IIED's best of 2017: publications

IIED published more than 200 publications during 2017, ranging from working papers to briefings to in-depth reports and photo books. Here are the top 10 most downloaded, with links to related blogs and project pages.

Article, 28 December 2017
Some of the publications published by IIED during 2017 (Image: Annette McGill/IIED)

Some of the publications published by IIED during 2017 (Image: Annette McGill/IIED)

Almost 7,000 publications can be found and downloaded from our Publications Library free of charge in PDF format, but below we have compiled a list of the top 10 most-downloaded publications from the last year.

We also offer libraries and resource centres in the global South our publications free of charge: to find out more, please contact us.

Here is our top 10 for 2017:

Delivering real change: getting international climate finance to the local level

Delivering real change: getting international climate finance to the local levelWith the rapid ratification of the Paris Agreement, international climate funds will be important in scaling up developing countries' climate action. Evidence shows climate finance reaching the local level delivers effective, efficient and sustainable results. 

This 48-page working paper explores the flows of international climate finance, to understand how effective they are in getting finance to the local level and what design features enable or prevent local financing. It concludes by highlighting the ways in which local climate financing can be enhanced – to further improve the effectiveness of aid.

Read more: IIED is researching the benefits and challenges of devolving development and climate finance to the local level, and is helping to build local-level capacity to access and manage resources. This year we discussed the devolved climate finance model at a side event at the UNFCCC COP23.

China-Africa investment treaties: do they work?

China-Africa investment treaties: do they work?Over the past 15 years, China's investments in Africa have increased rapidly and China has become Africa's largest trading partner. There are continuing misperceptions about China-Africa economic relations, and little empirical evidence on the policy tools that underpin China's economic diplomacy in Africa and how they affect the conduct of Chinese companies.

China and several sub-Saharan African states have signed bilateral investment treaties. This 64-page report provides a cautionary tale about whether the treaties fulfil their objective, as well as pointers for follow-on research and for policy and practice in China and Africa.

Read more: International treaties, national laws and transnational contracts define the terms of an investment and influence the distribution of its costs and benefits. To promote inclusive sustainable development, IIED works with partners as part of the 'Legal tools for citizen empowerment' project to rethink these legal documents and the process through which they are formulated.

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Ghana. Evidence to inform an action dialogue

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Ghana. Evidence to inform an action dialogueGhana's artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector continues to grow in size and significance. Its contribution to wealth creation, employment and the economy make it one of the nation's most important livelihood activities, and formalising Ghana's ASM sector is a significant developmental opportunity.

In January 2016 Ghana hosted a multi-stakeholder 'action dialogue' on ASM. This was the first of a global dialogue series planned by IIED to facilitate the rights-based formalisation of ASM within a more inclusive and responsible mining sector. This 44-page country report from September 2016 provides background research on ASM in Ghana to inform the dialogue – giving an overview of the sector, identifying the barriers to formalisation, and offering some actionable ways forward.

Read more: Find out more about what Ghana ASM gets right in one of three longreads from our global dialogue series. IIED's dialogue programme for artisanal and small-scale mining enables a wide range of stakeholders in Ghana, Tanzania and Madagascar to come together and collaborate on empowering miners, improving governance and delivering a safer, more secure working environment.

Ecosystem-based adaptation: question-based guidance for assessing effectiveness

Ecosystem-based adaptation: Question-based guidance for assessing effectivenessPolicy and decision-makers are increasingly recognising that nature-based solutions or ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) may often provide the most cost-effective and broadly beneficial solution to adapting to climate change.

This 22-page booklet sets out guidance for assessing the effectiveness of an EbA approach to climate change adaptation. It describes a process that can be used to shape project design, assess the progress of an ongoing EbA project or draw conclusions about the effectiveness of a project that has ended. The booklet is also available in French and Spanish.

Read more: The assessment process has been developed as part of a four-year project called 'Ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation: strengthening the evidence and informing policy' coordinated by IIED, IUCN and UNEP-WCMC as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

Evaluation: a missed opportunity in the SDGs' first set of Voluntary National Reviews

Evaluation: a missed opportunity in the SDGs’ first set of Voluntary National ReviewsAt the 2016 UN High Level Political Forum, 22 countries presented Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) – status reports on their efforts to implement national-level follow-up and review frameworks for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). VNRs are meant to cover the status of the 17 SDGs in each reporting country and to provide an overview of processes planned to assess national progress towards them. 

