Democracy that Delivers Podcast #30: Syrian Economic Forum on the Role of the Private Sector in Syria’s Reconstruction

SEF podcast Aug 18 2016

Syrian Economic Forum (SEF) Executive Director Tamman Al Baroudi (left) and SEF Chairman Ayman Tabbaa (right) with podcast co-host Stephen Rosenlund, Senior Program Officer for Middle East and North Africa at CIPE. Tabbaa, Baroudi and Rosenlund called in to the show (via Skype) from Gaziantep, Turkey.

Syrian Economic Forum Chairman Ayman Tabbaa and Executive Director Tamman Al Baroudi discuss the current situation in Syria and the role of the private sector in reconstructing the country. Tabbaa and Baroudi talk about their lives in Syria prior to the revolution, why they had to leave Syria, and their work today providing information and policy options to help with the current economic situation and to plan for the future.

Tabbaa and Baroudi speak candidly about how their lives have changed, dangers they have faced in pursuing their work to help build a future for Syria, and their concerns for Syria’s youth.

The Syrian Economic Forum is an independent think tank that gives voice to the pro-democracy Syrian business community.

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CIPE 2016 Photo Competition Now Open

photo-comp-2016

The 2016 CIPE Photo Competition is now open! CIPE invites photo submissions from CIPE partner organizations from around the world to submit a photograph that captures the theme:

Leaders standing up for freedom and democracy exist in communities throughout the world

This competition seeks to highlight creative and inspiring visuals that demonstrate democratic leadership or individuals advocating for democratic values and reform, along with a caption that explains the impact this individual or organization has played in expanding freedom and democracy in their communities.

The deadline for submissions is September 30, 2016.

For more information on competition guidelines and to submit your photo, check out the official competition page.

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #29: Leveraging Youth and Technology for Governance Reform

Panelists

Panelists Maggie McDonough (on monitor), Gigi Raffo (center), and Blair Glencorse (right) with moderator Maiko Nakagaki.

International development organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of engaging youth in efforts to improve governance around the world. Youth in most societies are consistently more adept at using technology and recognizing its impact. Harnessing their energy and creativity to improve government policies and service delivery, through incorporating youth ideas and feedback, is a focus for a number of programs developed by CIPE and other organizations.

This week’s podcast is a recording of an event CIPE co-hosted yesterday with OpenGovHub.  The event was held in honor of International Youth Day, which took place on August 12.  The event was a panel discussion on the topic Leveraging Youth and Technology for Governance Reform. The discussion was moderated by CIPE’s Program Officer for Global Programs Maiko Nakagaki.

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Inspiration from Syria this International Youth Day

Graduates of the Riyadeh course pose with their professors.

Graduates of the Riyadeh course pose with their professors.

The work of CIPE’s partner the Syrian Economic Forum (SEF) inspires on a daily basis. Formed by small business owners across Syria, this think tank is pushing the envelope every day when it comes to thought leadership in the midst of conflict. From creating space for wrecked Syrian factories to restart their operations and put people back to work, to identifying market opportunities for embattled olive oil producers, SEF works tirelessly to develop solutions that improve the livelihoods of the Syrian people.

It is worth pausing this International Youth Day to reflect especially on SEF’s CIPE-supported work to expand opportunity for the young Syrians affected by the conflict. A new Economic Reform Feature Service article describes our approach, which links entrepreneurship education with the development of crucial civic skills.

Nearly 1,400 young people have now graduated from this intensive program inside Syria and just across the border in Turkey. As you’ll discover, the graduates are putting their newfound skills to work by starting new ventures and building their communities. Our work with SEF will continue by seeking integration of the curriculum at institutional levels, expanding access to learning in-person and online, and fostering networking amongst alumni and linkages with follow-on opportunities.

Read the article here.

Stephen Rosenlund is a Senior Program Officer at the Center for International Private Enterprise.

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #28: CIPE Afghanistan Country Director Mohammed Nasib on Afghanistan’s Challenges and Its Future

CIPE Afghanistan Country Director Mohammed Nasib (left) with guest host Jenny Anderson.

CIPE Afghanistan Country Director Mohammed Nasib (left) with guest host Jenny Anderson.

As foreign forces pull back from Afghanistan, the country faces not only the threat of renewed violence but also deep economic challenges and corruption, which are deeply intertwined with the political instability.

Mohammed Nasib, Country Director for CIPE Afghanistan, and guest host Jenny Anderson, Program Officer for South Asia, discuss the country’s challenges and how CIPE is helping the Afghan private sector play a positive role in Afghanistan’s future.

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Global Development Needs Grassroots Activation

President Obama addresses the White House Summit on Global Development (Photo: VOA)

President Obama addresses the White House Summit on Global Development (Photo: VOA)

Looking back at the global development efforts over the last few years, one theme tends to reoccur: too many reforms are owned by the elites and civil society leaders in the capital with too little engagement at the grassroots. This common disconnect was raised at the White House Summit on Global Development, and it looms large over future initiatives of the international community.

At a session devoted to transparency, accountability, and open government Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, talked about how crucial these factors are to unlocking economic development and fulfilling Goal 16 – the enabler – of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She also highlighted the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships such as Open Government Partnership (OGP) for advancing this approach and providing a hook that civil societies in countries around the world have been able to latch on to for reforms.

A global growth of demand for accountability and transparency, fueled by the rise of communication technology, is definitely a reason for optimism. At the same time, serious problems persist. Rakesh Rajani, Director of Democratic Participation and Governance at Ford Foundation, emphasized that despite progress and path ahead charted by initiatives such as SDGs and OGP serious challenges remain when it comes to authoritarian backlash and reversals of democratic culture. Even in established democracies such as India non-profit organizations increasingly come under undue pressure. As governments in many countries are clamping down on civic space, international efforts to counteract such trends do not resonate sufficiently with citizens on the ground.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #27: Jerry Brito of Coin Center on the Blockchain and its Social Impact Applications

Podcast guest Jerry Brito (left) with guest host Maiko Nakagaki.

Podcast guest Jerry Brito (left) with guest host Maiko Nakagaki.

The “blockchain” is the key innovation that makes decentralized, digital currencies like Bitcoin possible. Jerry Brito, executive director and head of research at Coin Center and an expert on cryptocurrency regulation, discusses the implications of the blockchain and its potential applications to governance and corruption problems from tracking land ownership to stopping the trade in blood diamonds.

Coin Center is the leading organization focused on research and advocacy on blockchain and crypocurrency technologies like Bitcoin. Follow Coin Center and Jerry Brito on Twitter.

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