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November + December

Welcome to the November + December 2021 research newsletter from the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. We hope you are all well and keeping safe.

This bi-monthly newsletter gives subscribers the usual run-down of news and updates from research programmes in the Department. It also includes sub-sections for events, podcasts, blogs as well as recent publications, reports and books. 

Please send any comments to


LSE ID responds to COP26

The LSE ID Community has been closely following the COP26 negotiations. Our community has responded in the following ways: 

Update from Professor Ken Shadlen

Professor Shadlen gave a presentation on “COVID-19 Vaccine Production in Latin America: Assessing the Landscape” at a conference organized by Georgetown University and the Hong Kong University, Intellectual Property, COVID-19, and the Next Pandemic: Diagnosing Problems, Developing Cures (November 5-6, 2021).

He also gave the keynote address (“Secondary Patents in Pharmaceuticals: Responding to the Challenges”) at an online “Dialogue Exchange Session between IP offices,” organised by the South Centre, on Thursday 25 November. Participants in the event included patent examiners and patent office officials from 8 countries (Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Egypt, Peru, Malaysia, South Africa).

Finally, as part of an initiative called the “South-North Dialogues on Democracy, Development and Sustainability,” led by a team of Brazilian academics, Zé Guedes Pinto (a professor at the Federal University of the ABC region in Sao Paulo, and visitor to LSE ID in the 2017-18 academic year) and Professor Shadlen discussed various issues around the COVID-19 pandemic and intellectual property rights. The video of their Dialogue is available here. More information on the project, and links to all of the Dialogues can be found here.

Professor Naila Kabeer on Randomised Control Trials

In a recent article for Research Outreach, Professor Naila Kebeer highlights issues with Randomised Control Trials (RCTs), including their failure to take account of history, context, or relevant findings, and questions their wide use in development planning. Professor Kabeer further discusses how the overfocus on RCT methods has led to important findings in relation to gender equality being dismissed. 

Mark Lowcock on What Next for IDA? and Humanitarian Challenges in 2022

LSE ID Professor in Practice, Mark Lowcock, contributed to the Centre for Global Development blog with two articles: the first looking at the the future of the International Development Association; and the second predicted the challenges humanitarian agencies will face in 2022. 

Mark served as the Permanent Secretary for the Department for International Development between 9 June 2011 and 7 July 2017, and, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator between 2017 and 2021. He is now Professor in Practice in the Department of International Development at LSE. 

The Routledge Handbook of Smuggling, available as Open Access

LSE ID PhD Alums, Florian Weigand and Max Gallien, collaborated in editing The Routledge Handbook of Smuggling, which has also been made available as Open Access. The volume offers a comprehensive survey of interdisciplinary research related to smuggling, reflecting on key themes, and charting current and future trends. Bringing together established and emerging scholars from around the world, The Routledge Handbook of Smuggling is an indispensable resource for students and researchers of conflict studies, borderland studies, criminology, political science, global development, anthropology, sociology, and geography.


Podcast highlights from the Department:

Cutting Edge Issues Podcast Series 

You can now listen to the latest Cutting Edge Issues in Development Thinking & Practice lectures via all major streaming platforms.

The Cutting Edge Issues is an annual visiting lecture series coordinated by Dr Duncan Green, Professor in Practice in the Department, and Professor James Putzel, Professor of Development Studies. These talks provide students and guests with invaluable insights into the practical world of international development, with guest lecturers from different development organisations and research institutes sharing their expertise and inviting discussion on an exciting range of issues, from responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, to climate change policy, to decolonising academia. 

Listen and subscribe to the series on: AppleSpotifyGoogle and Amazon.  

