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Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture
World of News These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

If Everyone Gets Electricity, Can the Planet Survive?
The Atlantic
Last week, the vast majority of the world’s prime ministers and presidents, along with the odd pontiff and monarch, gathered in New York to sign up to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Across 169 targets, the SDGs declare the global aspiration to end poverty and malnutrition, slash child mortality, and guarantee universal secondary education by 2030. And they also call for universal access to modern energy alongside taking “urgent action to combat climate change.” These last two targets are surely important, but they conflict, too: More electricity production is likely to mean more greenhouse-gas emissions.

Special Report: Connected Citizens - Managing Crisis
Developing Telecomms
As connectivity extends to the remotest parts of the world an unprecedented and transformational development of ICT knowledge and skills is taking place. This is resulting in an urgent reappraisal of the ways in which crisis situations are managed and to the concept of 'disaster relief'.  Connected citizens become proactive partners in crisis management and recovery, finding ICT based solutions to problems, guiding and channelling emergency relief efforts and leading rebuilding activities.

More than half of Africans believe they live in democracies, but fewer are happy with them
At the recent Quartz Africa Innovators Summit in Nairobi, the Kenyan journalist and activist Boniface Mwangi suggested that Africa needs a revolution. Not a violent one, he said, but a revolution at the ballot box. “We need to be active citizens,” he explained onstage. “We must dare to invent the future and reclaim our continent.” […] More than half (52%) of Africans polled believe that their countries are democratic, according to data from the research firm Afrobarometer, released on Sept. 15, from a survey conducted in 28 African nations. But when it comes to individual countries, a diversity of perceptions emerges on the state of democracy on the continent, allowing a more nuanced view of the state of democracy in Africa.
What the UN's New Sustainable Development Goals Will (and Won't) Do for Cities
The Atlantic City Lab
Included in the United Nations’ newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is goal No. 11, which calls world leaders to make cities and all “human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.” It’s a goal that economists and urban academics have been pushing for, with some—like CityLab’s Richard Florida—arguing that it’s one of the most pressing issues of our time. For one thing, more than half of the world’s people currently live in cities. And by 2050, the World Health Organization predicts, more than 6.4 billion people will be city dwellers. “The battle for the SDGs will be won or lost in cities,”says Homi Kharas, senior fellow and deputy director of the global economy and development program at the Brookings Institution. Kharas was also part of the panel that advised the U.N. secretary general on the post-2015 development agenda. “Up until now, [cities] have just been left to their own devices to evolve as they see fit, but they’re evolving in a way that has very little planning and very little consideration to efficiency issues.”

Crowdsourced research: Many hands make tight work
Crowdsourcing research can balance discussions, validate findings and better inform policy, say Raphael Silberzahn and Eric L. Uhlmann. Our experience with crowdsourced analysis began in 2013, shortly after we published research1 suggesting that noble-sounding German surnames, such as König (king) and Fürst (prince), could boost careers. Another psychologist, Uri Simonsohn at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, asked for our data set. He was sceptical that the meaning of a person's name could affect life outcomes. While our results were featured in newspapers around the world, we awaited Simonsohn's response.  Re-running our analysis yielded the same outcome. But Simonsohn's different (and better) analytical approach showed no connection between a surname such as Kaiser (emperor) and a job in management.

Facebook plans satellite ‘in 2016'
Facebook is to launch a satellite that will provide internet access to remote parts of Africa, the social network's founder Mark Zuckerberg has announced. In partnership with French-based provider Eutelsat, Facebook hope the first satellite will be launched in 2016. "We're going to keep working to connect the entire world -- even if that means looking beyond our planet," Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. The project is part of Facebook's project, which has come under fierce criticism in some countries. In some areas, particularly India, businesses reacted angrily to the plans saying it gave Facebook, and its partners, an unfair advantage in developing internet markets. is experimenting with different ways of providing internet to hard-to-reach places. Recently, the company told of how it was planning to use a custom-built drone to beam down connectivity.

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Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomite