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March 2017

What do aid agencies need to do to get serious on changing social norms?

Duncan Green's picture

Earlier this week I spent a day with Oxfam’s biggest cheeses, discussing how we should react to the rising tide of nationalism and populism (if you think that’s a Northern concern, take a look at what is going on in India or the Philippines). One of the themes that emerged in the discussions was how to engage with social norms – the deeply held beliefs of what is natural, normal and acceptable that underpin a lot of human behaviour, including how people treat each other and how they vote.

It’s pretty common to hear progressive types (in which category I include Oxfam) worry that while they have been busy having geeky conversations on the evidence on this or that intervention/project, or the case for this or that policy change, they have ignored the tide of disillusionment with politics-as-usual that underpins the rise of populism. We need to engage the public in a wider conversation aimed at encouraging progressive norms, or opposing exclusionary ones.

Fair enough, but what struck me is just how much would need to change for that to become reality. What would a ‘guide to shifting norms’ cover? Here are a few thoughts; please add your own.


There doesn’t seem to be much evidence on how to change norms. Eg what lies behind the increasing acceptance of the rights of people with disabilities? Or the age at which we deem chlldhood to end? Or even why dog owners routinely pick up their pooches’ pooh in my local park, something that was unimaginable a generation ago? How do deliberate attempts at change interact with the forces of demographic, technological or cultural change that also help drive norm shifts? This is one area where we really do need more research, both historical and current.

Managing PPP risks with a new guide on guarantees

Victoria Rigby Delmon's picture

Chronic depression affects about 20 percent of Nigerian heads of households, according to the most recent results of the Nigerian General Household Survey (GHS) Panel, which measures indicators from agriculture, welfare, and other areas of life in Nigeria once every two to three years. This statistic is linked to an additional finding that nearly 2 out of 5 Nigerian respondents have been affected by at least one negative event, such as conflict and/or the death of a household member.

Can foreign banks bridge the information gap to boost exports?

Shawn W. Tan's picture

Le niveau élevé de chômage des jeunes au Moyen- Orient et en Afrique du Nord (MENA) a été l’un des principaux déclencheurs des révolutions du printemps arabe. Face à l’urgence de cette situation, le programme Development Marketplace de la Banque mondiale prépare un nouveau concours en Égypte, qui sera lancé début 2012 à l’échelle de tout le pays. Le thème retenu est celui de l’entreprenariat social. Les projets privilégiés seront ceux ayant un fort impact sur la création d’emplois durables, surtout pour les groupes à faible revenu et marginalisés. Les subventions iront en priorité aux initiatives destinées au secteur agricole et aux circuits d’approvisionnement.

Can behavioral change support water conservation? Examples from the US, Colombia and Costa Rica

Juan Jose Miranda's picture

Согласно недавно выпущенному отчёту “Статистика внешнего долга» (СВД) за 2016 год, отмечается быстрое увеличение объёмов эмиссии государственных облигаций некоторыми странами, расположенными к югу от Сахары.  К числу таких стран относятся страны, участвующие в программах по снижению бремени задолженности, таких как Инициатива в отношении долга бедных стран с высоким уровнем задолженности (ХИПК) и Многосторонняя иницатива по списанию задолженности (MDRI).

Рисунок 1: Эмиссия государственных и гарантированных государством облигаций в странах Африки, расположенных к югу от Сахары (за исключением Южной Африки) (2011-14)

Из приведённой выше схемы видно, что объёмы эмиссии государственных облигаций в странах Африки, расположенных к югу от Сахары, за последние четыре года существенно выросли. На конец 2011 года было выпущено государственных облигаций на общую сумму в 1 миллиард долларов, в то время как к окончанию 2014 года эта сумма достигла 6,2 миллиардов долларов США. Благодаря стабильности на мировых рынках и перспективам более высокой отдачи для инвесторов удалось расширить доступ к международным рынкам, где средняя доходность по таким облигаций составляет около 6,6 процентов при среднем сроке погашения 10 лет.
Для стран Африки, расположенных к югу от Сахары, доходы, полученные от выпуска этих государственных облигаций, используются в качестве ориентира для эмиссии государственных и корпоративных облигаций в будущем, а также для управления государственным долгом и финансирования инфраструктуры.

Profiles of the Diaspora: Hanane Benkhallouk

Web Team's picture
Hanane Benkhallouk

“You can take the man out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the man.”
A native of Morocco, Hanane Benkhallouk began her career in New York before moving to Dubai in 2005. Along the way, she held senior positions in sales and marketing, communications and business development. She has led multinational, interdisciplinary teams for international market projects – MENA, Asia, Europe and the USA – and in diverse sectors, from finance and banking to retail, real estate investment, franchise development and consulting services.

