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Fair trade and covid-19: Resisting resilience?

1. Juli 2020 - 15:41

New buzzword – why so popular?

Resilience has become increasingly popular in all dimensions of our lives and also in different academic disciplines ranging from ecology to psychology and social sciences. The resilience turn has also reached the EU: first in EU development and humanitarian aid policy in 2012, then European neighbourhood policy in 2015, after which it became the centerpiece of the EU’s Global Strategy of 2016.

Interestingly, since the Covid-19 crisis hit Europe in March 2020, also EU trade policy discourse is full of ‘resilience’. Announcing his new Trade Policy Review, which comes earlier than foreseen because of the Covid-19 crisis, EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan mentioned the concept six times. This popularity is not difficult to understand: we all appreciate its optimistic connotation in uncertain times. It is hard to be against resilience and more of it is always better.

However, there is a less innocent reason for its appeal. Resilience resonates very easily with the prevailing free trade paradigm.

Neoliberalism did it again

There is an extensive and sophisticated literature on what resilience means, which can be roughly divided in two views. The conservative view sees resilience as recovering from a shock back to the original stage, whereas the transformative view stresses how crises imply adaptation and eventually a new equilibrium. Both views have in common that:

(1) they present the crisis as something external – that cannot be fixed or prevented

(2) they shift the responsibility for dealing with it to individuals and communities – instead of addressing unjust structures at systemic level

(3) they cultivate neoliberal virtues of creativity and entrepreneurship – rather than recognizing people’s basic human rights


Hence, the transformative vision may not be that different from the conservative one. While it sounds positive and hopeful, ironically, it relies on the fatalistic assumption that crises will require us to change. As some scholars noted, it constitutes a ‘colonization of the political imagination’ and ‘offers hope in a hopeless world’.

Clearly, the focus is not on system change and preventing future crises. When the next crisis hits, we have to be better equipped to recover or adapt. Fortunately, we can organize trainings to develop resilience and develop indicators to measure progress.

Resilience enters EU trade…

Given the neoliberal tenets of resilience thinking, it may not be surprising that the EU Trade Commissioner and the Council of Trade Ministers have come to espouse the resilience turn. Also free trade advocates have discovered resilience as a key ingredient of the EU’s trade policy response to the crisis.

Just like other terms such as sustainability, transparency and inclusion, resilience can easily be molded to serve various agendas. Not only does it ignore the systemic flaws of neoliberal globalization, it also appeals to those advocating a stronger and more coherent EU foreign and security policy, and it has a progressive (transformative!) flavour to it. This fits in the EU’s wider trade response to covid-19: despite cautious and ambiguous emphasis on strategic autonomy for some products, ‘business as usual’ prevails.

For the Commission, the crisis shows the need to speed up the trade deal with the US (formerly called TTIP) and to revitalize liberalization in the World Trade Organization (WTO). An ambitious deal with Mexico was signed end April and negotiations with Australia and New Zealand continue. The resilience goal does not challenge the EU’s ‘hands off’ approach to fair trade – quite the contrary. Meanwhile, the resilience concept has been joined by ‘open strategic autonomy’, which leaves sufficient ambiguity to continue liberalization with some exceptions.

… including fair trade

More surprisingly perhaps: also fair trade advocates in Europe have embraced the resilience hype. To be fair, the movement also uses more radical language, arguing that the crisis provides ‘an opportunity to radically rethink the unsustainable and unequal global growth model’ and demanding binding EU legislation on business and human rights due diligence. More worrying is that resilience also sneaked into the fair trade discourse. It was remarkably quickly promoted to become a key element of the message of fair trade and trade justice movements. Until 2020, resilience barely appeared in key documents. It was absent in a 36-pages vision document on fair trade in Europe (‘sustainability’ was mentioned 172 times) and it appears just once in passing in the 19-page International Fair Trade Charter. The 20-pages Alternative Trade Mandate had only a single reference to the concept, which is entirely absent in the 39-pages Friends of the Earth report (‘sustainable’ and ‘sustainability’ appear 199 times).

Suddenly then, resilience appears everywhere. The brief Fair Trade movement statement to G-20 leaders of 15 April 2020 refers three times to resilience. The two-page summary of a webinar on the corona crisis and fair trade mentions it twice. A Fair Trade International Symposium online event was devoted to the impact of Covid-19 on ‘Fair Trade and resilience in supply chains’. Fairtrade International’s press announcement at the occasion of World Fair Trade Day has resilience in its title and ten times in the 1-pager, which highlights the creation of a ‘Fairtrade Producer Resilience Fund’ in response to the covid-19 pandemic.

Quo vadis fair trade

 However, resilience remains underdefined. Fair trade references to resilience refer to people (‘workers’, ‘farmers’ and ‘producers’) in the global South, or to ‘supply chains’. It is unclear what exactly resilient supply chains would look like. This confusion facilitates a discursive alliance between resilience and the free trade philosophy. Is this a problem? Perhaps not, but it puts the finger on past and ongoing debates on whether fair trade should involve radical change of the trading system versus specific reforms within the existing system. Fair trade against the market or in the market?

While proponents of ‘alternative trade’ demanded an overhaul of the global economic system in the 1960s, they shifted emphasis to the selling of products that would reap direct benefits for producers since the 1980s.

In theory, the long-term radical vision and short-term pragmatism could be combined. Over time, however, market activities came to overshadow social justice concerns and fair trade became increasingly associated with specific shops and product labels. Instead of an alternative to the market, it became a niche market in itself.

Towards a radical agenda

In the past decades, fair trade advocates have already included enough ambiguous concepts in its discursive armory, such as ‘fair’, ‘just’, ‘inclusive’ and ‘sustainable’. ‘Resilience’ now just adds another layer of fuzziness. Instead, it should be carefully reconsidered what fair trade means, how we can achieve it and how ‘resilience’ possibly fits in this picture. This inevitably involves a critique of neoliberal globalization, which has once again shown its vulnerabilities during the Covid-19 crisis.

First, changes or abolition of existing trade and investment rules could be advocated, with the purpose of subordinating free enterprise to social and ecological objectives and promoting less trade at regional scale. Second, instead of voluntary fairtrade labels, priority could be given to arrangements that regulate commodity markets and guarantee sufficiently high and stable prices. Third, key attention should go to UN and EU negotiations on business and human rights. Finally, the fair trade movement cannot be ignorant about the historical and colonial dimension of unequal trade relations, and should be at the forefront of decolonization debates and support claims for reparations.

While these suggestions might seem utopian, they merely undo the worst (and radical) measures of the past 30 years, revalue the critical and post-colonial roots of the fair trade movement, and add recent insights on global justice, de-growth and post-development.

Der Beitrag Fair trade and covid-19: Resisting resilience? erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

It’s the end of the COP as we know it!

30. Juni 2020 - 8:13


In der zweiten Junihälfte veranstaltete das Deutsche Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) zusammen mit dem Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie eine Online-Expertenworkshop-Reihe mit dem Titel „It’s the end of the COP as we know it!“ Darin forderten sie Expert*innen auf, Reformoptionen zu prüfen, die es der jährlichen „Vertragsstaatenkonferenz“ (Conference of the Parties, COP) der Klimarahmenkonvention der Vereinten Nationen (UNFCCC) ermöglichen, eine ehrgeizige Klimapolitik effektiv umzusetzen. Ursprünglich als zweitägiger Workshop geplant, griffen die Veranstalter als Reaktion auf die Covid-19-Pandemie auf ein Web-Format mit vier separaten Online-Sitzungen zurück.

