The IIED blog

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  • 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.

  • Volunteer tourism defies recession but is this positive news for the South?

    Kate Lewis 19 August 2010

    Despite reports that the international tourism market has suffered during the downturn, one strand of tourism – the gap year and volunteer tourism market – seems to have flourished. This can partly be attributed to the increase in redundancies, which has prompted more people to take time out to reflect on what to do next and to gain a new perspective on life. Shortage of graduate jobs has also encouraged undergraduates to escape the gloomy outlook at home to gain valuable work experience to give their CVs a winning edge for when they return. This influx of volunteers to the South, armed with the desire to contribute time, money and skills to a poorer society is surely a good thing. Or is it?

  • Fairtrade – the gold standard?

    Abbi Buxton 11 August 2010

    Now that Fairtrade has proved its resilience to recession is it time to make it the gold standard for all ethical produce and move beyond its origins in agriculture? Is the certification scheme that circumvents traditional market and pricing dynamics ready for new challenges in new markets? If so, what will those challenges look like?

  • Renewables, why bother?

    Ben Garside 4 August 2010

    For much of the developing world producing clean energy that also mitigates carbon emissions is a very low priority. After all, why should countries that haven't significantly contributed to climate change worry about reducing their relatively tiny carbon emissions? In any case who would pay for it all?

  • 'Dios mio gracias!': Can Colombia´s pyramids teach us anything?

    Rachel Godfrey Wood 22 July 2010

    For over three years pyramid and money laundering schemes brought artificial prosperity to the lives of many Colombians, allowing people to improve their quality of life beyond their wildest dreams. Then, within a few days, everything was gone, and the country was left with a social disaster on its hands. Sound familiar?

  • REDD: does governance really matter?

    Anais Hall 16 July 2010

    With concerns over climate change rising, there have been several initiatives aimed at reducing the impacts and contributing factors of climate change. But with millions and potentially billions of dollars at stake, how successful will these initiatives be in mitigating climate change?Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation - REDD (and REDD+, which includes conservation, sustainable forest management and enhancing forests’ carbon stocks) is an international initiative that seeks to reduce CO2 emissions. The United Nations REDD collaborative programme that has generated $8.7 million for the carbon stored in forests.

  • Sub Saharan African woman drying fish. Photo: Patrick Dugan via WorldFish on Flickr

    The missing 't'

    Essam Yassin Mohammed 13 July 2010

    Seeking an easy way to prepare fish at home, many families in the developed world turn to fish fillets. Grilled, sautéed or fried, the fish is ready to eat in minutes, having been pre-scaled, pre-gutted, deboned and pre-packaged before it arrives at the local supermarkets. But what happens to those fish scraps that are stripped away?

  • What would sustainability in the North mean for development in the South?

    Rachel Godfrey Wood 8 July 2010

    Everyone agrees that developed countries need to undertake a radical transformation if they are to assume their responsibilities for mitigating climate change. But what consequences would this have for the global South? Will climate change mitigation in the North undermine economic development in developing countries, or provide them with new opportunities?

  • Israel, Palestine, and the Recession

    Anais Hall 6 July 2010

    Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu heads to Washington DC on 6th July 2010 to meet with President Barack Obama. Obama will seek to bring the Israeli and Palestinian leaders into direct peace talks, again. But how will this attempt differ from past efforts? Can the current woes of the recession help foster peace negotiations through intensified economic restraints?

  • New left = new extractivism in Latin America

    Rachel Godfrey Wood 29 June 2010

    It was clear at the recent Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of the Mother Earth in Cochabamba that Latin America´s leftist leaders are taking strong positions on issues of environmental sustainability and respect for indigenous people. But is that rhetoric actually borne out by their domestic policies?

  • Silver or grey linings?

    Emma Blackmore 21 June 2010

    Back in January, Due South commented on one silver lining of the economic crisis – a fall in CO2 emissions. With a double-dip recession predicted by some, could this be a double windfall for efforts to combat climate change?

  • Low2No helps show how to build sustainable cities

    Phillip Bruner 16 June 2010

    ‘Low-carbon growth’ seems to be mentioned all the time with regards to environment and development policy. As a theory this is great, but how can the theory be made more concrete? What might the practice of low-carbon growth look like when applied to urban environments?

  • Has agriculture been a winner in the economic downturn?

    Bill Vorley 14 June 2010

    While the downturn has hit many economic sectors hard, have farmers prospered?

  • Diffa: the morning light

    Camilla Toulmin 8 June 2010

    The ancient tradition of pastoral nomadism in landlocked Niger in West Africa is a source of huge cultural wealth in one of the poorest countries on earth. But with Niger's eastern reaches suffering 35 years of drought – an entire generation's worth – local pastoralists have faced a massive challenge. Diffa, les premiers matins du monde is a video that tells the stories of many of these pastoralists and how they have coped with increasing drought.

  • Blunt instruments, crude addictions

    Rachel Godfrey Wood 8 June 2010

    It’s one of the more ironic twists to the Deepwater Horizon tale. Just a few hours before the US Attorney General announced that a criminal investigation was to be brought against British Petroleum, Transoceana, and Halliburton for their roles in the Deepwater Horizon oil spillage, President Barack Obama met with his Peruvian counterpart, Alan Garcia.

  • A tale of two deltas

    Barbara Kiser 5 June 2010

    So the ‘junk shot’ of golf balls and shredded tyres failed to plug the Deepwater Horizon gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. There was a strange circularity about BP’s idea of fixing this petroleum-fuelled nightmare by clogging it with petroleum-derived products.

  • Together we're better - sharing for sustainability

    Anais Hall 27 May 2010

    The spotlight was on transparency and sustainability at yesterday’s Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) meeting in Amsterdam. The organisation, which works on sustainability reporting frameworks, was holding its annual conference with a focus on this dual issue, and speakers included media representatives from the UK-based Guardian  and others from the United Nations and International Finance Corporation (IFC) The thrust of the GRI’s message is that ‘transparent communication changes perceptions, builds trust, and motivates action towards greater sustainability.’ And sustainability is key as we emerge bleary-eyed from years of ‘bubble’ thinking and the global economic meltdown that triggered.

  • Latin America´s Leftist Tide - Less Ebb than Flow

    Rachel Godfrey Wood 24 May 2010

    Much has been made of Latin America´s ‘leftist tide’ in the last decade. After disappointment with Washington Consensus Policies such as privatization, trade liberalization and deregulation, the last decade saw the assent of nine nominally ‘leftist’ governments in Latin America, promising to sweep away neo-liberal orthodoxies and redistribute wealth to the poor. Not only that, they promised to break with economic ‘dependency’ on the developed world and chart their own paths. But did the new leaders insulate their countries from the worst of the recession, or make them more vulnerable to it?

  • Greek bailout - a familar fate?

    Anais Hall 17 May 2010

    With French President Nicolas Sarkozy threatening to pull out of the single currency altogether last Friday, the eurozone’s bailout of Greece seems to be tinged with panic. But this is an extreme moment, as a member of the European Union faces up to a grim reality for many developing countries.

  • Engendering change in the crisis

    Ben Garside 10 May 2010

    When recession hits the developing world, it is often women who bear the brunt of falling incomes and joblessness. But how do women in differing contexts across the South respond to these challenges? More, what about other diversity issues - such as age, or sexual orientation - within the context of financial crisis?

  • Turning the spotlight on agriculture

    Emma Blackmore 7 May 2010

    Have we glimpsed real signs of economic recovery?

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