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Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011


The Impact of Climate Change on Maintaining International Peace and Security Achim Steiner1 Our current understanding of the Earth’s changing climate has profound implications for global stability and security. The scale and pace of climate change acts as a multiplier which could result in simultaneous and unprecedented impacts on where we can settle, grow food, maintain our built-up infrastructure, or rely on functioning ecosystems. Managing the potential disruption, displacement and adaptation to phenomena such as sea-level rise or extreme weather events, represents a profound challenge to sustainable development at the local, national and international level - both in economic and geopolitical terms. Uncertainty will continue to define our response to climate change. By its very nature, both in terms of its causes and its effects, climate change requires a global response. Accelerating the transition towards a low-carbon future is but one dimension of reducing future risks. However, we must also develop a risk management strategy which anticipates and addresses the capacity of the international community to cope with significant disruptions to our societies which, left unaddressed, carry within them the seeds of tensions, chaos and conflict. Underpinning the question of whether there is a link between climate change and security is the science. The principal risk assessments in respect to climate change are the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), hosted by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization. In its fourth assessment in 2007 the IPCC concluded that it was “unequivocal” that the Earth is warming and that human activities play a role in this change. Irrespective of the specific causes and drivers, there is clear evidence that our climate is changing and that the pace and scale of that change is accelerating in many areas. The IPCC’s fifth assessment will be released in 2013/2014 but already many teams of scientists claim the forecasts and scenarios of future climate change in the fourth IPCC assessment are being overtaken. What the newly emerging science is in many ways pointing to is also tipping points, sudden and perhaps irreversible changes accompanied by feedback mechanisms - an Arctic free of summer ice by 2030, for example, could reduce the amount of sunlight reflected back into space leading to more heat absorbed by the Earth. Continues on page 2

The UN Under-Secretary-General, Mr. Achim Steiner is the UNEP Executive Director. This Editorial is a concise version of Mr. Steiner’s speech addressed during the Security Council on Climate Change and Security on 20 July 2011.


Volume 2 • July 2011


The Impact of Climate Change... Continued from page 1 These, suggest experts, have fundamental implications for weather, settlements, infrastructure, food insecurity and lives, livelihoods and development. This is happening in a world of close to seven billion people, rising to over nine billion by 2050 and on a planet where resource constraints are rapidly emerging. Many experts argue that climate change will aggravate or amplify existing security concerns and give rise to new ones, especially but not exclusively in already fragile and vulnerable nations. Nationally and regionally climate change has the potential to sharply intensify human displacement bringing communities into increasing competition for finite natural resources with world-wide repercussions for the stability of the global economy. There can be little doubt today that climate change has potentially far-reaching implications for global stability and security in economic, social and environmental terms which will increasingly transcend the capacity of individual nation States to manage. In that context the sustainable development paths of individual nations will increasingly be predicated upon the ability of the international community to act collectively in addressing these developments. Humanity is at a point in its history where it has, for the first time, the power to fundamentally alter within one or two generations the conditions upon which societies have evolved over millennia. It is the speed of environmental change, including climate change that will be increasingly at the heart of our collective concern and response. Indeed there is no reason why the international community cannot avoid escalating conflicts, tensions and insecurity related to a changing climate if a deliberate, focused and collective response can be catalyzed that tackles the root causes, scale, potential volatility and velocity of the challenges emerging. In bringing forward a response that enhances global security and cooperation on the climate challenge, the world can perhaps also better manage risk from numerous other challenges and in doing so diminish tensions between nations and lay the foundations and possibilities of a more sustainable and equitable peace.


ASEAN Roadmap for the MDGs Calls for Strengthened Cooperation and Harmonized Implementation1 Detty Saluling

Volume 1 | Issue 3

September 2011










Cover by Roels Rudi





The recent adoption of the ASEAN Roadmap for the Attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has significantly proven the need for uniformed efforts and cooperation by all ASEAN Member States in implementing the MDGs. There are only a few more years left to the finish line of the MDGs, a short period where all the key and concerned stakeholders should start supporting each other and pick up the pace to be back on the track of improving livelihoods of their citizens. The Roadmap established five key areas of collective actions: Advocacy and Linkages, Knowledge, Resources, Expertise, and Regional Cooperation and Public Goods. ASEAN Member States were encouraged to foster a stronger collaboration, a more effective networking, harmonized strategies, regionally and nationally, through existing and relevant stakeholders and platforms. The importance of solid knowledge management is emphasized, in particular on sharing best practices and promote strategic researches, in an effort to accelerate effective implementations and promote innovative approaches. Regional cooperation and protecting regional public goods are encouraged to foster further joint initiatives on critical and emerging issues such as climate change and cross-cutting areas on MDGs that require committed collaborative actions. The Roadmap elaborates these five key areas in tables to specify areas of responsibility and deadlines.


