The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 19 May 2018

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
GE2P2 Global Foundation – Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

pdf version: The Sentinel_ period ending 19 May 2018

:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities
:: INGO/Consortia/Joint Initiatives Watch – Media Releases, Major Initiatives, Research:: Foundation/Major Donor Watch -Selected Updates
:: Journal Watch – Key articles and abstracts from 100+ peer-reviewed journals

Commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia, USA – Rex Tillerson. Former U.S. Secretary of State

Governance: Democracy/Truth/Freedom

Commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia, USA
Rex Tillerson. Former U.S. Secretary of State
May 17, 2018
[Excerpt; full video recording of speech at link above]
…As I reflect upon the state of our American democracy, I observe a growing crisis in ethics and integrity. Above the entrance to the main building on the campus of my alma mater in Austin, Texas are inscribed the words “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Comes from the Book of John. Chapter Eight, Verse 32. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” The founders of our American democracy were, I believe many agree, were crafting the structure and foundational documents guided by divine inspiration if not divine intervention. And the central tenant of a free society, a free people is access to the truth.

A government structure and a societal understanding that the freedom to seek the truth is the very essence of freedom itself. You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. It is only by a fierce defense of the truth and a common set of facts that we create the conditions for a democratic free society, comprised of richly diverse peoples that those free people can explore and find solutions to the very challenges confronting a complex society of free people.

If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom. This is the life of nondemocratic societies comprised of people who are not free to seek the truth. We know them well. Societies in Russia, China, Iran, North Korea. You can complete the list. A responsibility of every American citizen to each other is to preserve and protect our freedom by recognizing what truth is and is not. What a fact is and is not. And begin by holding ourselves accountable through truthfulness and demand our pursuit of America’s future be fact-based, not based on wishful thinking. Not hoped for outcomes made in shallow promises but with a clear-eyed view of the facts as they are and guided by the truth that will set us free to seek solutions to our most daunting challenges. This is also that foundational commitment to truth and facts that binds us to other like-minded democratic nations that we Americans will always deal with them from the same set of truths and facts.

And it is truth that says to our adversaries we say what we mean and we mean what we say.

When we as a people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth even on what may seem to be the most trivial of matters, we go wobbly on America. If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both public and private sector. And regrettably even at times in the nonprofit sector, then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years…

Oxfam chief steps down after charity’s sexual abuse scandal

Governance – Oxfam Impacts

Oxfam chief steps down after charity’s sexual abuse scandal
Chief executive Mark Goldring points to Oxfam’s ‘past failings’ as he announces departure at end of year
Kevin Rawlinson
The Guardian, Wed 16 May 2018
…Announcing his decision to depart, he said: “Following the very public exposure of Oxfam’s past failings, we have redoubled our efforts to ensure that Oxfam is a safe and respectful place for all who have contact with us. We are now laying strong foundations for recovery. I am personally totally committed to seeing this phase through.

“However, what is important in 2019 and beyond is that Oxfam rebuilds and renews in a way that is most relevant for the future and so continues to help as many people as possible around the world build better lives. I think that this journey will best be led by someone bringing fresh vision and energy and making a long-term commitment to see it through.”

Oxfam said Goldring had presided over “the biggest annual humanitarian response in its history, encompassing the refugee crisis as well as conflicts including Yemen, Syria and South Sudan”. His time at the head of the charity, it said, was characterised by an increasing focus on tackling global poverty and its causes.

It noted that he “faced the test of a lifetime” when that time was punctuated by the emergence into the public eye of the allegations of abuse and cover-up at Oxfam; a period he called the “most intense and challenging of my life”…

The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a changing world – The Education Commission


The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a changing world
The Education Commission
May 2018 :: 176 pages
The Commission is co-convened by Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, President Peter Mutharika of Malawi and the Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova. The UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, serves as the Chair of the Commission. The Commission comprises the following high-level individuals representing diverse geographical and disciplinary backgrounds

Education and skills are essential for the realization of individual potential, national economic growth, social development and the fostering of global citizenship. In the coming decades, as technology, demographic change and globalization reshape the world we live in, they will become ever more important.

Economies will rise or fall depending more on their intellectual resources than their physical resources. The valuation of companies will depend more on human capital than physical capital. The pathway to growth for developing economies will depend less on traditional forms of export-led growth and more on education-led growth.