Am 17. Juni wurde der Workshop mit einer Keynote von Martin Frick, dem stellvertretenden Sondergesandten des UN-Generalsekretärs für den Welternährungsgipfel 2021, eröffnet. Er hob die Bedeutung von Ernährungssystemen für eine wirksame Klimapolitik hervor und unterstrich die Notwendigkeit eines systemischen Ansatzes zur Bewältigung der globalen Klimakrise. Damit gab er den Ton für die darauffolgende Sitzung über horizontale Verflechtungen in der multilateralen Klimapolitik vor. Nach Vorträgen von Alexandra Deprez (IDDRI), Ludwig Liagre (Universität Padua), Christián Retamal und Julio Cordano (Regierung von Chile), Susan Biniaz (Universität Yale) und einer kritischen Würdigung durch Ina Lehmann (DIE) erörterte das virtuelle Panel das Potenzial für eine Abstimmung der UNFCCC-COPs mit anderen multilateralen Prozessen, zum Beispiel im Hinblick auf den Erhalt der biologischen Vielfalt und das Versprechen von „naturbasierten Lösungen“.

In der zweiten Sitzung am 18. Juni loteten Damon Jones (Climate Analytics), Stefan Aykut (Universität Hamburg), Darius Nassiry (Climate Finance Advisors, BLLC) sowie Wolfgang Obergassel und Lukas Hermwille (Wuppertal Institut) mit Dan Bodansky (Arizona State University) und Katia Simeonova (UNFCCC-Sekretariat) als designierte Diskutant*innen, den Umfang einer COP-Reform aus, indem sie unter anderem die unterschiedlichen Rollen und Funktionen der UNFCCC-COP differenzierten.


Am 24. Juni konzentrierte sich die dritte Sitzung auf die Rolle der überparteilichen Interessenvertreter*innen bei der Förderung des institutionellen Wandels und der Umsetzung der Politik, die sich wie ein roter Faden durch die gesamte Workshop-Reihe zog. Thomas Hale (Oxford University) und Bryce Rudyk (New York University), Carolin Fraude und Thomas Bruhn (IASS, Potsdam), Idil Boran (York University) und Sander Chan (DIE) sowie die Diskutant*innen Heike Schroeder (University of East Anglia) und Joanes Atela (ACTS, Nairobi) sprachen dies unter dem gemeinsamen Thema „Enhancing Participation“ an.

Die vierte und letzte Sitzung am 25. Juni widmete sich dem Thema „Facilitating action across levels“ mit Präsentationen von Shalini Sharma (ICE&SDGs, Indien), Frank Granshaw (GPSEN, USA) und Kathleen Mar (IASS, Potsdam) und zusätzlichen Kommentaren von Richard Klein (SEI) und Saleemul Huq (ICCCAD). Die Co-Gastgeber Steffen Bauer (DIE) und Lukas Hermwille (Wuppertal Institut) beendeten die Workshop-Reihe, indem sie in ihrer Abschlusspräsentation die gemeinsamen Punkte aller vier Sitzungen heraushoben. Sie stellten fest, dass sich ein Konsens darüber abzeichnet, dass die UNFCCC COPs von der Verhandlung zur Umsetzung übergehen und dazu politische Leitlinien auf höchster Ebene notwendig sind. Dieses Ziel, so die Workshop-Reihe, könnte erleichtert werden, wenn das Potenzial eines breiteren Spektrums von Akteuren, einschließlich nichtstaatlicher Akteure, einbezogen und multilaterale Prozesse und Politikbereiche, die über die UNFCCC hinausgehen, einbezogen würden.

Wenn Sie sich an der Diskussion beteiligen möchten, wie die UN-Klimakonferenzen hin zu einer ehrgeizigen und effektiven Umsetzung reformiert werden können, nutzen Sie dazu den Hashtag #EndOfCOP auf Twitter.

Der Beitrag It’s the end of the COP as we know it! erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

It’s the end of the COP as we know it!

30. Juni 2020 - 8:07


During the second half of June, the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) hosted an Online Expert Workshop Series entitled „It’s the end of the COP as we know it!” together with the Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie. It called upon experts to consider reform options that enable the annual “Conference of the Parties” (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to further effective implementation of ambitious climate policy. Originally planned as a two-day workshop, the co-chairs resorted to a web format with four separate online sessions, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 17th June, the workshop kicked off with a keynote intervention by Martin Frick, Deputy of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Food Systems Summit 2021. He highlighted the relevance of food systems for effective climate policy as underscoring the need for a systemic approach to the global climate crisis. This effectively set the tone for the ensuing session on horizontal interlinkages in multilateral climate governance. Following presentations by Alexandra Deprez (IDDRI), Ludwig Liagre (University of Padua), Christián Retamal and Julio Cordano (Government of Chile), Susan Biniaz (Yale University) and a critical appraisal by Ina Lehmann (DIE), the virtual panel discussed the potential for aligning UNFCCC COPs with other multilateral processes, for instance, with regard to biodiversity conservation and the promise of “nature-based solutions.”

In the second session, on 18th June, Damon Jones (Climate Analytics), Stefan Aykut (University of Hamburg), Darius Nassiry (Climate Finance Advisors, BLLC), and Wolfgang Obergassel and Lukas Hermwille (Wuppertal Institute), with Dan Bodansky (Arizona State University) and Katia Simeonova (UNFCCC Secretariat) as designated discussants, endeavoured to “Scoping COP reform” by inter alia differentiating distinct roles and functions of the UNFCCC COP.


On 24th June, the third session focussed on the role of non-party stakeholders to driving institutional change and policy implementation, which proved a recurrent theme across the entire workshop series. Thomas Hale (Oxford University) and Bryce Rudyk (New York University), Carolin Fraude and Thomas Bruhn (IASS, Potsdam), Idil Boran (York University) and Sander Chan (DIE), as well as discussants Heike Schroeder (University of East Anglia) and Joanes Atela (ACTS, Nairobi) addressed this under the common theme of “Enhancing participation”.

The fourth and final session, on 25th June, turned to “Facilitating action across levels” with presentations by Shalini Sharma (ICE&SDGs, India), Frank Granshaw (GPSEN, USA), and Kathleen Mar (IASS, Potsdam) and additional commentaries by Richard Klein (SEI) and Saleemul Huq (ICCCAD). Co-chairs Steffen Bauer (DIE) and Lukas Hermwille (Wuppertal Institute) wrapped up the workshop series as they connected the dots across all four sessions in their concluding presentation. They noted an emergent consensus on the need for the COP to move from negotiation to implementation and to provide high-level political guidance to that end. This objective, the workshop series suggests, could be facilitated by embracing the potential of a broader spectrum of actors, including non-state actors, and by reaching out to multilateral processes and policy sectors that lie beyond the UNFCCC.

If you wish to join the debate on how to reform UN climate conferencing for the benefit of ambitious and effective implementation, you may refer to the hashtag #EndOfCOP on Twitter.

Der Beitrag It’s the end of the COP as we know it! erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Towards a digital partnership between the AU and the EU. New online event series on digitisation in Africa

29. Juni 2020 - 15:29

©Shahadat Rahman on Unsplash

Like hardly any other technology, digitalisation is changing and revolutionising our working and living environments, and last but not least, social coexistence. The issue also plays an increasingly important role in relations between Africa and Europe.

The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), together with the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) and the European Center for Development Policy and Management (ECDPM), organized four webinars on digitisation last month. African and European politicians, members of implementation organisations, entrepreneurs and representatives of international organisations met to discuss four central thematic blocks of digitisation on the basis of a previously circulated position paper. The discussion centered on strategic investments, education, higher education, and vocational training, good governance and regulation and the implementation of existing agreements between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU).

