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Cape Town Book Launch: “The World after GDP”

 

You are invited to join us on 11 May 2017 at 18:00 for the Cape Town launch of GovInn director Prof. Lorenzo Fioramonti‘s latest book, “The world after GDP”. The launch will take place at 129 Rochester Road, Observatory.

University of Amsterdam

Call for Applications: Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Political Economy at the University of Amsterdam

Professor Daniel Mügge

Professor Daniel Mügge, head of the research project ‘The Political Economy of Macroeconomic Measurement’

The Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam invites applications for a 18 month postdoctoral research fellowship. The position is part of the research project ‘The Political Economy of Macroeconomic Measurement’, led by prof. Daniel Mügge and funded by the European Research Council (ERC). The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is the largest educational and research institution in the social sciences in the Netherlands, and one of the highest-ranked such institutions in Europe.

Systematic knowledge on the politics of macroeconomic measurement is thin for OECD members already. But it is almost non-existent for other countries. To address this gap, this postdoc project focuses on one non-OECD economy: South Africa. It has become an important player on the global economic stage over the past two decades, and it has been drawn into the web of global economic governance. That has entailed an increasing embrace of macroeconomic measurement practices such as the System of National Accounts, which had been devised by and for rich, developed countries. At the same time, South Africa comes to global statistical practices from a very specific vantage point, given both its legacy of apartheid and a highly idiosyncratic economic structure.

 

Closing date for application is 26 April 2017.

More information about this call can be found here.

Scared of a downgrade? Why it is time to question the politics of numbers

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) will host GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti on the 3rd of November 2016 as part of their HSRC seminar series in collaboration with the University of Pretoria. In this seminar, he provides a critique of the current ‘data fever’, especially in the context of credit ratings and international benchmarks, showing both the direct consequences and indirect implications of the increasing power of numbers. At the same time, it investigates innovative attempts to resist the invasion of mainstream statistics by providing alternative measurements or rejecting quantification altogether. An innovative and timely exposé of the politics, power and contestation of numbers in everyday life.

Kindly RSVP by 1 November 2016

Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: acgrossberg@hsrc.ac.za

 

Africa remains a target as Global South ‘land rush’ moves to production

“Africa remains a target as Global South ‘land rush’ moves to production” The Conversation, 11.10.2016

This article was originally published on The Conversation

Now, almost ten years have after the term “land grabbing” first entered the popular imagination, large-scale land acquisitions remain shrouded in secrecy.

The Land Matrix Initiative aims to shine some light in the deals by providing open access to information on intended, concluded, and failed land acquisitions that have taken place since the year 2000. Over recent years, both the quality and the quantity of the data have improved considerably.

This led us to take a fresh look at the current trends in international large-scale land acquisitions.

The start of production

The Land Matrix records more than 1,000 deals covering 26.7 million hectares of contracted land, equal to about 2% of the arable land on Earth.

Most of these deals cultivate pure food crops, and crops that have multiple uses, such as oil seeds. Palm oil is the single most important crop driving large-scale land acquisitions.

Palm oil production in Côte d’Ivoire. Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters

One of the most striking things we found about land deals is their increasing rate of implementation. While speculation was discussed as one of the main drivers of the “rush for land” in earlier years, our data indicates that about 70% of the deals have now started activities on the ground.

Compared to previous figures published in 2012, the number of operational projects has almost doubled. For most deals, it takes less than three years to enter the production phase.

Development of size under contract and size under operation. Authors’ calculation based on the Land Matrix data, April 2016, Author provided

For a subset of deals – 330 out of 1000 – we are familiar with the area under production. This means we are able to look into the implementation of these deals over recent years.

The chart above shows that while the area under contract increased rapidly since 2004, (red bars), the area under production has only increased since 2011 (blue bars). Today, about 55% of the contracted area is under production.

Africa remains a target

Africa remains the most important target area of land acquisitions, with deals concluded in many countries across the continent.

Africa accounts for 42% of the deals, and 10 million hectares of land. Land acquisitions are concentrated along important rivers such as the Niger and the Senegal rivers, and in East Africa.

The second most important region is Eastern Europe, mostly due to the large average size of land per deal: 96 deals covering 5.1 million hectares of concluded deals. One single deal in Ukraine by the company UkrLandFarming covers an area of 654,000 hectares alone.

Another emerging trend is that investors from the Global South have gained in importance. Malaysia is now the leading investor country, with Singapore at number four (the USA and UK are second and third). Global South investors show a strong preference for investment in their own region.

Most investors are still based in Western Europe, and their interests in 315 concluded deals cover nearly 7.3 million hectares. Private sector investors account for more than 70% of the concluded deals. So we know that governments are not the main driver of large-scale land acquisitions.

But investors are part of complex chains, which often include state-owned entities. This means the indirect impact of governments through these entities, and also through policy and trade agreements, is likely bigger than what we can see in the data.

Increased competition

We find that land acquisitions take place in relatively highly populated areas, dominated by existing croplands. About one-third of the area acquired was formerly used for smallholder agriculture – implying an increasing competition over land use between investors and local communities.

We will only see the full impact of the deals in years to come. Positive impacts of large-scale land acquisitions generally include more local jobs and better access to infrastructure. On the negative side, loss of access to land and natural resources, increased conflict over livelihoods and greater inequality are frequent issues.

