Many of the grand challenges that confront humanity—problems as diverse as climate change, the stability of markets, the availability of energy and resources, poverty and conflict—often seem to entail impenetrable webs of cause and effect.But these problems are not necessarily impenetrable. Powerful new tools have given scientists a better understanding of complexity. Instead of looking […]

Innovation is popular in aid at the moment, so much so that there is a steady spate of articles which range from trashing its potential contribution to development through to challenging Western, donor, countries’ assumed roles as the ‘providers’ of innovation. In this post I want to argue that there is a middle  ground between […]

This guest post by Andy Sumner and Sergio Tezanos Vázquez explores new approaches to classifying developing countries, based on a new IDS Working Paper published last week. In the paper, they develop a more precise and accurate classification system for low and middle income countries, and suggest that this can support a more complex, non-linear  […]

Earlier this month, Nature published a piece by Daniel Sarewitz on emerging challenges faced in science and research, which has some useful lessons for the aid system. The greatest threat to science is not  due to the usual suspects of “inadequate funding, misconduct, political interference”, etc, etc. Instead, according to Daniel Sarewitz, the problem is more […]

Innovation is getting a lot of attention at the moment in development and humanitarian work. Many, including myself, see this as long overdue. But, according to an article in this  weeks Economist, this attention may be misplaced. The piece makes a strong argument for the importance of imitation  in business, and its advantages over innovation. […]

With the latest round of UN climate talks  underway in Durban this week, many are rightly concerned about the agreements that will be reached (if any), and whether it will be a case of too little, too late (quite probably). The challenges of achieving global public policy consensus aside, new research is highlighting a range […]