Devex posted this article written by Michael Igoe @AlterIgoe on its online site on December 22nd, 2016. We are happy to republish excerpts of the Global Development’s Winners 2016 only and would definitely encourage all to visit and read the whole article by clicking the title below.
2016 has been a tumultuous year. Man-made crises, natural disasters, rising temperatures, and political hostility tested the global development community’s commitment and creativity to forge new solutions for a world in transition. On social media, 2016 has acquired a plethora of memes declaring it the worst year ever, and indeed, at times it has been trying.
But while it is true that real people have suffered and important causes have seen setbacks, the challenges have also reaffirmed the aid community’s commitment to keep moving forward. The tumult imparted costs and uncertainty — but it also provoked leadership and resolve to ensure that decades of progress in combating poverty and disease aren’t lost to the winds of change.
The Syrian conflict continues to produce images and accounts of humanity at its worst. Yet it has also drawn the sharp edge of heroism — health workers who continue to administer care despite the knowledge that the hospitals where they work have been painted with targets; teachers who fight to keep classrooms open amid the bombing.
The global development community will grapple with a new and evolving geopolitical landscape in 2017, but the new year is also a time to take stock. Here are a few of the actors, ideas, and priorities that emerged from 2016 as winners — or losers.
Global development’s 2016 winners:
While national and international institutions around the world struggled to keep pace with change, the world’s cities and their leaders took more steps to solidify their status as centers of action for sustainable development. The first Habitat summit in 20 years — Habitat III — brought urban leaders to Quito, Ecuador in October to launch a New Urban Agenda, which endorses an “urban paradigm shift” that “readdresses the way governments plan, finance, develop, govern and manage cities.”
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Mayors and local leaders proved critical to sustaining climate momentum at COP22 in Marrakech, after Donald Trump’s surprise presidential victory cast doubts over U.S. national climate policy. “Cities, businesses and citizens will continue reducing emissions, because they have concluded … that doing so is in their own self-interest,” said U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In 2017 Devex will convene a global conversation about the future of smart cities for global development. Stay tuned.
- Solar power.
The cost of solar panels has fallen 80 percent since 2010, according to the International Energy Agency. Solar energy has gotten increasingly cheaper and is now the lowest-priced option for new electricity production in many developing countries.
The last few years witnessed a turning point, with more new energy production happening in renewables than in fossil fuels. New payment and distribution models — such as pay as you go solar panels — have emerged to help enable access to renewable power at the bottom of the pyramid. These trends have led to some bold and hopeful predictions.
The Indian government, for example, said it will exceed its — already very ambitious — Paris climate agreement target for renewable energy by half, generating 57 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2027.
At COP22, the Climate Vulnerable Forum — a group of 48 countries expected to experience the harshest impacts of climate change — adopted a vision to meet 100 percent domestic renewable energy production by 2050.
- National development finance institutions.
Development finance institutions received top billing in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which called on donors to leverage aid resources into private sector investment in order to reach the precipitous $2.5 trillion target. Donors across Europe are responding enthusiastically. Finland, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and France are recapitalizing their DFIs, many increasing budgets by more than 100 percent. The United Kingdom’s investment arm, the CDC, is on track to quadruple its ceiling for investment early next year to $8 billion.
Questions remain about whether DFI capacity for impact evaluation and accountability is keeping pace, but the critiques don’t appear to be slowing growth in the sector. Also in question are DFIs’ frequent use of more obscure financial environments, including tax havens, as revealed in the so-called Panama Papers leaks. Still, private investment is on the rise, and donors are keen to make it work. The Overseas Development Institute and Center for Strategic and International Studies reported in 2016 that private investment funds are on track to outstrip official development assistance in as little as 10 years.
- Disaster response and preparedness.
Cyclone Winston, Hurricane Matthew and the Aceh earthquake were just some of the natural disasters that devastated some of the poorest economies in 2016. According to the World Disasters Report, released by the Red Cross in October, climate change will increase the numbers of natural disasters worldwide, with the Asia-Pacific region suffering the greatest impacts in terms of cost and lives lost. But this year also saw strong funding and increased programmatic focus on building communities that will be better equipped to prepare and respond to future natural disasters.
The Asian Development Bank, for example, told Devex about its increased funding to tackle climate-related impacts in the Asia-Pacific: funding for more resilient infrastructure, climate-smart agriculture, innovative technologies, preparedness for weather-related disasters and mitigation programs will be key investments in the coming years.
In Australia, emergency and humanitarian response was among the few winners to garner more financing in the 2016 aid budget. And the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave almost $13 million in grants to emergency response programs in 2016. As Peter Walton, international director for Red Cross Australia, explained to Devex, NGOs are making “pretty significant” shifts toward disaster-related programs particularly in the Asia-Pacific.