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  • Author: Brian Levy, Alan Hirsch, Vinothan Naidoo, Musa Nxele
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: South Africa's economic and social imbalances can no longer be swept under the rug. The country has three choices: muddle through, endure another surge of ethnopopulism, or pursue inclusive development. South Africa was one of the 1990s iconic cases of democratization. Yet starting in the mid-2000s, the country began to experience a disruptive collision between its strong political institutions and massive economic inequality. The collision intensified across the 2010s, resulting in economic stagnation and increasing threats to institutional integrity. Understanding why this collision occurred and worsened over time is relevant not just for other middle-income countries but also many higher-income democracies wrestling with similar tensions between a declining tolerance for high or rising inequality and institutions that seemed strong in the past but find their legitimacy increasingly being questioned. Ideally, ideas, institutions, and growth all reinforce one another in a virtuous developmental spiral. Ideas offer hope by encouraging cooperation and the pursuit of opportunities for win-win gains. Institutions assure that the bargains underpinning cooperation will be monitored and enforced. Together, ideas and institutions provide credible commitment, which fuels economic growth. However, such a benign scenario does not reckon with the ways in which persistent high inequality, accompanied by unresolved tensions between the distribution of economic and political power, can both put pressure on institutions and quickly change hope into anger. The result can be a cascading set of pressures and an accelerating downward spiral. For the first fifteen years of democracy, South Africa enjoyed the advantages of both effective institutions and a shared willingness of stakeholders believed in the power of cooperation. This enabled the country to move beyond counterproductive conflict and pursue win-win outcomes. Growth began to accelerate, which created new opportunities for expanding the middle class. Increased fiscal space made it possible to broaden access to public services and to social grants, which reduced absolute poverty. There were, however, some stark limitations in what was achieved. Gains for the poorest did little to alter their difficult economic and social realities. Less than a quarter of the total population, including essentially all white South Africans, enjoyed a standard of living that was middle class or better. There was ample reason for the majority of South Africans to feel that, notwithstanding the promises of mutual benefit, the deck remained stacked against them. This increased the vulnerability of South Africa’s political settlement.
  • Topic: Development, Inequality, Institutions
  • Political Geography: South Africa, Africa
  • Author: Francesca Ghiretti
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The debate on technological development and the unfolding fourth technological revolution tends to neglect the role of the EU, relegating it to follower status. The leadership positions are occupied by the US and China, who compete with one another for technological supremacy. Yet, despite lagging behind in some areas, the EU is better placed than is often assumed and still stands a chance of guaranteeing the delivery of a technological revolution that is not only environmentally but also socially sustainable. This is critical in proposing a model of technological development alternative to that of China, in particular, and especially in such sectors as artificial intelligence, supercomputing and digital skills.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, European Union
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Alex He
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This paper reviews the strategies and plans, policy-making institutions, process and problems in China’s techno-industrial development. Although it has made noticeable progress in some areas in the past two decades, China still lags behind in most core technology and advanced manufacturing fields, such as high-end chips. There have been several real breakthroughs in the semiconductor sector by private companies such as HiSilicon and rapid advancement in frontier technologies — artificial intelligence, fifth-generation wireless communication network technology, big data, blockchain and the Internet of Things — by private companies such as Huawei, Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu; however, state-sponsored technological innovation and breakthroughs have been crippled by the existing problems in China’s science and technology research system and a campaign-style catch-up strategy that rewards bureaucrats on short-term goals, as well as by weak links between academic research and industry and a swing between the market-oriented approach for technology acquisitions and indigenous innovation for technology breakthroughs. A case study of China’s semiconductor industry demonstrates both the problems and progress in China’s techno-industrial development, as well as the implications for the country's prospects of evolving into a technological powerhouse.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Industry, 5G
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Ryan Lasnick
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: This report analyses the size, scale and persistence of national development banks and offers ten clear observations and conclusions of the role of NDBs for the achievement of sustainable development globally. The Executive Summary can be found here. This report analyzes NDBs top down and bottom up. Top down, it includes the most recent data on the number of NDBs along with their total assets and annual disbursements. Bottom up, we conduct systematic case studies of various development bank ecosystems, including those of India, Brazil, China, South Africa, Germany and the US, to begin analyzing their role in the national development bank economy.
