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The Global South and the return of geopolitics

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A rise in the number and scale of political tensions between countries in the Global North clearly signal the return of geopolitics; the war waged by Russia on Ukraine is a key example. But while such conflicts are widely reported on, a new geopolitics emerging in the Global South, while equally significant, is often overlooked and should be receiving more attention, writes Wil Hout, ISS Professor of Governance and International Political Economy.

Students of international relations are typically familiarised with the work of Alfred Thayer Mahan and Halford Mackinder, who both stressed the relevance of geographical dominance for great power status. Mahan focused on the role of sea power, while Mackinder’s notion of the ‘heartland’ (which referred to Eastern Europe) stressed control of land masses as a central factor for great power status. Mahan and Mackinder’s work is usually discussed to illustrate the popularity of geopolitical thinking at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.

When opening a newspaper or looking at news websites in early 2023, it is obvious that we are witnessing the return of geopolitics. In Europe, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has spurred transformations that were unimaginable since the end of the Cold War, leading amongst others to a spike in military spending, the application for NATO membership by Sweden and Finland and the granting of EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova. Relations between the US and China have soured and led to a so-called ‘chip war’. Apprehension about China’s expansion in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific, as well as about its claims to Taiwan, resulted in the completion of a US-led defensive ‘arc’ in East Asia and the establishment of the Australia-United Kingdom-United States Partnership (AUKUS) in 2021. Vulnerabilities related to the sourcing of rare earths elements have led to increased activities on the part of the US and the European Union to strengthen their position in regional value chains related to these metals.

Geopolitics and the Global South

While current news reports pay much attention to the geopolitical dimensions of great power interactions, the return of geopolitics is certainly as relevant for countries across the Global South as for those in the Global North. In many cases, the manifestations of geopolitics will differ in the Global South, and that is why it is relevant to pay specific attention to them. For reasons of space, the following paragraphs will mainly focus on Africa.

One of the most important – and by now quite well documented – developments has been the challenge to the post-World War II international or ‘liberal’ order posed by the so-called rising powers. Currently, China is seen as one of the key challengers of the principles of the liberal, multilateral order: the creation of so-called parallel institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Chang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is often seen as an attempt to provide alternative mechanisms for Western-dominated, multilateral organisations as the World Bank, IMF and NATO. Further, the Belt and Road Initiative is a Chinese attempt to forge stronger ties with countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, importantly through increased investment and the extension of loans. The rhetoric of South-South Cooperation is applied quite regularly to emphasise China’s solidarity with countries in the Global South, but many scholars have voiced criticism of China’s claim to position itself within the developing world.

Africa is an obvious target of the new geopolitics. A first sign of this is the increased diplomatic activity targeting the continent that has been visible in recent months. In December 2022, delegations from 49 African countries and the African Union were hosted by President Biden at the US-Africa Leaders Summit, at the occasion of which US Secretary of State Blinken emphasised that ‘Africa is a major geopolitical force’. In the first two months of 2023, representatives of most major powers toured the continent, with the foreign ministers of ChinaRussiaGermany and France, the US treasury secretary and the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy visiting fourteen African countries.

Will Africa benefit from the increased attention?

While former colonial powers such as France and Britain remain involved in Africa for economic and security considerations and the EU recently concluded, together with the African Union, a Joint Vision for 2030 as part of the Africa-EU Partnership, some of the rising powers have also made deliberate attempts to strengthen their foothold in the continent. With the vast majority of countries in Africa having signed a memorandum of understanding with China on the Belt and Road Initiative, China has expanded its investment in infrastructure across the continent. The Kampala-Entebbe and Nairobi Expressways, together with the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, are the most visible signs of Chinese investment in Africa. Critical voices have meanwhile criticised the Chinese presence in Africa because it has led to a new form of dependency by luring countries into a ‘debt trap’. Through the activities of the notorious Wagner Group, Russia has also been active militarily in the Central African Republic, Mali, Libya, Sudan, Mozambique and Madagascar, where they supported the incumbent regime or particular groups in exchange for mining concessions. India, as one of the champions of the Non-aligned Movement, is picturing itself as an alternative to Western and Chinese involvement and has supported, for instance, Africa’s call for a permanent seat on the UN’s Security Council, which is also referred to as the Ezulwini consensus.

