How fast is your internet? Have you ever checked around with other companies to compare their data plans? Does your home have wifi? If so, you represent the minority. In fact, out of every 100 households in LDCs (least developed countries), only seven have steady internet access. It should come as no surprise that the less integrated into the global economy a region is, the less access to reliable internet is available to its citizens. The global economic inequality has a direct effect on the unequal access to information, which contributes back to the cycle of economic hardship.
As internet connections have increased in speed and availability in developed and heavily populated regions, the sector is rapidly running out of ways to expand their market. In fact, in 2016, global internet growth was stagnant for the first time in history. The economically powerful and industrialized parts of the world are those who not only control the content on the world wide web, but they also control the entire digital marketplace. As history shows us, when a large portion of the population cannot access all relevant information, they are less capable of making the most informed decisions and thus, are more likely to be left behind. The current structure of global internet access reaffirms economic and social inequality on a tremendous scale; as those with reliable access to the internet continue to grow, those in poverty continue to lag behind economically.
This phenomenon has not gone unnoticed: some of the world’s digital giants have concluded that it is unacceptable to have so many impoverished regions excluded from the many benefits of the world wide web. Facebook has launched the internet.org project which aims to bring limited internet access to those who cannot afford mobile data plans or simply where there is no data available. With their Free Basics program, individuals are able to connect to certain websites at no cost whatsoever. These websites are selected for their importance (social media, health, employment, news, etc.) and while they may not provide access to the entirety of the internet, people are provided with the basic tools to get started on the information superhighway. In order to provide this service, Facebook has developed their own signal-emitting drone named Aquila, that can beam data to already constructed stations on the land as it circles around for up to three months at a time. Not to be outdone, Google is also pioneering their own internet program. Titled Project Loon, the high-speed internet program is powered by recyclable balloons that travel twice as high as commercial airliners and has a lifespan of 180 days. While both projects have pros and cons, they are both widely regarded as an essential first step in a long process of providing internet access to the most vulnerable populations worldwide.
In this light, as companies attempt to provide data to rural and impoverished regions, the process is fueled by capitalist and altruistic notions. Expanding into these untapped markets not only helps fuel economic growth at the top of the pyramid, it also functions as an organic income multiplier for those at the bottom. The benefit of this type of development is that the digital economy can be inclusive and sustainable if carried out properly. The entities that have decided to foster this type of internet growth should be responsible for training the previously disconnected populations on how to best use the internet to their benefit. By breaking barriers and incentivizing the usage of affordable mobile data, both corporations and the people stand to gain exponentially.
Lending a helping hand to those less fortunate is always a popular topic this time of year. But how can we support marginalized communities in a way that allows them to thrive all year around? International economic development is a fabulous sector that aims to do grassroots work alongside vulnerable populations, but many of us think that only economists can carry out such projects. From the harvesting of raw materials to exporting and importing goods to managing vast capital and financial markets, all but the most advanced experts leave scratching their heads in confusion. Nevertheless, it is crucial (especially for the altruistic folks among us) to attempt to understand the reality of international economic development and how your actions can contribute to projects all around the globe. Keep in mind that many foreign aid programs and development firms operate with a bias that does not take into account the needs and desires of the local population; filling quotas and checking boxes does little to stimulate developing economies in the long-term. As we look deeper into the realm of international development work, we must begin to address the following questions:
Can any development project be truly sustainable?
Is sustained economic growth possible without exacerbating environmental burdens?
Can international organizations and institutions work alongside international stakeholders without an unfair exchange of goods and labor?
The answers we strive for as development workers all lie within the design of the projects themselves; too often sustainability is viewed as an outcome rather than a process of collective learning and careful planning. By first integrating into a society and collaborating with local professionals, those involved with development projects can more effectively reflect the geography, economy, politics, and unique cultural characteristics of the region in which they intend to work. The most crucial element to a successful project is that the community itself recognizes the short-term benefits and agrees to maintain their collective interest in seeing through the long-term vision. When the most vulnerable populations within a community have a stake in the outcome of a project, it has better odds of succeeding. In the same manner, contemporary development work has shifted its focus toward reducing poverty among those at the lowest socioeconomic level. The general thought behind a focus on poverty reduction as opposed to wealth generation is that those who are faced with the daily challenges associated with poverty have an input in precisely which projects can directly improve their quality of life; social welfare programs have the potential to contribute to macroeconomic stability and, in turn, economic growth.
Nevertheless, a program can only truly be sustainable if the structure allows for the community to be adequately trained to carry out the project autonomously. Solid development work must contain a robust organizational strengthening component, especially if those involved are working alongside a local entity such as a cooperative or association. As the project stakeholders are better able to fine tune their operations and make them even more effective, they gain a level of independence that can radiate outward throughout their community and their region. If the goal of international economic development is to train, prepare, and instill appropriate entrepreneurial skills in vulnerable populations, then the institutions that facilitate this development must equip the member of the community to manage each aspect of the project, no matter the scope. In the hope of uniting together to support those with few economically viable opportunities, we must make sure to keep their best interest in mind with every step of the program outline. Let’s collaborate to positively impact our world!