Dr. Sandro Calvani






Assistant Editor Detty Saluling Publication Staff Mahbooba Amin


Freedom from Want is a quarterly





ARCMDG. The views and opinions expressed in the Magazine do not




publication published by the

necessarily reflect those of the ARCMDG or AIT.



ARCMDG ASEAN Regional Center of Excellence on MDGS Asian Institute of Technology P.O. Box 4, Klong Luang Pathumthani 12120, Thailand Tel: +66 2 524 6722 Fax: +66 2 516 2126 Email: Website:

This report is a summary of the ASEAN Roadmap for the Attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).



Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011

Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011


Poverty in the Pacific? The MDGs and the Pacific Islands John Overton1

he Pacific Island region

covers several states in

the Pacific Ocean, spanning

The subsistence economy remains strong... the daily reality is that most people in the region have the ability to gain livelihoods in the subsistence sector that keeps hunger at bay.

a vast oceanic region dotted with states.

worse than most Asian or South American regions – but


also they have been sluggish with not much progress

sometimes known as Oceania,

having been made to lower them in the past decade.









The MDGs then remain a vital barometer for poverty

Development Goals and have

and well-being in the region and should focus attention

significant steps towards achieving

on these key welfare indicators to guide social and

them in the past decade. However,

economic policy and aid.



the Secretary General of the

A critical aspect underlying these data, however, is

Pacific islands Forum, Tuiloma

the significant diversity within the region. Aggregate data

Neroni Slade, recently reported that

are skewed by the presence of a single country – Papua

by 2015, no single Pacific Island

New Guinea – that accounts for about six million of the

state is likely to achieve all its goals

region’s perhaps nine million people. No other country

and no single goal will be achieved

has a population over a million, and none has the land

in all countries of the region. Yet

and other natural resources to match PNG. Some states,


such as Niue or the Tokelau Islands, have populations











understand that the MDGs are

used in MDG 1) is nominally high at 49.7% in 2009, the

cast in a rather different light in this region compared to the rest of the developing world and there are considerable differences across the region. Many








relevance of the term ‘poverty’ when applied to much of the region. There is apparently none of the grinding







sub-Saharan Africa – at least not outside some of the rapidly expanding informal settlements in some of the enjoy





areas health




countries that


favourable by international standards. Perhaps the main reason for the region enjoying a lack of serious food insecurity is the maintenance of communal land. In nearly all parts of the region, land was not fully alienated and privatised during the colonial period and most people can lay claim, through ancestry, to use rights to communally-held land and marine resources. The subsistence economy remains strong – certainly by global standards – and the result is that whilst poverty as measured by cash income (the $1.25 per day yardstick

© Helena Jinx

under 2000; many have fewer than 100,000 people. Several of these small states – usually with limited land areas – have maintained close relationships with their former colonial powers and receive not only very high levels of aid per capita but also favourable opportunities to migrate and work in the metropolitan country and remit earnings home to support their kin and communities. Former and current French territories (Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia), New Zealand-associated territories (Niue, the Tokelaus and the Cook Islands) and American dependencies (American Samoa) enjoy the

© Helena Jinx

daily reality is that most people in the region have the ability to gain livelihoods in the subsistence sector that keeps hunger at bay. In addition, the strength of many communal societies, bound together by kin, means that mutual help and reciprocity provide an effective safety net for those in need. However, this picture of a vibrant rural subsistence economy is becoming less and less the daily reality for many Pacific Island people as rapid urbanisation and the growth of informal settlements – despite above average access to urban gardening land – mean that many more are becoming dependent on the cash economy and potentially experiencing monetary poverty. Yet if poverty defined in terms of food insecurity is relatively low, there are certainly concerns regarding other indicators and goals. When one examines data on, for example, infant mortality, literacy or maternal mortality, the picture of poverty changes. Not only do we see that these rates are high by international standards – not quite at sub-Saharan Africa levels but certainly

John Overton is Professor and Development Studies Programme Director, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.



Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011

Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011


Towards Truly Global Development Goals Jonathan Gleenie1

© Michael Thirnbeck

It can only be achieved by recognising the particular needs, aspirations, resources, enterprise and initiatives of local people themselves.

virtual status – and often levels of support and welfare

chequebooks then there will be enhanced opportunities



for Pacific Island people to widen their livelihood

remarkable initiatives and enterprise of Pacific Island






options. Remittances from Pacific Island people

people to exploit the many opportunities in their wider

working abroad remain the key economic resource for

region, even more than the supposed generosity of aid

many countries in the region. Tourism may also hold

donors, has been responsible for living standards and

opportunities if the success of countries such as Tahiti,

welfare indicators that are very respectable. Whilst

the Cook Islands or Fiji in attracting visitors and

PNG, for example, has an under one infant mortality rate



of 53/000, the Cooks Islands has a rate of only 14/000


And there may be hope in redirecting

and Samoa 22/000.

production away from mass commodities – such as





Given these differences and special circumstances

sugar or coffee which cannot command economies of

in the Pacific Island region, the implications for reaching

scale and compete strongly on global markets – to ones

the MDGs are not straightforward. What is possible in

which exploit niche identity and local qualities, whether

some countries – for example, small states with close

through organic certification or use of geographical

relationships with a metropolitan patron - is not possible


for PNG or the Solomon Islands where local resources

Tackling poverty in the Pacific, then, requires some

are much greater but MDG indicators much less

different strategies and understandings compared to

favourable and options for engagement with external

other parts of the world but, like them, it can only be

economies much more restricted. Perhaps the smaller


territories offer a model for the larger. If metropolitan

aspirations, resources, enterprise and initiatives of local

countries open their borders not just their aid

people themselves.










deas abound for what to do with the Millennium Development Goals post-2015, and different groups and interests have begun to organise their advocacy. Some believe the course should remain steady, given that only limited progress has been made in many countries. Others want to alter them to respond better to shifting development needs. Still others believe that they have contributed to a skewed understanding of development priorities, focusing on outcomes rather than processes, and thus undermining the sustainability of any positive change. All the ideas have some sense in them, and they should be welcomed to a debate that has to be political as well as technical. So far, however, I have not seen anyone pick up on my insistence, in an article for Britain’s Guardian newspaper in November 2010, that the new MDGs should be for all countries, not just “developing countries”. Olav Kjorven, the UNDP’s Assistant Secretary General for development policy, agreed with my thrust and had already suggested (in the New York Times) that there be MDGs for rich countries as well as poor countries. But in my view, we should go that one step further, and simply ditch the misleading division of countries developed and developing. All countries are developing and all need to join in a collective endeavour, bound by a sense of shared



Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011

global destiny. While many criticise it, the concept of “developing countries” is perfectly sensible. It is the concept of “developed countries” that is not. It implies that little change is now required, that an endpoint has been reached. In fact, “developed” countries may well be required to engage in far more profound changes to their economies and societies than countries that are supposedly still in development if the globe is not to collapse under the weight of human over-reaching. In my article last year, I argued that the two central issues for a set of goals to cover all countries would be equality and the sustainable use of resources. These concepts have been brought together recently by New York University’s Alex Evans under the concept of Fair Shares. Recognising that “demand for key resources may well outstrip supply”, Evans argues convincingly that distributional issues must come to the fore. “As total global consumption levels start to hit sustainable (or in some cases absolute) limits for resources like land, water, food, oil and carbon space, the need to advocate for “fair shares” of these resources for poor people and poor countries will become increasingly central to international development.” Continues on page 15

Jonathan Glennie is Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute. His email is:

Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011


© WFP/Judith Schuler

Famine from Afar Marcus Prior1 aying the word ‘famine’ – and knowing that it’s for real – is almost unbearable for an aid worker. It’s like passing a kidney stone and coughing up a fur-ball at the same time – painful, discomforting, and a sign that something, somewhere has gone terribly wrong. Until last year, I spent seven years working for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) across Africa, for the most part based in Nairobi, Kenya. From there I visited southern Somalia several times. Famine was declared there in July, and many other areas in the parched and brittle Horn of Africa are living through the worst drought in 60 years. Somalia’s neighbours Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Djibouti are battling critical shortages of food, water and other necessities. Watching events unfold on televisions screen in my office and home in Bangkok has been an unnerving and ‘disconnected’ experience. For the first time in my adult life, there is a famine in Africa – a continent where I have spent half my life, much of it working to prevent hunger – and I am too far away to help. I’ve been in turn tormented, frustrated, deeply sad and – on several occasions already as I try and write this down – grasping for the words to make sense of it all.


