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Wednesday
May232018

War, Peace and Development | May 2018


Preface

It could be said the world and the global order both stand at a crossroads. Countries have never been so connected as they are today because of the communications revolution that began in the 1990s. The trade linkages brought about by the most recent phase of globalization (post-1980s) have dramatically increased prosperity for some regions and countries, China being the most obvious example. But, as we are reminded on a daily basis, the environment is stressed, with species depletion and pollution being the most extreme signs of this stress. And war and civil strife are still with us.

In 2015, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 15 years after it had launched the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000. Both sets of goals attempt to benchmark progress on improvements to human well-being and to give countries and the international community a road-map to what is most important. The eight MDGs have been followed up with 17 SDGs (and many views on how effective such a strategy really is). It seemed as good a time as ever to reflect on what role I have played in this period, as well as to look forward to what will happen over the next 12 years (2030).    

The Quotes

"The United Nations is designed to make possible lasting freedom and independence for all its members."

“We must build a new world – a far better world – one in which the eternal dignity of man is respected.” 

US President Harry S. Truman

"It has been said that the United Nations was not created in order to bring us to heaven, but in order to save us from hell." 

UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold at University of California Convocation, 13 May 1954.

"Today continuing poverty and distress are a deeper and more important cause of international tensions, of the conditions that can produce war, than previously."

"The stark and inescapable fact is that today we cannot defend our society by war since total war is total destruction, and if war is used as an instrument of policy, eventually we will have total war."

"The grim fact is that we prepare for war like precocious giants, and for peace like retarded pygmies."

Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson

"A shift is necessary toward lifestyles less geared to environmentally-damaging consumption patterns."

"We may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse."

Maurice F. Strong, Former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations; Founder of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 

"a super-crate, to ship a fiasco to hell"

"a sinister emblem for world power"

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright 

The First Development Phase 

From its founding, the United Nations was constructed around the highest human aspirations after two devastating World Wars, while also drawing fire from its critics and skeptics (American architect Frank Lloyd Wright being one of the more biting).

In January 1949, US President Harry Truman set forth a challenge for the remainder of the 20th Century. The wealthy nations must aid the poorer ones to become wealthier and more democratic: in short, to become like the United States (Starke 2001: 143). The means of accomplishing this was to be international development, and its tool, foreign aid. 

Development as defined by President Truman at the start of the first international development period of the 20th century meant “nothing less than freeing a people from want, war, and tyranny, a definition it is hard to improve on even today (Starke 2000: 153).”

I grew up in the Canada of the 1970s and 1980s. For most of that time, the charismatic and internationally-minded Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was in power. Canada's profile and role in the United Nations and international development was high at this time, in particular in 'peacekeeping' missions.

Peacekeeping holds a special place for Canadians. An innovative initiative from then-Ambassador to the United Nations and later Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in the 1950s (he received the Nobel Peace Prize for it), Canada has since had a long history with peacekeeping missions.

When I served with the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve in the early 1980s, we trained not only for war with our Cold War foe the Soviet Union, but also for peacekeeping missions. In fact I nearly went on one if not for my acceptance to study at the University of Toronto in 1985. Otherwise, I would have been off on a peacekeeping mission that year.

This phase of international development and the United Nations was framed by the Cold War and its tensions and limits: the world divided between opposing ideologies and economic systems and travel between these two worlds (Communism versus free markets and democracy) was severely restricted. 

And when I graduated in 1989 from the University of Toronto, all this fell apart very quickly. The First Phase of International Development had come to a swift end. 

Above: Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chretien and Prime Minister Lester Pearson. Photographed 4 April 1967. Source: Digital Library of Canada. Below: David South photographed at Hillcrest High School, Ottawa, Canada, 1985.

The Second Development Phase

In 1997, I was hired to head the communications office for the UN/UNDP Mongolia mission. It was a pivotal time in international development. With the forces of 'globalization' unleashed (and China's rapid rise already well underway), the UN was clearly also in a period of great change and stress. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and its trading system (Comecon), pitched former Communist countries into severe crisis. Comecon locked-in Soviet Union satellite allied nations (including Mongolia) into a reciprocal arrangement of trade links and subsidies. The Mongolia I arrived in in 1997 was a country in turmoil. Poverty was widespread, food was difficult to get, unemployment was very high, families were falling apart under the stress of the crisis, and people's health was poor, with very high rates of alcoholism and STDs. 