External involvement in Africa is undoubtedly important, but developments in the continent also have important geopolitical dimensions. A recent report of the European Union Institute for Security Studies discusses the ‘new geopolitical frontlines’ in terms of four geographical spaces (sands, oceans, cities and peripheries) and four functional domains (trade, digital, jobs and information). It is obvious that Africa currently faces a broad array of geopolitical opportunities and challenges. Driven by Africa’s economic dynamism, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is an obvious opportunity to redraw the (regional) economic boundaries that are dividing the continent. The agreement could be a motor for economic development, by creating a larger intra-African market, and could reduce economic dependence on other parts of the world. The AfCFTA not only aims to liberalise continent-wide trade, but is also intent on establishing the free movement of persons, capital and services.

The various geopolitical spaces contain noticeable centripetal forces that may have a positive influence in the African geopolitical landscape, while certain centrifugal developments could lead to more adverse outcomes. The Sahara is both the area that connects the countries of North and sub-Saharan Africa, and a fertile ground for criminal activity, including human and drug trafficking, and the rise of transnational terrorist networks. Likewise, the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Guinea are areas of trade and military activity while they also attract groups involved in piracy and armed robbery. African cities are the hotbed of growing middle classes and economic dynamism, but they also contain the potential for political mobilisation and resistance to the dominance of political and economic elites. Finally, peripheral areas, which are distant from the political centre of the state, are vulnerable to the rise of extremist, jihadist groups.

The upcoming panel at the EADI CEsA 2023 General Conference will be a place to assess and discuss the extent to which geopolitics has returned in the Global South and what are the implications of this return. Important questions are: does heightened geopolitical struggle offer opportunities for the countries in the Global South to maintain or strengthen their political and/or economic position, are there any obvious allies for addressing geopolitical challenges, how do the countries in the Global South define their own geopolitical position, and is regional cooperation a viable instrument to counter geopolitical fallout?

This blog was first published in EADI blog.

Opinions expressed in Bliss posts reflect solely the views of the author of the post in question.

About the author:

Wil Hout is Professor of Governance and International Political Economy at the International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

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New cabinet, new direction? ‘Building blocks’ for new Dutch minister Sigrid Kaag by Linda Johnson

About the author:

DSC01062 (1)Linda Johnson is currently the Executive Secretary at ISS. She has been involved in international relations in higher education since 1988, holding a variety of posts in the field, including Head of International Office, Head of Educational Affairs, Director of an American Study Abroad Programme and Head of International Relations. She speaks and writes regularly on topics pertaining to the internationalisation of higher education and research and on diversity.

Partos* and SAIL**, two umbrella organisations for development knowledge in the Netherlands, presented a number of urgent recommendations to incoming Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag in December 2017. The two organisations hope to inform the minister’s new policy by means of a number of policy recommendations framed as ‘building blocks’. ISS, as a member of SAIL, co-created the building blocks in line with its vision of ensuring the societal impact of its research and of deepening collaboration with partners in the development sector.

A New Cabinet – and New Opportunities

The Dutch elections of March 2017 resulted in a protacted period of negotiation between Dutch political parties before sufficient agreement was reached for a new coalition government to be formed in October 2017. Incoming Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Aid, Sigrid Kaag1, an experienced diplomat and a member of the political party D66, now faces a number of challenges in deciding which direction the Dutch developmental policy will take over the next five years.

Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag.

The new policy is expected to be revealed in the coming months. For this reason, SAIL and Partos as platforms representing expertise in the development field, worked together on formulating a document for Minister Kaag that could help shape her new policy. The document highlights six key areas of the Dutch development policy requiring attention: Development Cooperation and Forced Migration; Humanitarian Action; Trade; Shrinking Civic Space and Human Rights; Partner Countries; and Climate Support to Developing Countries.

Development Cooperation and Forced Migration

The new cabinet’s goal is to focus on the prevention of migration and the return of migrants and refugees to their countries of origin. One strategy for doing this is to address the root causes of migration to reduce the number of people seeking refuge in Europe. SAIL and Partos recommend that the government focuses on tackling the root causes of forced migration (as opposed to voluntary migration), such as climate change, exclusion and violence, and argue that the positive aspects of migration should also be acknowledged.

