2020 will go down in history as a year of global health, economic and social crises occurring against the backdrop of increasingly catastrophic climate events. It is a year that defines disruption. However, as we jump into 2021, I’m taking a cue from last season’s development optimists to look for how to convert crisis into opportunity. This year, I will explore with my guests how they see us leveraging disruption for good in a post-COVID world.
More From the Blog
How do evolving security challenges shape the way that the military and the global development community work in the same spaces to address human needs?
In this episode of A Deeper Look podcast, I speak with retired Lieutenant General David Barno about military involvement in development. We discuss lessons learned from General Barno’s experience in Afghanistan, address the threat of non-state actors and describe the different doctrines that influence the military’s tactics. We discovered that seeing the communities where we serve as the center of gravity of our operations creates many similarities in how we think about achieving positive, sustainable change, such as the importance of listening to people, the requirement for country ownership and the centrality of good governance to resolving the conflicts of the 21st century.
Can you imagine trying to provide for your family while sick with a disease that makes your eyelashes turn inward and painfully scratch your corneas with each blink? Or attending school when your skin itches nonstop because you are infected with worms? These are some of the challenges that people with neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) face every day.
It’s a new year and a new decade. A century ago, the 1920s — also known as the Roaring ’20s — brought momentous changes. What will the 21st century’s next decade bring?
To kick off this season of A Deeper Look podcast, I talk with Carolyn Miles, outgoing President and Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children US, and Masood Ahmed, President of the Center for Global Development. We discuss the progress and achievements that have been made in human development and the pressing challenges that lie ahead. We consider major trends, ideas and forces that will shape development in the 2020s, including climate change and conflict and migration, and we explore how the development community can respond.
At recent global health meetings that assessed progress made against the HIV epidemic, presentation after presentation confirmed that the world is inching closer to epidemic control. The excitement at these gatherings was palpable. It would be the first time in human history that such a public health milestone would be achieved without either a cure or a vaccine.
As technical experts attending these meetings, we were struck by the critical importance of logistical and operational interventions, alongside biomedical ones, to reach the last mile. Yet, unlike the private sector, public health systems in low- and middle-income countries often remain underfunded and understaffed. This environment can make project management very challenging.
The One Health concept calls for a worldwide approach to expanding interdisciplinary collaboration and communication on all aspects of health for humans, animals and the environment. This approach has tremendous implications for human health because an estimated sixty-one percent of human infectious diseases originate from animals. At the same time, there is a growing sense of urgency to advance One Health collaborations before more ground is lost in the fight for a healthy planet.
In the 2019 season of A Deeper Look podcast, we examined the darker side of development — the unintended consequences of development efforts, the paradoxes that we confront, the harm that the best intentions can sometimes cause and the lessons we can learn by discussing uncomfortable, even threatening, topics.
Each one of my guests brought a unique perspective to this theme, yet it’s possible to distill a number of common concerns. More than one guest described the long-term nature of development as a journey, and many emphasized the importance of humility in this work. Although our theme for the year was dark, the perspectives, insights and commitment of my guests give me hope that we, as a community, are more willing to acknowledge our weaknesses and do better.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to tune in, I encourage you to listen to all of the episodes in this season’s A Deeper Look on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud or wherever you get your podcasts. Here are some takeaways.
This year, we’ve been exploring the darker side of development, and we’ve examined examples of the paradoxes and unintended consequences of international development efforts. In the final episode this year, I sit down with David Dodson, President of MDC, to discuss parallels and shared lessons between U.S. and global development challenges and solutions, particularly with respect to addressing poverty and inequality.
David and I explore the structural issues that lead to inequality, the importance of data-informed decisions in addressing poverty and the ebb and flow of progress within development. We discuss how promoting individual and group agency and localization is crucial to development efforts around the globe.
We have celebrated many successes in global development, thanks in part to advocacy efforts. The billions of dollars in resources and political will mobilized to tackle global development challenges have yielded historic results, such as reducing the number of cases of HIV, cutting malaria deaths in half and increasing life expectancy rapidly, even in the poorest countries. Does the promotion of the progress made lead to complacency that could ultimately reverse the gains we now celebrate?
In this episode, I sit down with Tom Hart, North America Executive Director for the ONE Campaign. Tom shares ONE’s approach to advocacy. We discuss the paradoxes of sharing successes and talk about how the final stretch of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals may be the hardest part of the race. We also examine the role of advocacy in development, the continued need for bipartisan political support for development work and the coalition of strange bedfellows during a divisive time.
This post was originally published on FHI Partners.
According to Peter Drucker, the noted management theorist, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” When I reflect on my time working with private-sector organizations, government agencies and international nongovernmental organizations — all of which were focused on solving global human development challenges — I recall the common refrain that “we can’t do it alone.” Only by working together do we stand a chance to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity. But sentiment alone is not enough.
The promise of partnerships has resulted in an active body of work focused on facilitating public-private partnerships and devising private-sector engagement strategies, with the Sustainable Development Goals at the center of this dialogue. Specifically, private-sector involvement is increasingly called upon to drive global socio-ecological change. The increasing overlap between development and commercial challenges provides fertile ground for robust collaboration. However, we need to move beyond the announcements, handshakes and high-level dialogue.
The #AidToo movement, which stemmed from the #MeToo movement, has brought to light incidences of sexual harassment and abuse within development work.
In this episode, I sit down with Carrie Hessler-Radelet, President and CEO of Project Concern International (PCI). Carrie describes her own personal experience with sexual assault and shares the important role that speaking out has had for her and can have for survivors. Carrie and I discuss best practices for preventing and responding to abuse and harassment in the global development workspace, both internally within organizations and within the communities where we work.