IIED's best of 2016: blogs

28 December 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, we're showcasing some of the content we've published during the last 12 months. Our blogs are a place for IIED staff and guest authors to share their personal views and experiences. In case you missed them, here are our top 10 most-read blogs of the past year.

Why women's empowerment is essential for sustainable development

The Deccan Development society works with poor women in Andhra Pradesh, India. It facilitates a network of women seedkeepers who conserve and exchange seeds (Photo: Deccan Development Society)February: Our most-read blog of 2016 put forward a powerful argument for gender equality. Guest blogger Jenny Hawley argued that fully integrating gender issues is not only morally right, but also essential in order to deliver genuinely sustainable change. Hawley's blog reviewed 'Why women will save the planet', a new collection of essays by researchers, politicians, campaigners and business leaders. 

The interconnections between environmental sustainability and women's empowerment have often been overlooked in practice – particularly in the environmental movement.


Is more inclusive urbanisation essential to the 2030 Agenda?

The Bairro Proletário do Dique in Rio de Janeiro was settled in the 1960s. The local infrastructure remains poor (Photo: Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil, Creative Commons via Flickr)

March: The Sustainable Development Goals commit governments to balanced development that integrates economic, social and environmental goals. Gordon McGranahan's blog argued that inclusive urbanisation will be central to bringing these various goals into alignment. With cities growing and urbanising across the world, supporting rural-urban migrants will be a key task. 

McGranahan was summarising an article in the journal Environment and Urbanization. As a seasonal treat, Environment & Urbanization is freely available through January.

Efforts to better accommodate rural migrants moving to cities could play an important part in resolving conflicts in the 2030 Agenda and ensuring no-one is left behind.


Ten essentials for the New Urban Agenda in one page

Around a billion urban dwellers live in informal settlements such as these. Without far more effective policies, their population could rise to 2 billion by 2030 (Photo: Mark Edwards)

July: Habitat III in July 2016 was the first global urban summit for 20 years. The conference agreed the 'New Urban Agenda', setting out priorities for urban centres for decades to come.

In their blog, David Satterthwaite and Cassidy Johnson argued that the draft text for the agenda was long, impenetrable and unwieldy. They set out 10 practical points which could provide national governments with clear direction.

Frustrated by this unwieldy document, we have developed an alternative version of the New Urban Agenda – in one page.


Enhancing women's role in land management decisions

A woman farming in Tanzania. Efforts are being made to ensure women are less negatively affected by decisions on large-scale agricultural investments than men (Photo: Dirk Musschoot/vredeseilanden, Creative Commons via Flickr)

March: Large-scale agricultural investments can deprive communities of their homes and livelihoods. Women are often most affected by land deals, but their concerns are often ignored.

Thierry Berger's blog reported on an IIED webinar which examined how to strengthen women's participation in decision-making about land rights. The seminar highlighted the efforts of the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association to increase women's participation in land governance.

it is important to move towards a system where we believe women can do it: "Chereko chereko na mwenye mwana" (You have to be part of the dance).


The Green Climate Fund: will the vulnerable be overlooked in a rush to spend?

Projects allocated funding by the Green Climate Fund are balanced between low- and middle-income countries (Image: Neha Rai/IIED)

June: The Green Climate Fund is intended to be main multilateral financing mechanism to support climate action in developing countries. Neha Rai and Sarah Best reported on a study analysing over a decade of data on international cimate funding, which showed that large scale infrastructure projects tended to be prioritised over smaller, decentralised, innovative solutions. Their blog argued that future funding should prioritse initiatives to reach the most vulnerable

The GCF board must take bigger risks, supporting entities that can channel funding to reach local communities and build capacity among institutions so they are agile enough to integrate climate and development initiatives.


Where are the local indicators for the SDGs?

Women in Dhaka, Bangladesh queue to get access to a raised tube well; local indicators about access to water are essential for the SDGs (Photo: Development Planning Unit, UCL, Creative Commons, via Flickr)

March: The 2030 Agenda approved some 169 targets and 230 indicators for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this blog, David Satterthwaite asked why there was so little mention of local government and local civil society in the indicators. He analysed the the SDGs and their related indicators which will need a 'local lens' – information gathered at the local and neighbourhood level. He also argued that data being gathered by federations of slum/shack dwellers living in informal settlments could provide important details about pressing problems.  

The UN Statistical Commission report on SDG indicators fails to distinguish between indicators that are valuable for national and state governments and indicators that are valuable (or essential) for local governments.


Five obstacles facing Least Developed Countries

Sewing on the street in Djibouti. The informal sector still plays an important role in most of the LDCs (Photo: Charles Roffey, Creative Commons via Flickr)

June: The Least Developed Countries Group was set up in the 1960s to ensure development aid targeted those who needed it most. The ultimate aim is for countries to 'graduate' from 'least developed' status – but since the creation of the group only four countries have succeeded.

Esssam Yassin Mohammed reported from a conference in Antalya, Turkey, that reviewed progress on an ambitious plan that aims to see half of LDCs graduate by 2020. He said the conference highlighted five key issues that could prevent LDCs achieving their goal

These are only five of many complex challenges LDCs grapple with on a daily basis. Concerted, coherent global efforts will be needed if we are to tackle these issues – and make the group of LDCs history. 


Seeds of the post-capitalist forest?

Meceburi Forest, Mozambique: a young woman harvests casava (Photo: Mike Goldwater/IIED)

February: James Mayers looked at the potential of trees and forests to help grow a 'post-capitalist' future. Small forest enterprises account for over half of forest sector employment in many developing countries – often with profits recycled in the local economy and strong incentives to operate sustainably. Mayers said new forms of ownership, lending and doing business that are being developed in the local forestry sector have the potential to create a more sustainable and just global economy.

Could we be at one of those moments in history when the rules by which markets work are reshaped by public will? We certainly need to be thinking and acting differently. 


Nurturing the shoots of China's sustainable agriculture

Women harvesting vegetables in Shanggula village, Guangxi province, China, can share lessons on sustainable farming with the rest of the world (Photo: Simon Lim)

March: Seth Cook looked at the growing interest in sustainable food production in China, and how this trend could offer hope for addressing the environmental, social and food safety concerns associated with China's food system.

He said IIED's work with Chinese researchers provided valuable lessons on how sustainable agricultural practices can be better supported, both in China and elsewhere.

There is a growing interest in sustainable food production in China. We have been working with Chinese researchers to explore this and have identified valuable lessons for China and the rest of the world.


What can Southern NGOs teach us about disruptive change?

Pakistan's Sarhad Rural Support programme deals with constant uncertainty and disruptive events. Here goods are delivered to flood victims in Chitral (Photo: Gul Hamaad Farooqui, Creative Commons via Flickr)

January: Change has become faster, more fundamental and less predictable. Organisations across the world are having to learn how to adapt to disruptive change.

Lila Buckley and Halina Ward reported on their research into how organisations in the Global South are responding to disruptive change. Their blog highlighted the skills and qualities which can help organisations be 'disruption-ready'.

We identified four broad channels for donors and international NGOs to engage with disruptive change while maximising their support for adaptive, resilient and innovative Southern NGOs.