The IIED blog

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  • Tick tock — it’s the year of forests

    Duncan Macqueen 22 December 2010

    The UN has declared 2011 as the international year of forests — although more than a billion forest-dependent poor will probably not see it that way. Spiralling global demand for food, energy, fibre and water spell trouble for these people’s forests.Schemes for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) may have been agreed at last month’s climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, but without locally controlled forestry this, in itself, will not stop the pressure on our forests. If you listen carefully you can still hear the forest clock ticking down…

  • Climate change winners and losers in Sahel

    Camilla Toulmin 22 December 2010

    Earlier this month, I spent a week in Mali, going back to the villages which I have studied for the past 30 years. While international climate negotiators met in Cancun, Mexico, for the UN summit on climate change, I was keen to catch up on how climate change was affecting livelihoods in the West African Sahel.

  • The misleading metrics of microcredit

    Adrian Fenton 21 December 2010

    Microcredit – the distribution of small loans to low-income sections of society — is one of the more fashionable tools to appear on the international development scene in recent years.

  • A pinch of salt from Namaacha

    Duncan Macqueen 17 December 2010

    Strengthening local communities’ rights to and capacity for sustainable forest management is critical to making REDD work in developing countries.

  • Turn REDD on its head

    James Mayers 14 December 2010

    National REDD strategies must be based on local, not government, control, say opinion leaders from ten countries in the IIED-facilitated Forest Governance Learning Group.

  • Certification: into the wild.

    David Hebditch 10 December 2010

    Collection and trade of wild products is increasing but concerns surround its current and future sustainability. The FairWild standard for wild collection seeks to address such issues by promoting sustainable practices and rewarding collectors with increased returns through a certification process. Standards and certification are increasingly being applied to new environments; but as discussed before on Due South, their suitability needs to be considered in light of the contexts in which they are applied. Traditionally certification has been applied to privately owned areas with enforceable property rights, but it is relatively untested in wild collection settings, which have their own unique challenges. Could FairWild provide the sustainable answer?

  • Can international law break the deadlock in climate talks?

    Christoph Schwarte 6 December 2010

    An international lawsuit on greenhouse gas emissions could help create the political pressure and third-party guidance needed to revive global climate negotiations.

  • Is Iran sleepwalking towards a universal income grant?

    Rachel Godfrey Wood 2 December 2010

    Almost unnoticed by the world, Iran has moved towards the adoption of a basic income grant to distribute money from its oil industry directly to its citizens. This could be a good example of how distorting fossil fuel subsidies used in many developing countries could be repealed without adversely impacting upon the poor. Furthermore, the outcomes of this policy could have a wider impact on the way rents from natural resources are used - allowing households to choose how to spend profits from resource extraction.

  • Mother Brazil: a way forward for the rainforest?

    Ben Garside 29 November 2010

    Dubbed “mother of the nation”, Dilma Rousseff was elected as Brazil’s first female president this month. But this has been an election of two women. Taking the reins at a time of increasing growth, prosperity, and public works expansion in Brazil, will one woman’s touch alone be enough to bring new ways of combating destruction of the Amazon?

  • A question of time

    Camilla Toulmin 25 November 2010

    I have been thinking a lot about ‘time’. It’s been prompted by three things which remind me that, while we need to be realistic about how fast we can build a fairer, more sustainable world, there are some signs of progress.

  • Storm watch for Cancun climate talks

    Achala C Abeysinghe 23 November 2010

    Striking a deal at this month’s UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico will largely depend on negotiators’ ability to settle stormy disputes, particularly between the developed and developing world, over six key issues.

  • Can hunting wildlife contribute to biodiversity conservation?

    Kate Lewis 19 November 2010

    It’s a politically and ethically charged debate. Can hunting animals really contribute to wildlife conservation and biodiversity objectives?

  • Sourcing gender

    Anoushka Boodhna 17 November 2010

    Designing business models that reach and benefit poor women working in agriculture can be a challenge for businesses.But is that surprising?

  • Less erosion, less warming

    Victoria Crawford 11 November 2010

    I recently met with a Member of the Bangladesh Parliament to discuss the potential for mitigation in the agricultural sector under IIED’s work on the economics of climate change in the agricultural sector. Agriculture produces 10–12 per cent of total global emissions but also has considerable mitigation potential — 70 per cent of which is in developing countries — and I expected the Honourable Member, a well known climate change champion, to back the cause. But he did not seem entirely convinced. Why should decision makers listen? What’s in it for them?

