Author Archives: Owen Barder

The eternal opportunity

The new Secretary of State for International Development has been quick off the mark with positive messages about aid.  And yesterday, she added her name to the role-call of pronouncements about the power of the current generation to eradicate poverty: Thanks to technology, we have opportunities that previous generations did not. We have the power to eradicate poverty. Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for International Development, 30 November 2017 This is, of course, not the first time we have told ourselves this. Here are some previous examples: This is the best story in the world today — these projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty … This new forecast of poverty falling into the single digits should give us new momentum and help us focus even more clearly on the most effective strategies to end extreme poverty

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Theresa May’s letter to EU citizens does not guarantee key rights

Here is Theresa May’s open letter to EU citizens living in the UK. Just to be clear: the EU has made an offer – of maintaining existing rights for UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK – which May has not accepted because she wants to curtail those rights. That is why we have not yet reached an agreement. It is not because the EU is being unreasonable, but because the EU is offering more rights than May wants to concede.

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Comments closed

What rights will EU citizens in the UK lose?

This is a good round-up of the rights that EU citizens living in the UK seem likely to lose, notwithstanding the government’s protestations that their rights will be largely unchanged. I list them here, but they are better explained in the article. The right to go abroad The right to fall in love with a foreigner The right to care for an elderly parent The right to have their rights independently adjudicated The right to free movement (if your family includes UK citizens The right to use an ID card rather than a passport The right to live in the UK without a UK ID card The post What rights will EU citizens in the UK lose? appeared first on Owen abroad.

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Comments closed

Religious zealots should mind their own business

Once again, the courts have declined to legalise assisted dying: Mr Conway, who has been supported by campaign group Dignity in Dying, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the judgement and intends to appeal it. “The experiences of those who are terminally ill need to be heard. “As I approach the end of my life, I face unbearable suffering and the possibility of a traumatic, drawn-out death.” I think the judges are right that this is a question for Parliament, not for the legal system. Parliament has consistently denied us the right to avoid a painful death, mainly because of objections from religious zealots (including the 26 Bishops who have an archaic right to automatic seats in the House of Lords). If they prefer a lingering and painful death for themselves, that is entirely their prerogative

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Tagged | Comments closed

Brian Barder 1934-2017 – A life well lived

Last night we celebrated the life of my father, who died on 19 September. I can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss him. I’m going to miss his optimism about humanity and progress. I’m going to miss his mischievous independence and scepticism of authority. I’m going to miss his relentless determination to roll up his sleeves and get things done.

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Otepää Ironman 70.3 Race Report

We had the pleasure of taking part of the Otepää Ironman 70.3 in both 2016 and 2017. Would we recommend it? You bet.  It is brilliantly organised, by a former professional triathlete, Ain-Alar Juhanson, and you can tell from the attention to detail that an experienced athlete is in charge. All the organisers, from the race director to the volunteers, are incredibly friendly and willing to do anything to make the athletes’ experience a good one.

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Tagged , | Comments closed

Have we reached peak global?

This blog post by Anita Käppeli and Owen Barder first appeared on Views from the Center under the title “2016 Commitment to Development Index Rankings: How All Countries Can Do More to Protect Global Progress” Global policymaking is at risk, threatening the international liberal order which has, for all its faults and lacunae, served the world well since the second world war. There has never been a period of such rapid progress in the human condition. Most of humanity has benefited from unprecedented increases in life expectancy, reductions in violent deaths, progress on equality and rights, and improvements in the standard of living. This progress has been, in part, the happy consequence of better global policies. This prosperity is the result of the spread of market economies, open trade, investments in science and evidence, wider availability technologies, the establishment of norms and standards, the movement of people and capital to where the opportunities are greatest, and, though we have sadly not eliminated war, a significant reduction in violent interstate conflict.

