Top Devex stories of 2016

By Jacques Jimeno 22 December 2016

Devex gives the rundown of our best stories in 2016. Photo by: picjumbo.com

2016 was a tumultuous year for global development. The year has seen shocking election results, the rise and fall of a new pandemic, and a long, catastrophic refugee crisis. Here’s a look back at Devex’s coverage in 2016.

1. Donald Trump wins the U.S. presidency.

Donald Trump's victory raised a lot of questions about what U.S. development cooperation will look like under the next administration, and it has been slowly taking shape with the appointment of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations.

The past few weeks, Devex shed light on how the new administration will answer the questions about the future of the U.S. Agency for International Development, how the Heritage Foundation will be an influential organization in the new administration, and what will remain of the President Barack Obama’s development initiatives.

2. The United Kingdom votes to exit the European Union.

On June 23, a majority of the British voters opted to leave the European Union, prompting the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, who actively campaigned to remain in the EU, and the rise of its new leader Theresa May. The shocking popular vote left the future of EU-U.K. aid cooperation uncertain, and Devex mapped out what development aid may look like after the historic event. Priti Patel, an active proponent of aid for trade, was appointed head of the Department for International Development, which released the long-awaited reviews on bilateral development and multilateral aid in December.

3. Refugee crisis continues to get worse, but there are efforts to mitigate it.

In late October, French authorities dismantled the Calais "jungle" — a de facto refugee camp on the northern coast of France — relocating nearly 6,000 people to other parts of the country.

The 71st United Nations General Assembly in September had two events focused on migrants and refugees. The U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants aimed to address multiple issues related to the current state of both migrants and refugees in the world. Obama’s refugee summit was convened to strengthen humanitarian financing for the 65 million people displaced from their homes.

At the heart of the refugee crisis, humanitarian groups are raising profound concerns about humanitarian access and human rights violations.

Devex also highlighted efforts by the private sector and charities to mitigate the effects of mass migration, and investigated what went wrong with the refugee advocacy.

4. United Nations elects a new secretary-general.

The U.N. Security Council selected former Prime Minister of Portugal António Guterres as the next secretary-general of the United Nations, replacing South Korean Ban Ki-moon as he steps down from his post this month.

The election process was in itself newsworthy as it was the first one to try to bring a more transparent selection through public dialogues. There were also a record number of women candidates including U.N. Development Program Administrator Helen Clark and Kristalina Georgieva, European commissioner for budget and human resources.

Guterres, who was also a former U.N. high commissioner on refugees, has since insisted on gender parity under his tenure and has appointed women in key senior positions.

5. The ‘COP of action’ — Paris climate agreement enters into force.  

The climate agreement brokered in Paris in 2015 was enforced in early November, just ahead of the 22nd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco. Questions on climate finance surfaced at COP22, including how to engage the private sector to finance climate change adaptation.

President-elect Donald Trump has said he will pull out of the climate agreement, leaving climate change activists anxious. Jonathan Pershing, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, said he’s hopeful but not optimistic.

6. The world makes sense of the overwhelming humanitarian crises at the World Humanitarian Summit.

The World Humanitarian Summit in May was set to ensure that the humanitarian system can keep up with the growing needs of those caught in the mounting conflicts and crises around the world. The gathering in Istanbul, Turkey, produced the “Grand Bargain” agreement, a package of humanitarian reforms considered to be a first step in solving the system’s most pressing needs.

Devex was on the ground to investigate whether the humanitarian system is just broke or broken, the role of private sector in humanitarian response, the growing consensus about cash payments, and the gaps in leadership on relief efforts.

7. The rise and fall of Zika. 

Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that causes birth defects, set in motion a pandemic response after the disease was designated a global health emergency in February. The disease was reclassified as “a significant public health challenge” in November. The disease has affected pregnancies and travel in the Western hemisphere and even decreased participation at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in Brazil.

There was global action toward fighting the virus: the World Bank made commitments to fight the disease and established the Pandemic Emergency Facility, the U.S. government looked to the private sector for Zika tools. The Gates Foundation also invested in a new intervention that targets disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Devex is taking a holiday break next week. We’ll be back on Jan. 3 with more must-read global development news, analysis and insight. Read more international development news online, and subscribe to the Development Newswire.

About the author

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Jacques Jimeno

Jacques is a copy editor at Devex’s news production team. Previously, he worked with the Philippine Department of Tourism and the World Wide Fund for Nature. He is currently taking his master’s degree in communication from the University of the Philippines Diliman.


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