“Gross Domestic Problem” wins UP Book of the Year Award

On 24 April the book Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World’s Most Powerful Number by GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti received the UP Book of the Year Award at the annual ceremony of the University of Pretoria. The award was conferred by the university’s Vice Chancellor and Principal Prof. Cheryl De La Rey and received by GovInn deputy director, as Prof. Fioramonti was overseas for research.

Fioramonti, Lorenzo (with GDPbook 6)

Read more on the UP website: 2015 Academic Achievers Awards

 

“Regionalising African civil societies: Lessons, opportunities and constraints” Workshop in Uppsala, Sweden

The workshop, held in Uppsala in October 2014, gathered participants from African NGOs and researchers working on regionalisation and civil society issues. This provided a unique opportunity to engage in conversations about research and practice. During the two days, we moved from an initial emphasis on the role of civil society
in regional integration and the regionalisation of civil society itself, to questioning the idea of the region
as a territory, as a space for political action, for economic activities and for identity and belonging.
GovInn Andreas Godsäter was one of the keynote speakers at the event.

Uppsala-workshop-on-regionalising-African-civil-societies_final-report

Download the full report here

Beyond GDP documentary wins the Jury Prize at FReDD film festival

“Presi per il PIL”, a documentary by Stefano Cavallotto, Andrea Bertaglio and Lorenzo Fioramonti won the Jury Prize at the FReDD Film festival in Toulouse, France. The FReDD (Film, Recherche et Developpement Durable) selects the most interesting productions on sustainable development. “Presi per il PIL” won thanks to its positive approach:

The Jury wished to honour a positive movie, which brings solutions to the energy issues. The director met with  emerging realities and groups who work to reconstruct society while disregarding GDP. GDP is the parameter of a destructive growth: Growth leads to individualism while de-growth leads to sharing.”

Watch the trailer here:

Read the news on FReDD website (French) 

Rebooting Democracy Foreign Policy

“Rebooting Democracy” on Foreign Policy 16.03.2015

This week on Foreign Policy  Lorenzo Fioramonti, John Boik and Gary Milante discuss why our current democratic systems may be failing us and what democracy can look like in the near future:

“If forms of government can be likened to operating systems, current variants of democracy are a bit like early, primitive versions of Windows. They are neither optimally functional nor user-friendly — they are buggy, susceptible to malware, and lack desired features.

While our democratic systems have brought us far, they appear incapable of solving complex modern problems like recurring global financial crises,rising inequality, climate change, and various forms of resource depletion. Even the most established democracies are failing to deliver public goods: the U.S. Society of Civil Engineers recently issued a grade of D+ on the condition of U.S. roads, bridges, water systems, schools, and other infrastructure. Not unexpectedly, the approval rating of the U.S. Congress is at a near-historic low of 20 percent.

The versions of democracy attempted by newly democratizing nations have been even less effective. The democratic system imported by the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003-4, for example, was really no different from British mandate arrangements tried in the 1920s. The U.S. occupation provided an illusion of democracy, but with little functionality underneath — like a corrupted version of Windows that shows a static desktop but runs no programs. Several years later, in response to the Arab Spring, democracy transfer failed again.

The most powerful pro-democracy wave since the end of the Cold War resulted in precious little new participatory governance.

The failings were not due to a “clash of civilizations,” as Huntington famously argued. There is nothing inherent to democracy that makes it incompatible with the Arab or any other culture. Rather, the failings resulted from promotion of form over substance — replicating an image of democracy rather than a functional, inclusive, accountable decision-making system that is adapted to local needs. If democratic initiatives in the Arab world and elsewhere are to evolve and mature, it will be because expressions of democracy have markedly improved. We are suggesting that democratic systems are due for a major upgrade, and that new, more flexible versions will allow for community programming — refinement of a system by the very people who use it.”

So, what’s next for democracy? Read the full article on Foreign Policy

 

African researchers to receive leadership training at UP

The University of Pretoria, in partnership with the Global Young Academy  and the Robert Bosch Stiftung, is pleased to announce the establishment of the Africa Science Leadership Program (ASLP).

This initiative has been developed to support early to mid-career African academics in developing leadership skills. The program will serve researchers in basic and applied science, engineering, social sciences, arts and the humanities.
The program is an exciting new venture for UP, and part of an overall strategy to become a leading African research university.
“Developing researchers in core areas of leadership is essential if they are to initiate and steer collaborative, international and transdisciplinary projects that are needed to advance Africa’s development agenda,” said the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Cheryl de la Rey. GovInn will contribute to this transdisciplinary leadership training.

“The University is expecting to host more of these projects in the coming years, and we anticipate this program will attract some of the best academic talent across the region and prepare them to make an even greater impact in our communities,” she continued.

