24 January 2011

The Foresight Report on Global Food and Farming Futures

Together with John Beddington (UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser), Charles Godfray, Jules Pretty, Camilla Toulmin, Sherman Robinson and James Muir I have just finished a couple of media briefings on the new Foresight Report on Global Food and Farming Futures. I was one of the contributing authors of the report, which drew on the work of over 400 researchers from around the world.

The report says that the current global food system is cracking under the strain of increased demand (due to growth in income and population) and the widespread use of farming methods that use natural resources faster than the resources can be regenerated. The flashes of volatility in food prices we saw in 2007-8 (and today) and the sensitivity of the numbers of hungry people to those historically quite modest price increases are consistent with a system under extreme stress. Future income growth and climate change will make business as usual forms of farming even more unsustainable. We need to find ways of producing more food in ways that reduce hunger today and in 25 and 50 years time. If we don't, food prices will rise (the only question is how fast), smallholder farmers will not be able to take advantage by increasing production in a profitable way, and the result will be more hunger and all the terrible things that go along with that. So, how can this triple goal of food production that is sustainable and equitable be achieved? The report highlights several strands of action.

1. Change the global food system: (a) as a response to uncertainty, diversify food production. Create breadbaskets in multiple sites, don't just rely on the usual food production breadbaskets. This is good for income generation from agriculture and creates the possibility of denser networks of trade, (b) make sure international trade is reliable and fair. This means rules-based trade, where the poorer countries are engaged in the setting of the rules. It also means investing in infrastructure, and information to allow trading to be efficient and transparent, (c) empower farmers, especially smallholders: blend their expertise with formal scientific expertise. Achieving the goal of sustainable food production that is hunger reducing is not easy. Different solutions will evolve in different contexts through different processes. Farmers are the local experts, they have to be involved in formal innovation processes, (d) empower consumers--consumer choices are affected by price, culture and taste, but as Fairtrade has shown, choices can be influenced by other factors, such as the resource footprint of a particular food. The report argues strongly for better and clearer consumer labels to guide choices about which foods are the most resource intensive to produce (and consume).

2. Refocus agricultural investments: (a) invest in crops that are important to poor farmers and poor consumers; invest in developing traits in crops that will make them more resilient to the stresses of climate change; and invest in traits that improve nutrition. (b) invest in infrastructure that promotes increases in smallholder agricultural productivity in ways that are sustainable, (c) invest in information systems that allow tradeoffs between intensification, sustainability and equity to be identified and avoided when possible, (d) on technology for farming, whether the farming is inorganic or organic, biotech or conventional, invest in the governance of the innovation, development and deployment process that determines who benefits, leaving individual countries and their citizens to decide what is an acceptable distribution and what is not.

3. Hold ourselves to account: hunger is easy to neglect. The hungry have little political power, and everyday hunger is not deemed media-worthy. There are few mechanisms available to hold our governments, businesses and civil society to account for being complacent about hunger. The report recommends (a) developing monthly hunger hotspot maps--providing the basis for action from civil society and governments, (b) developing commitment indices to assess the gap between rhetoric and reality on who is doing what to reduce hunger, (c) being more conscientious about assessing the impact of agricultural interventions and how impact is defined and (d) enabling a new generation of anti-hunger leaders to emerge. Ex-President Lula showed us how leadership can make a difference on hunger, but we can't sit around waiting for the next Lula, we have to systematically and deliberately create the environment that makes leaders more likely to emerge.

Much of the work in the report builds on the work of other such reports. So, what's new?

Some of the modeling is new in its ability to connect climate, agriculture and nutrition and develop new scenarios. There is a set of 40 success stories from Africa which reports on interventions that affect 10 million farmers on the continent and which offer potential for scaling. There is a deliberate attempt to recommend pragmatic ways of building in feedback loops into the system to make hunger harder to ignore in the future. There are countless examples of how to do all of this, intended to inspire rather than prescribe.

