creating societies that remain resilient through disasters
  9. Creating a sustainable and healthy environment universally
  10. Delivering sustainable energy universally

This proposal puts forward a set of universally common goals that draw on the strength and successes of the MDGs to ultimately create a brighter and more sustainable future.

– Pimrapee Thungkasemvathana

Source: Trust
Photo Source: Save the Children


The Bazaar Stars Charity Night (BSCN) is the first charity auction party in China and also goes far in illustrating a new model of charity in China, which integrates fashion, charity, celebrities and the media while doing fundraising in the form of auctions.

Many national celebrities, including famous singers, actors, entrepreneurs and artists, attend the auction party and bid on luxury items each year, the funds of which go to those in need. The media and merchandise brand names are also very supportive.

Over the last 10 years, BSCN has collected about $25 million, sponsored 13 charity organizations and supported people and families in need. Moreover, in 2007, this event was the only charity event awarded with National Charity Award in China.

As more and more celebrities join the event, BSCN has become the biggest and most influential, non-governmental charity event in China.

Mang Su, the executive publisher of Harper’s Bazaar, initiated the event in 2003 and organizes it every year. In fact, Su is a leader in Chinese fashion and one of the top philanthropists in China. Her idea, “Making Charity Fashion,” has, moreover, created a new approach to philanthropy.

Su explained that philanthropy is not about living frugally and saving money for others, but about creating a more valuable society as a whole. “I want to contribute to charity in an innovative and fashionable way,” Su said. “Just like pursuing fashion, such as a gorgeous hairstyle or a beautiful lipstick. Everyone asks, ‘have you given to charity?’”

The purpose of the BSCN event is to help people to understand the importance of advancing society while creating their fortunes. “Not everyone can help others at the cost of his (or her) career, but everyone has a kind heart,” Su stated. “I hope this event can encourage people to express their kindness while fighting for their career and dreams.”

Xinyu Zhao, an investor of Gold Palm Club, bought a Dior sweet-smelling perfume for about $7,246.38. “I would never buy perfume for this amount normally, but this time it is for the charity. I feel very happy,” Zhao said.

Furthermore, Bingbing Li, a Chinese actress and singer, explained that the ten-year persistence of philanthropy is also a form of attitude.

At present, BSCN is not only an auction but also includes in its bag of delights, an evening banquet with dancing, which make the event even more fashionable. “With the development of society, more rich people are emerging. They have their own lifestyle,” Su said. She considers charity activities an elegant lifestyle and exclusive entertainment for the wealthy.

As more and more fashionable activities are related to some form of charity, Su believes charity events similar to the BSCN can bring wealthy celebrities closer to the idea of charity and bring them a deeper understanding of it.

“Some day, behind the rich lifestyle, people will find that it’s only by offering their love and generosity that they can realize their true class,” Su said.

Compared to China’s past charity activities, which were low key and mainly held by private individuals, current charity activities, such as the BSCN, have allowed the rich and famous of the Chinese nation to personally get involved to give back some of their fortunes openly and freely. More and more Chinese philanthropists are emerging, thus representing a new class of Chinese citizens who are on the way to understanding the concept of sharing.

Liying Qian

Sources: Harper’s Bazaar, SINA, Trends, Women of China