  • Was 'Avatar' good for indigenous people?

    Rachel Godfrey Wood 4 November 2010

    The Dongria Kondh, Xikrin Kayapo, and Penan peoples have a lot in common. Not only are they all indigenous groups facing potentially damaging extractive and energy projects on their tribal land, they also share the dubious distinction of being compared to some quirky blue hominids from a certain Hollywood blockbuster. Just a casual Google search for ‘real life avatar’ will reveal a slew of articles arguing that indigenous groups across the world are nothing less than the real life versions of the Na´vi, with harmonious relationships with nature and exotic tribal costumes to boot.

  • More people, more trees

    Camilla Toulmin 29 October 2010

    More people, more trees. This is the name of a new video, part-funded by IIED, which shows two decades of progress in addressing soil erosion in Burkina Faso and Kenya that have significantly improved rural livelihoods and farm productivity.

  • Buy me a river

    Essam Yassin Mohammed 25 October 2010

    Asking poor households how much they would be willing to pay to protect a river in Thailand can help put a tangible price-tag on the river’s benefits — from clean water to flood control — and realistically assess the costs of overexploitation and degradation.

  • Charting a course for biodiversity and the poor

    Dilys Roe 22 October 2010

    Negotiations by parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) continue in Nagoya, Japan. Biodiversity researchers, advocates and government officials have gathered here to strike a deal that will, hopefully, safeguard life on Earth over the next decade.

  • Better communication is key to wise use of Nature's riches

    Mike Shanahan 19 October 2010

    To ensure that nature's goods and services can continue to support human wellbeing, we need better communication about why biodiversity is important, what its decline means and what can be done about it.

  • Adaptation finance: Why not just give it to the poor?

    Rachel Godfrey Wood 14 October 2010

    A new book argues that the best approach to reducing poverty is the simplest: giving money to the poor. In Just Give Money to the Poor, Hanlon, Barrientos and Hulme argue that cash transfers put money directly in the hands of those that need it, and that the poor are both willing and capable of using the money to benefit themselves and their families. Given the uncertainties and pitfalls of spending money on climate change adaptation, could we do worse than simply giving money to the poor themselves?

  • You are what you (m)eat

    Emma Blackmore 7 October 2010

    One interpretation of Lady Gaga’s recent outing in a dress made of raw meat is that it was a statement about our society’s ‘hypocritical attitude to meat’. Have some consumers become so distanced from the way in which their meat is produced that the sight of raw meat is so shocking? And is this willful ignorance representative of a wider refusal to accept the realities of how our consumption of meat impacts both the environment and wider society? If that is the case we ignore it at our own peril.

  • The greening of the city: Latin America´s urban innovations

    Rachel Godfrey Wood 29 September 2010

    The news that Mexico City´s authorities will begin fining shops which give free plastic bags to consumers might come as a surprise to many. After all, it is often assumed that environmental concerns are primarily a ‘Northern’ issue, and that poorer cities could not possible be willing, or capable, of implementing policies which even policymakers and voters in the UK would balk at. For people better acquainted with local governments’ environmental policies in Latin America, though, the move is only a continuation in a progression of innovative policies sweeping across the region´s cities for the last two decades.

  • RIP BoP?

    Ben Garside 19 September 2010

    Last month C Prahalad, co-author of the high profile Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) approach died. What of his legacy in big business realising the untapped fortune at the ‘bottom’ - the poorest 4 billion?

  • Politics, sustainable energy security and the South

    Phillip Bruner 2 September 2010

  • The recession and the changing face of aid

    Emma Blackmore 26 August 2010

    The recession may have quickened a move to a new aid architecture with the emergence of new players, new directions and new types of aid. Traditional donors from the G8 have failed to achieve their commitments to give 0.7% of their gross national incomes, due in part to “severe constraints of public debt”. But despite the recession, new donors have emerged, and with them a shift to new patterns and ways of giving aid. Indeed the recession has demonstrated the durability of aid during hard times but has also added to its complexity. We now need to work even harder to make sense of that complexity and ensure that aid is considered as one small part of a more joined-up and transparent development agenda.

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