How the other half live

mumbai
Mumbai, India

One of the exciting things about the current sustainable development goals (SDGs), agreed last year by governments, UN and citizens, is that they really are global – they apply to the rich world as well.

It seems obvious now. But the SDGs’ predecessors (agreed in 2000) were focused on the developing world, aiming to push them towards certain benchmarks of progress: primary education enrolment, maternal health, daily income, and so on.

It was us and them, and responsibilities were divided according to which half of the world you inhabited. Rich country governments: cough up the cash and make sure your taxpayers see that their aid is working. Poor country governments: introduce policies, enforce laws, make wise investments.

The SDGs, however, recognise that rich countries fall far short on many standards of sustainability — meaning they have to do some of the ‘doing’ as well. Continue reading “How the other half live”

Social enterprise: halfway to mainstream?

The UK arguably leads the world in its support for social enterprise – and is keen to position itself as such, from putting social investment high on the agenda of its G8 presidency in 2013 to inviting other nations to learn from what we’re doing.

I covered the latter – during a British Council-hosted visit for EU policy-makers – for the Guardian’s social enterprise hub last month, and heard how countries like Croatia, in the midst of finalising its own first social entrepreneurship, are hungry to learn from UK policy-makers’ 15 or so years’ experience in this area.

In this country, social enterprises employ over 2 million people (more than the financial and insurance industries combined!) and contribute at least £55bn to the economy; this is also birthplace of the world’s first social impact bond, an innovation that’s spreading slowly further afield. Continue reading “Social enterprise: halfway to mainstream?”