Francisco Noguera

Friday Roundup – 9/24/10: New York City on Poverty

It’s a fun time to be in New York. Th summer’s behind us, trees are starting to change colors and air temperature is ideal. Besides, the town was packed this week. Cops did what they could to keep traffic under control; with a bit of luck, us pedestrians got a chance to see the almost-ridiculous motorcades that get Obama and other heads of state from their hotels to the UN, and from there back to their suites. With a bit of luck plus lots and lots of talent, you can actually sit down with all of them over a day. Ask Platon about this week in NY last year.

For anyone even remotely interested in development, it was also an interesting week. Here’s a selection of relevant links from the week behind us, coming from several of the meetings and gatherings that took place just a few blocks downtown. Now, I’m absolutely sure that I’ve missed many, many links… Please share any relevant information that you think should be included in this roundup.

1. Clinton Global Initiative.

An interesting “inside look” at CGI was published on the Huffington Post. I wasn’t abe to be in the room, but it almost didn’t make a difference, thanks to the impressive webcast series, that made all sessions available for free live and real-time. Browse the webcast archives for some interesting discussions on market-based approaches to poverty alleviation, like that featuring Muhammad Yunus on the recen microfinance IPOs. The discussions went far beyond microfinance and good coverage was also available through articles like this one, written by Endeavor’s Elmira Bayralsi.

Committments made at CGI are too many to be summarized. NextBillion ally E+Co made one to promote financing mechanisms for clean energy in Ghana, and you can read more about it here.

2. UN Millenium Development Goals Summit

A few blocks from CGI, another crowd gathered to discuss the progress in achieving the Millenium Development Goals. For the 35,000-feet view, read the full MDG report here and World Bank’s Robert Zoelick’s remarks here. This line caught my eye: “People do not live their lives in health sectors, or education sectors, or infrastructure sectors, arranged in tidy compartments. People live in families, villages, communities, countries, where all the issues of everyday life merge. We need to connect the dots.

Not surprisingly, MDG and development aid critics took a chance to air their thoughts this week: Bill Easterly was on NPR with Millenium Promise’s John McArthur, offering his arguments on the failure of the MDGs as a collective effort. Though interesting and largely agreeable, I found Easterly’s critiques to be a lot of the same I’d heard before. We know his arguments against foreign aid, but it would be refreshing to hear an updated, solutions-framed version of them, rather than the same arguments repeated time and again without any recognition of any merit at any level. The MDGs are not going away anytime soon, nor is the system around it. Realizing that, it might be smarter to work to improve it as a framework, rather than advocate for its largely unlikely disappearance.

Across the streets from UN Headquarters, the private sector gathered to discuss its role in addressing the MDGs. Business Fights Poverty has an excellent page devoted to the private sector events, especially the one focused on the role of inclusive business to achieve the MDGs. Check it out for videos, summaries and much more. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development also announced a new committment to accelerate progress towards MDGs. More information on that can be found here. Also worth reading is Filipo Vegglio’s excellent summary of the Private Sector Forum.

The last angle of the UN Summit that you’ll find interesting is the USAID/UN Science and Tech Fair. Here’s a summary of what happened there from the MIT perspective, which offers interesting insights on the new approach that is being championed at USAID by Director Dr. Rajiv Shah.

3. TEDxChange

In case you missed it, we were at TEDxChange earlier this week.

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Other interesting pieces on the web included Dowser’s interview with Jacqueline Novogratz and an excellent article by Jacob Donnelly on Design for Impact, full of good links, insights and information. Read it here.

Next week will be one of announcements, and yes… more conferences. The second ANDE Annual Conference takes place just outside New York City, and precedes by only a few days the SOCAP and Columbia Business School Social Enterprise Conference, both of which we’ll attend and offer previews of in the next few days.

Image credit: Quino. It’s part of a larger cartoon that satirizes the endless meetings and gatherings in New York and Geneva, which try hard to solve the problems of hunger and inequality. I keep it next to my desk as a reminder.