Finally, there is a realisation that we are at a unique moment in time. I know, all reports say this. But the unique moment comes from the realisation that post 2050, population will begin to decline. This means that the costs of getting decisions right now may make things better for a very long time. Conversely, the costs of getting things wrong are illustrated by the 2007-8 food price spike. During that spike, modest compared to the 1970s, the numbers of hungry people world wide grew by 100 million. Hunger numbers had taken about 20 years to fall that much pre-2007. A food price spike even half of that seen in the 1970s could wipe out 20 years of development progress. Truly a tightrope across the canyon from 2011 to 2050.

Tomorrow, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union speech to the US Congress. Exactly 70 years ago, President Roosevelt was giving his State of the Union, outlining the Four Freedoms, including the freedom from want, the precursor of freedom from hunger. That freedom --as elusive today as it was then--is under renewed threat. We all must rise to the challenge.

20 January 2011

Science, Uncertainty and Failure

Perhaps it is because we are in what scientists tell us is the most depressing period of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (the third Monday in January), but in the past few weeks we have heard from 4 initiatives which positively embrace uncertainty, failure and sheer randomness.

First up, the December 13 New Yorker has an essay by Jonah Lehrer "The Truth Wears Off" which describes how initial significant and large findings tend to diminish in magnitude upon replication. Part of this is due to selective reporting--the journals only wanting confirming data when the new idea is at its most exciting. When the idea becomes less novel, the non-confirming studies make it back into the journals. In other words, the initial study does not give us an accurate summary of things.

Edge, a web magazine for scientists, invited a group of leading thinkers to answer the question "what scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit?" There are 164 responses from folks like Daniel Kahneman (Nothing in Life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it), Eno (Ecology), Richard Dawkins (Double Blind Randomised Trials) and Nassim Taleb (Antifragility). Many of the entries are about sheer randomness, and our addiction to certainty. The Taleb article was especially interesting. What is the opposite of fragility? Not robustness or resilience, but antifragility. If fragility is losing more than gaining from variation, antifragility is gaining more than losing from variation. Experimentation is a good example of antifragility (gains of success likely to outweigh costs of failures).

Elizabeth Pisani, the epidemiologist and author of "The Wisdom of Whores" is an advocate of data sharing in research. Making research data widely available would likely diminish the likelihood of "the truth wearing off", and would help replication to highlight randomness and uncertainty. She reports on a new initiative from health research funders, led by Wellcome that will accelerate the sustainable sharing of research data in health.

Finally, a new website, admittingfailure.com, has been mentioned in several blogs. Not too many failures to browse as yet (I'm thinking of some to submit), but an interesting one from GlobalGiving which was uncovered by reports from community members, but hidden by self-reports from their grantees. We have a remarkable ability to brush off failure in development, and mechanisms like these are important to highlight them so we can learn.

So we need to take a lead from the scientists and watch out for selective reporting, embrace experimentation, look for ways in which variation can lead to positive outcomes and implement mechanisms to uncover failures. We also need to make our data more sharable and shared.

Of course I find none of this depressing, despite being in deep midwinter. I find it refreshing and energising. I guess those scientific models of the most depressing time of the year have more variability in them that we might think!

18 January 2011

How do Southern NGOs Rate Northern NGOs?

How do the Southern partners of Northern NGOs rate them?

Keystone Accountability have just released a report which attempts to answer this question.