The direct juxtaposition of contrasting positions contributed to the broadening of the knowledge of a highly dynamic thematic complex. All participants agreed that COVID-19 acts as an accelerator of global digitisation. In view of significant investment needs and limited funds, it requires close cooperation between public institutions and the private sector, according to some participants. Africa’s digital transformation can only succeed if both infrastructural and educational policy challenges will be solved in unison.

The event is part of a series of policy briefs and events ahead of the AU-EU Summit, jointly organized by the DIE, ACET, ECDPM with the financial support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The results of the discussions will be reflected in a public position paper. More information and regular updates on upcoming events can be found here.

Der Beitrag Towards a digital partnership between the AU and the EU. New online event series on digitisation in Africa erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Towards a digital partnership between the AU and the EU. Neue Web-Format-Reihe zum Thema Digitalisierung in Afrika

29. Juni 2020 - 15:26

©Shahadat Rahman on Unsplash

Wie kaum eine andere Technologie verändert und revolutioniert Digitalisierung unsere Arbeits- und Lebenswelten und nicht zuletzt das gesellschaftliche Miteinander. Auch in den Beziehungen zwischen Afrika und Europa spielt das Thema eine zunehmend bedeutende Rolle.

Das Deutschen Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) hat zusammen mit dem African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) und dem European Center for Development Policy and Management (ECDPM) im vergangenen Monat vier Web-Veranstaltungen zum Thema Digitalisierung organisiert. Hierbei trafen sich afrikanische und europäische Politiker*innen, Mitglieder von Implementierungsorganisationen, Unternehmer*innen sowie Vertreter*innen internationaler Organisationen, um auf Grundlage eines zuvor zirkulierten Positionspapiers vier zentrale Themenblöcke der Digitalisierung zu diskutieren. Es ging dabei um strategische Investitionen, Schul-, Hochschul-, und Berufsbildung, gute Regierungsführung und Regulierung und die Implementierung bestehender Vereinbarungen zwischen der Europäischen Union (EU) und der Afrikanischen Union (AU).

Die direkte Gegenüberstellung zum Teil stark kontrastierender Positionen trug zur Erkenntniserweiterung eines hoch dynamischen Themenkomplexes bei. Einig waren sich alle Teilnehmer*innen, dass COVID-19 als Beschleuniger der globalen Digitalisierung fungiert. Angesichts eines hohen Investitionsbedarfs und begrenzter Mittel bedürfe es einer engen Zusammenarbeit zwischen öffentlichen Institutionen und privaten Unternehmen, so einige Teilnehmer*innen. Afrikas digitale Transformation könne nur dann gelingen, wenn sowohl infrastrukturelle als auch bildungspolitische Herausforderungen im Einklang gelöst werden.

Die Web-Formate sind Teil einer neuen Veranstaltungsreihe, die das DIE zusammen mit ACET und ECDPM und der finanziellen Unterstützung des Bundesministeriums für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) in Vorbereitung des bevorstehenden AU-EU-Gipfels im Oktober dieses Jahres organisiert. Die Ergebnisse der Diskussionen werden in einem öffentlichen Positionspapier reflektiert. Weitere Informationen und regelmäßige Updates zu bevorstehenden Veranstaltungen finden Sie hier.

Der Beitrag Towards a digital partnership between the AU and the EU. Neue Web-Format-Reihe zum Thema Digitalisierung in Afrika erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Report on the annual conference of the RNE on 15 June 2020

29. Juni 2020 - 14:55


On 15 June 2020, the Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) held its first virtual annual conference. Much was different from what had been planned – a half-day format instead of a full-day meeting; a video message from the Chancellor instead of a live performance; the presentation of the draft of the revised sustainability strategy was cancelled because the Federal Government had to concentrate on containing the Corona pandemic and its social and economic consequences in recent months. The consultation on the sustainability strategy has been postponed until autumn. The RNE used the conference to discuss the issues it had dealt with in the first half of the year with external guests. On the one hand, the focus was on issues that the Council believes must be given greater weight in sustainability policy, such as public services of general interest, sustainable food systems and the decarbonisation of production and consumption. On the other hand, new topics were discussed, such as the German government’s hydrogen strategy, the urgent recommendation to align the economic stimulus package in Germany and the EU with climate and sustainability policy goals and to use the German EU Council Presidency to reform and strengthen the European-African partnership. In the final round, Imme Scholz, RNE Vice-Chairperson and DIE’s Deputy Director, summarised insights from the Annual Conference and the statements of the 3400 participants: Many see the Corona pandemic as an opportunity to sharpen their awareness of the essentials, e.g. the recognition that it is not only systemically relevant what creates income or secures economic growth, but also what makes people grow and enables them to cope with everyday life and holds society together. The reference to the common good has thus gained new importance in the public and political debate.

In summer and autumn, RNE will organise a series of online conferences in which interested parties can also enter into direct exchange. The online confernce „The contribution of responsible banking and sustainability-oriented finance for resilient economic structures“ will kick off on 8 July. More details will be available soon on the RNE website.

Photos on twitter

Link to the recording of the RNE Annual Conference 2020

Der Beitrag Report on the annual conference of the RNE on 15 June 2020 erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Wissenschaftsnarrative als weltschaffende Praktiken: Meeresspiegelveränderung in Singapur

29. Juni 2020 - 14:09


Das dritte Projekt dieser Reihe, „Wissenschaftsnarrative als weltschaffende Praktiken: Meeresspiegelveränderung in Singapur“, ist Teil des interdisziplinären Verbundprojektes Fiction Meets Science (FMS), gefördert durch die Volkswagenstiftung. Aus der Zusammenarbeit von Soziolog*innen und Literaturwissenschaftler*innen eröffnen sich neue Perspektiven hinsichtlich der Darstellung von Wissenschaft in fiktionalen sowie faktualen Narrativen. Gleichzeitig ergeben sich aus diesen Studien Einblicke in die internen Logiken wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens, als auch Erkenntnisse über dessen Platz und Bedeutung in der Gesellschaft. In der aktuellen Projektphase „FMS II: Varieties of Narrative“ liegt der Schwerpunkt auf der Untersuchung der globalen Dimensionen, der unterschiedlichen kulturellen wie regionalen Prägung des Wissenschaftskontextes und öffentlicher Diskurse, welche in die Aufbereitung von Wissenschaft einfließen. Darüber hinaus wird der Beitrag dieser Narrative in vielfältigen Genres und Medien zum öffentlichen Engagement und zu einer stärkeren gesellschaftlichen Auseinandersetzung mit Wissenschaft erforscht.

Indem das hier vorgestellte FMS-Teilprojekt das Thema Meeresspiegelveränderung in den Fokus rückt, weist es auch auf die Wichtigkeit des wachsenden Feldes der Marinen Sozialwissenschaften hin. Der dringende Bedarf an empirischer Forschung auf dem Gebiet der Ocean Governance und damit verbundener Schnittstellen zwischen Wissenschaft und Politik – hier durch die Untersuchung eines spezifischen Klimawandel-Diskurses in den Blick genommen – wird vor dem Hintergrund der im nächsten Jahr beginnenden UN-Dekade der Ozeanforschung besonders deutlich.

Die im letzten IPCC- Sonderbericht über die Ozeane und die Kryosphäre in einem sich wandelnden Klima (SROCC) beschriebenen schwerwiegenden Folgen der weltweiten Klimaveränderung sind omnipräsent. Singapur ist bereits von mehreren Auswirkungen betroffen. Als kleiner, aber bevölkerungsreicher und niedrig liegender Insel- und Stadtstaat ist es allerdings vor allem durch den Anstieg des mittleren globalen Meeresspiegels in hohem Maße gefährdet, und zudem als tropischer Hotspot vom Schicksal des antarktischen Eisschildes abhängig. Um das Land vor Überflutungen und Küstenerosion zu schützen, baut die Regierung auf verschiedene Anpassungsmaßnahmen. So sind etwa 70-80% der Küstenlinie Singapurs durch Polder, massive Uferbefestigungen und Steindämme, oder mithilfe von naturbasierten Lösungen wie der Mangrovenaufforstung gesichert.

