Tavneet Suri looks at VoxDev and broader development highlights of 2019
Last year I decided a holiday column from me would become a tradition. So, here we are at the end of 2019 and what a fabulous year it has been for development!
The highlight of the year was, of course, the Economics Nobel Prize being awarded to Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer, which, like the Nobel award in 2017, spotlighted the field of development. We had a series of columns on their work and their contribution to the field of development at VoxDev, I encourage you to read all of them. I found myself re-reading some Terry Pratchett Discworld books this year (some must-reads like The Truth, Night Watch, and Going Postal) and I was reminded of one of my favourite quotes of his: “Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness”. I think Esther, Abhijit and Michael are the best flamethrowers we could have asked for in the field of development. A heartfelt congratulations to the three from all of us at VoxDev.
Usually, my holiday columns tell you all about our year at VoxDev and then suggest some VoxDev columns and podcasts for holiday reading and listening. This year, in addition to being retrospective, I also want to be prospective. Yes, we have had a phenomenal year at VoxDev, lots of amazing new columns, podcasts and videos. We launched our Series page and hired a new Managing Editor, welcome Nikita! Our contributors are all rockstars and we would not exist without them. We are also eternally grateful to all of you for reading and engaging with us – without you, we would also not exist. Thank you all.
Instead of only looking back at columns of 2019, I want to start by looking at what is coming ahead. It seems that we face an existential threat, one that we (the global “we”) are not taking seriously enough: the impacts of climate change have the potential to be absolutely devastating, especially the effects of rising sea levels, and so far, we are failing to meet the urgency in response that this threat demands. Every new study and every new report from the UN and IPCC this year made that more and more painfully clear.
If you want some VoxDev readings on some of the impacts of climate change: read about the implications for infant mortality, infrastructure, agriculture, migration, human behaviour, including a series on the impacts of pollution. The Oxford word of the year for 2019 was “climate emergency”. It is indeed an emergency. My only wish for 2020: I hope we come together and confront this crisis with every ounce of urgency it demands, each of us in our own little ways and governments, politicians and policymakers in big ways.
VoxDev will be taking a break from posting new content from 23 December to 6 January. Before I sign off, I want to give a huge shout out to our funders (CEPR, IGC and PEDL), and our amazing and inspiring board (Robin Burgess, Rema Hanna, Chang-Tai Hsieh and Chris Woodruff). I also want to thank Nidhi Parekh, who was our Managing Editor right from the start, and who got the VoxDev ship afloat. She was an amazing Managing Editor and has moved on to bigger and better things – we wish her well and are grateful for her stewardship.
Happy holidays and see you in 2020!