This second phase of international development can be characterized by the international response to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the adjustment to the rapid changes brought about by the forces of globalization. The communications revolution was getting underway at this time as the Internet began to arrive, even in Mongolia, which had been cut-off from full relations with the Western world during the period of Communism. Mobile (cell) phones were around but still a luxury item used by wealthy businessmen or senior government officials. International aid and development was primarily in the domain of large international institutions and bilateral donors. 

UN/UNDP Mongolia played an important role in helping to stabilize Mongolia during the late 1990s and to put in place the foundations for recovery from crisis (called "one of the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever" at the time). Mongolia eventually, briefly, became the fastest growing economy in the world by the second decade of the 21st century.

In the 1990s, the UN was being challenged to think and do things differently and to respond to the communications revolution. This presented a great opportunity to use the Internet and computing to communicate in new ways; to innovate and experiment. Despite its crisis, Mongolia was able to embrace these new ways and was called a "role model" for the wider United Nations by 1999 (the end of my assignment in Mongolia).   

United Nations identity card circa 1997.

UN head of communications for Mongolia, David South (seated front row centre), 1997-1999.

The Third Development Phase

With the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, it could be argued, a third development phase had begun. The turn of the century was also during the so-called 'Dotcom Bubble' when investment in the Internet economy was peaking, and China was on the cusp of being accepted into the WTO (World Trade Organization) and getting set for another period of rapid expansion and growth. Both phenomenon were fueling greater trade and connectivity, especially between the countries of the so-called "global South". 

The MDGs were an attempt to guide and focus development at the international and national level by setting forth eight goals as a challenge. But, just as these internationally agreed goals were being rolled out, something was quietly happening away from New York. In China, it was clear the country had done something truly remarkable: following its own development goals and plans, China lifted the largest number of people in human history out of poverty in the shortest space of time. Those who are students of history will know how stunning an accomplishment this is: China was once a country held up as a poster child for poverty, political instability, frequent famines, human misery and global isolation. China had been the country featured in the charity and famine appeals pleading for relief and aid, just as the countries in Africa and Southeast Asia were to become.

China's growing export power was also powering globalization. And liberalized trade was powering growth for many countries in Asia and Latin America. This increasing export trade and global connectivity was creating new wealth for many countries and growing the middle classes of the so-called 'global South'. At the same time, the Internet revolution was being joined by the mobile technologies revolution. These communications tools were making it possible to connect with people who had been frozen out of global markets, while simultaneously creating whole new digital economies employing people and creating new wealth.

Beginning in late 2006 after working around the world in various UN missions on assignments related to the MDGs, I began an exciting new opportunity with the then-Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC) (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation - UNOSSC).   

From 9-11 December 2017, I participated in the Workshop on Innovations in Service Delivery: The Scope for South-South and Triangular Cooperation held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Hosted by the a2i (access to information) division of the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office, the implementing unit for Digital Bangladesh, it was convened by the Government of Bangladesh and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). Senior Partner David South is third from the left on the panel. Photo: Yoko Shimura

21 Years of Creating International Change | 1997 - 2018

Timeline

Early to Mid-1990s: Covering the United Nations as a Journalist. Stories included the Canadian peacekeeping mission in Somalia (Somali Killings Reveal Ugly Side of Elite Regiment and Does the UN know what it's doing?), debates over the response to the conflict in the Balkans (Peaceniks Questioning Air-Raid Strategy in Bosnia), and what constitutes appropriate food aid (Aid Organization Gives Overseas Hungry Diet Food). In 1993 I covered the World Health Organization's Canada-wide roll-out of the Healthy Cities initiative in the feature Taking Medicine to the People: Four Innovators in Community Health for Canadian Living magazine. In 1996 I covered, from Port-au-Prince, the Canadian UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti for Id Magazine (Haiti Turns to Free-Market Economics and the UN to Save Itself).