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Navigating with the Garmin Forerunner 920XT

I recently had the opportunity to run on the South Downs, at dawn on a foggy morning. Though I had a headtorch, I needed a way to navigate some difficult trails. Fortunately my Garmin Forerunner 920XT running watch can do turn-by-turn directions. It bleeps as you approach a turn, and at the turn, and shows you which way to go. That’s sometimes exactly what you need to find a new route.

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Tagged | Comments closed

Give us the courage to change the things we can – the serenity prayer for development

This blog post first appeared on Views from the Center. As my friends know, I’m not religious – indeed, I fall into the ‘militant atheist’ category – but as my day job is trying to promote peace and prosperity around the world, I am often reminded of Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous ‘Serenity Prayer’: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference. This prayer was on my mind recently when I had the opportunity to respond to Rory Stewart MP, who was giving his first speech as Minister of State at the UK Department for International Development.  He brings real expertise and experience to the role, having served in East Timor, Montenegro, and Iraq; and he travelled on foot through rural districts of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Nepal, a journey totalling around 6000 miles, during which time he stayed in five hundred different village houses. Mr Stewart gave a wise speech about how Britain can play a role in global peace and stability

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

What Can International Development Learn From Britain’s Olympic Team?

This post first appeared on Views from the Center. There is a lot of chatter about the reasons for Britain’s relative success in the Olympic games (at time of writing, Team GB is second in the medals table, ahead of China but behind the United States). This is an astonishing turnaround in just 20 years—in the Atlanta Games, Britain won only 1 gold medal, and came 36th overall on the medal table. As Emma Norris at the Institute for Government notes, this transformation in Britain’s sporting performance has generated a raft of tortured analogies with various non-sporting challenges, such as industrial and education policies (on which Britain’s performance is rather less stellar). So I’m leaping on the bandwagon with two lessons for international development

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

More in common

I’m tired and upset, and that probably isn’t the best time to write about what I think of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.  But here goes anyway. I reserve the right to think something different after I’ve slept on it. I refuse to be drawn in to bitterness, recrimination and division.

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Whose aid is most effective? Are generous donors less effective?

This blog post, co-authored with Petra Krylová and Theodore Talbot, first appeared on Views from the Center. When it comes to development aid, you might think that there is a trade-off between head and heart: that more generous donors would be less serious about making sure that their aid is used properly. There are some examples of this: Luxembourg has a large aid programme which appears to be relatively less effective compared to its peers; whereas Ireland, which spends a lower proportion of its national income on aid, has the most effective aid programme among the donors we were able to evaluate. But in a new CGD working paper, we find that these are indeed exceptions. In general, more generous donors tend also to be the most effective

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Brexit and Truthiness

We received a leaflet today from the Vote Leave campaign, purporting to be an EU Myth Buster. It contains a number of statements which are untrue, such as: “The EU costs us £350 million per week” – the correct number is £135 million a week. “The EU is expanding to include: Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey” – no it isn’t. “Brexit would bring … the ability to dump the European Convention on Human Rights” (this assertion is attributed to Sir Richard Dearlove) – the ECHR is of course not an EU body, so leaving the EU would make no difference to our obligations under it. Presumably the Vote Leave campaign knows that these statements are false. When did it become acceptable in Britain for a mainstream political campaign to say things which they know to be untrue

Posted in Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Tagged | Comments closed

Do middle-income countries really get more aid than low-income countries?

This blog post, co-authored with Matt Juden, first appeared on Views from the Center In a recent TV documentary, Professor Hans Rosling suggested that middle-income countries (MICs) get three times as much aid per person in poverty as countries which are further back in their development. Political pressure to spend more aid in fragile and conflict-affected states—and to spend more of the aid budget on refugees displaced by conflict—has led to concern among policy-makers that poor but relatively stable countries may now be under-aided. So is aid being spent disproportionately in MICs? As you would expect, countries are diverse, and so too is the amount of aid they each receive. This makes it difficult to summarise the position with summary statistics such as “average.” The comparison is sensitive to the choice of average: are we thinking about the mean or the median person, and the mean or median country?

Posted in Aid, Aid & Development, Hub Selects | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed