USP Hosts Oceania Development Network’s 4th Biennial Conference

At its fourth biennial conference held on September 10-12, 2013 at the University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus, the Oceania Development Network (ODN) focused this year on ‘Addressing Inequality and Promoting Inclusive and Sustainable Development‘. Opening remarks were made by ODN’s present Chair, Professor Biman Prasad ODN-Conf-2013a_0e2(University of the South Pacific’s School of Economics), who introduced the conference theme and its relevance to the Pacific’s development challenges and the key objective of ODN in line with broader objectives of the Global Development Network (GDN) in building “research capacity amongst the young and emerging researchers on issues of policy relevant to the Oceania Region.”
ODN is one of 11 regional networks affiliated with the Global Development Network.

Understanding inclusive growth: Effective policies for more inclusive societies

By definition, inclusive growth entails the equitable allocation of resources in order to generate benefits that can be incurred by all sectors of the society, thus alleviating poverty and inequality. However, is inclusive growth necessarily pro-poor? And does it ensure reducing the troubles of the most disadvantaged while benefiting everyone? There is yet no clear coherent measure to combine all the dimensions of inclusive growth that involves how the elements of inclusiveness relate to each other and ultimately how they can collectively induce growth.

Rafael Ranieri from the Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management, Brazil presented a paper titled “Inclusive growth: Building up a concept” at the GDN 14th Annual Conference. He tackled the state of the debate on the concepts of inclusive growth and pro-poor growth; highlighting distinctive features of the concept of inclusive growth and contributing to the design of more effective policies through addressing the main issues that can take it further. He argues that, unlike pro-poor growth concepts, inclusive growth is not limited to income outcomes but is rather concerned with the process of growth. In other words, people must actively participate in the growth process for it to be inclusive.

Greater clarity about the meaning of inclusive growth is important to determining clearer policy objectives and thus to designing more effective policies to create more inclusive societies. In their paper, Ranieri and Raquel A. Ramos from the Centre d’Economie de Paris Nord, France emphasize that actual manifestation of inclusion in public policy make a country more resilient to change in the long term, taking into consideration the distinct nature of national concerns and social forces in each country.

                Rafael Ranieri, Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management, Brazil


InfoLady: Empowering rural women at their door steps

Lack of access to information and government transparency are major blocks in the road of development and poverty alleviation in almost all emerging economies of the world. Women, especially in rural areas where accessibility to information is more acute, are impeded with poverty, illiteracy and disempowerment, which binds their ability to support themselves and their families.

Nadia Shams, Senior Assistant Director at Dnet, Bangladesh, presents her project; the “InfoLady” model. This model is specifically tailored to provide assistance to thousands of rural female entrepreneurs through a variety of door step services. The InfoLadies are currently operating in 19 districts in Bangladesh; with a a service package designed by Dnet, consisting of 80 different services under eight different categories, which include health, family planning, agriculture, employment, finance, marketing advice, legal and ICT.

InfoLadies also spread awareness for 6 different groups, namely farmers, labor, elderly, women, children, and adolescent girls. In addition to providing the InfoLadies with the necessary equipment, being associated with a local organization or NGO helps the InfoLadies to strengthen their customer base in the community through creating reputation credibility.

The InfoLady model is currently being scaled up nationally in Bangladesh and has great potential of being replicated in other countries as well; through adjusting it according to country-specific dimensions including the market, culture, infrastructure… etc.  Dnet plans to have 12,000 InfoLadies operating throughout Bangladesh by year 2017.


Awarding innovative development research and ideas

Winners of the Global Development Awards and Medals Competition 2012

Launched in 2000 with the support of the Government of Japan, the Global Development Awards and Medals Competition aims to recognize innovative ideas and to encourage talented young researchers. This year, 12 finalists had the opportunity to present their papers, research proposals and projects on inequality, social protection and inclusive growth at GDN 14th Annual Conference. Interesting discussions emerged throughout the conference’s plenaries and parallel sessions where researchers presented their innovative work.

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Grappling with the concept of inclusive growth

By Felipe F. Salvosa II, Publications Division Chief, Philippine Institute for Development Studies

Closing Plenary

Panel at the closing plenary of the Annual Global Development Conference ‘Concluding Rountable’

After three days, what has come out of the 14th Annual Global Development Conference is that inclusive growth remains the goal, but the scope is still very wide on how best to achieve it. The world’s top development researchers will continue to grapple with this critical question and how inclusivity should dovetail with inequality and social protection as they leave the host city Manila.