Die gravierende Bedrohung durch den Meeresspiegelanstieg infolge seiner geographischen Lage ist nur einer der vielfältigen Gründe, weshalb Singapur als Untersuchungsstandort für dieses Forschungsprojekt gewählt wurde. Es handelt sich vielmehr um eine ganz spezielle Zusammensetzung von Aspekten: Sein wirtschaftlicher Einfluss im und weit über den Verband Südostasiatischer Nationen (ASEAN) hinaus, seine große technologische Innovationskraft, seine Entwicklung und sein Selbstverständnis als Weltstadt, sowie seine starke globale Vernetzung als weltweit größter Umschlaghafen. Diese Eigenschaften ziehen eine ganz eigene Herangehensweise und Argumentation in Bezug auf Singapurs Umweltmanagement angesichts zukünftiger Herausforderungen nach sich. Selbsterklärtes Ziel des Stadtstaates ist es, nicht weniger als eine internationale Führungsrolle im Bereich „green economy“ einzunehmen. Dieser Anspruch ist jedoch nicht frei von Widersprüchlichkeiten, bedenkt man etwa die kontroversen Praktiken beim Sandabbau zur fortlaufenden Landgewinnung oder die Tatsache, dass die CO2-Emissionen pro Kopf höher als in weitaus größeren Ländern sind, so dass der ökologische Fußabdruck Singapurs seine Biokapazität um ein Vielfaches übersteigt.


Im Bewusstsein der Notwendigkeit evidenzbasierter Klimapolitik hat die singapurische Regierung mehrere Aktionspläne (z.B. „SSB – Sustainable Singapore Blueprint“) und Informationskampagnen erarbeitet, um die Aufmerksamkeit der Bürger für den Klimawandel zu wecken. Lange Zeit war das Thema des steigenden Meeresspiegels im öffentlichen Diskurs wenig präsent, ist nun aber von höchster Priorität. Damit gehen hohe Investitionen in wissenschaftliche Forschungsprogramme einher, mit der Vorgabe, Singapur als klimatologischen Wissensstandort und -knotenpunkt in (Südost-) Asien zu etablieren, inklusive einer Wissenschaftsgemeinde auf lokaler Ebene mit gleichfalls lokal erhobenen Daten. Da das Land ein leistungsstarker und einflussreicher Akteur in der Region ist, werden die dort entwickelten sozio-technologischen Ansätze im Umgang mit den Folgen des Klimawandels zusätzliche Auswirkungen auf die benachbarten Länder haben.

Die Bilder und Deutungsmuster einer Zukunft, die durch Meeresspiegelveränderung gefährdet ist, sind ebenso wie diesbezügliche wissenschaftliche Erkenntnisse gewiss nicht an regionale Grenzen gebunden. Sie reisen in unterschiedlichen Formen von Wissenschaftsnarrativen und werden von globalen in lokale diskursive Kontexte übersetzt. Das Ergründen dieser Diskurse bringt Dynamiken und strukturelle Aspekte zum Vorschein, die ein besseres Verständnis von sozialen Wandlungsprozessen ermöglichen. Im konzeptionellen Rahmen von Wissenssoziologischer Diskursanalyse und ‘Multi-sited ethnography¢ ist das Ziel dieses Forschungsprojektes die qualitative Untersuchung, wie und in welchem Ausmaß diese Narrative in politische Aushandlungsprozesse in Singapur einfließen und sie leiten. Ihren Wegen vom öffentlichen in den politischen Bereich folgend, wird dabei gleichzeitig der Mobilisierung bestimmter argumentativer Tendenzen, Vorstellungen und sinnschaffender Handlungen nachgegangen. Adaptionen aus der Populärkultur, wissenschaftsjournalistische Aufarbeitung und Regierungsprogramme werden in diesem Sinne als Quellen analysiert, die an der Konstruktion des Diskurses bezüglich Meeresspiegelveränderung beteiligt sind und somit das Zusammenspiel einer Vielzahl von Akteuren abbilden.


Zeitrahmen: 3 Jahre                     Projekt: Beatrice Dippel

Der Beitrag Wissenschaftsnarrative als weltschaffende Praktiken: Meeresspiegelveränderung in Singapur erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Narrating Science as a World-Making Activity: Sea Level Change in Singapore

29. Juni 2020 - 14:07


The third project in this series, entitled “Narrating Science as a World-Making Activity: Sea Level Change in Singapore“ is part of a larger interdisciplinary research programme Fiction Meets Science (FMS) funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. The collaboration between literary and social sciences opens up new perspectives on the portrayal of science in both fictional and factual narratives. At the same time, the programme aims at providing insights into the inner workings of science and its place in society. Reflecting on the global dimensions, diverse cultural and regional contexts of science and public discourse production, is the main emphasis of the current project phase „FMS II: Varieties of Narrative“, studying science narratives in various genres and media. Furthermore, their contributions to broader societal discourses on science as well as to public engagement with science will be examined.

With the focus on sea level change, this subproject is also pointing to the importance of the growing field of marine social sciences. Against the background of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, starting next year, the urgent need for empirical research regarding ocean governance and related science-policy interfaces – here addressed via the investigation of a specific climate change discourse – is underlined once more.

The severe impacts of global climate change, as described in the latest IPCC’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), are ubiquitous, and Singapore is already affected by several consequences. As a small, but densely populated and low-lying island city-state, it is particularly vulnerable to global mean sea level rise, and as a tropical hotspot very sensitive to the fate of the Antarctic ice sheet. To defend the country against inundations and coastal erosion, the government builds upon various adaptation measures: About 70-80% of Singapore’s coastline is protected by polders, hard seawalls and stone embankments, or through the use of nature-based solutions like mangrove restoration.

The acute problem with sea level rise due to its geographical location is amongst the manifold reasons why Singapore was chosen as a study ground for this research project. It is rather a particular compound of aspects, including its economic influence not merely in the ASEAN but also beyond, its technological innovation capacity, the Singaporean nation-building of a cosmopolitan identity as well as its strong global interconnections as the world’s biggest transshipment hub. These factors entail a very distinctive approach and reasoning about environmental management in a challenged future, wherein the self-proclaimed role is that of an internationally leading green economy. Yet, this statement is not free of contradictions, considering the controversial sand mining practices for the ongoing Singaporean land reclamation or the fact that the carbon emissions per capita are higher than in far larger countries, resulting in an ecological footprint highly exceeding the biocapacity of the city-state.


Recognising the need for evidence-based climate policies, the Singaporean government started developing several action plans (e.g. “SSB – Sustainable Singapore Blueprint“) and information campaigns to raise awareness for climate change amongst its citizens. For a long time, the topic of rising sea levels was not on the public discourse agenda, but is now set on high priority. This goes hand in hand with high investments in academic research programmes with the pronounced objective to develop Singapore as a knowledge hub in climate science in (Southeast) Asia, relying on a local database and a local scientific community. As a powerful player in the region, Singapore’s socio-technological practices in tackling the consequences of a changing climate will have further impacts on the neighbouring countries.

