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The colourful plastic buckets are stacked up to three high in front of shopfronts and stalls on almost every street. They are selling faster than suppliers can provide them. Along with disinfecting chlorine tablets, these buckets symbolise  the only protection for many in Monrovia, capital of Liberia, against the terrifying possibility of infection by Ebola. But not everyone […]


Some readers may already know how big a problem fishing nets pose globally – I have to admit that I had no idea. Every year, it seems, almost three quarters of a million tonnes of abandoned and lost fishing nets “pile up on beaches, create a navigational hazard for boats, or settle to the ocean […]


“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” ~ Archilochus In 2005, Philip Tetlock published a widely acclaimed book, “Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?”, which presented the findings of a study of a diverse group almost 300 individuals, examining their decision-making processes over a number […]

Leading development economists Jeff Sachs and Bill Easterly came together today to condemn the ongoing attempt by peace brokers to resolve the pair’s differences in the interests of the broader development project. The two men appeared together in a surprise press conference in Geneva. Both men traveled to Switzerland to protest the attempts at a […]


On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the UN gave to me, Twelve jumbled re-writes,  Eleven confused targets,  Ten woolly commitments,  Nine ill-formed panels,  Eight NGOs grumbling, Seven vague consultations,  Six preening leaders,  Five tuuuu-uuurf wars! Four BRICs ignoring, Three rambling summits,  Two dozen speeches,  And confusion on in-equal-ityyyyyy….. (with thanks to Claire Melamed for the inspiration, and apologies in advance to […]


This piece is cross-posted from the Global Policy blog, where it has been published as part of Global Policy’s new e-book, ‘Emergence, Convergence and the Future of Aid’, edited by Andy Sumner. Contributions from academics and practitioners will be serialised on Global Policy until the e-book’s release in the first quarter of 2014. Find out […]