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But it’s not all darkness. I can’t be there this time, but hundreds of experienced and tireless WFP colleagues are, working alongside numerous other humanitarian organisations to limit the suffering in whatever ways we can. WFP knows this part of the world intimately, understands the terrain, the needs, and the best ways to deliver. The greatest challenge of all is Somalia. Our Country Director – who worked previously in Afghanistan – has called it WFP’s most complex operational challenge. Fourteen relief workers have been killed in Somalia since 2008, and WFP was forced to suspend operations in the southern part of the country (with the exception of the capital Mogadishu) in January 2010 in the face of unacceptable demands from the fractured but powerful Al Shabab militia, which controls most of the area. It’s simply not possible to work in the face of regular death threats, constant demands for unofficial taxes, and directives that you may not employ women. And here’s the rub – access. The complete breakdown of law and order in southern Somalia means it has been all but impossible for international aid agencies to get supplies into many of what are now the worst affected areas. WFP has been worried for months

– our Executive Director visited Mogadishu in July as part of efforts to bring attention to the unfolding disaster – but with only small-scale, haphazard deliveries possible through a limited group of organisations, we are now dealing with a human catastrophe. WFP will continue to appeal for urgent, unimpeded access to the famine zones so that lives can be saved, but we know that any operation in southern Somalia will carry enormous risk – something the international community needs to understand in its full implications as they support our life-saving efforts. The first lives to be saved in a crisis such as this must be children’s – they are the most vulnerable, the first to become weak, and the least able to fend for themselves. The television pictures tell that story plainly enough. Science and technology, research and development, mean that we are now better placed than ever to save young lives. The nutritious and restorative powers of a small sachet of specialised food are astonishing. Air lifts are expensive, but getting enough of these products into Mogadishu to feed 30,000 malnourished children was a vital first step in late July. Many more deliveries of ready-to-use fortified pastes and biscuits will follow, giving us the best chance yet of saving thousands of young lives. Somalia has become the focus of this crisis, but pastoralist communities in Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti are struggling terribly, too. WFP has worked with many communities to build resilience to drought through agricultural and other infrastructure projects which means they are better able to cope during the bad years

– but this year has been the worst in living memory. It’s the deep humanity of the people of Africa that drew me to work there. For now I watch, and support my colleagues in whatever way I can. All predictions are that things will get worse before they get better – there is a long road ahead. For more information on WFP’s operations in the Horn of Africa, please go to To donate to WFP’s operations in the Horn of Africa, please visit

© WFP/Marco Frattini

It’s the deep humanity of the people of Africa that drew me to work there... All predictions are that things will get worse before they get better – there is a long road ahead.

© WFP/Judith Schuler

Marcus Prior is Asia Spokesman, UN World Food Programme ( He is based at WFP’s Asia Regional Bureau in Bangkok, Thailand. He moved there in 2010 after seven years in Africa with WFP, where he worked extensively in Somalia, Kenya and Uganda.


Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011


© Michael Thirnbeck

Invest and Do Not Grab: The Way Out of Poverty Luca Miggiano1

Since the food price crisis in 2008, the words “land grabbing” have captured media attention, raising public concerns and progressively informing the development agenda. Media have reported that large tracks of land, mainly in Africa, Latin America and Asia, have been transferred – expropriated, leased or acquired – from local land rights holders to more powerful and wealthy international or national actors, in often unequal and not transparent negotiations, and to the detriment of the livelihoods of the affected communities. hese media reports are now backed by a sub stantial body of evidence2 and the “land grabbing” issue is at the centre of important global policy discussions. In a world of 925 million hungry people, why is this happening? First and foremost, this phenomenon signifies an increasing global competition over natural resources, but also an underlying land governance crisis. National norms are urgently needed to regulate investments, avoid abuses of power and prioritize the right to food and the sustainable management of natural resources.