And yet the world today is facing a global learning crisis. If current trends continue, by 2030 – the date the international community has set for attaining quality secondary education for all – less than 10 percent of young people in low-income countries will be on track to gain basic secondary level skills. The costs of this learning crisis – unemployment, poverty, inequality and instability – could undermine the very fabric of our economies and societies.

But there is a better vision for the future of global education and young people. Indeed, it is possible to ensure that all children and youth are in school and learning the skills they need to be successful in work and life. Based on research from the Education Commission, this vision is achievable within a generation if all countries accelerate their progress to that of the world’s top 25 percent fastest improvers in education. This report proposes the largest expansion of educational opportunity in history and outlines the reforms and increased financial investment required to achieve it…

The global investment mechanism
The Commission envisions a Financing Compact for the Learning Generation where one country’s pledge to invest in education will trigger the support of the international community. Mobilizing new finance will require innovative approaches to financing and new ways to leverage existing resources. In today’s world of economic insecurity and cynicism about the potential impact of international spending, making the smart and evidence-driven case for more funds — louder and more effectively — is vital.

But it simply won’t be enough. We need to find new and creative ways to shake up the
global financing of education.

The Commission makes bold recommendations to bring together the one set of institutions that can make the biggest difference today — the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) that have the power to leverage up to $20 billion of extra funding for education annually. Our proposal for a groundbreaking Multilateral Development Bank Investment Mechanism for Education combines the unique opportunity to leverage substantial additional MDB financing and scale financing for education with key strengths of earlier proposals for a global fund for education. Raising international funding levels for education to match those already achieved by the health community is not just a moral imperative. In an inter-connected global economy, it is a smart and vital investment.

The Commission’s work builds upon the vision agreed to by world leaders in 2015 with the Sustainable Development Goal for education: To ensure inclusive and equitable quality education by 2030 and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The aims and actions
set out in this report are in line with, and intended to help to deliver this goal.

The Commission now proposes what would be the largest expansion of educational opportunity in modern history. Its success depends upon implementing the agenda for action set out in this report…

UN-World Bank Group Joint Statement on Signing of a Strategic Partnership Framework for the 2030 Agenda

Development – SDGs/2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

UN-World Bank Group Joint Statement on Signing of a Strategic Partnership Framework for the 2030 Agenda
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2018 – The United Nations and the World Bank Group today signed a Strategic Partnership Framework (SPF), which consolidates their joint commitment to cooperate in helping countries implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Signed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, the SPF includes four key areas of cooperation: finance and implementation support to help countries reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); decisive global action on climate change; joint work in post-crisis and humanitarian settings; and harnessing data to improve development outcomes.

Building on successful past and ongoing collaborations between the UN and the World Bank Group, the SPF commits the two institutions to work together to help countries achieve measurable results at scale to transform their economies and societies. SPF initiatives will focus on, but will not be limited to:
:: Mobilizing increased and better finance from all sources — including through domestic resources, and helping countries attract and manage private capital;
:: Improving implementation capacity to achieve the SDGs, particularly at the national and local levels;
:: Promoting joint action and investments to improve infrastructure and build human capital (including education and health);
:: Convening governments, financial institutions, private investors, and development banks to mobilize, coordinate, and deliver financing to help countries make the transition to a low-carbon, resilient future;
:: Strengthening collaboration and joint action in post-crisis and humanitarian settings to build resilience for the most vulnerable people — including women and girls, reduce poverty and inequality, enhance food security, prevent conflict, and sustain peace;
:: Improving national statistical systems and enhancing countries’ digital data capacities to improve implementation and maximize positive development impacts, and;
:: Expanding and deepening partnerships in policy development and advocacy, joint analysis and assessments, and program design and delivery.

The Strategic Partnership Framework recognises the existing mandates, strategies, and programs that each institution has in place, and their distinct capabilities and expertise to deliver on their responsibilities to Member States and shareholders. Technical teams of the United Nations and the World Bank Group will work together to ensure effective implementation of commitments assumed under the SPF. The leadership of the United Nations system and the World Bank Group will meet annually to review the partnership and take stock of results achieved.

Reassessing Expectations for Blockchain and Development

Development: Technologies – Blockchain

Reassessing Expectations for Blockchain and Development
Center for Global Development CGD Note – May 2018 – 9 pages
Michael Pisa, Policy Fellow, Center for Global Development
Growing interest in whether and how blockchain technology can help address a variety of social and economic challenges has given rise to a community of thinkers, innovators, and policymakers working to explore the technology’s implications for social impact and development.

