New inequality report, Australia and the Pacific, Davos, Brexit, the US shutdown, and what it means for aid

Posted on 22 January 2019

+ Oxfam Report: Public Good or Private Wealth 

Oxfam International have released their report 'Public Good or Private Wealth' this month. It calls for a transformation of our economies to deliver universal health, education and other public services through a fairer system of taxation.

The number of billionaires has doubled since the financial crisis and their fortunes grow by $2.5 billion a day, yet the super-rich and corporations are paying lower rates of tax than they have in decades.

Women suffer the most and are often left to fill the gaps in public services with many hours of unpaid care.

The current crisis of inequality is the direct result of a moral failure of market capitalism to understand that morality and justice are the fundamental prerequisites for prosperity and economic growth, says the report. 'Only a society that seeks to include all its people in the economy can expect to achieve sustainability.'

The report recommends that all governments should set concrete, time-bound targets and action plan to reduce inequality as part of their commitments under SDG10 (Reduced Inequalities). They call for action in the following three areas:

  1. Universal free health-care, education and other public services that also work for women and girls
  2. Free up women's time by easing the millions of unpaid hours they spend every day caring for their families and homes
  3. End the under-taxation of rich individuals and corporations.
Oxfam New Zealand also released a press release which highlights inequality within New Zealand. It calls for greater transparency, and greater taxing of the wealthy, particularly through via recommendations from the (NZ) Tax Working Group.
+ Australia pushing back on China 

Australia has been complacent about the Pacific for too long, argues the Economist, treating the region as a place to fly over on the way to somewhere else.

"Until this week no Australian leader had been to Vanuatu since 1990 or Fiji since 2006."

It's true - Australia has been the largest market and aid donor for the Pacific. "But its exports to the region consist mainly of fatty meat, cigarettes and booze. (And) its investments are in many cases anaemic (Vanuatu invests more in Australia than vice versa)."

China's presence in the region has triggered a change in direction, with a new focus on the Pacific announced last year.

This month, PM Scott Morrison is making an historic tour of the Pacific.

"(Australia) insisted that it and not China should help Fiji turn its Blackrock camp into a regional military and police- training facility. A Chinese base, Vanuatu was told, was out of the question, reports the Economist.

"January is an odd time for high level visits to the Pacific. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to focus on the region at the start of the year indicates he listened to the criticism of his failure to attend the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Nauru last September," writes the Conversation.

The visit has begun and ended with a focus on security, and the promises have been coming thick and fast.

  • $2bn fund for infrastructure
  • New diplomatic missions in the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, the Marshall Islands, Niue and Palau.
  • Promises to bring electricity to 70% of households in Papua New Guinea by 2030, up from just 13% today.
  • Help to replace the Pacific nations’ ageing patrol boats.
  • $500,000 in security and policing aid for Vanuatu
  • Australia and Fiji commit to a new era as 'family'

But trying to trump China round the region is like playing whack-a-mole, says Jonathan Pryke of the Lowy Institute.

+ What's more effective at raising funds? Devpolicy survey 

While this survey is focused on Australian attitudes, there are likely to be many parallels with attitudes amongst New Zealanders.

"Does emphasising the benefits aid brings to Australia make Australians more positively disposed to giving it? Some politicians clearly think it does. On the other hand, groups like the Campaign for Australian Aid take a different approach. They advocate for aid on ethical grounds alone, ignoring what’s in it for us," asks survey authors, Terrence Wood and Chris Hoy.

Until now, no-one has studied what approach works best.

Have a look at the survey findings, but spoiler alert:

"All of the treatments, including the basic treatment, increased general approval of aid giving (by roughly ten percentage points) and decreased the percentage of the population who thought Australia gave too much aid by a similar extent.

"Simply providing people with some tangible detail about what aid is doing, and coupling this with an endorsement from an independent expert, is enough to have a substantial impact on support for aid. The specific way aid is framed – basic information, appeals to the national interest, altruism, etc. – doesn’t seem to matter much for these improvements."

+ A World Bank for the future? 

The abrupt resignation of World Bank President, Jim Kim raises alarms, especially, as Devex reports, because he left thinking that he could be more effective in the private sector, which is a damning indictment of the World Bank and the impact of its $400 billion balance sheet.

At a time when multilateral institutions are under attack, how should the World Bank get its house in order?

Devex argues the following:

  • Pick a leader who is a political thinker, not a technocrat
  • Double down on designing climate change friendly economics
  • Pick a new leader who will get things done, and knows development. 
With up to 85 percent of people living in extreme poverty and likely to be within fragile states by 2030, it's more important than ever that the Bank 'gets' politics.
+ Davos and aid 

The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, marks the beginning of what promises to be a hugely consequential year for global efforts that depend on functional international cooperation, writes Sophie Edwards and Catherine Cheney of Devex.