Keystone worked with the following 25 European and US NGOs: CARE UK, CARE USA, Christian Aid, Catholic Relief Services, Concern, Church World Service, Helvetas, International Rescue Committee, International Service, Lutheran World Relief, Minority Rights Group, Mennonite Central Committee, Methodist Relief and Development Fund, Mercy Corps US, Peace Direct, Save the Children US, Practical Action, UMCOR US, Progressio, Save the Children UK, Schorer, Self Help Africa, Skillshare International, Tearfund and Trocaire.
2733 partners were invited to respond and 1067 did, a 39% response rate (an impressive response rate, although I would have liked to have seen more exploration of the impact of this rate, and its distribution, on survey results).
The Southern NGOs said they valued/needed more of the following support:

  • Non-Financial Support: Facilitation in the accessing of other sources of funds
  • Monitoring and Reporting: The need for Northern NGOs to share lessons and experiences with them when working on the same issues
  • Relationships: Develop joint strategies with us

It seems to me that all 3 of these top priorities would help Southern NGOs become true partners, not sub-contractors, to become more independent financially and intellectually and to help co-construct ideas and strategies. It is interesting that under improving relationships it is not things like "take time to listen", "be more respectful" and "be more fair" that the Southern NGOs say they need, but pragmatic things like "develop joint strategies" and "promote our work".

The report does not rank Northern NGOs, but it does allow each NGO to compare its own score (which it receives in a confidential report) with the distribution of scores achieved by the other 24.

For example Progressio have chosen to release their report and it shows they are in the top quartile of NGOs when it comes to Relationships and Capacity Building Support but in the third quartile for Other Non-financial Support.

It seems to me that true leadership is helping to set up systems that may be inconvenient to your own organisation at times, but which help the wider community learn about what is working and the gap between rhetoric and reality.

So I salute the 25 NGOs for undertaking this exercise (and especially Progressio for making theirs public) and congratulate Keystone for having the vision and perseverance to do this work (disclosure: IDS has worked with Keystone on farmer feedback under the ALINe programme).

14 January 2011

Ethiopia: the challenge of making growth become transformative

I just returned from Addis Ababa. It is a few years since I was last in Ethiopia. Addis has certainly changed. Construction everywhere, a growing middle class, and a sense of purpose and confidence that sustained economic growth can bring (the new 5 year Growth and Transformation Plan sets 11% as a minimum annual growth objective!). I did not have a chance to visit areas outside Addis, but colleagues who live in Ethiopia assure me that this growing prosperity is not confined to Addis, nor to urban areas.

I gave a couple of talks while in Addis. The first, hosted by our partners the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI), and the World Food Programme, explored four questions: (a) how important will agricultural growth be for future economic growth in Ethiopia? (b) will Ethiopia be more like China than India in successfully converting growth into poverty reduction? (c) can the large Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) reduce hunger today while also building up entrepreneurial capacity? and (d) what can help the relationship between the State and civil society be strengthened? The powerpoints can be found here.

On agriculture, my conclusion was (somewhat obviously) that if productivity could be increased, then agriculture would be a key component of future growth. But growth in productivity of agriculture (still about 40% of the economy) has declined recently and so the answer to the question is by no means clear. Investments in roads, extension, seeds, fertilizer, irrigation and farmer organizations need to be made (and Ethiopia has met the 10% targets set by the African Union), but the challenge, as ever, is to prioritise and sequence investments by agroecological zone. This is a process that involves technical, political and capacity considerations—analogous to the growth diagnostics tools that are available—and must be implemented in an inclusive way that gives farmers meaningful voice if productivity is to increase.

On the growth-poverty conversion rates, I noted the mixed picture on Ethiopian poverty rates, depending on the indicators used, that Ethiopia has historically been one of the better African performers in terms of converting growth into poverty, but that any increase in inequality will hamper this conversion rate. Inequality is a key indicator to monitor in the Government’s new Growth and Transformation Plan.

On the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), the largest social protection programme in sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa, I reviewed the latest published impact evaluations, which show mixed results of impacts on current food security and the ability to develop new non-farm income sources, depending on the intensity of receipt of PSNP resources and the incidence of complementary food security inputs. The attainment of multiple goals of assistance, insurance and transformation that social protection programmes aspire to is difficult in any context, and I think the evaluation experience of the PSNP to date bears this out for Ethiopia. It will be interesting to see the next set of evaluations which I beleive are coming out in the near future.

