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Disrupted! Whatever happened to Southern Innovator Issue 6?

Disrupted!! Issue 6 of Southern Innovator never came about and here is the story of why. One part of the story is very positive and inspiring; the other part is disappointing and frustrating (though always a risk when working in the international realm). 

First, the disappointing and frustrating part. We had been working with the UNOSSC (the funder of Southern Innovator) on a scale-up plan which would provide the funds for the brand to better chronicle the global South innovator culture of the 21st century. What we had not anticipated was various individuals involved with the UNOSSC not only acting in bad faith, but actually being involved with a multinational network to bribe UN officials and launder money into the United States, as was exposed during arrests by US authorities in late 2015 in New York (home of the UNOSSC and the UN’s headquarters). As we found out, gradually, through media coverage and court trial testimonies and confessions under oath by co-conspirators following the arrests, there was a fundamental conflict of interest between the work we were doing and the UNOSSC’s funding relationship with an entity that had its own news agency working out of the United Nations, South-South News. South-South News was established and funded by an Interpol Watch List individual, flagged up as a person not to do business with because of his involvement with human and sex trafficking and international criminal networks. South-South News’ executives pushed for the building of a new “Geneva of Asia” for the UN in Macau, which would also host the UNOSSC’s annual Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo). As confessed by the executives of South-South News, the news agency was established to facilitate bribes to UN officials and launder money into the United States – violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). This bribery and corruption case led to the UNOSSC’s budget being suspended pending two internal UN audits.

When the UNOSSC eventually re-booted in 2016/2017, Southern Innovator was not included in its programming budget. You can read more about this case here: http://www.davidsouthconsulting.com/blog/2018/3/4/the-strange-saga-of-south-south-news-may-2018.html

Read more on this case from the Supreme Court of the United States here:

Read more on this case from the U.S. Department of Justice here: https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/fcpa/cases/ng-lap-seng

Executives of the UNOSSC audited by UNDP in 2016: Yiping Zhou, Inyang Ebong-Harstrup, Adam Rogers.

‘Jacked! | The Taking Of The American Order

A selection of books covering the bribery and money laundering network targeting the United Nations from 2010 to 2015:  From Baksheesh to Bribery: Understanding the Global Fight Against Corruption and Graft Edited by T. Markus Funk and Andrew S. Boutros, Oxford University Press, 30 May 2019, Chinese Spies: From Chairman Mao to Xi Jinping by Roger Faligot, Hurst, 2019, Historical Dictionary of Chinese Intelligence by I. C. SmithNigel West, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 5 February 2021, ONU: la grande imposture by Pauline Liétar, Albin Michel, 4 October 2017, Organized Crime and Corruption Across Borders: Exploring the Belt and Road Initiative Edited ByT. Wing Lo,Dina SiegelSharon Kwok, Routledge, 1 April 2021.
Books covering the 2015 United Nations SDGs bribery scandal: ONU: La Grande Imposture, Organized Crime and Corruption Across Borders, New Humanitarianism and the Crisis of Charity: Good Intensions on the Road to Help, Historical Dictionary of Chinese Intelligence.
Journalists and scholars alike have probed deep into the criminogenic networks across the global South. Crime and Development in the Global South by Jarrett Blaustein, Graham Ellison, Nathan Pino, The Palgrave Handbook of Criminology and the Global South, January 2018, Criminology and the UN Sustainable Development Goals: The Need for Support and Critique by Jarrett Blaustein, Nathan W Pino, Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Rob White, The British Journal of Criminology, Volume 58, Issue 4, July 2018,
Corruption in the Global Era: Causes, Sources and Forms of Manifestation edited by Lorenzo Pasculli and Nicholas Ryder, Taylor & Francis, 2019, Who Blunders and How: The Dumb Side of the Corporate World by Robin Banerjee, Sage Publications, 2019,
Wilful Blindness: How a Network of Narcos, Tycoons and CCP Agents Infiltrated the West by Sam Cooper, Optimum Publishing International, May 2021.

And now the positive and inspiring part: Southern Innovator evolved from the e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions, first launched in 2006 (and we came on board to research and write stories in 2007). Much has happened since, including the Global Financial Crisis, and the global financial system re-boot that occurred afterwords. Both the e-newsletter and the magazine Southern Innovator fall into the category of ‘crisis media’: media used to bring together a response where the old methods and methodologies no longer work and something has caused system failure. Back in 2007, there was little discussion in the media about the global South, innovation, innovators, social entrepreneurship, and the mobile and information technology revolution occurring in the global South. Both the e-newsletter and the magazine identified a global 21st-century innovator culture that was unique since it was being fuelled by the rapid adoption of mobile and information technologies, often in places with high levels of poverty and turmoil.