This briefing reports on a review of the VNRs, and found that most show little awareness about just what evaluation is and how it could be used to support the SDGs. The recommendations presented here can strengthen and improve future reporting on VNRs.

Read more: This one of a collection of briefings on evaluation by EVALSDGs and IIED designed to help promote effective conduct and use of evaluation in SDGs implementation, follow-up and review.

Making mini-grids work: productive uses of electricity in Tanzania

Making mini-grids work: productive uses of electricity in TanzaniaMini-grids could help unlock inclusive growth in remote rural areas, but few proactively stimulate productive uses of electricity, as this often requires resource-consuming actions and expertise. 

This paper looks at the current mini-grids industry's strategies, focusing on Tanzania – in particular JUMEME, a new and sophisticated private initiative that aims to build energy use and bring a strong added value to rural areas. It gives recommendations for helping such private actors develop the areas they serve.

Read more: IIED is working with Hivos on the Energy Change Lab, which aims to spur systemic change in the energy system of Tanzania, towards one that is sustainable and works for all citizens. Find out more at the IIED blog 'Powering local development in Tanzania'.

Automation and inequality: the changing world of work in the global South

Automation and inequality: the changing world of work in the global SouthThis issue paper from IIED director Andrew Norton examines the relationship between rapid technological change, inequality and sustainable development. Existing research shows that in other sectors, agricultural smallholders may lose out under increasingly automated agribusiness as distribution systems are changed. Digital technology will mostly benefit skilled workers at the expense of those less skilled.

But growing inequality is not inevitable. Governments in the developing world need to introduce reforms early on that will shift their economies' focus to help protect people's jobs and livelihoods from the damaging effects of automation and rapid technological change.

Read more: In a blog titled 'Automation, the changing world of work, and sustainable development', Norton discusses how countries should act now to refocus their economic and social policies to make them more sustainable.

Supporting water service providers during conflicts

Supporting water service providers during conflictsAcross the Middle East and North Africa region, water utilities struggle to maintain services during protracted conflicts. Many have increased their dependency on external help, particularly on humanitarian and development aid. In many cases, international agencies have had to continue playing a substitution role over long periods, while their supporting activities have remained limited. 

This briefing reports on a study of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon that revealed how interventions that move towards structural support as early as possible during emergencies can reinforce water utilities' resilience, and make service provision more sustainable and equitable.

Read more: In a recent longread, IIED researcher Anna Walnycki considers how efforts to meet the water needs of refugee host communities in Lebanon have evolved. She shows how five fundamentals can help Lebanon's water sector deliver reliable water services and mitigate unknown future shocks.

Rural livelihood transformations and local development in Cameroon, Ghana and Tanzania

Rural livelihood transformations and local development in Cameroon, Ghana and TanzaniaThis 40-page working paper explores the importance of diversification and mobility in livelihood transformation processes in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Based on empirical research conducted in Cameroon, Ghana and Tanzania, the study shows that improved connectivity is a major driver of rural livelihood transformations and local development in these countries. The transformations in agricultural production systems also create a range of additional rural non-farm labour opportunities for local people, which in turn stimulate positive socioeconomic dynamics in the region.

Read more: IIED's project on the impacts of urbanisation and rural transformations on food systems is bringing together a global network of researchers and practitioners to review the diverse nature of urban systems and urbanisation processes, and the nature of rural-urban linkages. Find out more about it in the blog 'Reframing food security for an urbanising world'.

Agriculture, food systems, diets and nutrition in Zambia

Agriculture, food systems, diets and nutrition in ZambiaIn Zambia, maize makes up the major part of the national diet, while nutrient-rich foods such as legumes, animal-source foods, fruit and vegetables are eaten in small quantities, particularly among the poorest families.

National nutrition and agricultural policy in Zambia recognises the need to increase and diversify the production of nutritious foods to tackle hunger and improve diets. However, in practice, most government agricultural funding is still spent promoting maize production, despite repeated findings that this does not reduce food insecurity in the most vulnerable farming households.

This policy brief describes how diversification of agriculture and food systems can contribute to improving Zambian food and nutrition security, while also building more resilient food systems. It clearly outlines policy recommendations on how the food and agriculture sector can better serve the country's population through the development of sustainable diets for all.

Read more: IIED is working with Hivos on the 'Sustainable Diets for All' project which through citizen action promotes diets that are diverse, greener, healthier, fairer and more sustainable. In October 2017, a film was launched highlighting the importance of diversifying agricultural production in Zambia in order to improve the nation's diet.