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Is it just about land grabbing? The International Land Coalition (ILC) recently defined large-scale land grabbing as acquisitions or concessions that are one or more of the following: (i) in violation of human rights, particularly the equal rights of women; (ii) not based on free, prior and informed consent of the affected land-users; (iii) not based on a thorough assessment, or are in disregard of social, economic and environmental impacts, including the way they are gendered; (iv) not based on transparent contracts that specify clear and binding commitments

Land grabbing is the noisy part of a rampant phenomenon of commercial pressures on land. Measuring them is a tricky endeavor. about activities, employment and benefits sharing, and; (v) not based on effective democratic planning, independent oversight and meaningful participation (2011). Land grabbing is the noisy part of a rampant phenomenon of commercial pressures on land. Measuring them is a tricky endeavor. They are complex, diverse, and deals are rarely transparent. A report recently released by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) affirms that between 50 and 80 millions of hectares have been subject to international negotiations in the last few years (50 million in Africa, 20 in Asia and 9 in

Latin America, according to the ILC). These numbers are probably just a little slice of the pie, though. This land rush is driven by several factors. In addition to outsourced food and biofuel production, there is a growing demand for raw materials. Land is also used for industrial development, environmental services, tourism, and speculation3. In Asia, the commercialization of Filipino foreshores limiting fishing areas for the fisher folk, the expansion of oil palm estates in Malaysia and Indonesia, the establishment of Special Economic Zones in India resulting in the displacement of local communities4 and gas pipelines projects in Burma are all examples of commercial pressures on land. The main feature of these investments is that land rights are transferred and that actors involved have significantly unequal negotiating power. Local land users are generally prone to lose out because of unclear safeguards on benefit sharing, poor early impact assessment and lack of voice. Often they simply do not have their land rights registered. Those acquiring land are usually powerful actors - private, semi-public or institutional entities, or a mix of them – linking foreign with domestic capital. They typically come from the global North, including China and emerging and

Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011


© Md. Arifur Rahman

capital-endowed countries like the Gulf States, and take advantage of favorable investment laws, as well as weak governance and insecure tenure rights. Asian countries play a key role, both as investors and recipients, especially of intra-regional Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), as well as through some top transnational corporations. Overall, this phenomenon shows that land is increasingly commoditized, and that these pressures greedily eat common pool resources and fuel land re-concentration; that investments tend to cluster around river basins and close to export infrastructures (Hall: 2011); and that alienation of tenure rights worsens local land users’ food security, reinforces social boundaries without adequate returns, and affects women more than men (Daley: 2011). Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, once affirmed that global hunger is not a question of production only, but also of marginalization (OXFAM: 2011). These pressures on land exacerbate marginalization, instead of being a vehicle for economic inclusion, and hence reproduce poverty.

What should be done? Firstly, land transactions need to be monitored. This should happen on the basis of transparent land information, but investors and host countries are often opaque. The ILC is carrying out – in partnership with other organizations – a stocktaking exercise of projects currently taking place worldwide. More than 2000 deals have been collected so far and are under verification through a network of land practitioners5. Several country-level entities already track national projects. Where there is a lack of freedom, the watchdog work of civil society is critical. Secondly, people-centred land governance should be promoted, and FDI regulatory frameworks improved. Real change happens at the national level. Some countries, especially in Latin America, have

already adopted promising approaches. In the next months global norms will hopefully channel such renewed interest in land towards models of investment that are more sustainable. Discussions are still on-going and it is difficult to foresee the outcomes. Eyes should be kept on two policy processes. The first one, the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, is the subject of intergovernmental negotiations. These guidelines are a soft law instrument with a section on investments meant to provide internationally agreed benchmarks for States’ and investors’ behavior. The second one, the Responsible Agricultural Investment principles, was initiated by the World Bank, FAO,

Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, who published a set of principles based on binding human rights treaties, drawing a line that cannot be ignored and that includes provisions on indigenous peoples, labor rights and evictions. UNCTAD and IFAD in response to the L’Aquila G8 (2009). Born without civil society participation, these principles are now discussed within the CFS. An important voice in this field is the already cited Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, who published a set of principles based on binding human rights treaties, drawing a line that cannot be ignored and that includes provisions on indigenous peoples, labor rights and evictions. Lastly, investments in agriculture that do not alienate tenure rights are desperately needed. To feed 9 billion people in 2050, food production should increase, whilst preserving food quality and diversity. This can be done just by investing in local land users, their organizations, and their culture. Governments should increase the share of agriculture in their budget and in official development assistance, and the private sector should place small-holder producers at the centre of their strategiesplans. If rightly implemented, these three points strategies can help in mitigating the impact of a greedy global system on our societies and planet.