According to the Final evaluation of the performance of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation under its strategic framework, 2014-2017, in light of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, prepared by Marcia Brewster, Consultant for the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC): 

“The reviewer observed that, although the Policy and UN Coordination Unit had produced all of the reports requested by intergovernmental bodies, especially for the High-level Committee, it had not been able to produce many of the publications (evidence-based analytical reports) that had previously been within its purview. Such publications included Southern Innovator magazine and the monthly e-newsletter “Development Challenges, South-South Solutions. In the case of Southern Innovator, one issue (No. 5 on waste and recycling) was published during the four-year period of the framework but did not have wide online distribution, and issue No. 6 was awaiting funds for publication. The e-newsletter was last issued in July 2014 even though the reviewer found it a good way to communicate with focal points at the national and inter-agency levels. In fact, the shortage of funds for those knowledge products was the main reason that they had ceased being produced during the evaluation period.”

“With respect to the analytical reports previously produced by the Office, such as Southern Innovator, they have not been produced in recent years owing to lack of funding.” 

From the beginning, the e-newsletter and magazine were about changing perspectives and inspiring action. And so they have. Rather than say so in my words, I shall offer the words of others as we received them: 

“Great economic and business reporting! Very helpful for us.”Africa RenewalAfrica Section, Strategic Communications Division, United Nations Department of Public Information

“I just went over your June newsletter. It’s very well done and far reaching. Congratulations!” Violette Ruppanner, Director, 3D -> Trade – Human Rights – Equitable Economy, Geneva, Switzerland

“Just to let you know I enjoyed the newsletter a lot – it was interesting to learn about things going on that I would never otherwise find out about, and also the listing of future conferences and events proved very useful.” Ian Sanderson, Deloitte, Geneva, Switzerland

“Congratulations on another great newsletter that’s packed with fascinating information! I really enjoy getting it each month.” Whitney Harrelson, Making Cents, Washington D.C.

Blogger Taline Haytayan from Brighton, England, found a case study on story telling in the South particularly interesting: “I came across this interesting article entitled ‘The South Has a Good Story to Tell’, which talks about storytelling in developing countries, and its use as a critical tool for passing on history, while teaching morals and ethics – so I would like to share it here with you. It’s a nice surprise to see that this article appears in UNDP’s South to South Cooperation unit newsletter. It gives an overview of storytelling in a number of countries, such as the movement of urban storytellers in Colombia, inspired by Italo Calvino; tale-spinners in Argentina; the halakis, or storytelling sages, of Morocco; and digital storytelling by women in South Africa.” (http://talinita.blogspot.com/2008/05/south-has-good-story-to-tell.html)

“A few weeks ago, David South, Development consultant and author of UNDPs Development Challenges, South-South Solutions Newsletter, came by the betterplace office to take a look at our work. When I asked him how he had come about betterplace.org, he answered: he found me on twitter! So much for the twitter-scepticts.” Joana Breidenbach, betterplace.org, Berlin, Germany (http://blog.betterplace.org/en/2009/09/15/690/)

“This is a WONDERFUL site. I read–and at least bookmarked to read again–your stories with the photo of the homeless gentleman “will write HTML code for food,” and of the young African girl who was hungry, and how they are predicting (and it seems inevitable) famine an a high voltage bolt in the poverty percentages. … your writing is phenomenal–the few stories that I have seen are actually SUPERIOR in their professional, technical, and relevant accounts. Their VERY interesting, and I unfortunately have not seen other sources of news lately (other than from my school’s library database, and old Public Broadcasting documentaries). God has blessed your works, and I am thankfully blessed by them!”  Sincerely, J. (Au) Whi, (from NowPublic site)

“Many thanks for sending me a copy of your interesting work. I read just one article in Spanish thus far but found it well written and useful. For us here in Colombia, it will be most useful having regular access to your publication and, of course, I am pleased that the articles are in Spanish as well as French and English. I hope that one day I might invite you to take a closer look at the Arranque Automático operation in Colombia and perhaps invite you to do a write-up on the technique and its ample theoretical foundations.”  David Cuanespero Boriol, Colombia

“What a tremendous magazine your team has produced! It’s a terrific tour de force of what is interesting, cutting edge and relevant in the global mobile/ICT space… Really looking forward to what you produce in issues #2 and #3. This is great, engaging, relevant and topical stuff.” Rose Shuman, Founder & CEO, Open Mind and Question Box