SAIL and Partos recommend the avoidance of conditional aid, which has proven to be ineffective, and underline the fact that the purpose of development cooperation and development aid is to further social and economic development. They also warn that the ‘ring around Europe’, which currently receives most attention, should not prevent a focus on other regions where help is desperately needed.

Humanitarian Action

Partos and SAIL praise the Netherlands for its leadership in taking humanitarian action, but recommended that its aid financing mechanisms should be flexible, independent, unconditional and multi-year in order to better handle the increasing complexity and extent of humanitarian disasters and conflicts. They furthermore stress the importance of ‘localisation’, and stated that the Netherlands’ extensive experience of network governance and localisation should be put to good use. They also reflect on the importance of focusing on gender through providing increased protection to women and children, and the need for attention to be paid to the conditions in camps housing Libyan refugees.


The coalition agreement highlights the government’s desire to further combine trade and aid. SAIL and Partos warn that trade should be an instrument serving development and should not be an aim in itself. They also call for the creation of a good investment climate based on a ‘do-no-harm’ principle in developing countries and for support of local SMEs in developing countries.

Shrinking Civic Space and Human Rights

The coalition agreement emphasises the Netherlands’ support for human rights and its pledge to increase the budget for its human rights fund. Partos and SAIL call for steps to be taken to strengthen civil society to help create the conditions for a well-functioning, free and democratic society in which a sustainable and inclusive economy can flourish.

Partner Countries

The two organisations argue that migration issues should not inform the Netherlands’ choice of its partner countries. Partner relationships should be based on long term cooperation, and on enduring global challenges such as climate change, poverty and population growth.

Climate Support to Developing Countries

The coalition agreement reveals the importance assigned to sustainable development. The new cabinet announced its intention to start a national climate fund, but no concrete financial commitments to this fund have been made as yet. Could this point to lack of commitment?

SAIL and Partos call for a concrete financial commitment to be made in line with the Climate Law for the periods 2020-2025 and 2026-2030, and for financial flows to be targeted towards lower income countries and used for the support of vulnerable groups. Moreover, they recommend that the Netherlands should commit itself to making international funds such as the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund2 more accessible for developing countries and the organisations combating climate change within them.

Concluding remark

The collaboration between Partos and SAIL was an interesting and highly rewarding learning experience. Scientists, policy-makers and practitioners work together less frequently than they should. Our experience of co-creating the ‘building blocks’ for Minister Kaag made it eminently clear to us that creating spaces in which the worlds of evidence and practice can meet and debate things that matter is very worthwhile indeed. We plan to continue the collaboration and hope that the ‘building blocks’ will be the start of a good conversation with Minister Kaag.


*Partos is the association for development cooperation, with more than 100 Dutch organisations active in the field holding membership to this association.
**SAIL is the platform for international knowledge institutes in The Netherlands, with the ISS as one of the six members.
1Dr. Sylvia Bergh, Associate Professor in Development Management and Governance at the ISS, in 2016 interviewed Minister Sigrid Kaag regarding her work at that time in Syria, where she was a United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (watch the video here).
2The Green Climate Fund is a global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. The Adaptation Fund is intended to help developing countries to adapt to climate change.

The Age of Democratic Resilience by Mohamed Salih

About the author:
M_SalihMohamed Salih is PhD in Economics and Social Science, University of Manchester, UK, 1983) is Professor of Politics of Development at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague and the Department of Political Science, University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Regional research interests, fieldwork, academic and policy research interests: Africa and Middle East and shortly in the English-speaking Caribbean.

This posting is an excerpt of the valedictory lecture of Mohamed Salih at the occasion of his retirement from the Institute of Social Studies. The lecture was held on 12 October 2017

Current academic views, media reports and policy and development practitioners often claim that democracy and development are declining or even ending. Mohamed Salih maintains that democracy is not dying but expanding beyond its classic form of representative democracy. What has declined, however, is educated democracy and authentic development that sides with the poor and critically embraces solidarity against want, hunger and fear, resisting tyranny and authoritarianism or confronting discrimination in all its forms.  