On strengthening the relation between the State and Civil society, I started with the recent Human Rights Watch report which claims that Ethiopia is experiencing development without freedom and claims that Government programmes are systematically allocated according to political allegiances. The empirical studies of the PSNP do not detect such biases if they exist, although earlier studies show some local political and relationship biases on allocation of disaster relief, but when they occur they are small in magnitude. I mentioned the importance of taking advantage of the increasing capture of tax that the Government plans. Work by Mick Moore at IDS and by others has shown that domestic resource mobilization is the income source that most legitimizes the State as it forces a more nuanced debate with civil society about how to spend that money. I also mentioned the potential of social accountability mechanisms in strengthening state-civil society relationships around service delivery. Finally I stressed the need for better data to make the allocation of scarce PSNP resources more transparent and less open to interpretation.

The second talk was to the DFID Ethiopia team on the role of bilateral aid agencies in the changing external environment. No-one outside DFID senior management knows the outcomes of the bilateral aid review, but in the context of a rising overall DFID budget it would be surprising if the DFID Ethiopia budget declined, and so the timing was good for a discussion of what a bilateral agency should and should not take on. I noted some trends in the external environment, the donor attributes that would be rewarded in such an environment, and made some reckless guesses about whether multilaterals or bilaterals were better set up to deliver these attributes. My talk was titled “Bi or Multi? Lateral thinking in development cooperation”. Of course I concluded that both broad modalities were important, but that the most important feature of new development cooperation would not be around the prefix to lateral, but around "lateral" itself. Lateral in the sense of thinking laterally to form relationships with (a) other donor government departments (e.g. climate, trade, security, migration, narcotics enforcement) (b) with actors that do not label themselves as “development” but are vital to economic and social progress (e.g. business enterprises, security forces, diplomatic corps, religious organisations, social movements), (c) with other actors in the region, and (d) with the emerging donors around the world (e.g. Brazil, China, Russia, South Korea, India). The powerpoints are here.

In general, I was hugely impressed with the 4 State Ministers I met (disclosure—two of them are IDS alumni) during the trip. They were dynamic, knowledgeable, thoughtful and in a continual learning mode. There are reasons to worry about Ethiopia’s rapid growth. Will it lead to overheating? Will it lead to unacceptable levels of environmental degradation? Will it reduce poverty? Will it increase inequality? Will it enhance or constrain freedoms? But I got the sense that these challenges were on the radar screen of these policy makers and that they felt confident that they could be managed. It would be good to see more stories in the Western media that explore these issues to give us a better balance between Ethiopia’s humanitarian needs and its numerous home grown successes.

06 January 2011

Is Africa the World's Most Exciting Investment Story?

Yes, says Stephen Jennings, the co-founder and CEO of Renaissance Capital.

In a presentation to the Global Economic Governance Programme at Oxford University's Department of Politics and International Relations, his argument goes like this:

  • Economic growth in Africa has averaged 6% in the past decade
  • Between 2000 and 2008 economic growth accelerated in 27 of Africa's 30 largest countries
  • In 2009, despite the collapse of commodity prices, Africa was the only region of the world not to record a single quarter of negative growth
  • This growth is fast enough and sustained enough in many African countries to move the into the "emerging economy" realm with many opportunities for private investment, external and internal
  • The growth is not differentiated much by resource endowments and geography, but more by the decline in conflict and the increased domain of the market
  • Economic growth transforms institutions, which are very heterogeneous and often very different from the Western models--institutions don't have to be developed to get growth
  • Because of the low starting growth base and the opportunities for technology leapfrogging, Jennings predicts that Africa will become the fastest growing region in the world in the next 5 years
This seems like a positive picture (and is echoed by Calestous Juma in the previous post). And it is positive, as far as it goes (although the facts presented are not referenced).