“Question Box was featured in Southern Innovator, a new publication of UNDP that profiles some of the most innovative ideas coming out of the global South. We were pleased to see many friends in the sector profiled as well, such as UshahidiMedic Mobile, and TxtEagle. Take a look at the magazine, as it is a great primer on ICT and mobile innovation from around the globe.” Question Box News

“Looks great. Congratulations. It’s Brill’s Content for the 21st century!” Conan Tobias, Managing Editor, Canadian Business

What they are saying about SI on Twitter: From @CapacityPlus Nice job RT @ActevisCGroup: RT @UNDP: Great looking informative @SouthSouth1 mag on South-South Innovation; @UNDP Great looking informative @SouthSouth1 mag on South-South Innovation; @JeannineLemaireGraphically beautiful & informative @UNDP Southern Innovator mag on South-South Innov. 

And on Pinterest:Peggy Lee • 1 year ago 

“Beautiful, inspiring magazine from UNDP on South-South innovation. Heart is pumping adrenaline and admiration just reading it”

“Thank you David – Your insight into the issues facing us a[s] [a] “global Village” is made real in the detail of your article – 10 out of 10 from the moladi team.” Moladi, South Africa (http://www.moladi.net/index.htm)

“I liked your latest Southern innovator! Always inspiring.” Joana Breidenbach, betterplace.org, Berlin, Germany

“The magazine looks fantastic, great content and a beautiful design!”

“Btw, I really enjoyed reading them, impressive work & a great resource. Looking forward to Issue 6. My best wishes to you & your team at SI.”

“… great magazine, nice design.”

2014 proved a significant year for our work, as Southern Innovator is cited in various strategy documents as a resource contributing to a shift in funding priorities at the United Nations and other international development funders, and the adoption of South-South innovation as a key part of the UN’s work. The e-newsletter and magazine are also cited in many papers and books and are clearly contributing to a better understanding of the 21st-century global South innovator culture.  

By 2015, Southern Innovator was still drawing praise for its timely resources on South-South innovation and innovators:

“@SouthSouth1 is one of the best sources out there for news and info on #solutions to #SouthSouth challenges.” Adam Rogers, Assistant Director, Regional Representative, Europe, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021

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Southern Innovator Issue 1

Southern Innovator Issue 2

Southern Innovator Issue 3

Southern Innovator Issue 4

Southern Innovator Issue 5

Southern Innovator Issue 6

Team | Southern Innovator Phase 1 Development (2010 – 2015)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021

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Team | Southern Innovator Phase 1 Development (2010 – 2015)

Work began in 2010 to develop what became the United Nations magazine Southern Innovator. A highly talented global team of international development and design professionals based in New York and London collaborated with an Icelandic studio to create an innovation media brand showcasing global South innovators inspired by the mobile and information technology revolutions. It was launched in 2011 at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Cosmas Gitta

Editor-in-Chief

“Dr. Cosmas Gitta is a senior UN consultant and the former Assistant Director for Policy and UN Affairs at the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, where he oversaw the convening of various intergovernmental and interagency forums as well as the preparation of related reports and studies, including the biennial reports of the Secretary-General on the state of South-South cooperation. He was Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Southern Innovator and an e-newsletter, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions, both of which are media to share information on development related innovations with partners around the world. He was for many years Managing Editor of Cooperation South, a print and electronic development journal promoting collaboration among developing countries. Mr. Gitta holds a PhD in international and comparative education from Columbia University and he has lectured on human rights education at his alma mater, and on a range of other subjects at various campuses of the City University of New York.” (From Integral Leadership Review)

David South

Editor and Writer

David South is the founder and senior partner for David South International and David South Consulting. He has worked around the world for the United Nations and has led a number of groundbreaking projects for major institutions. Clients have included the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH)/Institute of Child Health (ICH)/National Health Service (NHS), Harvard Institute for International Development, UNICEF, World Bank, USAID, and the Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine, among others.

He has worked for, or side-by-side, with many high-level senior professionals and executives. These experienced professionals had roles under close public scrutiny and needed to show the impact of their work to a tight deadline.

He has been the editor for the United Nations magazine Southern Innovator since 2010. He also researched and wrote the influential United Nations e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions (2007-2014). He has over two decades’ experience in media and journalism (developing strong relationships with many top journalists and media professionals), health and human development, and the role innovation plays in transforming major organisations while getting the most from people tackling complex problems in challenging environments.