It is perplexing that the phenomenal expansion of democracy during recent decades has lately been greeted by suggestions in a considerable number of publications that it is in decline or has died. This, in spite of the fact that we live in an age in which democracy has flourished like never before. Democracy, and development, are flourishing in new spaces, institutional forms and practices. These capitalize on new freedoms democracy has unleashed and new technologies that have created millions of globally networked communities of interest, with a direct bearing on politics locally, nationally, regionally and globally.

I have lived over six decades of how development policy intertwines with African politics, living half of my age in the Sudan and the other half in Europe, as well as conducting research, teaching and offering policy advice for the larger part of my life.  A pessimist may argue that over five decades, during which fundamental social, economic and environmental problems have preoccupied academia, policy and practice, these problems are not only still lingering, but some have even been exacerbated, and new social problems have been piled upon the old. Moreover, the intensification of old and new threats to human survival and wellbeing such as poverty, persistent hunger and inequality, epitomized by the juxtaposition of foods that kill and famines that kill[1], climate change and biodiversity loss, are common features that unite the first and current decade of development. Rather than considering the glass empty, in my mind there remain reasons to stay optimistic, and find the glass is more than half-full.

Despite negative reporting on Africa’s recent democratic development, led both by the media and academics, data collected from the field show contrary results. In the case of Africa, the development and democracy trends between 1999 and 2016 are moderately positive. More importantly, critics fail to ask whether what is happening is a decline of democracy or the emergence of new spaces and forms of democracy. There are three developments that characterize the past two decades of democratic resurgence. Local and grassroots democracy have expanded in what can also be termed the fourth wave of democratization,[2] cyber democracy and electronic voting.

Firstly, citizens’ withdrawal from state-created political spaces to participate in local and indigenous forms of direct deliberation instead of representation is not new to Africa, but has taken immense proportions over the past decades. Youth, women, farmers, pastoralists, traders, and non-governmental and civil society organizations deliberate on local issues from water to health and from education to forestation. They also discuss soil and water conservation on their own or supported by like-minded transnational organizations. Those who declare the decline of democracy should go beyond national statistics to engage the emergent new forms of local level, community and grassroots deliberations practiced by the majority of the world.

Second, since the late 1990s, the rapid expansion and convergence of information and communication technologies has created new spaces for political engagement, which has expanded citizens’ freedom to exchange information, organize political action and social movements, and rediscover the growth of a new vocabulary of resistance. While democracy’s essential values have persisted, the forms and spaces of democratic practices have multiplied. Consider, for example, e-government, e-political parties, e-parliaments, e-civic networks and associations which have become prominent features of citizens’ vehicle not only for accessing information but also for using information to make government more responsive.

Third, already, during the 1960s, Western democracies started experimenting with electronic voting and achieved mixed results. Despite many disadvantages, e-voting creates huge possibilities for deliberation and influencing politics across the globe.

Democracy and development are the most cherished values defining the aspirations of every human society. Almost all political elites use democracy and development to bestow legitimacy on their system of governance. However, both democratic and authoritarian regimes often use democracy and development as instruments to legitimize their retention of power, which often imposes oppressive pathways for regulating and controlling the totality of citizens’ human affairs. In some developing countries, the state has even demanded that citizens should suspend their democratic rights and freedom in the wake of development until this cherished national project is accomplished. All too often, too, democratic majorities relish what is known in democratic theory as the “tyranny of the majority.” Absolute majority rule usurps political ideologies and practices that are an affront to democracy and human flourishing.

Democracy and development are about inclusion and ensuring that the rights of the minority are not forsaken by regimes that are discriminatory or in the business of widening the wedge between citizens according to their race, religion, sex, creed or region for short-term political gain. What has declined, in my mind, is not democracy but educated democracy; not development but authentic development that sides with the poor and critically addresses the main messages and meaning of development. For, if democracy is allowed to decline and development to die, there would be nothing left for humanity to celebrate by way of embracing solidarity against want, hunger and fear, resisting tyranny and authoritarianism or confronting discrimination in all its forms. In a nutshell, humanity is not complete without the pursuit of authentic democracy and inclusive and empowering development.

[1]I contrasted foods that kill as a metaphor for the rich over consumption of food, which causes obesity vis-a-vis famine that kills as a metaphor of severe food shortages among the poor, which causes hunger and famine (Mohamed Salih 2009).

[2] This characterization follows on Huntington 1990. The Third Wave of Democratization.