The imaginaries of a future challenged by sea level change and respective scientific knowledge are certainly not limited to a regional level. They travel in various forms of science narratives and are translated from global discursive contexts to local ones. An examination of these discourses, revealing dynamics and structural aspects, allows a better comprehension of social transformation processes. Drawing on the concept of multi-sited ethnography and the Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse, this research project aims to qualitatively assess how and to what degree these narratives inform and guide national policy-making in Singapore. By following them on their ways from the public to the political sphere, it also explores the mobilisation of certain argumentative currents, ideas and meaning-making activities. Cultural adaptations, science journalism and government programmes will be analysed as sources co-constructing the discourse on sea level change and depicting the interplay between a variety of actors.


Time frame: 3 years                     Project staff: Beatrice Dippel

Der Beitrag Narrating Science as a World-Making Activity: Sea Level Change in Singapore erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Jörn Grävingholt at the hearing in the NRW Science Committee on Peace and Conflict Research

29. Juni 2020 - 13:14

Jörn Grävingholt & Conrad Schetter, ©JRF

On 17June 2020, at the request of the ALLIANCE 90 / THE GREENS parliamentary group, the science committee of the North Rhine-Westphalian state parliament discussed the topic “Strengthening peace and conflict research” in a public meeting.

Representatives of various institutes for peace and conflict research in North Rhine-Westphalia discussed with the science committee about the future direction of this research field.

The two Bonn member institutes of the Johannes Rau Research Foundation and the Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research, the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik  (DIE) and the BICC (Bonn International Conversion Center) were also invited.

Jörn Grävingholt spoke for the DIE and explained that the institutions involved in peace and conflict research in NRW cooperate in many different ways and thus bring their different strengths to bear in joint research and policy advice. He argued to strengthen the institutional funding of this branch of research in order to ensure the recognized high quality work in the long term.

The hearing made it clear that all political groups in the state parliament attach great importance to peace and conflict research. The committee minutes for consultation will shortly be available on the Science Committee website:.

The application of the ALLIANCE 90 / THE GREENS parliamentary group „Strengthening peace and conflict research“ (German only) can be found at:

Der Beitrag Jörn Grävingholt at the hearing in the NRW Science Committee on Peace and Conflict Research erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Jörn Grävingholt bei Anhörung im Wissenschaftsausschuss NRW zu Friedens- und Konfliktforschung

29. Juni 2020 - 13:13

Jörn Grävingholt & Conrad Schetter, ©JRF

Am 17. Juni 2020 erörterte der Wissenschaftsausschuss des nordrhein-westfälischen Landtages auf Antrag der Fraktion BÜNDNIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN in einer öffentlichen Sitzung das Thema „Die Friedens- und Konfliktforschung stärken“.
Vertreter*innen verschiedener Institute der Friedens- und Konfliktforschung in Nordrhein-Westfalen diskutierten mit dem Wissenschaftsausschuss über die zukünftige Ausrichtung dieses Forschungsfeldes. Eingeladen waren auch die beiden Bonner Mitgliedsinstitute der Johannes-Rau-Forschungsgemeinschaft und der Bonner Allianz für Nachhaltigkeitsforschung, das Deutsche Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) sowie das BICC (Internationales Konversionszentrum Bonn).

Für das DIE sprach Jörn Grävingholt und erläuterte, dass die Einrichtungen, die in NRW in der Friedens- und Konfliktforschung engagiert sind, in vielfältiger Weise kooperieren und damit ihre unterschiedlichen Stärken in gemeinsame Forschung und Politikberatung einbringen. Er warb dafür, die institutionelle Finanzierung dieses Forschungszweigs zu stärken, um die anerkannt hochwertige Arbeit auf Dauer sicherstellen zu können.

In der Anhörung wurde deutlich, dass alle Fraktionen des Landtags der Friedens- und Konfliktforschung einen hohen Stellenwert beimessen. Das Ausschussprotokoll zur Anhörung steht in Kürze auf der Seite des Wissenschaftsausschusses.

Der Antrag der Fraktion BÜNDNIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN: „Die Friedens- und Konfliktforschung stärken“ (Drucksache 17/7752)

Der Beitrag Jörn Grävingholt bei Anhörung im Wissenschaftsausschuss NRW zu Friedens- und Konfliktforschung erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Bonn Digital Conference 2020

29. Juni 2020 - 12:45

Mariya Aleksandrovo and Michael Brüntrup from the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) organised an afternoon within the virtual Global Landscape Forum (GLF) 2020. Together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and partners from the University of Bonn, the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Rangeland Initiative of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), they designed three interlinked sessions on the nexus “drought risk management, natural resource management and social protection”. The new German focal point in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) for the UNCCD, Mrs Christa Franke, could be won over for a greeting address.

DIE’s contribution consisted of three panel discussions and a complex mix of 23 video clips, mostly produced specifically for this event. A moderator guided through each session. A preliminary recording of the entire session can be found here. An unusual highlight was certainly the address of the ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti who brought in the ”orbital perspective (…) onto the amazing work you all are doing to preserve our climate, our biosphere, our landscapes, and especially our agricultural and food security” and some of the services that aerospace can contribute to this. In the last session, some short clips from climate activists in Uganda made it very clear how drastically the Corona crisis just as drought challenges affect poor people in poor countries. Social protection, resource and climate protection as well as agriculture must go together to meet this challenge. DIE’s Christoph Strupat could clearly substantiate some of these linkages with the help of results from intervention experiments in Malawi.

The GLF 2020 had been planned long before the Corona pandemic as a virtual event, to provide a sign that large conferences and global dialogue are possible and meaningful without resource-intensive travelling. With the outbreak of the Corona crisis the event got further dynamic and meaning, which has also been considered in its subtitle „Food in the time of crises“. With almost 5000 (a fee of 10 US dollar) paying participants from 146 countries and all segments of society this has been achieved in an impressive way. Participants were free to roam between sessions and to exchange with presenters and among themselves; in addition, social media were served busily, its outreach indicated with 50 million.


In summary, the conference showed many new options for global interactions but it also became clear that this requires substantial efforts and that it cannot completely replace physical meetings

Der Beitrag Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Bonn Digital Conference 2020 erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Bonn Digital Conference 2020

29. Juni 2020 - 12:31

Mariya Aleksandrova und Michael Brüntrup vom Deutschen Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) gestalteten einen Dialog-orientierten Nachmittag im virtuellen Global Landscape Forum (GLF) 2020. Gemeinsam mit der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) und Partnern der Universität Bonn, der United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) und der Rangeland Initiative des International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI),  organisierten sie drei zusammenhängende Sessions zum Nexus „Dürrerisikomanagement, Management natürlicher Ressourcen und Soziale Sicherung“. Aus dem Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) konnte der neue deutsche „Focal Point“ für die UNCCD, Frau Christa Franke, für eine Grußbotschaft gewonnen werden.

Eine abwechslungsreiche Mischung von drei Paneldiskussionen und 23 Videoclips als thematische Inputs – fast alle eigens für diese Veranstaltung durch das DIE produziert, bildeten den DIE-Beitrag.

Ein ungewöhnliches Highlight war die Ansprache von ESA-Astronautin Samantha Cristoforetti, die die “orbitale Perspektive (…) auf die Aktivitäten zur Erhaltung des Klimas, der Biosphäre, der Landschaft und besonders der Landwirtschaft und Ernährungssicherheit” einbrachte und einige der Dienstleistungen aufführte, die die Raumfahrt dazu beitragen kann. In der letzten Session wurde unter anderem anhand von kurzen Ansprachen von Klima-Aktivist*innen aus Uganda sehr drastisch verdeutlicht, wie sehr die Corona-Krise und auch Dürren arme Menschen in armen Ländern beeinträchtigen. Akteure im Bereich Soziale Sicherung, Ressourcen- und Klimaschutz sowie Landwirtschaft sind gemeinsam gefordert, sich dem entgegenzustemmen. Christoph Strupat, DIE, konnte einige dieser Zusammenhänge anhand von Ergebnissen aus Interventions-Experimenten in Malawi eindeutig belegen.