On one level, things are happening quickly in this space. Over the last two years, the largest development organizations have begun to examine how using the technology might help them meet their goals. This includes the World Bank, which established a Blockchain Lab in 2017; the United Nations, which reports that 15 UN entities are carrying out blockchain initiatives; the Inter-American Development Bank, which is exploring the use of blockchain as a platform for asset registries; and USAID, which recently a published a primer on the topic.1 Several humanitarian non-profit organizations (NPOs) are also evaluating blockchain as a potential platform for aid distribution and developing their own proofs-of-concept. This is all happening as the number of start-ups pitching ideas continues to grow and distributed ledger models continue to evolve.

Despite these advances, however, the number of pilot projects underway remains quite small. While this could be just a matter of timing—many of the organizations mentioned above are now reviewing project proposals—it may also reflect hurdles to implementation that have received insufficient attention to date.

Given that blockchain technology is still in an early stage of development, it makes sense that most discussions about its use have focused on its potential rather than obstacles. Too often, however, boosters of the technology have overstated its capabilities and failed to consider obstacles to adoption. This imbalance has led to unrealistic expectations about what blockchain solutions can do, how easy they will be to implement, and how quickly they can scale, if at all. The result has been a widening gap between expectations and reality that has naturally led to growing skepticism.

The best way to address these doubts is to take them head on and to rebalance the conversation away from starry-eyed accounts of the technology’s promise and towards the obstacles that are likely to slow implementation and the steps that must be taken to overcome them.

This brief essay explores a key but often overlooked hurdle to using blockchain solutions, which is the complexity that decentralized solutions necessarily introduce. At times, the benefits of such solutions appear to exceed the added cost of complexity but often they do not. With this tradeoff in mind, the paper considers two use cases, digital ID and health supply chain management. Finally, the paper offers recommendations about how the development community can shift the conversation in a more useful direction.

Missing millions: How older people with disabilities are excluded from humanitarian response – HelpAge International

Humanitarian Response

Missing millions: How older people with disabilities are excluded from humanitarian response
HelpAge International
2018 :: 60 pages
Authors: Phillip Sheppard and Sarah Polack, International Centre for Evidence in Disability at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Madeleine McGivern, HelpAge International
Key findings
We found that older people with disabilities fared worse than older people without disabilities.
We identified a number of barriers that made it harder for them to escape from danger and exercise their right to humanitarian assistance and participation.

Older people with disabilities faced physical barriers such as having to travel long distances to distribution points, lack of accessible transport, and inaccessible houses, toilets and public buildings. It was clear that low-cost adaptations such as wheelchair ramps could make a big difference. Older people with disabilities also faced attitudinal barriers, and at times were
made to feel humiliated trying to access their rights in humanitarian settings. Thirdly, they faced institutional barriers, such as a requirement to collect food aid and social protection payments in person. These combined to threaten their right to independence, dignity and participation.

We also identified factors that enabled older people to exercise their rights. Families, neighbours and socialstructures were particularly important. Transport, proximity to services and home visits by health staff, community workers and “incentive workers” in camps (providing information to older people) also madea significant difference.

Interviews with staff from international organisations highlighted a disconnect between age-focused organisations and disability-focused organisations, from local to global level, and concerns about collecting data on disability and ageing, meaning that older people are at risk of being missed out of efforts towards disability inclusion and vice versa…

Our research identified a number of factors that promote the right of older people with disabilities to safe and dignified access to humanitarian assistance. These included the provision of rehabilitation and assistive devices, ensuring proximity to services and aid distribution or provision of transport to these services, as well as assistance from family members, and home visits by community, health, and social workers which promoted independence, inclusion and participation.

However, the research also identified physical barriers (such as distance, lack of transport and inaccessible houses and public buildings), attitudinal barriers (such as being told to go away) and institutional barriers (such as requiring people to be physically present to claim social protection and humanitarian assistance) that are likely to disproportionately affect older people with disabilities. This is particularly so, taking into account their greater risk of poverty and
higher healthcare and rehabilitation needs.

Considering that disability is most common among older people, and that numbers of older people are rising globally due to population ageing, there is a need to increase the visibility of older people with disabilities in humanitarian action and promote their meaningful inclusion. This involves not just addressing their needs for assistance and protection, but also enabling them to participate in decision-making on issues that affect them, so that they can exercise their rights in full.