Non-governmental organisations can play a key role in facilitating efforts to make markets work for the poor but they do not always reach the most vulnerable groups and can sometimes harm local businesses.
Programmes which transfer money directly to the poor help them adapt to climate change. That´s what I´m suggesting in a new briefing paper to be presented at the upcoming conference on ‘Social Protection for Social Justice’, will be held at the Centre for Social Protection in Brighton between the 13th and 15th of April.
IIED’s name brings together environment and development — both are essential for sustainability but they are often treated separately. Too often, we get bracketed as an environmental organisation rather than an organisation aiming for development that is consistent with long-term management of natural resources.
Energy shortages and rising fuel costs are nothing new to the poor in developing countries where 1.6 billion people lack access to electricity and 2.4 billion use biomass as their primary cooking and heating fuels. What is new, is the idea that renewable biomass energy itself could enable developing countries to fight poverty and climate change, create jobs and gain energy independence.
The Centre for Social Protection´s conference ‘Social Protection for Social Justice’, came, in the words of the Institute for Development Studies’ Stephen Devereux, a full 11 and ¾ years after the term ‘social protection’ was first coined. Since then, social protection has risen steadily up the development agenda, and emerging economies such as Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa have rolled out extensive schemes which transfer cash directly to the poor. This conference challenged delegates to think more critically about the role and limits of such schemes in promoting social justice and challenging structural inequalities.
A year ago today, the oil industry was shaken by a blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig, 1500 metres deep in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion killed 11 people and spilled 200 million gallons of oil. BP’s bill – over US$8 billion to date – is expected to reach US$32 billion after all damage claims have been made.
BP wasn’t solely responsible for the spill. BP’s contractors were also held to task, including Transocean, the rig owner; Halliburton, who did the cement job; and Cameron International, who built the blowout preventer. The incident highlighted the complexity – and vulnerability – of today’s oil and gas contracting arrangements.
IIED’s new report Shared value, shared responsibility: a new approach to managing oil and gas contracting chains argues that a shift in industry culture is required to manage the challenges posed by complex chains of oil and gas contractors in increasingly risk-laden environments.
In our field visit to Kundar Para village of Gaibandha District, Joy Guillemot from the World Health Organization asked local women to share impacts of floods on their health and that of their children. The group of around 25 women all started replying simultaneously, surprising me and the other observers with their strong feelings!
It's not always a great idea to acknowledge that bad things can create opportunities – but they can. Bad things cause suffering and tragedy, but they can also destabilise the status quo, open space for new discussions, and give an impetus to groups looking for positive change.