1997: Begin a two-year assignment as head of communications for the UN/UNDP Mongolia mission (1997-1999). Called "one of the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever", I was thrown into the deep end as part of the UN's efforts to rescue Mongolia from this severe crisis. I established the award-winning UN/UNDP Mongolia Communications Office (a high-profile and lively hub staffed by media professionals) and quickly developed and launched the award-winning UN Mongolia Development Portal (www.un-mongolia.mn) (called a "role model" for the United Nations). I developed and launched the mission's first newsletter, Blue Sky Bulletin, as well as the first Mongolian Human Development Report, the Mongolian AIDS Bulletin, the UN's and Mongolia's first online magazine, Ger, while overseeing the country's largest bilingual online and offline publishing operation. In Starting from Scratch: The Challenge of Transition, I document the challenge to re-start Mongolia's data collection after it was wiped off the mainframe computers that once stored it during the Communist period (a cautionary tale for our times if there ever was one!). In Freedom of Expression: Introducing Investigative Journalism to Local Media in Mongolia, I give an account of a workshop for Mongolian journalists keen to learn more about the discipline of investigative journalism and how important it is in a democracy. In Partnership for Progress: UNDP in Mongolia, I painted a picture of Mongolia's country conditions in 1997, what was at stake, and how the UN was responding.  

1998: Develop and launch Mongolia's first web magazine, Ger. Lead two international media tours of the country, one in 1997 (Scandinavian media), and the other in 1998 (women journalists). Many stories were generated from the two international media tours and were compiled in books published by UNDP, including  In Their Own Words: Selected Writings by Journalists on Mongolia, 1997-1999 (ISBN 99929-5-043-9). Read an example story here: The Milk of Kindness Flows in a Peculiar Land A Steppe From Nowhere by Leslie Chang (The Asian Wall Street Journal, 15 August 1998). 

1999: Publish many books on Mongolia's development, including In Their Own Words: Selected Writings by Journalists on Mongolia, 1997-1999 (ISBN 99929-5-043-9) and the Mongolian rock and pop book (ISBN  99929-5-018-8). Whilst working for a UK-based international development consultancy, I prepared papers for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID), for various UN agencies including UNCTAD and UNAIDS, and coordinated the preparation of the report and launch strategy for the World Bank's Task Force on Higher Education.    

2000: My work in Mongolia is covered and cited in various books published after 1999, including Wild East: Travels in the New Mongolia by Jill Lawless (ISBN 97814-5-964-5783), Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists by Morris Rossabi (ISBN 9780-5-209-38625), and Dateline Mongolia: An American Journalist in Nomad's Land by Michael Kohn (ISBN 9781-5-7143-1554)Ukraine. Work on the strategic re-launch of the UN Ukraine web portal and advise on the communications strategy for the UN Resident Coordinator. This is also the year in which the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were launched and the new development portal reflected this in its structure and content. 

2001: Begin work on the development of the award-winning GOSH Child Health Portal for the National Health Service (NHS). As part of the NHS' Modernisation Plan, it was called a "role model" for the NHS and one of the “three most admired websites in the UK public and voluntary sectors,” and was developed and launched under heavy public and media scrutiny. Each stage of the Portal's development would coincide with a high-profile media launch. For example, the Hospital's 150th birthday celebrations included Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and pop star Madonna.  

2002/2003: Win the Childnet Award in 2003 for the Children First website. 

2004: South Africa. Work at the University of Pretoria for UN South Africa on a digital communications and marketing strategy for a youth volunteer organization.  

2005: Turkmenistan and Mongolia. Work for UN missions on an MDGs communications strategy and on the country programme review. 

2006: Turkmenistan. Work for UNICEF. Begin working for the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC) in New York

2007: Research and write UN e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions for UNDP's Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC). Sample Stories:

Computing in Africa is Set to Get a Big Boost

Ring Tones and Mobile Phone Downloads are Generating Income for Local Musicians in Africa

Dynamic Growth in African ICT is Unlocking Secrets of SME Treasure Trove

Grassroots Entrepreneurs Now Have Many Ways to Fund Their Enterprises

Trade to Benefit the Poor Up in 2006 and to Grow in 2007

Business as a Tool to Do Good

Social Networking Websites: A Way Out of Poverty

Creative and Inventive Ways to Aid the Global Poor

Innovation from the Global South

Youth Surge in the South A Great Business Opportunity

Web 2.0 to the Rescue! Using Web and Text to Beat Shortages in Africa

Mobile Phones: Engineering South's Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

2008: Research and write UN e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions for UNDP's Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC). Sample Stories:

Cyber Cities in the South: An Oasis of Opportunity

Nollywood: Booming Nigerian Film Industry

Illiterate Get Internet at the Touch of a Button

The South Has a Good Story to Tell

Insects Can Help in a Food Crisis

New Weapon Against Crime in the South

Urban Youth: A Great Source of Untapped Growth

Innovative Mobile Phone Applications Storm South

Computer 'Gold Farming' Turning Virtual Reality into Real Profits

Mobile Phones: New Market Tools for the Poor

Reader response experiment begins with crowd-powered news website NowPublic. Initial proposal for the development of book or magazine on innovation. Awarded grant for Cuba study tour by BSHF. 