  • Topic: Development, Sustainability, Banking
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Theo Rauch, Michael Brüntrup
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: There is a widely held consensus that it will not be possible to feed the world without the help of the smallholders of Africa, Latin America and Asia, who number up to 570 million farms or 2 billion people. Given the sheer size of this figure alone, the sustainable development of smallholder farming will be key to achieving a range of other sustainability goals.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Global South
  • Author: Katharina Krings, Jakob Schwab
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: While blockchain technology (BT) has gained a great deal of publicity for its use in cryptocurrencies, another area of BT application has emerged away from the public eye, namely supply chains. Due to the increasing fragmentation and globalisation of supply chains in recent years, many products have to pass through countless production steps worldwide (from raw material extraction to the point of sale). Ensuring the quality and sustainability of production in preceding steps is a major challenge for many firms and thus, ultimately, also for the consumer. BT offers potential for achieving significant progress on this front. Put simply, the blockchain makes it possible to verify data decentralised within a network, store it in a tamper-proof and traceable format and make it accessible to all members of a network.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, Cryptocurrencies, Sustainability, Blockchain
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniele Malerba
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: To avoid catastrophic effects on natural and human systems, bold action needs to be taken rapidly to mitigate climate change. Despite this urgency, the currently implemented and planned climate mitigation policies are not sufficient to meet the global targets set in Paris in 2015. One reason for their current inadequate rollout is their perceived negative distributional effects: by increasing the price of goods, climate mitigation policies may increase both poverty and inequality. In addition, they may disrupt labour markets and increase unemployment, especially in sectors and areas dependent on fossil fuels. As a result, public protests in many countries have so far blocked or delayed the implementation of climate policies.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Policy Implementation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mario Negre
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: With inequality reduction now being officially and broadly recognised as a key development objective with its own Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 10), there is a need for simple, economical and quick methodologies with which to focus on this area and assess progress. This paper presents such a methodology, which allows a rough assessment of the potential impacts of development cooperation on income, consumption and wealth inequality. This is important, as a rigorous causal analysis of the contribution development cooperation makes to reducing a partner country’s inequality is complex and costly. First, the relative contribution of targeted development cooperation programmes and projects to the economies of partner countries tends to be small (though admittedly not in all cases). Second, a myriad of factors contribute to changes in inequality in any given country, and assessing the impact of all of them is a complex, imprecise, time-consuming and resource-intensive exercise.
  • Topic: Development, International Cooperation, Inequality, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Max Otto Baumann
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: There is a case to be made for greater transparency of the United Nations’ (UN) development work at the country level. Transparency can, in the simplest terms, be defined as the quality of being open to public scrutiny. Despite improvements in recent years, UN organisations still only partially meet this standard. Only the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and, with limitations, the World Food Programme (WFP) systematically publish basic project parameters such as project documents, funding data and evaluations. Others do not even publish project lists. Only the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) publishes evaluations – a key source on performance – in an easily accessible way next to programme or project information. Lack of project transparency constitutes not only a failure to operate openly in an exemplary way, as should be expected of the UN as a public institution with aspirations to play a leadership role in global development. It also undermines in very practical ways the development purposes that UN organisations were set up for: It reduces their accountability to the stakeholders they serve, including executive boards and local actors; it hampers the coordination of aid activities across and beyond the UN; and it undermines the learning from both successes and failures.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations, Transparency, World Food Program (WFP)
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Pablo Yanguas
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Development practitioners learn, their organisations not so much. In this paper, Pablo Yanguas finds little evidence for the “learning hypothesis” that knowledge makes development agencies more effective. As we near 2030, the role of M&E, research, and adaptive approaches may need to be reassessed.
  • Topic: Development, Management
  • Political Geography: Global Focus