The closing roundtable was an occasion for the leadership of The Global Development Network (GDN), and indeed the rest of the delegates, to reflect on these very issues. Tasked to set things in perspective were L. Alan Winters, the GDN Chairman; GDN President Pierre Jacquet; and regional networks heads Randall Filer, Ahmed Galal, Mustafa K. Mujeri, Biman C. Prasad, Roberto Rigobon, Lemma Senbet, Pavlo Sheremeta, and Josef T. Yap.

Rigobon of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association notes that development research is the toughest area and the challenge is two-fold: to be sound and relevant. Economists are often preoccupied with running models and experiments that have no external validity when what is really needed is a commonsense approach.

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Africa’s challenge: The ‘jobless growth’

Edited by Zeinab Sabet and Shahira Emara

For over 40 years, Africa has not witnessed such a rapid growth as recently. Out of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies, 6 are African! However, such growth is not always coupled with a decrease in inequality or a remarkable reduction in poverty. While some African countries have experienced growth with significant reduction in poverty, poverty rate remains high in most countries regardless of their economic performance. In the latter cases, growth has been even named by some studies ‘jobless growth’. This is where the African challenge remains.

Witness Simbanegavi, Director of Research at the African Economic Research Consortium, argues that growth is not being channelled in the right way to benefit the vulnerable people. On the other hand, and unlike the Latin American region, Africa lacks strong social protection policies. According to Simbanegavi, what Africa needs now is a pro-poor growth coupled with improved social protection policies; only this paradigm can lead to an enhancement of the welfare of the poorest.

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Are income, expenditure and wealth indicators the right way to measure inequality?

Researchers spent many years studying the relationship between inequality and development, and especially between inequality and economic growth. Francois Bourguignon (Paris School of Economics) gave an inspiring speech in the GDN Annual Development Conference titled ‘The Analytics of the inequality-development relationship: Where do we stand?’, where he introduces new ways to measure the relationship between inequality and development.

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Access to water and education gap in China

Water is vital for our survival. This is indeed an unquestionable fact. Experts predict that future conflicts will be over water:

“It is estimated that, by 2025, 4 billion people—half the world’s population at that time—will live under conditions of severe water stress, with conditions particularly severe in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.” (Source: World Bank)

Not only an increase in the awareness about water issues has been noticed, but also a better understanding of the existing links between access to water and sanitation. This probably explains why access to water and sanitation has been one of the most commonly discussed development issues lately.

But what about the other sectors? Would limited access to water hamper the access to other services?

Yasheng Maimaiti (Xinjiang University) argues that female participation in school education is limited when their water needs related to menstrual period are not met.

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Addressing inequality and poverty in the Pacific Islands

By Danileen Kristel Parel, Supervising Research Specialist, Philippines Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and Felipe F. Salvosa IIPublications Division Chief, Philippines Institute for Development studies

Participants during the GDN 14th Annual conference

Pacific Asian Participants from the GDN 14th Annual Development Conference, June 2013

Pacific Island countries are facing challenges in addressing low income economic growth with high levels of vulnerabilities resulting from the impact of global economic crises. The three presentations during this session at the 2013 GDN Annual Conference tackle the issues specific to inclusive growth, poverty and inequality in the Pacific Island Countries. Speakers argue that for inclusive growth to be achieved, barriers to the participation of the poor in economic activities should be removed. According to Neelesh Gounder, University of South Pacific, broader macroeconomic growth policies like trade liberalisation need to be considered to promote growth in a broader sense.

Experience from Fiji

Masilina Tuiloa Rotuivaqali, University of South Pacific focus on the importance of social protection in economic growth. He claims that by paying attention to social protection policies, increased productivity and social stability can be achieved. Prior to 2008, social policies that focus on vulnerable groups have not existed. Although some social policies have been implemented in Fiji in 2008, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu still remain to have very limited formal social protection in place. Thus, there is a need for an integrated social policy framework in all three countries, namely Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. This framework should be at the grassroots level to include relevant vulnerable groups.

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Inequality of opportunity and outcomes in the Arab Region

By Eman El-Hadary (Economic Research Forum)  and Rana Hendy (Economic Research Forum)

Rana Hendy, ERF

Rana Hendy, ERF

Despite the long negligence of inequality research for the benefit of economic growth, rising attention is paid to inequality and its possible contribution to the uprisings in the region. However, it is important to highlight that the Arab Region is characterized by predominant data scarcity for decades. Data are either unavailable or inaccessible by the research community due to political constraints. Nevertheless, the Economic Research Forum (ERF) is currently carrying out an important initiative through its partnership with statistical offices around the region making micro data accessible to the public by collecting, harmonizing and documenting the data. Building on these efforts, ERF has recently launched the Open Access Micro Data Initiative (OAMDI) that consists of dissemination micro data. This initiative has already started to bear its fruits as 17 datasets from three Arab countries namely Egypt, Palestine and Jordan are now accessible via the new ERF data portal.

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