But we also know that:

  • growth has pretty uneven effects on income poverty reduction. Its effects depend on initial inequality, the sector growth occurs in, and its governance,
  • Income poverty is just one dimension of material well-being,
  • Not all forms of well being are material, many consist of freedoms
None of these issues are mentioned by Stephen Jennings in his very readable paper. The implicit assumption seems to be that growth is a cure all.

We need more conversations going between those who worry about how to get growth (and where to invest to spur it on) and those who worry about what different types of growth will do for poverty and well-being.

Nothing new in that plea, but the two tribes remain stubbornly separate. How do we get them to join up their thinking? This is an important challenge - especially for the many new initiatives on private sector development and development.

We need more research on the how different types of growth impact on poverty, especially private sector-led growth.

03 January 2011

Response from Calestous Juma to 2011 Predictions

Calestous Juma, sent this comment, but for some reason I cannot post it. But it is so good I thought I should publish it as an entry in its own right.

"Lawrence, you have started the year with provocative predictions. I will risk some comments knowing that in the end we will get most of it wrong anyway. The future always has the last laugh. On some issues, I will not be the devil's advocate--I will just be the devil himself!

1. Governance

Contrary to your view, I do not think governance went away. It was just done badly, at least in Africa where it was equated with elections and personalized scrutiny of individual leaders. Little was done to build democratic institutions such as political party structures so we have returned to ethnic politics and shambolic elections. Many of these have been no more than medieval mob football where the referees and riot police show up after the game and ask everyone to work together.

In some cases like Ivory Coast those with opposing armies went to the polls with expected results. In world that is serious about governance, the ultimate outcome for places like Ivory Coast is eventually dismantle the military. Ivory Coast could re-invent the saved resources in education, health and infrastructure which would in turn reinforce democracy. It was done in Costa Rica with remarkable results and Africa could learn from their example. I have no illusions that this would be easy but anyone who is serious about democracy ought to be prepared for tough choices and actions with unpredictable consequences. Half-hearted approaches are likely to see the spread of blatant political marauders.

Democracy and technocracy are often contrasted. It was never a contrast with technocratic rule. In fact, I would like to see more expertise being brought into governance. For example, creating think tanks to help political parties craft platforms on which to complete would do more for African democracy than all the governance consultants put together. The latter have sprinkled a few good ideas here and there but they have not had the expected effect because of the lack of institutions to translate them into political programs. Governance was hardly served well by ideas. In the absence of such competence-building, the common practice of ranking leaders becomes no more than hollow self-righteousness. Such rankings are no more than an exercise in awkward numerology.


I fully agree with you on the growth of emerging economies. In fact, there are already quite a few de facto BRICS. But I would also watch regional integration bodies especially in Africa. They will not come in as BRICs but as "economic networks". They are laying the foundations for alternative forms of economic governance and are quite different from the EU model despite the seeming appearances. This year we will see for the first greater coordination among East African countries on foreign policy matters. They are building up a credible body of protocols that we make economic federation inevitable.

3. Africa

We are going to see stronger growth in Africa in the coming year. A large part of this will come from the benefits of communications technologies in a wide range of fields. We have not come to appreciate how this is affecting everything from governance to growth. I suspect that we will see more peace on the margins of functioning regional integration bodies as new countries seek to become part of larger entities.

South Sudan is a place to watch because it will want to be part of the EAC and cannot do while it is at war. And when it does, I suspect that northern Sudan might want to join as well. Even far-flung countries such as Central African Republic will be looking to be part of East Africa. And with Ethiopia continuing to grow its internal economy I suspect the region could be a surprise.

This could spill over into Somalia as well which might start to feel war fatigue especially as the northern regions continue to prosper and improve. I would watch what happens in Jubbaland (to the south of Somalia), which is entering into its second attempt to create an autonomous regions like its northern counterparts have done. I am tempted predict that we could new formations in parts of Somalia that could offer hope for the gradual retreat from clan-sponsored conflict. It is clear that they have tried violence and it is not working. There is one option left: a peaceful co-existence with growing economies in East Africa and Ethiopia.