Ein (vorläufiger) Gesamtmitschnitt ist hier zu finden.

Das GLF 2020 war schon lange vor der COVID-Pandemie als virtuelle Veranstaltung geplant gewesen, um ein Zeichen zu setzen, dass große Konferenzen und globaler Dialog auch ohne ressourcen-intensive Reisebewegungen  möglich und sinnvoll sind. Mit dem Ausbruch der Corona-Krise bekam dies nochmal eine besondere Dynamik und Bedeutung. Dem trugauch das Motto „Food in the time of crises“ Rechnung. Mit fast 5000 (einen Obolus von 10 US-Dollar) zahlenden Teilnehmer*innen aus 146 Ländern und allen gesellschaftlichen Bereichen ist dies eindrucksvoll gelungen. Die Teilnehmer*innen konnten frei zwischen den Sessions wechseln und sich mit den Vortragenden und untereinander austauschen; außerdem wurden die sozialen Medien intensiv bedient, die dort erzielte Reichweite beläuft sich auf  ca. 50 Millionen Kontakte.

Insgesamt zeigte diese Konferenz viele neue Möglichkeiten für globale Interaktionen auf. Gleichzeitig wurde deutlich, dass auch digitale Formate von allen einer intensiven Vorbereitung bedürfen und sie gleichzeitig physische Treffen nicht völlig ersetzen können.

Der Beitrag Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Bonn Digital Conference 2020 erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Covid-19, Development Policy and Science

29. Juni 2020 - 12:05

Anna-Katharina Hornidge, ©DIE

On 23 June, Anna-Katharina Hornidge, Director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), addressed the General Assembly of the Working Group on Global Responsibility, the umbrella organisation of development and humanitarian organisations in Austria. The event focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the future of development policy.

In her statement, Anna-Katharina Hornidge referred to a proposal made by Horst Köhler, former President of Germany, in 2017 to understand development policy as interdependence policy. What does close, mutual interdependence mean under the current conditions? What does it mean for a policy that is neither based on fear of the neighbour nor on the conviction that we want to help our neighbour as a much stronger partner – but for a policy that is to be understood as a structural policy for international cooperation that makes the global common good possible?

Such a development policy, according to Hornidge, should focus on three areas in particular: (a) the cultivation and expansion of transregional and global levels of understanding, including the active containment of nationalisms in dealing with the pandemic in the short and medium term, (b) the reduction of social inequalities, the expansion of health and education systems in the medium-term promotion of social crisis resilience, as well as (c) the consistent pursuit of the transformation of our production systems and consumption patterns towards a sustainable use of the resources of our planet, and as a precautionary measure with regard to future crises, which, similar to the current one, stem from the imbalance between man and nature.

On 24 June, Anna-Katharina-Hornidge gave an input to an online workshop on „COVID 19 and the development policy work of NRW actors“, jointly organized by the One World Network NRW and the State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia. The workshop focused on the question of the extent to which the scientific landscape of North Rhine-Westphalia can contribute to the development policy measures of the state and in cooperation with civil society actors, with a special focus on the partner country Ghana. This was discussed by Ms Hornidge along the development policy guidelines of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. She referred to DIE’s work at the interface between science and politics, also in the support of South-South cooperation in the context of Think Tanks 20 (T20), a network of research institutes and think tanks from the G20 countries, as well as in the context of the Bonn Alliance for Sustainability Research.

Der Beitrag Covid-19, Development Policy and Science erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Globalisation is on the ventilator – Long live globalism!

17. Juni 2020 - 14:00
Globalisation Unmasked

The world is grappling with a deadly pandemic unleashed on the planet by the Corona Virus (SARS-CoV-2/ HCoV-19). In its wake, the votaries of globalisation who have been espousing the cause of a borderless world of business with seamless flow of international trade, capital and even human resources across the world seem to be stung by a creepy realization whether the paeans sung by them were all worth the effort. More than the social and cultural aspects of globalisation, its economic manifestation in the form of product market integration with concomitant cross-border value chains has been credited with having contributed richly to the growth of the global and national economies. Today, more than half the world has locked down their economic, social, political and cultural activities to arrest the spread of the corona virus that has already infected nearly eight million patients world-wide and claimed over four hundred thousand lives as on the 15 June, 2020.

Amidst murmurs of economic distancing between nations, that are getting louder by the day, the future of globalisation has never been more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA), echoing the paradigm that scholars of strategic management cite so often in academic conversations. Perhaps, it is time to search for a more benign and less competitive paradigm of economic and social interdependence that values the human urge to exchange ‘value’ in a win-win mode rather than the fire in the belly form of one upmanship that globalisation has come to represent.

The most strident note in this regard was struck by Roberto Azevedo, Director General of the Geneva based World Trade Organization (WTO), when he went on record with an observation that ‘the COVID-19 has completely upended the global economy and with it international trade’. The global trade body projected that „trade in 2020 will fall steeply in every region of the world, and basically across all sectors of the economy”. The European Union is under severe duress as Italy has formally complained of lack of support from fellow members in the face of the pandemic and many countries including Australia, India and Spain are rewriting their foreign investment rules to fob off what they see as foreign raiders from China who are busy scouting and shopping for ‘distressed assets’ in this time of unprecedented human crisis. Chaotic reports of medical supplies destined for one nation being appropriated by another would have seemed bizarre only a quarter ago With developed and developing economies battling recessionary pressures, clearly, the post-COVID world is unlikely to be the same.

Context and Character of Globalisation

The pandemic and its associated stress being experienced by the world may neither be the direct cause or consequence of globalisation. However, it would be naïve to dismiss any link between the two. The socio-cultural, economic and technological context for globalisation was set by a huge body of literature in economic and trade theory of the last half a century that emphasized unbridled access to capital, goods and services as the key to accelerated economic growth and alleviation of poverty. Theodore Levitt, famously argued in an article for the Harvard Business Review (May, 1983) that “everywhere, everything gets more and more like everything else as the world’s preference structure is relentlessly homogenized…This makes the multinational corporation obsolete and the global corporation absolute”. As corporations began to compete fiercely for global competitiveness, the nation-state soon became a part of the rat race for trade supremacy which also provided a conduit for political hegemony. Developing economies of Asia and Africa were left with little choice but to jump on the bandwagon called globalisation during the nineties, with liberalisation and privatisation as integral parts of the package of structural reforms.

The character of globalisation rapidly became synonymous with competition and competitiveness at all levels –nations, corporations, societies and individuals, as its leitmotif. Neither the East Asian crisis of late nineties nor the global financial meltdown triggered by the American sub-prime crisis in the last decade, dampened either the spirit or the scope of globalisation. In their search for competitive advantage to meet the rising expectations of investors and stakeholders, corporations and their executives found it convenient to prioritize ends over means. The manner in which regulatory institutions for good governance have been systemically subjugated and influenced in recent decades by powerful corporations, presents a ubiquitous and infectious picture of shared learning and practice. The degree may vary but the sabotage that processes designed to protect and preserve healthy public opinion have suffered, across nations and regions, is a refreshingly familiar narrative- an absolute global product. It took a virus to halt this dystopian juggernaut. Globalisation, howsoever transient it might prove to be, seems right now on the ventilator.

A new world order is, indeed, the need of the hour. This economic ‘respite’ in the back drop of fractured global and local supply chains, disrupted industry value chains and loss of livelihoods and employment for millions of people should direct us to pause and reflect on how the new world order could potentially be shaped.