2009: Research and write UN e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions for UNDP's Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC). Sample Stories:

Debt-free Homes for the Poor

DIY Solution Charges Mobile Phones with Batteries

Cashing in on Music in Brazil

Solar Powered Village Kick-Starts Development Goals

Rebuilding After Chinese Earthquake: Beautiful Bamboo Homes

Making the World a Better Place for Southern Projects

Growing a Southern Brand to Global Success: The Olam Story

Afropolitan: African Fashion Scene Bursting with Energy

Diigtal Mapping to put Slums on the Map

Adjust e-newsletter content based on reader responses. Begin posting content on Twitter platform.

2010: Begin development of the new global magazine Southern Innovator with the UN's Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC) and a design team in Iceland led by Solveig Rolfsdottir. The magazine was produced to the UN's design standards, as well as abiding by the UN's Global Compact. With production in Iceland, the magazine could be designed and laid out using 100 percent renewable energy sources.

Develop and launch the new branding for David South Consulting and its website, davidsouthconsulting.com, all designed by one of Iceland's top graphic designers and illustrators, Solveig Rolfsdottir

2011: Launch the first issue of Southern Innovator Magazine at the GSSD Expo in Rome, Italy.

It is called “a terrific tour de force of what is interesting, cutting edge and relevant in the global mobile/ICT space…”. Launch www.southerninnovator.org website (now www.southerninnovator.com) and social media including Twitter account @SouthSouth1. 

To avoid censorship and interference, Southern Innovator's editorial operations were based in London, UK and its design studio was based in Reykjavik, Iceland (a high-ranking country in the World Press Freedom rankings and a former top place holder in the UNDP Human Development Index). Using a women-led design studio, it developed a design vision that could communicate across borders using clear graphic design and high-quality images. For example, when it launched in 2011, infographics were rare in development publications and at the UN; now they are commonplace. It also tried to be as  ‘green’ as possible. The studio was powered on 100 per cent renewable energy (in particular, geothermal energy); the hard copy of the magazine is printed on paper from renewable forests. 

2012: Launch second and third issues of Southern Innovator Magazine at the GSSD Expo in Vienna, Austria.

Called a "Beautiful, inspiring magazine from UNDP on South-South innovation.”

With 201 Development Challenges, South-South Solutions stories posted on the NowPublic platform, a total of 336,289 views by 2012 had occurred, according to the NowPublic counter. 

2013: Launch fourth issue of Southern Innovator Magazine at the GSSD Expo in Nairobi, Kenya.

Called “fantastic, great content and a beautiful design!” and “Always inspiring.”. 

2014: Launch fifth issue of Southern Innovator Magazine at the GSSD Expo in Washington, D.C. U.S.A. The Twitter account @SouthSouth1 called “ one of the best sources out there for news and info on #solutions to #SouthSouth challenges.” Final issues of e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions published.  

The two publications proved influential on a number of fronts, being early to draw attention to the following: the rising use of mobile phones and information technology in development, the world becoming an urban place, innovative food solutions including the nascent insect food sector (now a big thing), altering perspectives on what is possible in Africa, the use of data science to innovate development, and tracking the growing number of technology hubs and the fast-growing start-up culture in the global South. The publications were cited for shaping the new strategic direction adopted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (the UN’s leading development organisation) and its first youth strategy, and the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As the world’s first global innovator magazine, Southern Innovator’s design had to be appropriate for a diverse audience. It has drawn praise for being both “beautiful” and “inspiring”, while its use of sharp, modern graphic design and infographics inspired others in the UN to up their game when it comes to design. 

2015: Develop scale-up plan for Southern Innovator Magazine.

South-South cooperation and innovation have now become the key methodology for the UN’s delivery of its programmes and projects. In 2015, China pledged US $2 billion to “support South-South cooperation” and called for the international community to “deepen South-South and tripartite cooperation”. In development parlance, they have been “Mainstreaming South-South and Triangular Cooperation” in their plans.