How do we decide what we research? by Terry Cannon

T_Cannon_resAbout the author:
Terry Cannon is Research Fellow in Rural Futures, Institute of Development Studies at University of Sussex, UK.

This blog is based on the Development Research Seminar presentation by Terry Cannon, held on 10 October 2017 at the International Institute of Social Studies, during the 65th anniversary week of the Institute.

As ISS celebrates its 65th anniversary, I want to share some concerns about what we in development studies institutions are facing. Most of us might assume that we are ‘free’ to research what we want. ISS and similar institutions like my own at IDS work in what is loosely defined as development studies, and choose to research what we believe will support understanding of the issues involved. My concern is that we are increasingly deluded about our ability to make independent and self-determined choices.

Was there was once a golden age in which there was a complete lack of constraint in what we could research? No – the problem is rather a narrowing of scope, determined by changes that have happened in the last three decades in funding arrangements and institutional demands (for example the UK “Research Excellence Framework”), contractual pressures (e.g. for minimum publication outputs and external funding), and the emergence of what has been called the ‘neoliberal university’. These changes have been incremental, and have the appearance of rationality. But they are dangerous, and cumulatively they form a punitive framework in which staff are fearful for their place, their progression and survival within the system. It is also impossible for many younger colleagues to imagine that the world was ever different, or that a change to this system is even possible. Those who recognise some of the problems are forced – by the threats inherent in the system – to adopt a state of passive acceptance.

Bangladsh (140).JPG
Source: The author

When I mention the label neoliberalism, I am very aware that it is possibly misunderstood or seen as a knee-jerk, unspecific buzz word. I have little space to be more specific here, but will approximate it as an ideology that claims to be supporting free markets for the benefit of all, and yet fosters a situation in which wealth is transferred from the majority to the minority, while corporations increase their monopoly behaviour in very anti-market ways. Universities increasingly behave as corporations, competing for ‘customers’ and pushing down wages and conditions of their workforce (53% of UK academics are on casual contracts[i]), with cleaners and catering staff from outsourced companies at the ‘bottom’ of the pile on oppressive contracts and minimum wages. Meanwhile, in the UK the average salary of Vice-Chancellors (the “CEO” title of most university directors) is £274,000 a year.[ii] Universities have shifted from being institutions that support the social goals of the wider society into businesses that promote themselves. They are no longer capable of providing the role model for how society might be improved for the benefit of the majority, through ideas of equity, fairness and commentary on the excesses of governments.

What does this mean for development studies? My greatest fear is that the framework of institutional corporatism and funding models has undermined our ability to ask questions about what causes a problem. Poverty, hunger, vulnerability (to hazards or climate change) are not just ‘characteristics’ of different groups of people. But this is how they are increasingly portrayed, as with ‘lifting people out of poverty’, or ‘building resilience’. The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) say nothing about what is causing problems of poverty, ill-health, hunger, poor water and sanitation and so on. But these problems are largely the result of processes of exploitation and oppression that must be understood and explained. In earlier times, that is exactly what development studies was doing.[iii]

Increasingly it is difficult to seek explanations for these problems: it is more awkward, and we cannot make ‘free’ choices to research them. Development studies institutions are now almost completely reliant on funding from governments and development banks. These institutions are often beneficiaries of the processes that are causing the problems, and have little desire to investigate their origins. The issues that we are ‘allowed’ to research often come ready-framed in ways that disguise the causes of the problems they supposedly address. NGOs are also sucked into this framework to ensure their funding pipeline is healthy, and have much less motivation than in the past to assess the power relationships that are involved in causing problems. This is very relevant for us in development studies, because we work a lot with international and local NGOs.

Bangladsh (87)
Source: The author

And a great deal of previous research is also largely ignored, because it is ‘awkward’: class analysis (which is a primary basis for understanding poverty and inequality) that was a significant source of explanation in the past (for example in relation to land tenure in much of Asia and Latin America) hardly gets a mention. Structural problems faced by women and girls are now dealt with through ‘female empowerment’. Donor conditionality on ‘gender’ expects development organizations to change oppressive male behaviour entrenched for centuries through projects that last just a few years. Vulnerability is addressed not by understanding what leads people to suffer from a natural hazard or climate change (processes related to class, gender, ethnicity, age and belief systems), but by focusing on technical fixes and not challenging the status quo.