Human civilization has never been static. The constant pursuit of economic, technological, physiological, and cultural progress has drastically changed the landscape of our planet. Nevertheless, the modern and globalized society we recognize today has a distinct beginning in the early 1800s with the Industrial Revolution. By harnessing the energy produced from the combustion of fossil fuels, humans were suddenly capable of producing goods at a much larger scale than ever before. This process coincided with the largest growth in human population in history, permitting the proliferation of dependence on the fossil fuels industry.
Fast-forward to the late 20th century. The consumption of non-renewable energy had accelerated the manufacturing capabilities of industrialized nations and the ever-growing demand for energy in the developing world was well-documented. Study after study linked the use of fossil fuels to an increasingly violent series of environmental calamities which led the delegations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to collaborate in order to protect the planet and its inhabitants from experiencing more devastating complications due to greenhouse gas emissions. The deliberations, combined with extensive research over the course of 20 years, reached its summit at the 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris (which took place in December 2015) in which the world nearly unanimously decided to coordinate their efforts to avoid contributing to climate change.
The Paris Agreement, the only globally comprehensive climate agreement of its kind, was enacted this month in order to bring a new vision for the future of energy production worldwide. The agreement aims to hold the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. As citizens around the globe continue to experience the disastrous effects of climate change, governments and world leaders have proven that they will take the challenge of safeguarding their populations seriously. Of the 193 countries that have signed the agreement, 103 have ratified the agreement through their respective legislative processes. Although the language of the agreement is explicit and comprehensive, it is quite special in that in features a “bottoms up” approach which allows for each country to select its own carbon emission goals, allowing for the plan to work well for individual nations. The structure of the agreement allows the various populations, cultures, and economies involved to find their own best way forward, while affirming the need to conserve biodiversity in both marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
Each member state is bound to limit the quantity of known extractable fossil fuels used within its borders. These restrictions are elaborated specifically to prevent irreparable damage to the planet. Globally speaking, this is represented by the majority of the known reserves remaining unburned. As a result, public and political pressure has been placed on multinational corporations to create a global marketplace for renewable energy sources. In fact, the adoption of the Paris Agreement caused a USD $3.4 trillion divestment in the fossil fuels industry, the fastest divestment movement in history. The vacuum that has been created can and should be filled with robust public and private investment in sustainable, diverse, and proactive solutions to the problems associated with climate change.
Not surprisingly, the most immediate and most threatening effects of climate change can be seen along the coastline in developing nations. Combined with shoreline erosion, water pollution, and the acidification of the oceans, the rising sea levels continue to be one of the most alarming phenomenon in a rapidly changing marine ecosystem. The global community should be compelled to explore alternative fuel sources. As wind and solar energy is proving to be costlier than previously conceived and hydropower and tidal energy are limited to specific regions, the search has commenced for new possibilities. A tremendously promising sector is the growth of aquaculture projects that allow for organic marine biomasses to be converted into energy. The biofuels derived from algae, for example, are entirely biodegradable, non-toxic, and carbon neutral. This means that the combustion of the fuel is entirely offset by the amount of carbon dioxide that is absorbed by the algae while it is growing. Many companies around the world are rushing to develop algae into a fuel source due to the fact that it is already abundant, renewable, powered by sunlight, and leaves no carbon footprint behind.
Providing developing nations with the tools necessary to elaborate successful algae farming establishes a dynamic value chain that can be beneficial to all parties involved. We have a small window of time in order to preserve the beautiful, vibrant, and flavorful planet that we were given. Together we have the unique opportunity to make a lasting change that future generations can be proud of as we move toward a more inclusive and productive future.
En el 2015 se registraron unos 3,612,964 vehículos en la capital de Santo Domingo – De acuerdo a la Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas (ONE) un 42.4% (1,517,444) se encuentran en el Distrito Nacional. El problema es que la población del mismo es solo 1,015,150 personas. De acuerdo al COP21 de Paris recientemente aprobado, los países de Latino America necesitan crear incentivos para bajar los niveles de contaminación por GEI. La pregunta se torna a como eliminar la contaminación producida por el transporte publico, en sitios donde la mayoría de la pobalcion depende de el?
Nosotros tenemos una hipotesis basado en el adaptamiento cultural como via de motivar el cambio social. Creemos que hemos identificado un buen indicador de como variar la conducta social para motivar el cambio en un segmento de nuestra sociedad.
Hasta ahora es solo un concepto, pero que piensan?