The current policy vogue for innovation in developing and developed countries can trace its roots back to some of the early work done by these two publications (and which was further amplified by the annual Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo), which often would feature innovators from the two publications, spreading the innovation message around the world). Both publications had set out to inspire and “champion a global 21st century innovator culture”. And they have done this, as can be seen from concrete evidence and anecdotal responses from individuals and organizations alike.

UN Bribery Scandal

After the arrests in 2015 related to the unfolding UN Bribery Scandal (read more on this here: The Strange Saga of "South-South News"), the budget for the UNOSSC was suspended pending the outcome of two internal audits conducted by the United Nations (Statement Concerning the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation). The second audit can be found online here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/307245166/OIOS-Audit-of-Ng-South-South-News-OIOS-Cut-Out-Ban-Photo-Op-with-Ng-at-UNCA-Ball.

UNDP (the United Nations Development Programme) had the following to say about the UNOSSC's senior management up to 2015 under the Directorship of United Nations Envoy for South-South Cooperation, Yiping Zhou, calling it "unsatisfactory":

"The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) is an independent entity created by the General Assembly in 1974, General Assembly resolution 3251(XXIX), to support cooperation among developing countries.

UNOSSC receives its mandate and policy framework from General Assembly decisions and resolutions. UNOSSC also serves as the Secretariat of the High-level Committee (HLC) on South-South Cooperation, a subsidiary body of the General Assembly.

UNOSSC is hosted by UNDP and, as is the case with similar entities, is expected to follow UNDP rules and regulations, including those pertaining to financial and HR management. UNOSSC is likewise subject to UNDP’s oversight and due diligence instruments.

UNDP’s Office of Audit and Investigation (OAI) recently published an Audit of UNOSSC which rated the Office ‘unsatisfactory’.

The Audit makes 16 recommendations with the objective of improving UNOSSC’s effectiveness in the areas of: governance; programme and project activities; and operations." Excerpt from Statement (5 May 2016)

The retirement in 2016 of Southern Innovator's Editor-in-Chief, Cosmas Gitta, meant the magazine lost its strongest advocate within the UNOSSC and thus was not included in the next budget post-audits. 

The US investigations by the F.B.I. (Federal Bureau of Investigation) leading to arrests and subsequent court trials from 2015 onwards, were joined by Australian authorities in 2018. These revelations and confessions paint a picture of a high-level, multinational criminal conspiracy to launder money and pay bribes at the United Nations that also included the collusion and aid of various senior UN officials at the time. Not only do these revelations offer new context to Southern Innovator's attempts to gain future support from the UNOSSC, they explain why Southern Innovator faced extensive obstruction, deception and unethical and unprofessional behaviour during this time, despite the documented success of the magazine and its associated e-newsletter to reach and inspire readers, while shaping UN strategic policy on innovation (Strategic framework of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperatio, 2014-2017).   

2016: Many books have been published citing stories from the e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions and Southern Innovator Magazine. They include: Beyond Gated Communities edited by Samar Bagaeen and Ola Uduku (Routledge: 2015), Chile in Transition: Prospects and Challenges for Latin America's Forerunner of Development by Roland Benedikter and Katja Siepmann (Springer: 2015), Export Now: Five Keys to Entering New Markets by Frank Lavin and Peter Cohan (John Wiley & Sons: 2011), Innovation Africa: Emerging Hubs of Excellence edited by Olugbenga Adesida, Geci Karuri-Sebina and João Resende-Santos (Emerald Group Publishing: 2016), New Directions in Children's and Adolescents' Information Behavior Research edited by Dania Bilal and Jamshid Beheshti (Emerald Group Publishing: 2014), A Sociological Approach to Health Determinants by Toni Schofield (Cambridge University Press: 2015). 