In my work in Bangladesh, staff involved in adaptation or disaster risk reduction projects rarely discuss land tenure and landlessness as a cause of vulnerability. The donors and NGOs know that they cannot deal with the root causes and so engage in a game of mutual patronage to fulfil each short-term projects and then move on to the next (IFRC 2014 p.203). While these two related issues are more in the realm of NGO and DRR institutions, my argument is that development studies falls into similar traps. We are in danger of ignoring the processes within power systems that are the causes of many of the problems. When we are coerced and motivated to engage in research that comes with ready-made framings that discourage or make it difficult to identify what is causing a problem, do we become part of the problem rather than making arguments for what would be a proper solution?

[i] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/16/universities-accused-of-importing-sports-direct-model-for-lecturers-pay

[ii] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/feb/23/university-vice-chancellors-average-pay-now-exceeds-275000

[iii] See my blog on the myth of community: http://vulnerabilityandpoverty.blogspot.nl/2014/04/why-do-we-pretend-there-is-community.html

‘ISS celebrates its 65th anniversary with a new blog’ by Inge Hutter, rector of ISS

About the author
Inge Hutter in pink
Inge Hutter, rector of the International Institute of Social Studies

Welcome to BLISS, the blog of the ISS on Global Development and Social Justice linking local communities to global action. The blog is launched on 12 October 2017, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the International Institute of Social Studies.

To celebrate this respectable age, several events have been organized this week at ISS. On Monday 9 October, Han ter Horst, sketched the establishment of NUFFIC and ISS in 1952, as twin institutions for higher education. In order to know where we are at present, and where we want to go in the future, it is important to realize where we come from and to be aware of our roots. Ter Horst pictured the atmosphere in The Netherlands in the early 1950s. The disillusions after the Second World War and decolonization of Indonesia, but also the optimism in rebuilding the Netherlands and the dream of a future where everyone –also those from the lower classes- would be able to improve their circumstances.

The ISS was founded by Dutch government and Dutch universities in 1952. Queen Juliana even mentioned the establishment of the International Institute of Social Studies in her famous speech at the United Nations. ISS thus started as a post-colonial initiative, in the first instance as a training institute for administrators from the former Dutch colony, Indonesia. Later, government officers from other then-so-called developing countries also came to ISS. From there, the MA in Development Studies developed. In the past 65 years, more than 13,000 students from all over the world have received a degree from ISS.

Since the turn of this century, the Institute has developed a stronger ambition towards academic excellence. In 2009, it became a part of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and a consistent effort was made to raise the academic status of the institute. Today, we are proud that our academic output matches the benchmark of Europe’s top-ranking institutes of development studies. At the same time, ISS has retained its critical engagement. We engage in the current dynamics of global development and social justice through education, research and action. Much of our research puts the spotlight on people and communities that are marginalized by oppressive and exclusive forms of development.

The parameters of development have radically changed in the lifetime of ISS. Social media and digital developments have turned the world into a global space that is interconnected at all levels and where news travels extremely fast. The scope of research is no longer exclusively focused on the South, but concerns developments, inequalities and social justice in a global way, thus also in the global North.

Global challenges in relation to climate change, precariousness, migration and food security – to mention a few – are too complex to address in one piece of research, but our research findings can shed light on some aspects and contribute to discussing the bigger pictures. However, one of the drawbacks we face as researchers is that our output usually comes after a prolonged period of time, whereas developments in the ‘real’ world continue to happen at a fast pace. Often, research findings that could speak to those developments are not shared at all or in time, and thus fail to contribute to news-making, debates or policies, let alone have the potential to drive processes towards more inclusive, sustainable and just development.

At 65 years, therefore, ISS is proud to launch its blog. The blog series aims to provide a space where research ideas and findings are brought to the development community in a timely way. With the blog, ISS will address different audiences in policy, practice and the public at large. The blogs are grounded in ongoing research and speak to broader implications for current development trends and issues. Most importantly, the blogs will continue to uphold the best of ISS traditions: to (re)present the voices of people and communities that are marginalized in development. I hope many of the readers of the blog will add their voices to the blog and contribute to our blog on global development and social justice.