Latest Issues

The Belt and Road Initiative and the SDGs: Towards Equitable, Sustainable Development

Volume 50 Number 4 December 2019

Edited by: Edited by Gong Sen, Melissa Leach and Jing Gu

Established in 2013 by President Xi Jinping, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the source of significant academic and policy debate, in terms of how it is defined and how far it can contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development (Global Goals) by 2030. This IDS Bulletin seeks to explore these debates in more depth, looking at the opportunities and challenges that are associated with aligning the BRI and Global Goals frameworks at local, national and international levels to achieve universal global economic social and environmental goals. It highlights new evidence, analyses and insights from across a range of experts from China and BRI countries, and points both to the potential for the BRI to help achieve sustainable development outcomes and the political, economic, financial, environmental and social risks, implications and impacts for involved countries and communities.

Accountability Amidst Fragility, Conflict, and Violence: Learning from Recent Cases

Volume 50 Number 3 September 2019

Edited by: Anuradha Joshi

Estimates suggest that by 2030, about half of the world’s poor will live in contexts of fragility, conflict and violence, all of which exacerbate the difficulties faced by poor and marginalised people, particularly in influencing the policy decisions that affect their lives. This issue of the IDS Bulletin was prepared as part of Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA), an international research programme exploring social and political action in fragile, conflict, and violent settings. It identifies insights from relatively recent experiences of grass-roots struggles and related social and political change. The articles highlight key issues that are central in understanding how accountability pathways unfold in contexts of fragility, violence, and conflict. Such contexts are often ones where state institutions are weak, fragmented, and lack legitimacy; where non-state actors control territory and often provide services, and where civic space is limited and uneven. The issue emphasises the importance of distinguishing processes of accountability from those of empowerment, and recognising the complexities of the relationships between them. As pockets of fragility, conflict, and violence emerge in what have so far been relatively stable places, the initial insights discussed here will be increasingly relevant for tackling these issues globally.

The Political Economy of Food

Volume 50 Number 2 July 2019

Edited by: Jody Harris, Molly Anderson, Chantal Clément and Nicholas Nisbett

Any analysis of food systems needs to include power as an aspect of political economy, in order to understand how power relations develop over time and how they affect different food system actors.

This issue of the IDS Bulletin examines a range of perspectives on power in food systems, and the various active players, relationships, activities, and institutions that play a major role in shaping them. It notes the need for mainstream research and policy to grapple with power inequities in the food system, in order, for instance, to challenge the increase in private sector funding that is reshaping food systems. The power of dominant food system actors is often reinforced or overlooked, having negative consequences for those unable to access sufficient healthy food or to participate in decision-making about the food system.

The articles here present the viewpoints that emerged during a workshop on the Political Economy of Food Systems, run jointly by IDS and IPES-Food. The articles begin with an introduction to how power is analysed from different political economy perspectives before moving on to articles focusing on four key themes: diversity and innovation, the food–health nexus, the politics of consumption, and agroecology and food sovereignty. Two case studies then demonstrate applications of power analyses or structural approaches to food and nutrition at national and local levels. A final set of articles considers methodological questions around understanding power in the food system and some of the unresolved questions that emerged from the workshop, which can form an agenda for future work.