Many papers have been published citing stories from the e-newsletter and the magazine. They include: Afro-futurism and the aesthetics of hope in Bekolo's Les Saignantes and Kahiu's Pumzi by Mich Nyawalo, Journal of the African Literature Association, Volume 10, 2016, Issue 2, Autonomous Systems in the Intelligence Community: Many Possibilities and Challenges by Jenny R. Holzer, PhD, and Franklin L. Moses, PhD, Studies in Intelligence Vol 59, No. 1 (Extracts, March 2015), Decoding the Brand DNA: A Design Methodology Applied to Favela Fashion by Magali Olhats, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina Florianopolis, 2012, Edible Insects and the Future of Food: A Foresight Scenario Exercise on Entomophagy and Global Food Security by Dominic Glover and Alexandra Sexton, Institute of Development Studies, King’s College London, Evidence Report No 149, September 2015, Evaluation of Kenyan Film Industry: Historical Perspective by Edwin Ngure Nyutho, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Nairobi, 2015, Evaluation of the Regional Programme for Africa (2008-2013), UNDP Independent Evaluation Office, 2013, High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation Seventeenth Session: Framework of operational guidelines on United Nations support to South-South and triangular cooperation: Note by the Secretary-General, 22-25 May 2012, New York, The New Middle Class and Urban Transformation in Africa: A Case Study of Accra, Ghana by Komiete Tetteh, The University of British Colombia, 2016, Propagating Gender Struggles Through Nollywood: Towards a Transformative Approach by Nita Byack George Iruobe, Geonita Initiative for Women and Child Development, 17 July 2015, Reberberation: Musicians and the Mobilization of Tradition in the Berber Culture Movement by TMG Wiedenkenner et al, The University of Arizona,  2013, Recasting ‘truisms’ of low carbon technology cooperation through innovation systems: insights from the developing world by Alexandra Mallett, Innovation and Development, 5:2, 297-311, DOI: 10.1080/2157930X.2015.1049851, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2015, "Slam the Slums": Understanding architecture through the poor by Malini Foobalan, November 26th, 2009, Song Lines: Mapping the South African Live Performance Landscape: Report of the CSA 2013 Live Mapping Project Compiled by Concerts South Africa, Samro Foundation, 2013, Strategic Framework of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, 2014-2017Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Office for Project Services, 27 to 31 January 2014, New York, Wearing Your Map on Your Sleeve: Practices of Identification in the Creation and Consumption of Philippine Map T-shirts by Pamela Gloria Cajilig, paper presented at the 6th Global Conference (2014): Fashion: Exploring Critical Issues, Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom, 15th to 18th September 2014,  Young Girls' Affective Responses to Access and Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Information-Poor Societies by Dania Bilal et al, New Directions in Children's and Adolescents' Information Behavior Research, Library and Information Science, Volume 10, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2014, Youth Empowered as Catalysts for Sustainable Human Development: UNDP Youth Strategy 2014-2017United Nations Development Programme, Bureau for Development Policy.

Testimonials

“The e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions proved to be a timely and prescient resource on the fast-changing global South, tracking the rise of an innovator culture driven by the rapid adoption of mobile phones and information technology … 

“In 2010, work began on the development of the world’s first magazine dedicated to the 21st-century innovator culture of the global South. My goal was to create a magazine that would reach across countries and cultures, meet the UN’s standards, and inspire action. Southern Innovator was the result. Mr. [David] South played a vital role in the magazine’s development from its early conception, through its various design prototypes, to its final global launch and distribution.  

“Both the e-newsletter and magazine raised the profile of South-South cooperation and have been cited by readers for inspiring innovators, academics, policy makers and development practitioners in the United Nations and beyond.  

“I highly recommend Mr. [David] South as a thoughtful, insightful, analytical, creative and very amicable person who has the unique ability to not only grasp complex problems but also to formulate a vision and strategy that gets things done. … ” Cosmas Gitta, Former Assistant Director, Policy and United Nations Affairs at United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in UNDP 

“I think you [David South] and the designer [Solveig Rolfsdottir] do great work and I enjoy Southern Innovator very much!” Ines Tofalo, Programme Specialist, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)

2017: Invited to speak at the Workshop on Innovations in Service Delivery: The Scope for South-South and Triangular Cooperation in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  

2018: 

Stories

Aid Organization Gives Overseas Hungry Diet Food: Diet Giant Slim-Fast Gets Tax Write-off for Donating Products

Somali Killings Reveal Ugly Side of Elite Regiment

Does the UN Know What it's Doing?

State of Decay: Haiti Turns to Free-Market Economics and the UN to Save Itself

Opinion: Canada is Allowing U.S. to Dictate Haiti's Renewal: More News and Opinion on What the UN Soldiers Call the "Haitian Vacation"

Starting from Scratch: The Challenge of Transition

Philippine Conference Tackles Asia's AIDS Crisis

Lamas Against AIDS

UN Contest Winner in "State of Total Bliss"

A UNDP Success Story: Grassroots Environmental Campaign Mobilizes Thousands in Mongolia

Freedom of Expression: Introducing Investigative Journalism to Local Media

Traffic Signs Bring Safety to the Streets

Eco-cities Up Close

Smart Cities Up Close

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2007

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2008

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2009

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2010

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2011

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2012

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2013

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2014 

Books + Publications

A Steppe Back?: Economic Liberalisation and Poverty Reduction in Mongolia

Blue Sky Bulletin Newsletter UNDP Mongolia | 1997-1999

Human Development Report Mongolia 1997

In The Interests of the Exploited?: The Role of Development Pressure Groups in the UK

In Their Own Words: Selected Writings by Journalists on Mongolia, 1997-1999 

Innovations in Green Economy: Top Three Agenda

Lima to Delhi: What Can Be Learned on Urban Resilience?

