LIDS Students Travel to Washington, D.C. to Discuss Careers in Development

April 9, 2014 – Daniel Holman

Last Friday, April 4, LIDS members traveled to Washington, D.C. for a day of meetings with law school alumni and others working in international development. The goal of the trip was to offer insights for students thinking about career options in development, whether as legal practitioners or in more cross-cutting roles. To provide an array of different perspectives, invited speakers included both lawyers and non-lawyers from a variety of institutions.

A first meeting with Jon Jacoby and Gawain Kripke from Oxfam and LIDS Advisory Board Member Katrin Kuhlmann of New Markets Lab offered views from the non-profit sector, with a focus on Oxfam’s work on Make Trade Fair and other campaigns aimed at channeling private sector behavior to benefit development.

At lunch, a series of meetings at Skadden LLP gave LIDS students the opportunity to hear from the firm’s D.C. Pro Bono Counsel and former Public Defender Don Salzman and Meghan Stewart, VP and Senior Counsel for LIDS/Orrick project client Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG), about working for pro bono clients on development projects. Next, Skadden Counsel and former Chief Counsel of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Sean Thornton and USAID Director of Policy and Planning Steve Feldstein spoke about their work for the U.S. government. Skadden Counsel and HLS alumnus Jorge Kamine, Associates and HLS alumni Tyler Rosen and Jennifer Golden, and Associate Lauren Gaffney also participated.

Finally, the group met with 11 attorneys from the World Bank Legal Vice Presidency, led by Chief Counsel for Operations Policy and HLS alumnus Ferenc Molnar. The group shared stories from their careers advising the Bank on every aspect of its operations, from project frameworks to rule of law and regulatory issues. Students concluded the day with a happy hour in central DC that was attended by a number of HLS alumni in DC, including LIDS co-founder Alastair Green and members of the new Law and International Development Society at Georgetown Law Center.

LIDS wishes to thank Oxfam America and the World Bank for hosting meetings and LIDS 2013-2014 sponsor Skadden LLP for hosting and providing lunch and coffee. LIDS members attending included HLS JD students Kamola Kobildjanova and Marian Grove, HLS LLM students Amrita Khemka, Valeria Guimaraes de Lima e Silva and Anna Chuwen Dai, HLS JD/Fletcher MALD student Jacob Kuipers, HKS MA student Bevan Narinesingh, and LIDS Executive Board Members Becky Wolozin, Raj Banerjee, Maryum Jordan and Daniel Holman.

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Nature, Wealth, & Power: USAID makes a bid for global domination

Feb. 4, 2014 – Hilary O. Faxon

Nature, Wealth, & Power 2.0” might just be the sexiest title ever used by the U.S. Federal Government. It also happens to contain sound development guidance. The new USAID publication lays out a conceptual framework for integrating governance, economic, and environmental considerations into development programs, promoting a systems approach that transcends disciplinary boundaries.

Each section – “Nature,” “Wealth,” “Power,” and “Systems” – explores core principles and actions to guide diverse development projects. The publication draws from field experiences of a decade of projects, incorporating case studies and expanding from the 2002 NWP1. The result is a relatively straightforward report that not only promotes and illustrates the concept, but also provides guidelines to make it operational. Agronomists, conservationists, economists, anthropologists, attorneys, and development practitioners alike can find their spot on the best venn diagram since 5th grade.

When looking at development processes, “cause and effect often fall in different sectors,” said Asif Shaikh, Senior Advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies and an author behind NWP1. The original team began work with the observation that many of the world’s disenfranchised people are linked with environmental degradation; eventually they came to see nature, wealth, and power as inextricably and inevitably linked. At NWP2.0’s launch event last week in Washington, D.C., Shaikh remembered explaining the concept to a local government leader in West Africa, who immediately responded, “Of course: the people need the power to manage the resources to create the wealth.”

The power of these linkages is demonstrated in the so-called “global land grab,” an uptick in corporate and federal usurpation of local land rights. In Myanmar, the recent influx of Foreign Direct Investment for mega-agriculture plantations and energy projects in a context of weak governance and ethnic strife has led to mass displacement. In Honduras, drug trafficking and desperate poverty in the absence of rule of law, education, and economic opportunity feed forest degradation. These complex cases only begin to unravel with understanding of global markets, domestic laws and institutions, and the characteristics of local land use and natural resources.

The NWP ideas are not new, but they are important to comprehensively and officially state (practice does not always follow principles, and major development donors have been guilty of neglecting or blatantly disregarding social and environmental safeguards). In sticking close to tried-and-true development success stories – pastoralists conserve Kenya; community forests empower Nepalis – the publication misses an opportunity to apply the NWP framework to critical issues including health, infrastructure, and cities – the last is especially critical as the global population tips towards majority urban. Still, a more proactive and sophisticated understanding of social and environmental systems from an aid organization is a step in the right direction, and an especially big step given USAID’s proposed 2014 budget of $20.4 billion. NWP has grown from niche idea to compelling theory; if it can become the foundation of standard development practice, the planet and its poor will be better for it.

Credit for image: here.