The development community will be fighting for oxygen, given there are so many political issues - from Brexit to government shutdowns in the US.

"The theme of this year’s invitation-only event in the luxury ski resort town in the Swiss Alps is how to cope with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the opportunities and challenges emerging technologies pose for society."

Some of the priorities for the development community at Davos:

  • Disability inclusion
  • Technology - maximising the benefits and minimising the risks
  • Global health - a discussion hosted by Bill and Melinda Gates
  • New ways to get the private sector investing in humanitarian relief.
+ US shutdown - aid deadline missed

As the U.S. federal government remains shut down, the Trump administration has missed a deadline of congressional oversight on the implementation status of foreign aid transparency requirements, reports Teresa Welsh from Devex.

The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act requires the president to establish monitoring and evaluation plans for U.S. foreign aid programs, with guidelines on performance metrics and measurable goals.

+ Resilience in the face of disaster: Marshall Islands 

The latest podcast from The Pacific Way, Resilience in the Face of Disaster, explores how adaptation to climate change is already a way of life for Melanesian communities. Most relevant to emergency preparedness and response, this podcast covers how the people of the Marshall Islands are dealing with drought conditions as they face of future of climate extremes.  

This is the Pacific Way is a great podcast source of Pacific stories and localised view points. Other podcasts cover water security in Kiribati, the role of women in surveying, and the strengthening of resilience and sustainability in Tanna following Cyclone Pam.

+ What next for UK NGOs after Brexit deal rejected?

Bond summarises where NGOs in the UK stand after the Theresa May deal was rejected last week.
  • The UK is the second largest recipient of EU aid to CSOs. Any loss of access to funding for joint programming would be felt by the sector and those the UK NGOs seek to help, and would also undo the legacy of joined-up working historically established with the EU. 
  • The UK has substantial development experience and some of the best implementers of humanitarian programmes in the world, many of which are Bond members. Loss of this experience in the EU will have a huge impact on European international cooperation. Bond is concerned that the UK government and civil society will no longer have a seat at the table to promote aid effectiveness, gender equality and prioritisation of the world’s most vulnerable.
  • Bond is concerned about recent reports that as many as 600 DFID staff may be seconded to other departments to prepare for the prospect of a “No Deal”. Even if temporary, this is likely to have an immediate and negative impact on the operation of UK development assistance and countries in the Global South.
+ New year honour for CID member

Congratulations to CEO of UNICEF, Viv Maidaborn for the recognition she received in this year's New Year honours. It was great to see her contribution recognised and to see a CID member highlighted this year.

Viv was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to human rights and social entrepreneurship.
+ Follow up: Localisation & Risk 

Reading last week’s CID weekly and the IRIN report on potential humanitarian trends for 2019, the following statement has elicited some discussion:
  • Outsourcing of risk within localisation: There is a common assumption that local staff and organisation face fewer risks within insecure areas because they are local. But local actors actually carry the greatest risk and burden within violent emergencies already. The 2018 AWSR figures indicate that in 2017 ninety-one per cent of victims of major attacks were national aid workers.
When international aid organisations subcontract or undertake 'remote management' of donor-funded programmes to local groups – questions remain as to whether this might increase security risks and other moral quandaries. Localisation represents a shift in how we operationalise development and humanitarian work, and a nuanced understanding in real terms will need to anticipate otherwise unforeseen burdens for local actors, who might get an unfavourable deal with respect to safety and the management of risk.

Given the information available in the original (IRIN) article and the link, the data does not immediately give any guidance as to what we should do with respect to localisation of staff.

Data would be very helpful here.

It may be that the probability of a foreign aid worker becoming the victim of violence in, say, South Sudan is 2% per year, and only 0.5% per year for local aid workers.  But if there are 50 times the number of local than foreign aid workers, of course, we will see more local victims than foreign victims.

While the real data and situation are somewhat unknown, there are implications on how we spend money for maximum good and minimum harm. 

A quote from last week's AWSR link provides further context for consideration;

"Because these attacks took place mostly in contexts of severely constrained access for international aid organisations, 2017 also saw a steep rise in the number of victims belonging to national and local NGOs, reflecting the near universal reliance on national staff and organisations to take on the riskiest of operational roles in the most insecure areas".

While we may not have the answer, we would like to thank Steve Hamlin from CWS for highlighting these points. CID welcomes all and any feedback so that we as a sector discuss and challenge salient and topical points.
+ Good Travel Impact Report 

One of our newest members, Good Travel, had a great year in 2018 and celebrated by releasing their 2018 Impact Report this month.

Highlights include the launch of their #wastefreeflyer campaign; and designing and running sustainable trips to Thailand, DRC, Peru, South Africa, Fiji, Iceland and Brazil enabling 79 trip participants to experience travelling GOOD.

+ The CID Weekly is proudly sponsored by


Economy Aid