Mongolia Update - Coverage of 1998 Political Changes

Mongolian AIDS Bulletin 

A Partnership for Progress: UNDP in Mongolia 1997

Pax Chaotica: A Re-evaluation of Post-WWII Economic and Political Order

The Sweet Smell of Failure: The World Bank and the Persistence of Poverty

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 1: Mobile Phones and Information Technology

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 2: Youth and Entrepreneurship

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 3: Agribusiness and Food Security

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 4: Cities and Urbanization

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 5: Waste and Recycling 

Southern Innovator and the Growing Global Innovation Culture: Background Paper 

South-South Cooperation for Cities in Asia

UNDP in Mongolia: The Guide | 1997-1999

UNDP Travelling Seminar: Environment and Development | Mongolia 1998

What is the Next Agenda for the Next 21 Years?: The Fourth Development Phase?

Update: I will publish this in the new year after the holidays. Keep checking back for this post. 

Further Reading

Peacebuilding: The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1997-2017 by David Chandler, Palgrave, 2017

© David South Consulting 2018 

Monday
Oct022017

David South Consulting Scale-up | 2017

 


Pitch + Vision

Partners


Funding Phases

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

Past Work

Impact

Testimonials

Documents

 © David South Consulting 2017

Monday
Oct022017

Global Financial Crisis Response | 2008 - 2011

 


The year was 1997. I was hired by UNDP Mongolia to establish and head up its communications operations in the country (UNDP Mongolia Communications Office). At the time, Mongolia was experiencing “one of the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever” (Pomfret: 1994) . And it showed. Food was scarce, unemployment high, poverty was increasing, and the capital Ulaanbaatar consisted of decaying and shabby Soviet and Communist architecture. The country felt isolated and cut-off from a world experiencing the boom of the late 1990s and the information technology revolution. 

Working in the country for two years (1997-1999) taught me a great deal about how a country recovers from a severe crisis and rebuilds its economy. I learned about human resilience and how markets can restore economies; the key role information technology plays and the importance of unfettered information and knowledge sharing to give people the tools they require to re-build their lives and grow wealth. Read more about this experience here: http://www.davidsouthconsulting.com/case-studies/case-study-4-un-undp-mongolia-1997-1999.html

The unfolding Global Financial Crisis in 2008, while caused by the collapse of the financial system, also presented an opportunity to apply the lessons learned in the late 1990s. The crisis was a roller coaster ride and provided a front row seat to what happens when too much debt and fraud overwhelms the financial system. A conference in Switzerland on African trade opportunities in 2008 was disrupted by the crisis as participants received frantic calls from London and New York and grabbed their bags and fled. Later that year I joined my wife (a foreign correspondent) in Reykjavik, Iceland as demonstrations erupted resulting from the collapse of their banks. Later this was called the ‘Pots and Pans Revolution’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Icelandic_financial_crisis_protests). See pictures of the demonstrations here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/15195144@N06/albums/72157613009834677

In 2009 I attended a UN conference in Geneva, Switzerland to evaluate the crisis and forecast where it might go. I wrote a blog about it here: http://www.davidsouthconsulting.com/blog/2016/1/8/global-crisis-report-from-the-un-conference-on-the-social-an.html

On the streets of Paris in 2009.

As this was happening something very exciting was emerging. While researching the e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions for the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), it became clear a quiet revolution was ocurring as a result of the rapid spreading of mobile and information technologies across the global South. That represented an exceptional crisis response tool where governments and the financial system were failing people. The e-newsletter was being sent to a global subscriber base across the United Nations and governments, reaching a highly influential audience in the global system. 

In 2011, this research went into the landmark first issue of the magazine Southern Innovator (called “a terrific tour de force of what is interesting, cutting edge and relevant in the global mobile/ICT space…”). This transformative magazine leveraged even greater change as it inspired many, as well as being cited as an influence on the UN’s and UNDP’s strategic priorities (the current innovation agenda and the focus on South-South cooperation). 

