Missing the trees for the forest: How not to do #development

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Filed under: Development

Dr Jansen 1 blog

When we talk about development, we often talk about it as though it were a singular global problem with a singular global solution.

Just take a look at some of the instruments we’ve developed and that we refer to in times of a crisis: The previous Millenium Development Goals and now the Sustainable Development Goals, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various international conventions.

#EducationforAll“, we say. “Getting to Zero“, we say.

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Build it yourself: Welcome to the tech for citizen engagement challenge

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Filed under: Development Governance Peace and security Social innovation

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It’s called the IKEA effect.

You value something more when you’ve helped build it.

Surely anyone who’s ever suffered through a harrowing afternoon assembling that pernickety SVÄRTA loft bed frame can recall the swell of pride and accomplishment after finally figuring it out.

Might not a similar thing be the case when it comes to the various institutions of governance?

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Serious gaming futures or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the post-it

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Filed under: Climate change Development 2.0 Guest posts Social innovation

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The post-it and the machine: Read the author’s previous dispatch from Strumica (Photo: Kevin Cheng)

You know how most workshops go.

You write on post-its or a printed booklet. You break into small groups or engage in some world-café-style discussions. You are present, attentive, and engaged… for at least the first hour or so.

Then it strikes.

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A bright idea for a green business in rural Tajikistan

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Filed under: Central Asia Environment

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Work in progress: Empowering women in Tajikistan to become promoters of green energy

With an incredible 300+ sunny days a year, Tajikistan seems primed to be a solar powered force to be reckoned with.

A recent UNECE report notes that solar power “could satisfy 60%–80% of the population’s demand for 10 months in the year.”

Solar business makes a lot of sense for a country that has a vast potential for solar energy – and where power shortages during the winter are more the rule than exception.

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Developing not for but with: Co-designing Armenia

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Filed under: Development 2.0 Human rights Social inclusion Social innovation

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People with disabilities in Armenia come together to design their future.

A common trap in development work is thinking that the service you’re providing will address all the needs of those who will use it.

But what would you learn that you otherwise might not if you involved everyday citizens in the design of public sector services?

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50 shades of green: Why we’re cartooning in Kazakhstan

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Filed under: Central Asia Development Environment

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Reinventing the wheel: Read how new bike routes are helping Almaty go green

As an avid cyclist and clean energy advocate, I know how easy life can be with green transport.

The challenge in my job is showing how green choices –  such as in public transport and bicycles – can improve the environment, public safety, and save time.

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Education for all: Is it possible?

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Filed under: Development


Education is the foundation upon which a life of dignity is built.

Sure, it is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; but education is more than just a basic right – it is essential for the full realization of other rights.

Without it, how could we understand when our rights have been fulfilled or violated?

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Risky business: The emigration game

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Filed under: Development Social inclusion

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Exodus by night: Crowds swarm the Pristina bus station (Photo: Burbuqe Dobranja)

In Kosovo*[1], 35 percent of the population is between the ages of 15 and 35. More than half of them are unemployed.

For women, that percentage jumps to nearly 70.

The problem of unemployment has turned into desperation, as evidenced by young Kosovars’ increasingly active participation in a phenomenon known as people smuggling.

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Do landmines float? A post-flood guide from Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Filed under: Disaster response


In 2014, devastating floods and landslides affected Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the wider region.

Thousands of people continue to suffer from the consequences of these floods, which unearthed – among other things – a specific human security threat: landmines.

What do we do in these circumstances?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how we respond:

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Ready, set, compete! Why we’re reaching out across regions

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Filed under: Development Environment Social inclusion Social innovation

UN Provides Water to Community of Displaced in South Darfur

A better way? How can we improve water delivery services in communities (Photo: Albert González Farran/UNAMID)

Two years ago, our colleagues from UNDP in Cyprus ignited civil society partnerships during the Power of One inter-regional knowledge exchange conference.

The healthy mix of collaboration and competition led to cross-regional projects led by Cypriot and Euro-Mediterranean organizations that received seed funding.

We wanted to continue the spirit of collaboration.

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