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Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Three reasons investors are beginning to take sustainability seriously
The Guardian
Most of the ingredients for a healthy, secure, and fulfilling existence come to us from nature. Food, clean water, pollination, and natural hazard protection are all essential goods and services that underpin our economy and secure our wellbeing. But business models that exploit these benefits unsustainably are intensifying pressure on our planet's natural resources, putting their future – and ours – in jeopardy. How can we relieve this pressure before it is too late? As a first step, we need to recognise that rapidly declining natural systems are bad news for business. There is a two-way street between the economy and the environment: businesses damage the environment, and the damaged environment then creates risks to the bottom lines of businesses. But why should members of the investment community care?

Does transparency improve governance? Reviewing evidence from 16 experimental evaluations
Journalist's Resource- Harvard Kennedy School
The idea that transparency can make institutions more effective and provide greater accountability and better results for the public seems uncontroversial on the surface. But scholars and bureaucrats who have been involved in the wave of transparency initiatives over the past decade continue to debate the particular merits of various approaches. Some commentators have been troubled that as a reaction to scrutiny, malfeasance and inefficiency could increasingly be kept hidden and transparency could erode public trust in institutions and personal privacy. The many types of transparency initiatives around the globe are often confused, making sharp distinctions all the more essential.

U.N.'s Ambitious New Development Goals Could Fall Flat
Al Jazeera America
United Nations bureaucrats work hard to ease the woes of the world. Apart from war, they also tackle poverty, climate change, inequality, joblessness, weak governance, discrimination, shabby schools and crumbling hospitals. Ambitious U.N. targets for addressing these woes are being drafted and are expected to be called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) when they are signed by world leaders in New York in September 2015. The SDGs will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the poverty-reduction targets that reach their deadline next year after 15 years in place. Like all examples of U.N. idealism, the initiative looks good on paper. The problem is not that the new goals are too ambitious but that the world cannot handle watching another round of important multilateral negotiations do a belly flop.

World Hunger Day: can Twitter end world hunger?
The Guardian
One eighth of the world's population - 842 million people - are currently living on less than 80p a day. Wednesday is World Hunger Day, and to raise awareness of the scale of the issue, once again the Global Poverty Project have challenged fundraisers to live on £1 a day for five days in their #BelowTheLine campaign. Many charities have promoted the initiative by tweeting and posting images of their meals on instagram. However, with social media increasingly becoming an integral part of campaigns, how useful is it as a tool for change? Can tweets and facebook "likes" help end world hunger?

Interactive Map: Africa’s mixed progress on water and sanitation access
If all goes according to plan, every person in the world will have access to clean water and sanitation by 2030. Only 30% of people living in sub-Saharan Africa have access to sanitation. Water is doing slightly better with 66% access in the region. They both have the fact that they are off track for universal access. If current trends hold, nearly 78% of people will have access to clean water and nearly 34% of people will have access to sanitation in 2030. That short of the 100% goal. A new map from the NGO WaterAid shows just how countries have been progressing on water and sanitation since 1990. They then go on to predict what will happen if the trend from the past twenty years continues for each country.

A new kind of media theory
MIT News
Unlike most people, MIT’s Fox Harrell knew what he wanted to do in life from a young age. According to Harrell, an associate professor of digital media who studies self-expression in online media and creates tools to help developers add depth to their work, the impetus for his career came from an epiphany he had one day while doing computer programming as a kid in San Diego. “You heard a lot about TV turning people into couch potatoes, so I thought, ‘Whatever comes next, I would like to be a voice for the social and ethical dimension of that form,’” Harrell says. “I couldn’t have predicted the exact form it would take, but that [moment] sparked the direction I would go in.” Or directions, since Harrell occupies an unusual spot in academic research, with an appointment in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory as well as in its program in Comparative Media Studies/Writing. In his research group, the Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory (ICE), Harrell and his students take formal analyses of thought — developed in cognitive science, psychology, sociology, and other fields — and develop computational programs that can be applied to computer games, social media, and other forms of emergent media.

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Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomite

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