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Wednesday, 18 July

06:00

Securing the potential and wellbeing of the blue Pacific Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

Effective regional security underpins the vision outlined in the theme for this years Pacific Islands Forum  Building a Strong Pacific: Our People, Our Islands, Our Will. The security of our people and their environment is crucial for sustainable growth and development, and the way we organise ourselves to protect and nurture our blue continent must be something we decide for ourselves.

Securing the wellbeing and potential of the blue Pacific is at the centre of the Forum agenda, said Forum Chair and Prime Minister of Samoa, the Hon. Tuilaepa Malielegaoi at the Korea-Pacific Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting in Seoul last December. Protecting the blue Pacific will require a collective security architecture that recognises, promotes and provides security in the broadest sense of the term. There is commitment to working together to ensure the security of our shared ocean geography, resources and ecosystems therein, from unsustainable exploitation and illegal activities, including illegal fishing and transnational crime.

This is a time of profound change; and this change is taking place at an unprecedented pace. Geo-strategic competition between major world powers has once again made our region a place of renewed interest and strategic importance. Climate change increasingly affects our people in a variety of ways including increased severe weather events, scarcity of food and water, and displaced communities. Information and communication technologies (ICT) are burgeoning, and with them issues relating to cyber security and cyber enabled crime.

Within this context, at the Forum Leaders meeting in Apia last year, Leaders directed the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to engage in consultations to refresh our existing security arrangements to meet the regions current and future security challenges. Forum Leaders saw the need to expand and strengthen collective action for regional security inclusive of human security, humanitarian assistance, prioritising environmental security and building resilience to impacts of natural disasters and climate change.

As a result, the Forum Secretariat has been working on a declaration which is currently dubbed Biketawa Plus and will be discussed by Forum Leaders when they meet in Nauru in September. The Biketawa Plus is an opportunity to build off the Biketawa Declaration and other existing security declarations for strategic responses to security issues and determine what the regions priorities and interests will be into the future.

In opening a recent Forum Members security meeting, Fijis Minister of Defence and National Security, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, said At the heart of all this is ensuring that this new declaration will enable us to work better collectively to forge a secure and stable environment that will enable all our Pacific peoples to live free and worthwhile lives.

Biketawa Plus should be ab...

04:17

The ingredients of timely investigative journalism "IndyWatch Feed Politics.au"

Richard Keeble is one of Britains leading journalism academics and hes taught at the University of Lincoln for many years. Author of seminal books on reporting, his latest, just released work is co-edited with John Mair and its called, Investigative Journalism Today: Speaking Truth to Power. It features a range of writers exploring the importance of investigative work from the English and non-English speaking world:

Rumours of the death of investigative journalism have been greatly exaggerated. This book is proof enough of that. Examples from the corporate and alternative media across the globe highlight the many imaginative and courageous ways that reporters are still kicking at the right targets.

Im honoured that Keebles chapter positively interrogates my work, especially around disaster capitalism, and hes allowed me to post it here: keebleloewensteinchapter

From the introduction:

Antony Loewenstein is an Australian investigative reporter, freelance author, photographer, blogger and campaigner. He has written for a wide range of publications both mainstream and alternative such as the Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, Green Left Weekly, New Matilda and Counterpunch. His books include My Israel Question (2006) and The Blogging Revolution (2008 and 2011). His 2010 ABC Radio National feature documentary, A Different Kind of Jew, was a finalist in the UN Media Peace Awards. And his book, Profits of Doom: How Vulture Capitalism Swallowing the World (2013) has been followed up with a documentary film, Disaster Capitalism, about aid, development and politics in Afghanistan, Haiti and Papua New Guinea.

Profits of Doom also serves as a useful case study to examine Loewensteins investigative strategy in more detail. As this chapter will argue, Loewenstein draws creatively from a wide range of genres peace journalism, investigative reporting, literary, long-form journalism, counter journalism and activist reporting making his reportage both important and original. In particular, the study will focus on his investigative techniques, his ideological/political attitude and his distinctive investigative writing style.

Tuesday, 17 July

06:00

Aid coordination: its all about keeping up with the Kardashians Devpolicy Blog from the Development Policy Centre

Recently I was asked to participate in the Great Debate, an academics versus students comedy debate that is part of ANU Asia Pacific Week, on the topic of Does foreign aid do more harm than good. Myself and the other academics were on the negative team, and managed to keep the crowd on side (who were already supportive of aid at the beginning).

The students put forward some good arguments, particularly around the colonial history of aid, some of the failures of aid, the changes brought forth from non-aid economic growth and technological advancement. But one thing that really stood out, and that stands out time and time again when seeking to explain foreign aid to groups of people with limited knowledge of it even those who maybe have done a development studies class or two is that people dont really understand how aid gets from the developed country to the developing one.

There seems to be a popular misconception that aid is simply a transaction between two countries. That on 1 July each year, Australia opens its internet banking app, flicks Papua New Guinea half a billion bucks and just writes in the transfer description Frm Oz plz spend on health n ed.

This misconception is problematic for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it fuels the idea that aid is just handed over to corrupt governments or dictators without any degree of accountability. Second, it doesnt give a clear sense that there are rules around what aid can and cant be spent on. And third, it really understates the complexity of the global aid system, which leads to sweeping generalisations about everything when one thing goes wrong.

So my goal in the debate was to try to get across the complexity of aid, especially to explain why some project failures dont mean that most aid is causing harm.

I started thinking of ways to describe the range of actors involved in the aid space. Having recently returned from a family funeral that has its own coordination challenges, an extended family immediately came to mind. And the worlds most famous extended family are no doubt the Kardashians.

So, imagine you are in a country called Calabasas, and every Kardashian-Jenner is an aid project. This is what youd be faced with (Ive added some Kardashian kontext for those who might not have been keeping up lately).

Kris Jenner (Kardashian-Jenner matriarch and momager extraordinaire) A very tightly run managing contractor (some might say micromanaged) that delivers results to its beneficiaries, even if the social benefit of its projects is questioned by some. The country government wasnt involved in their project design process but has just had to go along for the ride. Agenc...

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