From Globalisation to Globalism

The picture of globalisation etched above does not seek to attribute entire blame to the COVID crisis. There is ample evidence to support the advancement of transnational and global cooperation for the good of humanity. It is just that the eerie silence generated by the pandemic does not give the comfort to believe that such outbreaks will not repeat in future or that the trade wars and rivalries that erupted in recent decades do not bear any nexus with the virus. The conspiracy theories and video clips doing the rounds in the social and even some mainstream media should be ignored with all emphasis that one can command.

Yet, it would be prudent to revisit the paradigm of globalisation. This review is not aimed at hindering or reversing its flow but is an effort to impart a more humane form to the spirit and scope of globalisation. This would ensure protection of the vulnerable, so that the bakers and brewers of the world; the small holding farmers and landless farm hands; the hawkers and push carters; or the large swathes of marginalized sections of the society who subsist on tenuous income levels of one or two dollars a day, do not have to negotiate their right to survival just because trade negotiations between nations break down. This plea is understandable to anybody who has watched the poignant televised images of tens of thousands of migrant workers in India, walking back on crudely bandaged feet to their native villages, with shambolic head loads of baggage accompanied by women and children trudging along, in the aftermath of the lockdowns following the Corona outbreak.

We may need a new moniker and a restructured institutional umpire to breathe some fresh air of compassion and conciliation in to the lungs of our trade strategists and leaders. At the beginning of this century, R. Keohane and J.S. Nye Jr had conceived ‘Globalism’ as a more generic phenomenon involving networks of multi-continental interdependence to facilitate economic, social and cultural exchanges but sadly the term ‘globalism’ came to be interpreted more as a measure of the core phenomenon viz. ‘thickening’ or ‘thinning’ of globalisation. Even if it means adding to the lexicon of ‘isms and schisms’, the new world order may embrace globalism as the way forward. Subtly different from globalisation, it would redefine trade relations and product market positioning based on a sobering paradigm of trust and interdependence rather than cold calculating models of tariff and non-tariff barriers between nations. Similarly, firm level competitiveness must be predicated on co-opetition, which implies competition tempered by complementarity rather than no-holds barred competition, that is fierce and uncompromising. For globalism to succeed, the WTO might need to be reinvented as the World Trusteeship Organization to promote and umpire a more benign trade regime, based on a renewed spirit of cooperation and co-existence. We do not know where and in what form the next global threat will manifest but we cannot lose sight of the lessons that the COVID crisis offers to inform the new world order. Long live Globalism!

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UN reform and the COVID-19 pandemic – what role for the UN to better serve the world?

28. Mai 2020 - 13:00

By Artodidact on Pixabay

The Covid-19 pandemic not only threatens to undo development gains and reverse progress in achieving the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda. It also presents an early and serious test for the reform of the UN development system (UNDS), where major reform decisions were taken in 2018 to reposition the UNDS for improved, integrated and strategic support in line with the 2030 Agenda’s interlinked nature.

2019 was a transformational year for the UNDS, as reforms were implemented and began to take root. Therefore UN Secretary-General Guterres’ annual report on the UN development system was eagerly awaited. The report can be seen as a near midterm-review of the ongoing reform of the UNDS, written at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. While self-confident about the success in reform implementation achieved so far (such “positivity” is of course in the DNA of the UN), the report is also self-critical regarding shortcomings and hints at looming challenges.

Both member states and UN agencies are asked to support the reform

The reform is “on track”, says the Secretary-General. An UN DESA survey among UN Resident Coordinators and developing country governments demonstrates measurable improvements on the ground. In some areas, such as the reform of the Resident Coordinator system, progress is faster; others such as the efficiency agenda and the reform of the UN’s regional structures prove to be more difficult and require “ongoing leadership from all involved.”

This frankness about shortcomings is laudable. Reform enthusiasm of UN entities cannot be taken for granted, warranting continued coordinated support from member states. Nor are member states fully on track for meeting their commitments made in the UN Funding Compact (agreed in 2019). Increases in the share of core funding or softly earmarked resources are key enablers for a reformed UNDS. Yet funding for instruments such as Joint SDG Fund falls short of what the Funding Compact calls for.

A revived system of UN Resident Coordinators

At the heart of the reform is the Resident Coordinator system, which has been detached from UNDP and now operates under the direct leadership of the Secretariat, with authority over the (on average 18) UN entities active in every developing country. A clear majority of 75% of Resident Coordinators report that they can make final decisions on the distribution of common resources, up from 61% in 2017. Developing countries confirm this. 79% of the governments surveyed agree that the Resident Coordinator “effectively leads and coordinates”. Interestingly, however, this number is down from 92% in 2017, which was before the reform.

New focus on transborder work

The “UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks”, which comprise the UN agencies’ collective response to country’s needs, are a key element of the new ways of planning and working together. They are not novel, but rather a new currency, after the old one (the UN Development Assistance Frameworks, known as “UNDAFs”) suffered from inflation. The UNDAFs were too often just a compilation of all activities planned by individual UN entities. The Coordination Framework’s explicit focus on transborder and regional work though is new and could strengthen the UN’s comparative advantages. Most of the UN’s development work has been heavily compartmentalized, yet transborder issues – not least the Covid-19 pandemic – could amplify the UN’s development offer.

The reform of the UN’s regional structure, where a simplification of the coordination mechanisms was decided but not yet implemented (among other things), can be expected to further advance this aspect.

Efficiency, transparency and results-orientation

On efficiency, a key interest in particular of donors, progress is slower. A goal was set to achieve savings of USD 300 million per year. More work remains to be done for the prospect of achieving this target. If the USD 300 Mio. are big or small, depends on the perspective (its approximately 1 % of the UNDS’s total annual expenditure). The more important aspect is probably that greater efficiency translates into smoother inter-agency coordination. A system is promised to go online in the second half of 2020 that tracks efficiency gains.

On transparency and results-orientation – an ongoing concern for decades – the report presents a whole bundle of achievements, initiatives, and priorities. In our recent report on earmarking in the UN, we concluded that there is still vast potential to improve transparency, in particular on funding and results. Currently, only UNDP provides project-level transparency. Project and programme evaluations are a good window in the UN’s field work, but are available only for a fraction of (UNDP) projects and country offices, and only after the completion of activities. The new UN Info will provide system-wide data on funding flows and activities of the UN within individual countries and might help address this transparency gap.

Challenging member states to up-date mandates on UN functions

The report is surprisingly ambitious in the sense that it demonstrates the willingness to go beyond consolidating what’s been achieved, even at the onset of the pandemic. The Secretary-General asks member states to raise the bar in their guidance to the UNDS and spell out the functions they see for the UNDS in more detail. So far, the current UNDS reform process was about institutional structures and processes, but there was an almost striking neglect of the question what policies the UN should pursue. The concentration rather on the form than the function of the UNDS also partially explains the success of this reform round – previously, member states failed to agree on priorities.

Support for national policy-making is one issue singled out by the Secretary-General – and rightly so as here the UNDS has a potential advantage over bilateral donors in supporting governments in finding integrated solutions for sustainable development in line with global agendas. All UN organisations present themselves as “policy” institutions that address root causes, help shape policies, and strengthen fundamental rights. “The UNDS will need to support governments with policy options and technical advice to make difficult choices.” This could mark a turning point in “delivering things” to “delivering thinking” (UNFPA).

Perspectives on policy-making and the UN’s advantage

Policy work is not easy. It’s hard to measure, takes time and can be politically risky as it requires balancing and shaping interests within a society. It is much easier to excite donors about implementation and service delivery work. But UN evaluations consistently point out the flaws in such downstream work: It often reaches only a relatively minor subset of the population and tends to have little effect beyond the duration of the intervention. Pilot projects are often not scaled up as planned.