Given their increasing rate of implementation, the topic of land acquisitions remains hugely important, with many deals entering the production stages for the first time. The fact that land deals often target areas that have been used before hints at considerable socioeconomic and environmental implications for the target regions. And the more we know about these deals, the better we can understand how they will affect local people.

 

“Zimbabwe is reaching a breaking point”, by Eric Manyonda and Ruth Murambadoro

by Eric Manyonda and Ruth Murambadoro, GovInn senior researcher

On the 24th of August 2016 the Zimbabwe Republic Police clashed with protesters over a planned demonstration led by a coalition of opposition parties and the civil society.

Since the birth of the citizens’ movement, #ThisFlag earlier this year, there has been an increase in sporadic outbursts of citizens demanding the government to deliver on its election promises. As such, the citizens who in spite of their political affiliations joined forces and launched a mega demonstration on the 24th of August through which they demanded the president Mr RG Mugabe to step down.
Initially the police had attempted to block the protest by rejecting the clearance application that had been made by the protesting parties in accordance with the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). According to the POSA, any groups of people intending on holding a meeting are required to notify the police of the event and get permission. This according to the Act, is done to protect and prevent the gatherings from turning violent. Upon notice of the ‘Mega demo’ the police rejected the application citing lack of manpower to monitor the event. Opposition parties however sought the intervention of the high court, which acted in their favour by overturning the decision of the police. Armed with the high court ruling the opposition parties went ahead with their planned demonstration and launched the Mugabe Must Go Now campaign.

Zimbabwe Unrest 2016

To their dismay, the peaceful protestors were caught up in the crossfire as police had been deployed heavily armed to attack and disrupt the protest. The innocent protestors were forced to run for their lives while the police fired water cannons, teargas and even button sticks to disperse the crowds. The dire situation also agitated some already desperate protestors who retaliated to the police attacks by torching police vehicles, looting and launching attacks on businesses in the city, thereby escalating the violence to unprecedented levels. By Friday the violence had intensified pushing the government to increase the police force and even deployed the military, a phenomenon that last occurred in Zimbabwe during the food riots of 1998.

Though a state of emergency has not yet been declared, the military is now guarding the capital city Harare and some parts of the country are under heavy security surveillance. It appears as if Zimbabwe has reached its breaking point and the government is desperately trying to prevent the Arab Spring phenomenon.

All pictures by Eric Manyonda

‘Brexit opportunity for Britain to find the courage to change’, Business Day 27.05.2016

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THERE is much talk about a potential exit of the UK from the European Union (EU), which will be decided by British citizens through a referendum in June. There are a number of unanswered questions over how this may affect Europe-Africa relations.

The latest polls indicate a neck-and-neck battle, with voters divided on the issue in roughly equal percentages. Politicians are split between those wanting to stay in Europe provided that Britain’s special status is preserved, and those who call for a unilateral exit regardless of the conditions offered. Only a minority believes in the intrinsic value of a united continent. This is perhaps not surprising for a country that has never been enthusiastic about the European integration project.

Please click here to read the entire article.

“South Africa’s World: Perspectives on Diplomacy and International Political Economy” roundtable discussion in honour of Prof. Gerrit Olivier

The Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) in partnership with the SARChI Chair: African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy hosted a roundtable discussion titled “South Africa’s World: Perspectives on Diplomacy and International Political Economy” in honour renowned diplomat and academic Proffessor Gerrit Olivier. The event was held at the Senate Hall at UP Hatfield campus and featured  a faculty of some South Africa’s leading thinkers to explore the countries foreign policy. Elizabeth Sidiropoulos (South African Institute of International Affairs) and  Prof. Deon Geldenhuys (University of Johannesburg) provided opening remarks and featured in the discussion along with GovInn director Prof. Lorenzo Fioramonti, Chris Landsberg (SARChI) and Costa Georghiou (University of Johannesburg). The final word belonged to the man of the hour as guests and his family, Skyping in from Hull were treated to a final address from Prof Olivier.

 

 

 

 

“Europe needs idealism and pragmatism simultaneously” BDLive 06/04/2016

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 “THE terrorist attacks in Brussels highlight the overall fragility of Europe, a continent affected by the worst convergence of crises since the Second World War. After Paris a few months back, the fact that bombers have now targeted the administrative capital of the European Union carries a powerful symbolic message…”

Network of Wellbeing

Wellbeing & GDP

Lorenzo Fioramonti, director of the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation, gave a lecture on wellbeing & GDP in Totnes, UK, to the Network of Wellbeing.

 

New Rules for Global Justice: Structural Redistribution in the Global Economy

New-Rules-for-Global-Justice-1

Published by Rowman & Littefield GovInn Director Prof. Lorenzo Fioramonit’s new book will be launched at ISA in April in Atlanta, Georgia. Co edited by Jan Aart Scholte, faculty Professor in Peace and Development in the school of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg and Alfred Nhema, Chief Executive Officer at the Pan African Development Center the book explores global equality and distribution in relation to states, class, gender and race using examples drawn from nations like Zimbabwe and Australia. It presents proposals to mitigate public discontent with global inequality via “new rules” which can overcome issues of finance, food security, migration, climate change and corruption.