Email me: davidsouthconsulting@gmail.com

Audette Bruce

Managing Editor

 Sólveig Rolfsdóttir

Graphic Designer and Ilustrator

Eva Hrönn Guðnadóttir

Graphic Designer and Illustrator


Launched in May 2011, the new global magazine Southern Innovator (ISSN 2222-9280) is about the people across the global South shaping our new world, eradicating poverty and working towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

They are the innovators.

Follow the magazine on Twitter @SouthSouth1.

Southern Innovator Issue 1

Southern Innovator Issue 2

Southern Innovator Issue 3

Southern Innovator Issue 4

Southern Innovator Issue 5

If you would like hard copies of the magazine for distribution, then please contact the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) (https://www.unsouthsouth.org/2014/12/25/southern-innovator-magazine/).

Read more of Dr. Gitta’s work here: Cooperation South, Getting Connected: Information and Communications Technology for Development, Number 1, 2001, United Nations Development Programme, ISSN-0259-3882.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021

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Aid Organization Gives Overseas Hungry Diet Food: Diet Giant Slim-Fast Gets Tax Write-Off For Donating Products

By David South

Now Magazine (Toronto, Canada), December 2-8, 1993

Doling out diet supplements to recipients of food aid may sound bizarre, but that’s what US diet giant Slim-Fast has been doing.

The company’s cans of powder have been distributed to the conflict-ridden former Soviet republic of Georgia and other parts of the collapsed Soviet Union by the aid agency Americares.

Critics say Slim-Fast is far from appropriate and is, at best, in bad taste. New York-based food-aid critic and writer Michael Maren says such contributions are simply the result of agencies being used as dumping grounds for tax write-offs.

As an example, he cites Somalia, where he recenly spent time researching an upcoming book critical of aid programs. Pharmaceutical firms, he charges, are dumping unnecessary drugs in that country.

“If you want to help people, give them what they need, not the crap we have around here. That a so-called aid agency would bring over Slim-Fast is absurd.

“The attitude that they should take any shit we give them – it’s arrogance,” says Maren, who believes many donors have a beggars-can’t-be-choosers attitude to people in need of help.

At Slim-Fast’s corporate headquarters in New York, Adena Pruzansky acknowledges that the donations are tax write-offs, but insists that their product is very nutritious. No one, she says, has complained about their contribution.

Powdered cure

“If you look at our powdered products, there is a lot of nutrition in there. Certainly for people who don’t have food, this is something that could be useful to them.”

A spokesperson for Connecticut-based Americares, which directs surpluses donated by 1,100 firms to relief operations in 80 countries, praises Slim-Fast.

“They are a fine group of humanitarians,” says Elizabeth Close.

“Americares was just written up in Money magazine as the most cost-effective nonprofit agency,” she says of the organization, whose donations consist of overstocked, discontinued or obsolete items.

“We only accept a product for donation when we know we have a home for it. So we are not giving something inappropriate,” she says.

Close provides no details, however, about Slim-Fast’s participation. “Without their permission, I’m not really supposed to go into any further description of what they donated,” she says.

But those who see the devastating effects of eating disorders on women say Americares exercises poor judgement when it accepts such diet supplements.

“I think it’s quite bizarre,” says Merryl Bear of the National Eating Disorder Information Centre. “Many of these diet plans are starvation diets. In many of the diets, the caloric intake is less than or equivalent to what the Nazi concentration camps delivered.”

Slim-Fast’s chocolate drink powder, for instance, is made of skim milk powder, sugar, whey powder, cocoa, fibre, calcium caseinate, corn oil, fructose, lecithin, salt and carrageenan. It relies on mixing with milk to gets its nutrition.

Lynne Martin of the Toronto Hospital’s eating disorder clinic says Americares is encouraging dieting among starving people who need calories first.

“Women need a minimum of 1,800 to 2,100 calories per day – to meet that requirement with Slim-Fast, you would need eight glasses per day,” she says.

Low calories

Martin says the low calories available in the supplement become even lower if recipients don’t have access to milk and try to mix it with water.

“The protein level isn’t given without the milk, so you don’t know how much is in the powder, but certainly the calories would change if one were to mix it with water.”

At food relief agency CARE in Ottawa, program officer Ivan Connoir says what “the hungry need isn’t Slim-Fast but what is called a human daily ration (HDR).

“It is prepared in the United States especially for emergencies. It has no pork, so it can go to any country,” he says. “It is a kind of lentil stew and vegetable soup – just add water and it’s ready to eat. You even find bread in it. It can last for years.

“Of course the best thing is family food parcels that last one month.”

Now Magazine
Now Magazine (Toronto, Canada), December 2-8, 1993.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021