Based on the survey of partner governments, the Secretary-General also challenges member states to provide guidance on the UN’s substantive policy areas. The UNDS clearly has its SDG darlings and orphans, the latter include SDGs 9 (infrastructure), 11 (settlements) and 12 (sustainable consumption). Those identified for a marked upgrading to respond to the articulated needs are SDGs 1 (poverty), 8 (economy) and 13 (climate).

The Secretary-General’s request to clarify the UNDS’s functions provokes a more fundamental question about the role of the UN: Should the UN be that global multilateral body where everything it does flows from and serves the common interest, or should it be a service provider, collectively owned, but optimized for meeting the various specific needs of (developing) states? The report also uses the term “global public goods” and ask member states to address the UNDS’ contribution to the Agenda 2030 implementation in states that are not traditional programme countries. The Covid-19 pandemic might provide an impetus to rebalance the UN more to its global functions.

Der Beitrag UN reform and the COVID-19 pandemic – what role for the UN to better serve the world? erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Webinar: Sustainability after COVID-19: Can the global Green New Deal movement survive the pandemic?

26. Mai 2020 - 13:04

Am 12. Mai organisierte das Deutsche Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) gemeinsam mit der Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP) ein Webinar zum Thema “Sustainability after COVID-19: Can the global Green New Deal movement survive the pandemic?” Im Webinar diskutierten 850 Teilnehmer*innen mit Expert*innen der School of Global Environmental Sustainability der Colorado State University, des Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), ThyssenKrupp, des University College London (UCL) und des World Resources Institute (WRI). Moderiert von DIE-Wissenschaftlerin Anna Pegelswurde diskutiert, wie politisch informierte intelligente grüne Transformationen Win-Wins vor kostspieligeren Reformprozessen priorisieren und sicherstellen können, dass die nicht-grünen Teilen der post-Corona Konjunkturpakete so viele Umweltbedingungen wie möglich enthalten. Eine Aufzeichnung des Webinars:

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Webinar: Sustainability after COVID-19: Can the global Green New Deal movement survive the pandemic?

26. Mai 2020 - 12:43

On 12 May, the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) jointly organised a webinar with GGKP on “Sustainability after COVID-19: Can the global Green New Deal movement survive the pandemic?” The webinar attracted 850 participants and featured experts from Colorado State University’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), ThyssenKrupp, University College London (UCL) and World Resources Institute (WRI). Moderated by DIE researcher Anna Pegels, it discussed how politically informed smart green transformations can prioritise win-wins over costlier reform processes that risk turning into dead ends and make sure as much environmental conditionality as possible is added to the non-green bailouts that will be part of economic recovery packages. A recording of the session:

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News from SDSN Germany

26. Mai 2020 - 12:41

In May, SDSN Germany and the „Netzwerk Weitblick“ (network to inform media professionals about sustainability related issues) organised a joint press briefing with more than 60 participants from journalism, academia, business and civil society to discuss perceptions and expectations regarding the stimulus package of the EU with a view on sustainable development and climate change.

Prof. Dr. Christian Calliess (German Advisory Council on the Environment), Prof. Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research), Kristina Jeromin (Sustainable Finance Committee), Helena Marschall (Fridays for Future), Klaus Milke (Germanwatch), Sabine Nallinger (Foundation 2°) und Prof. Dr. Ulrich Volz (SOAS University of London & German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)) contributed with inputs from their perspectives.

The press briefing was organised against the background of the announcement of the EU Recovery Fund that is supposed to lift the EU economy out of the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge (Co-Chair, SDSN Germany and Director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)) explained in her introductory remarks.

Over the last weeks, recommendations have been developed from academia, business and civil society how to shape this recovery in a way that it can also support the transformation towards a more sustainable, resilient and just future.

The priorities of the stimulus package and the so-called Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) of the EU, will be decisive whether and to what extent the 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as climate neutrality until 2050 can be reached in the EU and worldwide. It is thus of critical importance, how and whether the planned measures can support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the European Green Deal.

Report and audio recordings of the speakers (in German only)

Der Beitrag News from SDSN Germany erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Neues von SDSN Germany

26. Mai 2020 - 12:39

Ein von SDSN Germany und dem Netzwerk Weitblick im Mai organisiertes Online-Pressebriefing brachte mehr als 60 Vertreter*innen aus Journalismus, Wissenschaft, Wirtschaft und Zivilgesellschaft zusammen, um Einschätzungen und Erwartungen zum Konjunkturprogramm der EU vorzustellen und aus der Perspektive von Nachhaltigkeits- und Klimapolitik zu diskutieren.

Als Sprecher*innen konnten Prof. Dr. Christian Calliess (Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen), Prof. Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer (Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung), Kristina Jeromin (Sustainable Finance Beirat), Helena Marschall (Fridays for Future), Klaus Milke (Germanwatch), Sabine Nallinger (Stiftung 2° – Deutsche Unternehmer für den Klimaschutz) und Prof. Dr. Ulrich Volz (SOAS University of London und Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)) gewonnen werden.

Anlass für das Pressebriefing war die Ankündigung eines EU-Wiederaufbaufonds (EU Recovery Fund), mit dem die Wirtschaft aus der durch die Covid-19 Pandemie verursachten Rezession geführt werden soll, wie Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge (Co-Vorsitzende, SDSN Germany und Direktorin des Deutschen Instituts für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)) bei ihrer Einführung in das Pressebriefing erläuterte.

Aus Wissenschaft, Wirtschaft und Zivilgesellschaft wurden in den letzten Wochen bereits Vorschläge und Kriterien entwickelt, diesen Wiederaufbau als Chance für eine Transformation in Richtung einer nachhaltigen, resilienteren und gerechteren Zukunft zu nutzen.

Die Ausgestaltung des Konjunkturprogramms und des sogenannten Mehrjährigen Finanzrahmens (MFR), dem Haushalt der EU, werden wesentlich mitentscheiden, inwieweit die 17 Ziele der  Agenda 2030 für nachhaltige Entwicklung und Klimaneutralität bis 2050 in der EU und weltweit erreicht werden können. Es stellt sich damit die Frage, ob und wie die geplanten Maßnahmen auf diese Ziele und den Ende 2019 angekündigten Europäischen Green Deal ausgerichtet werden können.

Bericht und Tonaufnahmen der Beiträge der Sprecher*innen

Der Beitrag Neues von SDSN Germany erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Christine Unrau an der Universidade Federal do ABC, São Paulo

26. Mai 2020 - 12:29

©Christine Unrau

Von Mitte Februar bis Mitte März 2020, war Forschungsgruppenleiterin Christine Unrau Capes Print Gastprofessorin an der Universidade Federal do ABC, São Paulo, Brasilien. Dort arbeitete sie an ihrem Forschungsprojekt zu sentimental education, d.h. der Mobilisierung von Emotionen im Kontext von Flucht und Vertreibung. Während ihres Aufenthaltes präsentierte sie ihre Forschung in Seminaren, Workshops und Vorträgen. Ihr erster öffentlicher Vortrag trug den Titel „Time for indignation?“ und untersuchte das Aufkommen von Empörung als Emotionsnorm im Kontext der Gloablisierung. Ihr zweiter Vortrag „Sentimento e progresso? Reflexões sobre o papel das emoções na mudança política“, nahm das Thema des Fortschritts auf, das in letzter Zeit ins Zentrum der Debatte über Form und Gerichtetheit politischer Transformationen gerückt ist.

Der Beitrag Christine Unrau an der Universidade Federal do ABC, São Paulo erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.