Beyond ribbon-cutting: measuring the real impact of transport projects

Nancy Vandycke's picture
Children in Koutoukalé, Niger

Have you ever wondered how your life chances are affected by where you were born? Odds of being born at all are already miraculously small, but only one in ten of us is born into the relative security of a high-income country. What if you are born in Niger or in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)? Before you could even walk or talk, your challenges would be daunting. That's because, despite progress, deaths of children under five years old are more than twenty times higher than in the EU and nearly ten times higher than in China.

Even if you survived, you would confront another major risk to your development: malnutrition. In Niger and DRC, almost one out of every two children is stunted. Stunting has significant and long-lasting negative effects on early childhood development, impeding physiological and mental development, and making small children more vulnerable to disease. Starting off in life stunted is akin to starting a marathon with a broken ankle.

In Senegal, food security and women’s empowerment go hand in hand

Louise Cord's picture
Photo: Sarah Starkweather/Flickr
The government of Singapore recently outlined its vision for the country's future, describing how different sectors could harness technology, innovation and mega-trends in order to take the city-state to the next level. This approach includes a dedicated Industry Transformation Map for the logistics sector, which accounts for 7.7% of Singapore's GDP and over 8% of jobs. Logistics is also understood as a crucial enabler for other significant parts of the economy, such as manufacturing and trade.

How is Singapore anticipating the transformation of logistics?

Singapore has been considered a major logistics hub for quite some time, and is currently ranked first in Asia according to the Word Bank’s Logistics Performance Index. The sector, however, is experiencing significant transformations such as the rise of digitally enabled logistics services, and the emergence of new delivery capabilities (autonomous vehicles, 3D printing).

The Industry Transformation Map (ITM) will help Singaporean logistics keep its competitive edge in this rapidly evolving context, and aims to achieve a value-added of S$8.3billion (US$6 billion) by 2020. In particular, the ITM intends to strengthen innovation, productivity, as well as talent development across the logistics sector—including by leveraging trends such as artificial intelligence and collaborative robotics.

Are roads and highways the Achilles Heel of Brazil?

Frederico Pedroso's picture

Par Nisreen Haj Ahmad
Nisreen Haj Ahmad est la fondatrice de l’Initiative pour l’organisation des communautés au Moyen-Orient (Middle East Community Organizing Initiative).

For Accountability to Continue Beyond the Revolution, Francis Dobbs
Les révolutions en Tunisie et en Égypte ont célébré les valeurs de liberté, de justice et de dignité humaine. Elles ont ravivé l’espoir dans la capacité des communautés d’œuvrer ensemble à instaurer le changement. Elles encouragent une prise de risque conjuguée à un esprit d’apprentissage.

Le défi à présent consiste à entretenir la participation des citoyens et développer une culture de responsabilisation mutuelle. L’action collective ne peut se résumer à une succession de révolutions. Je suis particulièrement sensible à ce qu’a dit un Shabab AlThawra [jeune de la Révolution] égyptien à ses partisans : « maintenant que vous vous êtes réveillés, ne vous rendormez pas ». L’autre défi est de veiller à ce que les énergies en présence ne soient pas manipulées par des acteurs aux valeurs contradictoires ou dévoyées par des manœuvres médiatiques.

What’s the recipe to cook up networks for resilience?

Megan Rowling's picture

Spreading the word about the need to get ahead of climate change and disasters, linking people and organisations so they can tackle problems better together, discovering new knowledge and resources to build resilience  - apart from that, 'what have networks ever done for us?' we might ask, to steal the famous Monty Python line.
It's a question we set out to answer at a panel discussion I moderated at the RES/CON gathering in New Orleans earlier this month. With, we are aiming to build an online "network of networks" - and so understanding the value of networks and the challenges of creating effective ones will be key to what we do.
At the conference, a diverse line-up of panelists - from the non-profit, private and public sectors – gave their insights. Here are some of the key ideas that emerged:
1. New forms of collaboration: The huge challenges posed to societies and economies by global problems like climate change require an "all hands on deck" approach. The Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), set up in 2008 by The Rockefeller Foundation, now helps some 50 cities in the region devise and implement strategies to help urban communities address climate change. Shannon Alexander, a senior director at development agency Mercy Corps, which has also supported the network, said ACCCRN had enabled civil society to have a voice, and work with local governments and business to figure out what the problems are, and how best to solve them.

Second-generation capacity development: A story of Malaysia-Laos knowledge exchange on reforming civil service

Jana Kunicova's picture

What do you imagine when you hear the words “capacity development”? Most development professionals associate capacity development with training, seminars and perhaps study tours.  Most of the countries the World Bank works in require a significant boost in their capability to implement policies, programs and projects, especially in countries supported by the Bank’s fund to the poorest, International Development Association (IDA).

For training to be sustainable and have high impact, it should be targeted to a particular public sector problem, and coupled with initiatives to improve organizational and institutional capacity.