Upcoming events

In light of coronavirus, all department events have moved online. For updates, please check our events page. You can also check out our recordings from past events.
Outcomes of COP26 and where next on Climate?
Friday 21 January 2022, 4-6pm | Online event
Speakers: Tasneem Essop and Tim Gore
Chair: Dr Duncan Green

Human rights organizing in Africa during a global pandemic: Trends and Insights
Friday 28 January 2022, 4-6pm | Online event
Speakers: Irungu Houghton and Chaloka Beyani
Chair: Dr Duncan Green

Peacebuilding in Today’s World
Friday 4 February 2022, 4-6pm | Online event
Speakers: Lise Grande and David Keen
Chair: Professor James Putzel

How China Escaped Shock Therapy: The Market Reform Debate
Friday 11 February 2022, 4-6pm | Online event
Speakers: Isabella Weber and Andrew Fischer
Chair: Professor James Putzel

Covid19 crisis and de-development in Palestine
Friday 18 February 2022, 4-6pm | Online event
Speakers: Rafeef Ziadah and Mark Ayyash
Chair: Professor James Putzel

Trust: the key to social cohesion and growth in Latin America and the Caribbean
Monday 28 March 2022, 4.30pm - 6pm | Online event 
Speakers: Philip Keefer, Professor Aldo Madariaga and Dr Erin McFee
Chair: Professor Jean-Paul Faguet


Highlights from the International Development at LSE Blog

The 2022 World Inequality Report: Does it sufficiently address finance?
PhD candidate in the Department of International Development Jorich Johann Loubser analyzes the 2022 World Inequality Report, recently published by the World Inequality Lab, and asks whether implementing tax reforms without curbing rampant financialization can tackle global inequality.

Time for a minimum wage mandate in Saudi Arabia?
PhD student in LSE Department of Government Meshal Abdulaziz Alkhowaiter draws from recent data sets to argue that introducing a private sector minimum wage in Saudi Arabia would significantly reduce income inequality and unemployment.

What Next for IDA?
Professor in Practice in LSE Department of International Development Mark Lowcock and Research Assistant with the Center for Global Development Bernat Adrogué look at the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) in advance of IDA20 which will aim to support countries to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and to transition to green energy. 

World economy: The sky darkens once again?
MSc Development Studies alumna Shreya Gulati and co-author Anand B. examine three recent events affecting global markets – the Chinese Evergrande crisis, supply chain disruptions and rising inflation – with potential to contribute to a global financial crisis in the near future.

Nature-Based Solutions in Brazil – Dismantling environmental institutions and privatising forest protection
In response to articles by Kathy Hochstetler and Tim Forsyth on COP26,  PhD candidate Claudia Horn writes on the role of Brazil and nature-based solutions in current climate negotiations as COP26 continues. This article is part of a series on the ID blog, ‘COP26: Climate accountability‘. 

Nature-based solutions to climate change need more critical scrutiny
As COP26 continues in Glasgow, Professor of Environment and Development Tim Forsyth writes on the use of nature-based solutions and what they mean for climate change objectives.  Tim Forsyth was a specialist adviser to the UK Parliament International Development Committee for inquiries on international development around COP26. This article is part of a series on the ID blog, ‘COP26: Climate accountability‘.

After COP26: From global negotiations to meaningful action through climate institutions
As COP26 kicks off in Glasgow, Professor and Head of the Department of International Development Kathy Hochstetler writes on the challenges of implementing global climate targets and the role climate institutions have to play in effecting real change. This article is linked to an article co-authored by Professor Kathy Hochstetler, National climate institutions complement targets and policies. The paper will be presented at COP26 and will be covered in the next IPCC Report, out in the winter. This article is part of a series on the ID blog, ‘COP26: Climate accountability‘. 


Highlights from the latest publications and working papers from the Department. You can view the full list here


Britain as a Force for Good: An Essay Collection

Mark Lowcock,
International Rescue Committee (2021)

The International Rescue Committee and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a renowned defence and security think tank, have joined forces to publish this new essay collection. It provides tangible propositions for how the UK can be a progressive force for good on the international stage. The collection explores ways in which the UK can tackle global challenges and deliver on its ‘Global Britain’ ambition across a range of areas including climate, global health, foreign policy, science and technology. Each essay offers a tangible way forward, to ensure the UK’s foreign policy can deliver for people in the country and across the globe.


