SDGs, new development fund, rule of law & refugees

Posted on 10 July 2018

+ How much do our members love us?
+ New energy NGOs, business and government  to work on SDGs

"Expect to work together longer and more closely, get better at reporting and involve more local people"  - was the big message out of last week's New Zealand Aid and Development Dialogues (NZADDs) symposium New Futures for New Zealand’s Development Cooperation in an SDG World.

Under Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau talked about the importance of values in the government's approach: "We're interested in development that works". Fresh ideas and approaches are welcome.

Deputy Director Jonathan Kings highlighted recent research that shows some countries (PNG, Solomons and Timor Leste for example) are not on track to achieve the SDGs. Natural disasters are on the increase, and youth unemployment in the Pacific is high. The SDGs can help us hold ourselves accountable for making a difference. 

While intended as a "smorgasbord" of ideas, the sessions were more of a hearty show of convergent ideas across sectors, said Massey University's Dr Helen Leslie.  "We need deeper, different, more meaningful long-term engagement."

This is not a new conversation, but the energy behind it comes from the extra funding that has been allocated to the Pacific in the latest budget.  

Speakers agreed a cross party alliance on aid and development is needed and would remove uncertainty for people on the ground, allowing a focus on quality. It was noted that aid and development needs to be "demand-led" and developed with communities.  "Everything we do, even if you're a business, has to be done with communities."

We too need to report clearly on what we've achieved and have dedicated budget lines for aid work. MFAT assured participants that since 2016 there has been a fully integrated approach to reporting on the SDGs in the Pacific.

On this note, the reset was a big topic of conversation.  "The real reset needs to be in New Zealand's behaviour. The funding needs to be spent on regional entities, supporting local Pacific initiatives instead of funds going through the UN," agreed some speakers.

There is a lot of work being done domestically on well-being in both policy and how we measure progress, and we could apply the same approach to development. The economy is there to serve society, and this wedding cake image (created by the Stockholm Resilience Centre) is a fantastic way for New Zealand to think about the SDGs.

Gerard Prinsen brought us back to the opportunities and need in Africa. "In the next 20 years more Africans will join the labour force than the rest of the world combined."  Africa's size and the amount of work being done there by different organisations makes for a fantastic centre of innovation.  New Zealand has the opportunity to partner in Africa with international bodies and NGOs.

Our thanks to NZADDs for such a wonderful morning.  All the talks can be watched over on the NZADDs website.
+  New development fund announced 

A new Strategic International Development fund has been set up to respond to  crisis and challenges that emerge over the next few years.

Acting Prime Minister, Winston Peters made an announcement during a speech at The Otago Foreign Policy School. It was part of the next steps planned to "shift the dial" in our relationship with the Pacific.

He indicated it would be mostly earmarked for projects in the Pacific that had a life of at least 50 years and involved partner projects with friends such as Europe, Japan or Australia.

A third of the fund would also be available for initiatives in the rest of the world.

INGOs will be eligible to apply for the funding, especially if working with multilateral partners, and if they're able to identify a clear impact.

Click here to see the full text of his speech. 
+  Have your say on climate change legislation

The Government has proposed the Zero Carbon Act, designed to help reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Take a minute to send in a quick submission.
+ Rule of law is our best way of helping refugees 

The scale of the refugee and migrant  problem remains huge for humanitarians, says Vincent Bernard, editor-in-chief of the International Review of the Red Cross last night at a speech on migration and displacement. 

Migrants are too often seen as security problems, rather than human beings. The Red Cross avoids the political discussions, and  focuses only on vulnerability and need. "People's perceptions are mixing forced displacement and economic migration' and that can be a problem". 

40 million of the 68.5 million people forcibly displaced are internally displaced people according to UNHCR figures.

Vincent was clear on the importance of the law and people's rights.  Solidarity is one thing, but people have rights.  And there is a legal obligation to rescue people in danger.

Instead humanitarian borders are being created, partly to make it so difficult for people to make their case as refugees beyond these borders, that they don't even try.  

But the better the respect for the law, the less people will be displaced. 

A study was done on the main causes of displacement:
  • trauma from previous events leads to displacement even before violence starts
  • types of weapons and violence impacts on displacement
  • more crimes that target civilians, the longer people will stay away. And the longer the violations persist, the less likely people are to return. 
  • For example the use of landmines etc makes return very difficult, and the illegal restrictions on humanitarians being able to work makes it impossible for people to stay.
The ICRC firmly believes the respect for international law is fundamental to ending crises. That should be our guiding light when working out how best to help people.
+ Nauru bans journalists

Last week Nauru announced that journalists from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation would be banned from the upcoming Pacific Island Forum in September, blaming them for political interference and bias against the president. Accusations of "fake news" against media outlets that are deemed critical of politicians (usually by those politicians) is eroding trust in media worldwide, and further polarising societies along political lines. 