Luca Miggiano is Independent consultant currently working for the International Land Coalition Secretariat The ILC is a global alliance of civil society and intergovernmental organizations working together to promote secure and equitable access to and control over land for poor women and men. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the official position of the ILC, nor of its members or donors. 2 3 4 Ibid. 5 1

Towards Truly Global Development Goals Continued from page 7 A previous UNDP Administrator, Mark Malloch Brown, tells a story of how he was going to print the final MDG draft when he met the then head of the UN environment programme on the way to the printer and said something like, “Blast, I’ve forgotten the environment,” and went back and added MDG7. Such as scenario would no longer be possible, as the two agendas gradually become intertwined, and yet the links between rich country consumption and poor country development prospects are often still not made. The countries being held to account for MDG7 are the countries causing the least harm, while the richest countries, which are consuming far more per person, have escaped targets. All countries, rich and poor, need to consider sustainability of the world’s resources in their growth and development plans. Global targets would help.

There are great political barriers to agreeing world targets on these issues, not least because there is not yet political consensus on either. Some argue that rising inequality is not a problem, others that man-made climate change is a plot. But the moral and scientific cases are made more clearly each year. We have five years to convince the remaining sceptics. Alongside targets on inequality and sustainability, there should still be targets on absolute poverty, as the job of the first set of MDGs will not yet have been completed. The meeting in Rio in 2012 is to mark 20 years since the original Earth Summit. It is in danger of being a damp squib, as economic and political context seems inauspicious for serious progress. But with sufficient leadership from some countries, these key issues could at least be put on the table and organised into a coherent agenda. It will not be easy.

The Official Pursuit of Happiness Derek Bok1

CAMBRIDGE – In a time of tight budgets and financial crisis, politicians nowadays look to economic growth as the centerpiece of their domestic policy programs. Gross domestic product is taken to be the leading indicator of national well-being. But, as we look ahead to 2011 and beyond, we should ask ourselves: is it really wise to accord such importance to growth?

© Helena Jinx

ranted, many studies have confirmed that wealthier nations tend to be happier than poor ones, and that rich people are generally more satisfied than their less affluent fellow citizens. Yet other findings from several relatively well-to-do countries, such as South Korea and the United States, suggest that people there are essentially no happier today than they were 50 years ago, despite a doubling or quadrupling of average per capita income. Moreover, in a recent Canadian study, the happiest people turned out to reside in the poorest provinces, such as Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, while citizens in the richest provinces, notably Ontario and British Columbia, were among the least happy. Since happiness is ultimately what people want the most, while wealth is only a means to that end, the primacy now accorded to economic growth would appear to be a mistake. What seems clear from such research is that people do quite poorly at predicting what will make them happy or sad. They focus too much on their initial responses to changes in their lives and overlook how quickly the pleasure of a new car, a pay increase, or a move to sunnier climes will fade, leaving them no happier than before. It is hazardous, therefore,


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Yet other findings from several relatively wellto-do countries... suggest that people there are essentially no happier today than they were 50 years ago, despite a doubling or quadrupling of average per capita income.

for politicians simply to rely on opinion polls and focus groups to discover what will truly enhance people’s happiness. In the findings to date, however, two conclusions have emerged that seem especially useful for policymakers to ponder. First, most of the things that do bring enduring satisfaction for individuals are also good for other people – strong marriages and close relationships of all kinds, helping others, engaging in civic affairs, and effective, honest, democratic government. Thus, policies that promote individual well-being tend to benefit society as well. Second, experiences that bring lasting pleasure or unhappiness do not always command a high priority in government circles. For example, three medical afflictions that create especially acute and enduring distress – clinical depression, chronic pain, and sleep disorders – are all conditions that can often be treated successfully, to the vast relief of sufferers. But such people are frequently underserved by health-care systems. The natural response to all this is to ask whether happiness research is really reliable enough to be used by policymakers. Researchers have paid close attention to this issue, and, after much testing, have found that the answers people give to questions

about their well-being seem to correspond fairly well to more objective evidence. People who claim to be happy tend to live longer, commit suicide and abuse drugs and alcohol less often, get promoted more frequently by their employers, and enjoy more good friends and lasting marriages. Their assessments of their own well-being also align quite closely with the opinions of friends and family members. So, overall, statistics about happiness seem to be as accurate as many of the statistics regularly used by politicians, such as public-opinion polls, poverty rates, or, for that matter, GDP growth – all of which are riddled with imperfections. Of course, happiness research is still new. Many questions remain unexplored, some studies lack sufficient confirmatory evidence, and still others, like those involving the effects of economic growth, have