The program will commence with a first group in June 2015, and will run annually for an initial period of 3 years. Potential candidates are invited to learn more about the program and the application process at www.up.ac.za/ASLP

 

Robert Bosch Stiftung Logo Global Young Academy

Le Dessous des cartes

Land Matrix on ARTE (28.02.15)

On 28 February 2015 at 6.30pm (Pretoria time) the Franco-German TV station ARTE will broadcast the documentary,”Terres arables : un marché pas comme les autres” (Arable lands: a market like no other) featuring the data and the work of Land Matrix.

The documentary, avaiable in French and German, is the second part of an investigation on arable lands.
The first episode can be found here: “Competition pour les terres arables” (Competition for arable lands)

Channel Africa SABC

Towards an African passport?

From Channel Africa, SABC

At the just ended 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU Summit) held on 30-31 January 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme: “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”, the Executive Council of AU deliberated on and requested the Commission to present detailed roadmaps for implementation of, among other flagship projects, The African Passport and Free Movement of People. GovInn Researcher and Co-Director, Chris Nshimbi, participated in panel discussion on the idea of an African passort on the African Dialogue program on SABC’sChannel Africa, 16 February 2015.

Lorenzo at the Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0

Strategies for sustainable wellbeing: Lorenzo Fioramonti at the Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0

The Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0 officially kicked off with a two day workshop in Berlin (Germany) in early February 2015. The Lab aims to shift institutions beyond the pursuit of narrowly measured parameters of economic progress (such as growth) to broader aims that translate into sustainable wellbeing for our societies.

GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti  was among the 25 innovators invited to the Lab from all over the world. He had the opportunity to discover new ways of looking at leadership, sustainable development and wellbeing, as he tells us in this interview.

Lorenzo at the Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0

Lorenzo Fioramonti speaking at one of the sessions of the Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0, Berlin 2015

 

What is the Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0?

Lorenzo Fioramonti: These Labs are an initiative of the Global Leadership Academy, a programme funded by the German government to convene “thought leaders” and innovators from all walks of life and from all over the world to discuss, network and share ideas about promoting change at the global scale. In particular, the Wellbeing Lab focuses on new approaches to economic progress and what type of cultural, social and political change we need to build a different economy. It is led by Prof. Otto Scharmer, from the Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT) and world renowned for his Theory U, and co-hosted by the Presencing Institute in Boston (USA) and the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan.

What happened in Berlin?

The Berlin kick-off event was a very enriching gathering of extremely motivated individuals, from very different backgrounds. There were young innovators from the Silicon Valley, like Nipun Metha, who gave a very inspiring TED Talk on the economy of generosity watched by tens of thousands of viewers. We had the first lady of the State of Oregon, Cylvia Hayes, who is a dedicated environmentalist and has led the introduction of the Genuine Progress Indicator in Oregon.  There was also my friend Katherine Trebeck from Oxfam, who has developed the Humankind Index (another great Ted Talk to watch).
We had managers from the clothing giant Eileen Fisher and Google’s sale manager, Alfred Tolle. We then had representatives of various governments, from Costa Rica to Brazil, USA, Vietnam and the UK. From South Africa, I was joined by Louise Van Rhyn of Symphonia and Mary Jane Morifi from the Nelson Mandela Children Hospital Trust.

We were invited to spend a few days, in almost complete isolation, in the beautiful ecological resort of Landgut A. Borsig, one of the hallmarks of the civil resistance against Hitler. It was a great opportunity to share ideas on how to foster a well-being based economic transition for our countries.

Lorenzo Fioramonti from Presencing Institute on Vimeo.

How does the Lab work?

LF: This first meeting gave us an opportunity to get to know each other better. Indeed, the Lab will continue for 2 years and will become a ‘journey’ taking us to different locations around the world. It’s designed as a space for reflection, but also as an incubator for action. It is based on the Theory U approach, which shows how collective change is ultimately the outcome of a journey. This journey includes personal change as well as continuous interaction with likeminded individuals from different cultural backgrounds. We all share a conviction that the current economic system is not delivering on wellbeing, but the journey will help us identify a common ground on how to make the change happen in practice. Academics, business leaders, government officials and civic activists are all brought together to shape this intellectual and personal journey over the course of the next two years.

What is happening next?

LF: We will start scanning interesting social innovations in South Africa and then bring them back into our global debate. We will also need to identify ideas for change that could become prototypes for action. In May we will then meet again in Bhutan, where we have been officially invited by the government. After that, the journey will take us to other destinations. In the end, the initiative aims to build a strong network of leaders and innovators with a set of shared practical ideas to change the world!

AUDIO: Lorenzo Fioramonti on “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”

Loane Sharp (Economist at the Free Market Foundation) and GovInn Director Lorenzo Fioramonti discuss their divergent views on Thomas Piketty’s highly influential Capital in the Twenty-First Century on 702 Talk Radio.
Listen to the full conversation (broadcast on 15 december 2015) below: