IIED's best of 2014: blogs

Article, 31 December 2014

In case you missed them during the course of the past 12 months, here are IIED's 10 most read blogs from 2014.

Are "alternative livelihoods" projects effective?

Seaweed farming in Nusa Lembongan, Bali, is an example of an alternative livelihood project (Photo: Yeowatzup via Creative Commons)February: Considerable sums have been spent on projects designed to provide people with alternative ways to make a living in and around protected or biodiverse areas. But do such projects work, asks CIFOR and IIED consultant researcher Mike Day.

"Unless you offer a viable sustainable alternative livelihood, then any other intervention is really going to just displace or postpone deforestation"


Seven papers unpick debates on African agriculture and rural development

A farmer near Bagré dam in Burkina Faso dries paddy rice (Photo: Barbara Adolph/IIED)October: To mark World Food Day on 15 October, IIED, ODI and IDS launched the first seven of 12 new papers addressing agricultural and rural development debates in sub-Saharan Africa. By IIED principal researcher Barbara Adolph and researcher Laura Silici.

"In sub-Saharan Africa in particular, the challenges of feeding a growing and increasingly urbanised population, while increasing household incomes for rural producers, have given rise to fierce debate and contested recommendations"


Europe's controversial TTIP treaty: The good, the bad and the unnecessary

The European Union (EU) and United States flags (Photo: Google licence)July: The European Union's negotiations with the United States over the investment chapter of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership propose a more balanced text than many earlier treaties. But the EU has not made a compelling case for including an investment chapter in the first place, says Lorenzo Cotula, who leads IIED's legal tools team.

"Sadly, the consultation has major limitations. Importantly, the online questionnaire has seven questions on specific aspects of investor-state arbitration, but not one on whether TTIP should include investor-state arbitration in the first place"


Kazakhstan: Green economy of the future?

Kazakhstan's capital Astana will host the EXPO trade fair in 2017 (Photo: Ken & Nyetta, via Flickr)January: Kazakhstan is taking the lead among Central Asian countries by aspiring to make the leap to a green economy. Independent researcher Saule Ospanova sets out ten recommendations to help it on its way.

"For an oil-producing country which has been in transition since the 1990s, Kazakhstan's ambitions present many opportunities. But moving away from a 'brown' economy to a green one also poses challenges"


Can we change the goals of development without changing the implementers?

A street scene in Karachi, Pakistan (Photo: Fareena Chanda)July: The latest draft of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets contains a stunning list of commitments, but fails to address how we will achieve them, says IIED senior fellow David Satterthwaite.

"It is a bit depressing to have the long list of international declarations and programmes of action that 'we reaffirm our commitment to fully implement' because most of these contained commitments to goals and targets that have not been met"


Nepal: Measuring resilience to climate change from the community up

A sign near Kathmandu, Nepal, warns of the dangers of landslides (Photo: Doug Letterman, via Creative Commons)February: Effective monitoring and evaluation of changes in community resilience that arise from both development and climate change resilience, can help Nepal can make smart moves to protect its people, says IIED researcher Susannah Fisher.

"It's difficult to measure shifts in resilience to long-term climate change if we don't know what people will need to be resilient to in, say, 20 years"


Spreading the word about the no-till agricultural revolution

An example of crops grown through no-till farming in Western Australia (Photo: Bill Crabtree)March: Never heard of no-till agriculture? It's revolutionising agriculture in Australia and other drylands countries. "No-Till Bill", a pioneer in the technique, is now spreading the word in Europe, says IIED researcher Laura Silici.

"European farmers looking to adapt to the effects of climate change and develop more sustainable agricultural techniques could learn a thing or two from Australian farmers like Bill"


The Multidimensional Poverty Index: Another underestimate of urban poverty

The Multidimensional Poverty Index only has one indicator to assess housing quality – whether floors are made of dirt, sand or dung. So these houses in Manila would not be classified as sub-standard (Photo: Mark Edwards/IIED)June: Yet another global study has understated the scale and depth of urban poverty, by failing to appreciate the differences between rural and urban contexts, says IIED senior fellow David Satterthwaite.

"The key problem is that the study uses the same set of indicators in rural and urban areas. This is absurd"


China-Africa relations: Fresh perspectives from Chinese journalists on environmental challenges

A Chinese journalist interviews fellow journalists in Kenya (Photo: YiDe Media)May: Chinese journalists rarely report from Africa. As a result, the Chinese public knows little about the continent – and even less about the environmental and development challenges associated with Chinese investment and consumption decisions, says IIED researcher Xue Weng.

"He still remembered the rhetorical question of a park ranger: 'How would you feel if we went to kill your pandas?'"


Agroecology offers FAO a 'new window' on agriculture

Delegates at the international symposium on agroecology (Photo: John Choptiany/FAO)October: Long-neglected by mainstream development actors, agroecology is gaining momentum as a farming and landscape approach – as a recent Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) symposium demonstrates, says IIED researcher Laura Silici.

"The policy agenda for world agriculture should be ambitious in pursuing ecological intensification through agroecological farming"

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