Critical theme: Introducing the Asian Coalition for Community Action
Urban poverty reduction was the focus when the latest in a series of seminars at the International Institute for Environment and Development took place on July 2.
Somsook Boonyabancha, one of the most innovative and successful professionals working on urban poverty reduction, founded the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR), a coalition of organisations working on urban poverty and housing development in Asia.
The focus of her presentation was the Asian Coalition for Community Action, which she set up and which has supported more than 1,000 community-driven initiatives to improve conditions across 18 nations in Asia.
In most cities, the community-initiatives also join forces to work together and to engage local government in achieving city-wide scale. In many cities, there are now funds for development jointly managed by local government and urban poor networks or federations.
Previously the director of Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI), an innovative government programme that channelled support to organised urban poor groups, Boonyabancha has been a board member at IIED for two years and has a long history of working closely with the Human Settlements Group.
Previous Critical Themes at IIED have discussed financial themes, with the latest by Carina Millstone, visiting research fellow at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, on 20 May focusing on the private sector and sustainable business practices. Her full presentation on "What would business look like in a steady-state economy?" is available on IIED's SlideShare platform.
The previous week, IIED's Critical Theme featured Nick Robins, whose presentation "How the financial system can serve a green and inclusive economy?” addressed the relationship between financial systems and the green economy.
In March 2014, Pavan Sukhdev, the founder and chief executive officer of GIST Advisory, discussed the importance of meaningful stakeholder reporting. His visit was organised as part of a strategic review of environmental economics by the institute, with expert speakers invited to attend a series of seminars to challenge thinking on economic issues.
Sony Kapoor, the Managing Director of international think tank Re-Define, and Eric Beinhocker, the Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking's research program, have also visited IIED's Gray's Inn Road office this year. Kapoor discussed how to best connect the financial and economic policy-making community to the environmental agenda, while Beinhocker's presentation, "Escaping the Malthusian Trap", focused on emerging research that describes the economy as an evolving complex system.
Last year, Jesper Stage, Professor of Economics at Mid-Sweden University and a former IIED International Fellow, gave a presentation titled "Better indicators than GDP? Yes, but better at what?", and Kate Raworth, Senior Visiting Research Associate with the Environmental Change Unit at Oxford University and a Visiting Fellow in Economics at IIED, presented "Rewriting economics for the 21st century".