In the case of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Nauru, media outlets have come to their defence in different ways: Vanuatu's Daily Post has announced they will boycott the Pacific Island Forum meeting; while the largest global grouping of public broadcasters, the Public Media Alliance says the ban is unacceptable. Radio New Zealand, who will be at the Pacific Island Forum, will be making their journalism available to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

This battle is being played out against a larger review of Australian media services in the Asia-Pacific region, after budget cuts and the end of shortwave transmission reduced Australian Broadcasting Corporation's reach in Pacific Island communities. The importance of media and information as an arm of foreign policy is playing out in the Pacific: China is now broadcasting on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's former radio frequencies while Radio New Zealand, TVNZ and the BBC are maintaining (and growing) their presence in the region.  
+ Defending against climate change  

New Zealand's 2018 Strategic Defence policy statement was launched last Friday, and is heavily infused with New Zealand's values and the Pacific reset. In addition to highlighting key defence principles, the Minister's speech outlined explicit challenges in the current and future strategic environment, including the impact of climate change in our Pacific neighbourhood. 

“This is the first time New Zealand’s defence policy has recognised the impact of climate change," said Defence Minister Ron Mark, noting complex disruptions including the increasing frequency, destructive capability and “storm-merging” of cyclones and the "disproportionate impact on those with less resources", including poverty-affected communities in NZ and our neighbouring countries.  

New Zealand's defence forces are aware of (and planning for) the possibility of multiple simultaneous events stretching NZ's humanitarian and disaster response capacity, remaining committed to providing humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and support such as volcano monitoring and search and rescue. 

Elsewhere in the Pacific, Samoa is investing in the Vaisigano Catchment Project, building flood protection to protect communities living along the Apia River. Vanuatu hasjust opened two new Provincial Emergency Operations Centres to improve national disaster coordination and communication following extreme events.
+ How India fails its women  

Women in India are less likely to work than they are in any country in the G20, except for Saudi Arabia, says the Economist in this week's issue.

The female employment rate in India has fallen from an already-low 35% in 2005 to just 26% today.

Were India to rebalance this, the IMF estimates the world's biggest democracy would be 27% richer, let alone happier and more fulfilled.

What can be done? Indian men can do more of their fair share of the housework, says the Economist. Families need to be encouraged to educate girls, workplaces need to be more family-friendly, and government policy has to do more to "suck women into the work place and decent jobs".
+ "Metric Fixation" 

Jerry Muller, author of "The Tyranny of Metrics", argues that more and more organisations today are in the grip of what he terms "metric fixation".

Contrary to common belief, some attempts to measure productivity through performance metrics can potentially discourage initiative, innovation and particularly risk-taking in organisations.

Human nature and innovation can in fact be stifled by organisations being overly fixated of the measurement of performance and production; the development and humanitarian sector may not be immune to this dynamic.

"We would certainly not wish to promote the idea that performance and outcomes shouldn't be measured and tracked, particular given its key role in effective development and accountability to key stakeholders." However Muller's article suggests some self-awareness will be valuable for organisations so that they can find a balance between measuring performance and allowing staff and volunteers to just to “get on with the job”.
+  OCHA 'Disaster Response in Asia & the Pacific' Guide

In Asia-Pacific, national governments and authorities, as well as INGOs, local NGOs and communities, are at the forefront of any disaster response. There are numerous tools and services available at the regional and international levels that can further strengthen these local responses, but these may not be easily accessible or understood to those who could benefit from them.

First launched in 2013, OCHA has recently (re)released their 2nd edition of Disaster Response In Asia & the Pacific: A Guide to International Tools & Services. The "Guide" (as its referred to by OCHA) is designed to help governments, particularly NDMOs  (National Disaster Management Organisations) gain basic knowledge of how to use and link into regional tools and services. The guide, while not prescriptive, aims to support the growing disaster response and disaster response preparedness capabilities that exist at national level to support region efforts across Asia and the Pacific. It remains a valuable guide for how NGOs and local authorities might link into this.
+ 2018 DevNet Conference - Disruption and Renewal

The deadline for the Call for Abstracts has been extended to 16 July.

"We invite paper proposals that address and problematise 'Disruption and Renewal' within the broad field of international development studies. We particularly encourage papers that build on ‘disruptive’ scholarships and/or tackle ‘renewal’ as a space of hopeful possibility, innovation and practical policy recommendation for the future."

For more information, click here. 


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