First, most of the things that do bring enduring satisfaction for individuals are also good for other people... Thus, policies that promote individual wellbeing tend to benefit society as well. yielded conflicting results. Thus, it would be premature to base bold new policies on happiness research alone, or to follow the example of tiny Bhutan by adopting Gross National Happiness as the nation’s principal goal. Yet the findings may be useful to lawmakers even today – for example, in assigning priorities among several plausible initiatives, or in identifying new possibilities for policy interventions that deserve further study. At the very least, governments should follow Great Britain and France and consider publishing regular statistics on trends in the well-being of their citizens. Such findings will surely stimulate useful public discussion while yielding valuable data for investigators to use. Beyond that, who knows? Further research will doubtless provide more detailed and reliable information about the kinds of policies that add to people’s happiness. Someday, perhaps, public officials may even use the research to inform their decisions. After all, what could matter more to their constituents than happiness? In a democracy, at least, that should surely count for something.

© Michael Thirnbeck

Derek Bok, President of Harvard University from 1971-1991 and from 2006-2007, is the author of The Politics of Happiness (Princeton University Press, 2010). Copyright: Project Syndicate/Institute for Human Sciences, 2011 (


Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011


© Andrew Ferrier

Population and the MDGs: The missing link Sarah Fisher1 and Karen Newman2

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have provided a significant mobilising force for efforts to address world poverty, but neglect a critical factor which offers great potential to make the goals easier and less costly to achieve. This factor, which received no mention in the MDG Framework, relates to population dynamics – migration, urbanization etc, as well as growth. s the international community begins to consider a post-2015 development agenda, now is a good time to examine what difference to development progress a focus on population could make, and to reflect on the significance of population dynamics for new and emerging development priorities. At the start of the millennium the world population was 6.1 billion. By 2015 it is expected to reach 7.3 billion and exceed 10 billion by the end of the century, with the vast majority of growth taking place in the developing nations which are already struggling to meet their citizens’ basic needs1. For


Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011

this reason population is too important to ignore. Population dynamics, and particularly population size, determine the scale and shape of the development challenges we face. Taking population projections for Africa, between now and 2100 the population is expected to more than triple1.While development prospects are dependent on governments’ capacities to increase access to health, education and other basic services, this rate of population growth is sure to outpace these investments and exacerbate poverty. It is commonly assumed that nothing can be done to change the course of population projections, or that any interventions to do so would be intrinsically coercive, necessitating restrictions on women’s and couples’ individual freedom to have the number of children they desire. While this concern is understandable given the history of coercive ‘population control’ programmes of the 60s and 70s, this need not and absolutely should not be the case. What is required is the political will to enable all women and men to have the access to family planning that people in the developed world take for granted. There is a vast unmet need for contraception in developing countries, meaning that

real opportunities exist to reduce population growth, by reducing unplanned pregnancies. This can be achieved by giving women access to voluntary family planning services, which women want and need in order to plan and space their pregnancies as they choose. In the developing world an estimated 215 million women say they are at risk of an unwanted pregnancy are not using contraception2.The role this unmet need plays in driving high rates of population growth should not be underestimated. Women who have an unmet need for effective contraception account for 82% of all unintended pregnancies in developing countries3. The importance of family planning was belatedly acknowledged by the addition of MDG Target 5B – universal access to family planning by 2015. Yet this issue has not been effectively addressed, for it is estimated that simultaneously fulfilling the unmet need for family planning and maternal and newborn services in developing countries would require a doubling of current global investments1. This investment would deliver dramatic achievements towards MDGs four and five, averting an estimated half of all newborn deaths and two-thirds of all maternal deaths in developing countries1. Furthermore it would support considerable progress towards the other MDGs, by averting two-thirds of all unwanted pregnancies, thereby easing population pressures1.Cost-benefit analysis shows just how cost-effective investing in family planning is. For every dollar spent in family planning, between 2 and 6 US dollars can be saved in interventions aimed at achieving other development goals, including education, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDs and environmental sustainability4. With just four years left before 2015, the ‘population issue’ hasn’t gone away; it’s more significant than ever. By the end of the century the population of the countries with the highest fertility rates is set to triple1 and population can be seen as the common denominator of a range of new and emerging development priorities and crises. Be it food or water security, conflict and instability, climate change, environmental degradation or sustainable development which of these issues aren’t heightened by increasing numbers of people placing greater pressure on the earth’s finite

