IIED short seminars: challenges for a post-COVID-19 world

IIED researchers have produced a series of presentations based on their work that challenges established thinking on sustainable development.

Delivered in half the time of a lunchtime lecture, this series sees IIED researchers introduce their work by making connections to sectors and ideas that might surprise.

For example, we discuss why water development in East Africa is about power and governance as much as infrastructure and availability; we ask whether ‘debt swaps’ are the right idea at the right time for developing countries simultaneously grappling with the climate crisis and seeking a green recovery from COVID-19.

Running at about 20 minutes each, these narrated presentations use case studies and other data to challenge established thinking on sustainable development.

They were developed as part of a series of seminars for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and were followed by a question-and-answer session with selected Sida staff.

Sida is also keen for the presentations to be made available publicly for other interested parties, and all the presenters welcome feedback and further discussion.

IIED also welcomes suggestions for other seminar series. Let us know if you're interested.

3. Poor governance is worse than drought

Water development in the drylands is about much more than just rolling out new infrastructure or technical issues surrounding the provision of an economic good or service. It involves engaging meaningfully with deeply entrenched relationships of power, structural inequality and marginalisation which vary according to context and scale.

In this narrated presentation, available below, using three case studies from Kenya, IIED researcher David Pertaub shows that by challenging negative narratives about pastoralists and by focusing on inclusive governance in the planning and design of interventions, water development can serve as an entry point for promoting sustainable, climate-resilient livelihoods and effective rangeland management. It can also be an effective entry point for addressing gender, social justice and health objectives.


Related projects: Devolved Climate Finance Alliance | Responding to climate change in Kenya by strengthening dryland governance and planningLocal climate finance mechanism helping to fund community-prioritised adaptationStrengthening the voices of women and young people in shaping local climate actionSupporting pastoral mobility in East and West Africa


2. Strengthening women’s voices in public and private governance

The term "governance" covers all the structures and processes aimed at making decisions for a collective entity. It plays a key role in all aspects of development. Women’s voices are consistently under-represented in governance bodies, whether they are public, such as local councils and land allocation committees, or private organisations, such as producer organisations and cooperatives. 

In this narrated presentation, available below, IIED researchers Philippine Sutz, Emilie Beauchamp and Anna Bolin, argue that good governance must involve the active participation of women in decision-making. But in projects tackling land rights, climate finance and sustainable markets in three African countries – Tanzania, Ghana and Senegal – they found there is limited evidence of what works, and how, in promoting women’s voices across different sectors.


Related projects: Protecting women’s livelihoods through gender-equitable land governance in sub-Saharan Africa | Decentralising Climate Funds in Mali and Senegal | Forest and Farm Facility Phase II


1. Debt for climate and nature swaps

Indebtedness in many countries is growing rapidly and is being further accelerated by the impacts of COVID-19 on markets and societies. Although there are similarities to the debt crisis in the early 2000s there are major differences: much debt now is held by private sector actors, by Chinese investors, and by multilaterals.

In this narrated presentation, available below, IIED chief economist Paul Steele outlines a large-scale, urgently needed, ambitious approach to reducing this burden.


Related project: Tackling the debt, climate and nature crises together

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