You already mentioned Nigeria which I think will continue to grow. I can confirm the existence of strong will in a new generation of leaders to take their place as a regional economic force. The reforms that are underway energy will spread to other infrastructure services and Nigeria will slowly but surely repair its economic spine to be able to stand its ground as a serious regional and global player. It will take time but this is a formative year for the country. Another trend to watch in Nigeria is the determination of individual states to play their part. Lagos has been leading the way in this regard and it is serving as role model for others. Nigeria's diversity could just be turned around to become its strength.

4. Innovation, creativity and pragmatism

We are entering age of innovation in earnest and the influence of ideology is waning (thankfully). Innovation will continue to drive all economies around the world. It is the crucible around which the BRICs are resting and will play an even greater role in poorer countries. The major areas to watch include the spread of broadband technology. This could do for Africa what railroads did for western economies but with greater economic synergies.

This is where I would predict that if foreign assistance (the little that is still left) continues on its current ideological path, it will become largely irrelevant to the aspirations of even the poorest of nations. Also related to this will be a moment when African countries will start to pay more attention to the differences between "research and development" and "innovation". There will be more interest in funding activities that use existing knowledge to create wealth and less in funding basic research with the hope that it will one day lead to economic benefits.

The impetus for this new outlook will come from the telecommunications sector and will be led by countries such as Rwanda which are already incubating new start-ups and modernizing old enterprises using existing technologies. For example, age-old cooperative banks are pioneering in mobile services.

These trends pose new challenges for academic institutions. For example, educational programmes that assume that the poor need traditional relief may become new sources of unemployed graduates. They will need to be replaced with new approaches that stress local competence and problem-solving. The age of pragmatism will have less use for self-appointed spokespeople for Africa but much influence will come from men and women working quietly to transfer skills and share knowledge. Tools like digital mentoring will give new opportunities to those who want to share their knowledge without have to suffer the indignity of airport scanners and the drudgery of jetlag.

I would also predict that engineering sciences and law will become more in international cooperation and will challenge the dominance economics and politics. I have hinted at this in my new book, "The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa" (Oxford University Press, 2011) but will explain in more detail in a future book under preparation.

01 January 2011

Predictions for 2011

My favourite prediction is from the ex footballer Paul Gascoigne "I never make predictions and I never will".

I suffer no such inhibitions, and here are my 10 for 2011. I'd like to hear from you about your own.

1. Governance will be back. Governance has had a tough time of things lately. Its critics either claim it is an unthreatening term for politics or is too fuzzy to be of any analytical use. I suspect there is some merit to both these critiques, but that they can be addressed for without governance we are in a purely technocratic world and we know that is not how human nature works. Why will it be back? Three reasons at least. First there is an increasing recognition that we need to be discerning about growth. Some types will be more poverty reducing than others, and they can be designed to do so. What is the major shaper of designer growth? Governance--namely the rules shaping market function and performance. There is also an increasing recognition that natural resource scarcity and climate change are about national political processes and choices. Governance writ large, again.

2. The BRICs will continue to stack up. These large, rapidly growing and influential countries are becoming more and more important in global development. The Wikileaks showed how much diplomatic effort is already concentrated in these countries and this will only continue. With 193-country deals looking more elusive than ever we will see more subset deals on trade, climate, narcotics, arms and finance. FAO will probably be headed by a Brazilian. Russia is ramping up its aid programme, China is showing no slowdown in growth and will overtake the US economy in 2019, India has 400m people living in poverty, but it also has 700m who are not—a massive market with newly emergent demand. South Africa is playing a more effective part in African politics. But this is not the only way the BRICS are stacking up.The club is growing. Indonesia, Nigeria and Vietnam are knocking on the door. And if the fragile growth in many African countries continues, they will be applying in 5-10 years time.