resources? The challenges developing countries face in feeding and providing for their growing populations, while seeking to lift millions out of poverty, are even more daunting with the onset of climate change. The poorest countries which have contributed the least to climate change are being hit the hardest, and these are the same countries facing considerable population pressures. Ninety-three per cent of the 40 least developed countries affected by climate change identify rapid population growth as heightening the effects or making coping harder. Climate change adaptation issues exacerbated by population growth include: soil erosion, fresh water scarcity, deforestation, and migration to environmentally fragile areas5.

© Roels Rudi

© Md. Arifur Rahman

Sarah Fisher is Research and Communications Officer, Population and Sustainability Network Karen Newman Coordinator, Population and Sustainability Network (website The authors can be reached at email:

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Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011


BOOK & REPORT With population presenting such a significant yet missing link between so many pressing development priorities, the silence on population issues must be addressed through the post-2015 development framework. To achieve this governments and donors must be called on to embrace rights-based reproductive health approaches as part of wider development priorities that are threatened by population increase, including poverty alleviation, climate change and sustainable development. This offers a ‘win-win’ approach: achieving universal reproductive health while reducing the cost and difficulties of achieving other development goals. Lastly, if population issues are to be brought in from the cold, we must ensure that women’s choices, needs and rights are at the centre of sexual and reproductive health policies.

References 1. UN Population Division (2011) World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision. New York: UN. 2. Guttmacher Institute (2010) Facts on Investing in Family Planning and Maternal and Newborn Health. New York: Guttmacher Institute and UNFPA. 3. Engelman, R. (2011) ‘An End to Population Growth: Why Family Planning Is Key to a Sustainable Future’ in Solutions, 2, 3. 4. Moreland, S. & Talbird, S (2006). Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: The contribution of fulfilling the unmet need for family planning. 5. Bryant, L., Carver, C., & Anage, A. (2009). “Climate change and family planning: least-developed countries define the agenda.” WHO Bulletin, 87, pp.852-857.



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Resource Scarcity, Fair Shares and Development1 A WWF/Oxfam Discussion Paper by Alex Evans2 Detty Saluling

he global population has long enjoyedthe abundance of resources available and boasts the progress of technological advancement to augment benefits the resources can produce; yet, why are we still struggling with an alarming rate of food scarcity and, in some places, famine? Alex Evans explores this issue in WWF/Oxfam Discussion Paper, looking into critical areas many policy makers and key stakeholders have missed, or possibly ignored, so far. Evans pointed out that in dealing with the resource scarcity issue, political attention generally concentrates merely on increasing availability of the essentials (food, water, energy, etc) and lessening the dire impacts of resource scarcity, through emergency supply and crisis management system. However, he argues that the time is now to throw the subject of “fair shares” on the table and advocate it, particularly when looking at disturbing trends that supply for key resources may not hold out to its growing demands, which is projected to rise by 50% in 2030. This debate is even more important for poor countries and poor people who will need advocate supports and protection of their key resources, such as food, land, water, oil, etc., and how fair distribution of these resources needs

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© Roels Rudi

to be addressed appropriately at policy and implementation levels. This paper also reiterates the need to address in principle what constitutes “fairness”, whether it is a mere issue of meeting basic needs (which is itself debatable) or equal distribution of resource allocation. This holds a key importance as management of resource scarcity affects political, economical, social development and stability of countries and the world. Most importantly, policy priorities and implementations on resource allocation should shift focus to fair share based on basic needs and justice. Resource scarcity is a critical problem with trickling consequences, affecting poor people the most. The world community needs to be alert and realize that the limited resource available is not up for grab but for equal share for all generations.

This paper is available online at Alex Evans is based at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University

Volume 1 • Issue 3 • September 2011


Freedom from Want Vol 1, Issue 3  

Freedom from Want Vol 1, Issue 3 is ARCMDG quarterly publication which offers various critical and innovative issues on MDGs and related sus...

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