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This week’s front page editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Read openDemocracy author, Michael Edwards' blogs from the Manchester conference - the latest contributions to an ongoing discussion in the run-up to the UN's MDG Summit in New York. The UN General Assembly is reviewing the Millennium Development Goals. It will:

- bring together the world’s leading poverty researchers, policymakers, activists and practitioners;

- analyse the successes and failures of the first decade of concerted global efforts to eradicate poverty;

- set out practical proposals for reducing poverty in the next ten years

Follow the blog on Twitter@edwarmi

The struggle of dairy farmers gives us an opportunity to democratise our world's food system

Governments are pursuing trade policies that harm workers and serve multinationals. Last summer's European dairy farmer uprising shows how farmers and food system workers can unite and fight back.

Will the poor always be with us?

Well, that’s it for the Manchester conference and this is the last blog I’m going to write. The last soggy vegetables have been cleared away from the tables, and I’m not referring to the academics who took part. British institutional food is a wonder to behold and a nightmare to digest, as a leading Indian poverty researcher complained to me over lunch earlier today: “rice - this is rice?” Or it could have been the carrot cake, or even mashed potato... Read on

Reducing Global Poverty - Back to the Future?

When I was a PhD student in the late 1970s I was taught that there was no one route to poverty-reduction, but that since some countries had already reduced poverty pretty well we should learn from their experience. Not exactly rocket science is it? Read on...

Policies or politics for the poorest?

It’s day two of the Manchester conference, and yes, it is still gray and rainy, the natural camouflage of this city that it wears to disguise its charms. The focus has turned to how poverty can be reduced, especially what the academics call “chronic” poverty which affects at least half-a-billion of the world’s poorest people on an “enduring and persistent basis.” Read on...

Moving beyond the Millennium Development Goals: A more honest conversation?

It is critically important that the heads of state attending the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit consider the best way to support the complex and difficult process of making sustainable human progress in poorer countries. Those working within the development sector who know that the current paradigm is inadequate must take the initiative within their sphere of influence to create a kind of movement for change together that is both principled and politically expedient

Is world poverty declining and if so why?

Is world poverty declining and if so why? It’s a deceptively simple question with no straightforward answers, as keynote presenters Joe Stiglitz and David Hulme confirmed at this morning’s opening session (well, it is an academic conference so what did you expect?) Read on...

Ten Years of War Against Poverty: What Have We Learned?

Michael Edwards says welcome to Manchester

Ten years of war against poverty - what have we learned? That’s the question that brings 500-or-so scholars and activists to Manchester this week to debate the causes of, and remedies for, global poverty, and I’ll be blogging from the conference on openDemocracy for the next three days. Coming just a fortnight before the UN General Assembly meets for its own review of the Millennium Development Goals, the Manchester conference provides a less official, and hopefully more self-critical, opportunity to discuss what has gone well and not-so-well in the first decade of concerted efforts to eradicate extreme poverty worldwide.

Read on

Is aid working? Is this the right question to be asking?

“Is it working?” is the question most commonly asked of aid. In response, aid agencies feed the public a diet of overwhelmingly “good news stories” to convince them that it is working. This diverts attention from the central question: how to reduce the major gap between what aid currently does and what it could achieve. How donors provide aid is a major cause of aid’s current ineffectiveness.

Aid pessimism: myth and reality

Aid commitments should be met not despite but because of the current financial crisis, and aid allocations prioritised for the poorest, and most vulnerable countries - are among the recommendations in this reply to Phil Vernon.

Four immediate responses to Phil Vernon

Phil Vernon asks if overseas development aid is working. This is a good moment, he argues, to take a step back and ask ourselves whether we would call today’s aid policy and practise successful in providing sufficient impetus to overcome the strong forces worldwide that keep people poor. Four immediate replies…

Overseas development aid: is it working?

This is a good moment for taking a step back and asking ourselves whether we would call today’s overseas development aid policy and practise successful – successful, that is, in providing sufficient impetus to overcome the strong forces worldwide that keep people poor
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