The Incoherence of Institutional Reform: Decentralization as a Structural Solution to Immediate Political Needs

Jean-Paul Faguet & Mahvish Shami 
Studies in Comparative International Development (2021)

Institutional reforms are structural changes in the rules and norms of authority, with effects that are long-term and unpredictable on government, politics, and society. But leaders may undertake them to solve unrelated, discrete, short-term political problems. Understanding the latter is key to understanding the characteristics of many real reforms, and hence their fate. We introduce the concept of instrumental incoherence and use it to construct a theory of decentralization where reform is motivated by orthogonal objectives. We show that reformers’ incentives map onto the specifics of reform design via their side effects, not their main effects, which in turn lead to the medium- and long-term consequences eventually realized. We characterize downwardly accountable decentralization, which ties the hands of the center to empower local voters, vs. upwardly accountable decentralization, which ties the hands of local government to empower the center. We use these ideas to explain highly divergent outcomes in two extreme cases, Bolivia and Pakistan, using detailed, original evidence. Our analysis likely extends to a broader class of reforms where the incentives of agents pursuing a change, and the effects of that change, are highly asymmetric in time and dimension.


National climate institutions complement targets and policies

Kathryn Hochstetler
Science (2021)

Discussions about climate mitigation tend to focus on the ambition of emission reduction targets or the prevalence, design, and stringency of climate policies. However, targets are more likely to translate to near-term action when backed by institutional machinery that guides policy development and implementation. Institutions also mediate the political interests that are often barriers to implementing targets and policies. Yet the study of domestic climate institutions is in its infancy, compared with the study of targets and policies. Existing governance literatures document the spread of climate laws (1, 2) and how climate policy-making depends on domestic political institutions (3–5). Yet these literatures shed less light on how states organize themselves internally to address climate change. To address this question, drawing on empirical case material summarized in table S1, we propose a systematic framework for the study of climate institutions. We lay out definitional categories for climate institutions, analyze how states address three core climate governance challenges—coordination, building consensus, and strategy development—and draw attention to how institutions and national political contexts influence and shape each other. Acontextual “best practice” notions of climate institutions are less useful than an understanding of how institutions evolve over time through interaction with national politics.


Institutionalising decarbonisation in South Africa: navigating climate mitigation and socio-economic transformation

Kathryn Hochstetler
Environmental Politics (2021)

Strong climate institutional governance is necessary for countries to meet their international climate mitigation commitments. This article shows that while South Africa steadily created climate institutions up to 2011, these failed to take hold in the following years. Also, despite the systemically critical energy sector dominating the emissions profile, these climate institutions had no purchase over it. This situation is largely due to South Africa’s political economy of energy, which gave powerful actors the sustained ability to block meaningful institutionalisation of decarbonisation in the energy sector. As a result, South Africa’s climate institutions play few of the roles expected for successful institutionalization of climate action, with energy institutions instead playing a shadow climate governance role. This case suggests that conceptions of climate institutional governance in countries where single sectors dominate in emissions and power must accommodate the roles of institutions affecting climate outcomes despite this not being their primary objective.


Climate institutions in Brazil: three decades of building and dismantling climate capacity

Kathryn Hochstetler
Environmental Politics (2021)

What kinds of national climate institutions can solve the governance challenges that the Paris Agreement devolves to them? This article identifies three stages of climate institutions in Brazil, a major emitter of greenhouse gases through deforestation that managed to reduce such emissions for nearly a decade. It shows that a narrow definition of climate institutions that seeks purpose-built state institutions fails to capture important dynamics there, and that such institutions have little direct impact on outcomes. In Brazil’s political landscape, national presidents exercise a decisive influence on their climate ambitions and capacities. However, positive and negative feedback loops also brought some effective climate action from the layering of climate purposes into existing institutions, as well as through non-traditional institutions like private governance arrangements for agriculture.


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