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Read the latest International Development study and training news. This news section covers study and training news, as well as more practice oriented news items. If you have an announcement to make or would like to post a news story, please feel free to send it to us at: TheEditors@Studying-Development.org.
News and Views
Corporate social opportunity – Taking ethical risks to market
Practice News
Contributed by David Grayson and Adrian Hodges   
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Growing numbers of companies are seeing opportunities in meeting social and environmental needs, but business as a whole is not moving fast enough, say David Grayson and Adrian Hodges

Global revolutions in technology, markets, demographics and values are giving companies a whole new set of issues that they have to manage urgently.

These issues include the environment, human rights, diversity, health, work-life balance and the community. Historically, these have been regarded as “soft issues”, but they have become “hard” for business: hard to ignore, hard to manage, and very hard for the businesses that get them wrong.

We first marked this trend in our book Everybody’s Business: Managing Risks and Opportunities in Today’s Global Society, in 2001. Three years later, in Corporate Social Opportunity, we further developed our argument that, handled correctly, these issues need not just be about minimising risk, but could become a source of new marketplace insight and a stimulus to innovation. We always saw corporate social opportunity as being a corporate mindset, as well as developments in products and services. UK fruit smoothies maker Innocent Drinks, which has made its commitment to sustainability integral to its brand identity and values, and retailer Marks & Spencer’s Plan A commitment are good examples of what corporate thinking for sustainability can achieve.

Read the full article: Corporate social opportunity – Taking ethical risks to market

Searching for a new world order in Davos
Practice News
Contributed by Independent Online, South Africa   
Friday, 25 January 2008

Davos, Switzerland - The spectacular rise of China and India coupled with a decline in US influence has prompted heated debate in Davos this year over possible scenarios for a new world order.

While the United States remains the undisputed military superpower, experts participating in the annual gathering of the world's political and business elite have highlighted its waning ability to set the global agenda on its own.

And with the UN Security Council struggling to provide a consensus on just about any major issue, the question of what nation, group of nations or international institution could command a leading role on the future world stage was floated to a widely varying response.

The only real point of agreement was that the current fluidity in the balance of world power carries a serious threat of instability and conflict, as well as concerns over how to build an effective international response to extreme abuses of power such as acts of genocide or ethnic cleansing.

"We don't live in a multi-polar world, we live in a non-polar world," said John Chipman, director general of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Read the full article: Searching for a new world order in Davos

UN chief moving `at full speed' on food crisis
Practice News
Contributed by Associated Press   
Friday, 25 January 2008
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday he is moving "at full speed" pushing efforts to tackle the world food crisis.

Ban said he will hold the first meeting of his recently formed United Nations task force on food next Monday.

He also said he is sending invitations to all world leaders to join him at a high-level meeting to work out a strategy for addressing food shortages and soaring prices. The conference, organized by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, will be June 3-5 in Rome.

"This crisis did not come out of the blue," Ban told reporters. "It grew out of more than a decade of neglect and ineffective development policies. We need a new start."

While there have been "promising steps" in recent days to deal with emergency food needs, the entire U.N. system needs to lead and act together "to boost agricultural development, particularly in Africa and other regions most affected," he said.

The secretary-general said he is urging government leaders not to adopt measures that distort international trade in food and push up prices. He also called for immediate action to get seeds and fertilizer to small farmers.

Ban was asked about criticism from President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, who urged the U.N. on Sunday to dismantle the FAO, calling it an ineffective money-eater that he blamed for most of the current food crisis.

While expressing sympathy for the frustrations of Wade and other African leaders, Ban defended the FAO, saying the agency has led international efforts since 1945 to promote agricultural productivity and humanitarian assistance to people affected by food shortages.

Read the full article: UN chief says he is moving `at full speed' on food crisis

So you want to work in the voluntary sector?
Practice News
Contributed by Debbie Andalo, The Guardian, UK   
Sunday, 04 November 2007
Debbie Andalo looks at career options in the voluntary sector

One in 50 employees in the UK works in the voluntary sector which offers more than 600,000 job opportunities, according to latest figures from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

But despite these statistics, which reflect how popular the not-for-profit sector is as a career destination, it is notoriously difficult to break into. Job vacancies, especially those based overseas in international development or humanitarian work, will often demand experience so it can appear a closed shop to those who want to work for a voluntary organisation.

Charities, and those responsible for its workforce development, are increasingly taking the initiative themselves in creating new routes into employment. Working for a Charity the organisation devoted to meeting the skill needs of the sector, launched its first online training course last year. Called Effective Voluntary Sector Management, it runs for 12 months and is aimed at new recruits, those keen to work for a charity and career changers. Working for a Charity's manager, Elaine Smethurst, says: "We believe the demand is out there for this course. One of its joys is that if we have enough notice we can expand it, as it would only require us recruiting additional online tutors."

The online course, which begins every February, is in addition to three other established face-to-face courses that the organisation runs, which have attracted more than 2,000 students since 1990. The two-evening introductory course offers a brief outline of the sector and job opportunities, while the foundation course provides seven days of seminars and a 20-day charity work placement. The three-day executive programme targets people keen to move into the sector but who have inflexible full-time work commitments.

Read the full article: So you want to work in the voluntary sector?

How volunteering at Unesco changes lives
Training News
Contributed by Melinda Sung, The Nation, Thailand   
Sunday, 04 November 2007
In international organisations such as Unesco, interns are welcome to work alongside staff on development programmes and special projects. And, fortunately for the agency, many young people are willing to do just that, offering their time in exchange for experience. So, what drives this motivation, and what challenges and lessons are learned along the way?

Unpaid labour makes up a relatively sizeable part of the workforce at Unesco's Bangkok branch. At any one time, there are usually 15 to 30 young people volunteering for anything between a month and a whole year.

Apart from interns, there are other classified volunteers as well. Mostly female, they come in all ages, though most average in their late 20s, with a wide range of experience, educational backgrounds and nationalities, mainly Europe, North America and developed Asian nations like Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. Unesco's director Sheldon Shaeffer hopes to see more interns from Southeast Asia, especially Thailand.

To be eligible, interns should be enrolled in university and be able to volunteer a maximum of six months. Although they receive no stipend, Unesco internships are well regarded by young people seeking international careers. The process for many begins at www.unescobkk.org/index.php?id=2703.

However, opportunities as great as this come at a price with many volunteers learning unexpected lessons.

For starters, the work can be intense with volunteers investing both passion and energy to contribute to Unesco's mission. Just like paid staff, they find themselves working long hours in order to maximise success. The key motivational factor for volunteers is their sense of achievement and contribution to a great cause.

When asked about the biggest challenges, financial concerns and disappointment rank highly. All agree that longer stays amount to a better, more satisfying experience, as it takes time to get to know a project well. But long stints as a volunteer don't come easy or cheap. Apart from the cost of flying to Thailand, expenses include accommodation, food, a laptop, visas and even transport to and from work-related events, such as meetings and conferences, even when outside of Thailand.

Feeling unappreciated in the rush to get things done also affects motivation, though some volunteers feel more frustrated than others. "We don't expect payment, but more appreciation would be nice," one volunteer said. Being at the bottom of the hierarchy where credit for good work can be overlooked may result in diminishing enthusiasm, and enthusiasm is a volunteer's most essential attribute.

Read the full article: How volunteering at Unesco changes lives

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