3. Afghanistan will rise up the development agenda. 2011 is the year when the US and the UK will begin drawdowns of troops. US and European defense funds are also being scaled back.The pressure on DFID to increase their growing allocations to the country will be immense. For a UK government that has so firmly nailed its colours to the impact mast, the evidence will have to support any newly increased allocations. Much of the evidence is inconvenient. The Economist recently highlighted two careful studies which concluded that poverty does not drive terrorism, so if these are robust, that rationale is diminished. Another rationale is that aid is best used in contexts where poverty is perpetuated by conflict. But after a decade of the Chronic Poverty Centre at Manchester, we still do not know the answer to this two-part question: is poverty more chronic in conflict affected areas and, if it is, does aid have any comparative advantage in springing the trap? We need more research in these areas to inform policy in the next 2-3 years.

4. If Obama is going to do anything on aid, it will be in 2011. The jury is still out on Obama’s impact on international development (see earlier blog). Any legislative accomplishments will have to take place pre-summer 2011 because after labor day 2011 it will be all 2012 presidential elections, all the time. Given this small window, I’m not optimistic.

5. DFID’s mission will be enhanced by the transparency agenda, but there will be bumps. In the short term DFID will be bracing itself for the government-wide release of expenses, receipts, purchases etc. It may miss the worst given that it is one of the smallest ministries. On the other hand it is the only one with an increasing budget. But in the medium term I believe the boost that transparency gives to the accountability agenda outweighs worries about the burying of bad news and honest critique.

6. “Garbage Out” will increasingly be too high a price to pay for “Garbage In”. We cannot measure global hunger accurately. We cannot agree on the poverty rate in India. We use 118 real data points to generate over a 1000 poverty data points in African countries. We have surprisingly few measures of national inequality. The existence of chronic poverty data is the exception rather than the rule. Our 21st century efforts to accelerate progress towards the MDGs rests on an information infrastructure that is vintage 1970s. As our world speeds up, we increasingly need rapid and accurate data upon which to formulate responses. Fortunately in this case, our new information and communication technologies have made us less prepared to wait for this data. This may be the greatest leapfrogging feat of the new IT—to bypass old data systems and vested interests and start from scratch.

7. Just nudge it—thinking behind the design of prompts, cues, frames, and defaults will be increasingly influential in development. In 2011 UK cash machines will prompt us to give to charity and pornography on the Internet will switch from opt out to opt in. These are classic Sunstein and Thaler strategies, and it will be interesting to see how these new approaches play out in the development world. One change that is already taking place is the measurement of commitment to avoid catastrophe (e.g. commitment indices) rather than just the measurement of commitment to respond to it (e.g. tallies of relief resources).

8. Just blog it—blogs will become less (and more) important in development. Blogs such as this one (from the UK, from a professional “expert”) will become less important (if important at all!). Their growth is exponential and they are all drawing on similar sets of information and experiences. Blogs from around the world, which are more grounded in development realities will become more important, and even more so if we can find ways to link up the older and newer blogs to create fuller pictures of the global zeitgeist on development.

9. New ways of doing social science will begin to emerge. The global spread of computing power and internet access has transformed some types of hard science. Will we see the same thing in the social sciences? Probably not in the same "brute force" way as hard science, but I think we will see new ways of co-constructing knowledge that is both grounded and rounded begin to pop up.

10. Evidence driven policymaking: drivers will not automatically emerge. Many have concerns about how the impact agenda will be implemented, but most people agree that if done in a issue-driven pluralistic way, it will, on balance, be a good thing. But evidence of impact is one thing. It is quite another thing for the incentives to use that evidence to be working within development organizations. This is the missing part of the evidence based policymaking agenda, and I hope (rather than expect) organizations to take a long hard look at how they measure and reward the performance of their existing staff and how they recruit new staff. As we all know, the organizational change that follows the policy change is the hardest part.