The repercussions of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis are still with us. Central banks continue with emergency measures (low interest rates, asset purchases, QE etc.) and consumer, government and corporate debt continues to rise. An ability to respond and recover will still be needed and David South Consulting will be there. 

© David South Consulting 2017
Tuesday
Jul112017

Why David South Consulting (DSC)/David South International (DSI)? 

 

How we work is as important as the results we get. In fact, we believe it shapes the result. Get the journey to the goal right, and the goal will be better for it; more substantial, more effective, more long-lasting. We have developed a methodology and way of working that can take complex and complicated mandates and turn them into clear achievements.

Through our case studies, we show how messy, complex and often conflicting mandates are re-shaped into substantial achievements that inspire others. We have done this for large institutions undergoing great stress and transformation (usually in some way brought on by digital change), and for smaller organizations and start-ups. 

Modern organizations are diverse, often under stress, and buffeted by shifting political demands. 

We understand complexity is the norm for any organization working with highly educated professionals seeking to be leaders in their field. If you do not engage them, they leave for greener pastures. 

We listen, we review the mandates and research the data; we get to know the players and stakeholders; and then we act, with the staying power and focus required to get substantial results. It has made many of our past clients’ careers - and money. 

This includes offering strategic support to senior large institution leaders, including high-profile women leaders and senior UN officials and healthcare professionals

For example, we have twice helped in making UNDP (the UN’s development agency) relevant to the digital era, adapting to the new way of doing things, in particular how young people can be better engaged. We have worked in a major crisis in Asia, during rapid transformation to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) (being called a “role model”), and with a wide range of clients, from youth media start-ups to a prestigious academic research institute. 

Quick to spot trends and consistently viewing them from a human development perspective (UNDP’s development methodology, which is championed every year in its global and national human development reports), DSC/DSI was able to build a respected profile and brand for the United Nations, while drawing others into the innovation and South-South space, making it ‘cool’.

When this work had started at the end of 2006, there was very little coverage online and in the media of the quiet solutions revolution in the global South; today there are many services, media outlets and websites covering stories on the global South and innovation. Examples include The Guardian, SciDev, Devex, Planet Earth Institute, Quartz, etc. And the innovation message has been picked up by governments around the world. 

While consulting for UN missions in the early to mid-2000s, we had noticed a disconnect between how development was being done and what was happening in information and mobile technology and its potential. 

As far back as the late 1990s in Mongolia (then embroiled in a major crisis), DSC/DSI was able to leverage the emerging Internet and information technologies to address the crisis response. Called a “role model” for other UN missions in a global UN assessment, this work inspired the wider UN to alter its approach to these new technologies and capabilities.

During several years of working as a consultant in various UN missions around the world, we also noticed further disconnects. The rapid take-up of mobile phones being the most important. This had gone on quietly but it was revolutionary in what it could do for development. In fact, it was clear there was a quiet revolution happening in how people solved problems and dealt with the problems in their lives and it had little to do with ‘high-level’ declarations or elaborate plans. Instead, people were adapting these new technologies and potentialities to solve their problems organically: how to make money, how to support their families, how to get an education and learn, how to live in the rapidly urbanising world of their lived experience.

In 2007 we were hired by the UN’s then-Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) to document this quiet revolution and champion its innovators and pioneers.    

© David South Consulting 2017

Monday
Jun052017

Seven Case Studies on the Way

 

Seven Case Studies from David South Consulting/David South International will soon be posted on the website. They give a snapshot of past achievements as well as key data and links for anyone conducting research, in particular on youth and crisis resilience/austerity, youth and start-ups, health and human development innovators, international development, United Nations missions and policy, design and strategy (especially as a way out of a crisis), and the application of digital and Internet content to achieve goals. 

Highlights include: 

- investigative journalism

- introducing youth start-up culture to Toronto, Canada

- rescuing Mongolia (a Northeast Asian country) from the worst 20th century post-WWII peacetime economic and social collapse

- pioneering work in communications and digital content for the United Nations leading to it being awarded the Nobel Prize in 2001

- modernising online and digital content for the UK's National Health Service and becoming an award-winning role model  

- identifying and shaping the response to the mobile and information technology revolution in the global South and celebrating the 21st century global South innovator culture  

© David South Consulting 2017