David Steven

About David Steven

David Steven is a policy analyst, strategic consultant and researcher. He is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Center on International Cooperation (CIC) at New York University, and also The Brookings Institution, and a Director of River Path Associates where he specialises in international responses to global risks, resilience and scarcity, the development of communications and influencing strategies, and intercultural dialogue. As well as editing Global Dashboard, David is on the advisory board of JLT’s World Risk Review.

Five Ways the Co-Facilitators Have Made the Post-2015 Targets Worse

What was once a storm whipped up around the question of whether the world needs 17 sustainable development goals and 169 targets has now degenerated into a tempest about whether it is possible to “conservatively” tweak some of those targets to make them more meaningful and deliverable.

Last week, the poor souls who are responsible for shepherding the post-2015 negotiations (the UN ambassadors of Kenya and Ireland) released a proposal that was intended to show how this could be done.

Sadly, they have made some of the targets better rather than worse, indicating that ‘technical proofing’ – an expert-driven process supposedly stripped of political overtones – is no sure fire way to a better development agenda.

(And who on earth thought it could be? Experts disagree with each other more bitterly than governments do – fortunately they lack armies with which to settle their arguments.)

So here are five ways the tweaked targets are worse than the originals. Continue reading

OECD States of Fragility Report – Meeting Post-2015 Ambitions

This afternoon, in New York, the OECD is launching its States of Fragility 2015 report which explores how new sustainable development goals and targets (SDGs) can be implemented in countries and communities that lack the political stability and institutions to support inclusive growth, or that are affected by very high levels of violence.

The report was written with colleagues at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation and is part of a broader effort to switch the focus from what should be part of the post-2015 development agenda, towards how the new agenda can be delivered.

It argues that we have no hope of delivering the SDGs in large parts of the world, unless we get serious about tackling fragility.

Robust global growth, and more equitable patterns of distribution, have the potential to lead to rapid and continued further reductions in all forms of poverty, but this would mean that those left behind would increasingly live in fragile situations. Continue reading

If Not Now, When? Ending Violence Against the World’s Children

Since the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals published its proposal for sustainable development goals for 2016 to 2030, there has been much discussion about whether 17 goals and 169 targets are too many. In this new paper, David Steven explores the delivery challenges associated with one of the proposed targets: end abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence and torture against children. (October 2014)

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A Laboratory of Development – The Impact of Social Policies on Children in Latin America and the Caribbean

The Latin America and Caribbean region is distinguished by the range of policies that it has developed to respond to both the opportunities and risks of contemporary globalization. From efforts to increase macroeconomic stability and major programs of economic reform, through innovative investments in social welfare and protection, to fresh approaches to compensating those providing environmental goods and services, the region has been at the forefront of developing new economic, social, and environmental policies.

Prepared at the request of UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean, this paper explores the concept of the region as a laboratory for development by focusing on progress made in meeting the region’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the policies that have supported this progress, and the lessons that can be drawn for children’s future prospects.

The paper first provides an overview of regional trends that have led to positive outcomes for children and identifies countries that have made especially fast progress. The paper’s second section explores major policies that have had an impact on children’s lives. Finally, the paper outlines the major challenges that the region must confront if it is to continue improving the lives of children.

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Next Generation Pakistan: Insecure Lives, Untold Stories

Next Generation: Insecure Lives, Untold Stories is one of the largest pieces of qualitative research ever conducted in Pakistan and is rooted in a determination to listen to the voices of young people. It is the first to systematically collect their stories, with 1,800 gathered from across the country. It also includes the results from a nationally representative survey and a series of expert interviews.

The report shows that violence is a binding constraint to realising the potential of Pakistan’s young people. Not just political violence, but criminal and domestic violence, starve young people of opportunities and make it harder for Pakistan to benefit from the demographic dividend that could transform its future (May 2014)

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Pakistan’s Next Generation: Insecure Lives, Untold Stories

CoverI’m in Lahore launching the third report from Pakistan’s Next Generation Task Force – I’m the Task Force’s director of research.

In the first report, we looked at the economic potential of young people in Pakistan and its ability to collect a demographic dividend as growing numbers of them enter the workforce.

In a second report, published in the run up to last year’s election, we explored the political implications of an electorate that is increasingly dominated by young voters, who are more likely to be educated, urban, and middle class than their parents.

Our third report focuses on how violence and conflict are shaping young lives. At its heart are 1,800 personal accounts which provide a stunning series of insights into a silent epidemic of political, criminal, domestic and sexual violence.

We demonstrate debilitating economic, social and physical damage, and a largely hidden problem – mental health impacts from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, self-harm, and suicide.

The report calls for urgent action to give a voice to the survivors and victims of violence, respond to their mental and emotional health needs, create opportunities for young people to opt out of violence, and promote reconciliation at provincial and national levels.

It’s a tough report that often makes for uncomfortable reading, but I think it’s essential not only for those interested in Pakistan’s future, but for all those engaged in the broader debate of how to build peaceful and inclusive societies.

You can download the report here.