Embracing the Renewable World Ethic

March 2, 2012

Tuesday morning and it’s time to reflect before continuing our induction. I’ve found a nice coffee shop on the sea front so I ponder a subject that was raised yesterday and one that I’d certainly not heard of since my college days – Market Failure. I remembered my college economics lecturer, the late Paddy Rowe, when I asked him ‘What use is Economics’? His reply: ‘In time you will make use of it and even when you’re not aware, you will be applying the principles you have learnt in this class.’ Indeed that was the case and this morning is no different. Market failure I recall is said to exist when Pareto optimality conditions break down i.e. when the market price of a product / service does not reflect the marginal cost of its production. Of course this is a simple definition that I learned in relation to developed market economies and I had not considered it in terms of the developing world. As it’s defines the entry point for Renewable World I vow to explore more in the coming weeks and days. After all, it’s hardly material for a coffee and chocolate croissant!

Today begins with the weekly team meeting and it’s good to meet the country programme managers, albeit on Skype! As its early days the information sharing on specific projects will not register completely until I’m in the field so I take a back seat, listen and learn.

I come to Renewable World with many reservations about the effectiveness of development aid, having read about and experienced many organisations that operate a top down approach. Evidenced based practice however, has convinced me of the need to work in partnership with local communities and I have seen at first hand the results that this delivers in projects that I have managed. This holds true in equal measure for work in Ireland as it does for the developing world. I am glad therefore that the session before lunch is dedicated to partnership building and the key milestones in creating successful relationships.

I often hear the NGO world being criticised for the over use of jargon but I guess there is need for a common language and as long as it has substance I don’t really have an issue. Feast your eyes on the diagram and add to your vocabulary…..assuming you’re a newcomer of course!

The afternoon session deals with the Sustainability Toolkit but let me report on that another day! I think there’s a pint of Guinness and a steak with my name on it in the Prince Arthur.