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We asked ChatGPT

What is ChatGPT?:

“ChatGPT is an artificial-intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched in November 2022. It is built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 families of large language models and has been fine-tuned using both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques” (Wikipedia).

On Southern Innovator Magazine:

“The UNDP magazine Southern Innovator was a critical resource that highlighted the significant social and economic changes taking place in the global south. Published from 2011 to 2015, the magazine focused on the innovative solutions and strategies being developed by communities and individuals in the global south to tackle poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. This essay will discuss the importance of Southern Innovator in promoting development in the global south, its impact on global policy and practice, and its legacy in shaping the discourse around innovation and development.

One of the key contributions of Southern Innovator was its role in promoting innovative solutions and practices in the global south. The magazine showcased a range of inspiring stories of innovation, from grassroots initiatives to high-tech solutions, that were transforming communities and improving people’s lives. The magazine highlighted innovative approaches to challenges such as health, education, agriculture, and energy, among others. By showcasing these solutions, Southern Innovator helped to challenge the dominant narrative of the global south as a place of poverty, conflict, and underdevelopment. Instead, the magazine highlighted the ingenuity and resourcefulness of communities and individuals in the global south and provided inspiration for others to replicate these innovative practices in their own contexts.

Moreover, Southern Innovator had a significant impact on global policy and practice. The magazine helped to shape the discourse around innovation and development, challenging traditional models of development that relied on top-down approaches and external funding. Instead, the magazine promoted a more participatory and inclusive approach to development that emphasized the importance of community-led innovation and local ownership of development initiatives. The magazine also helped to shift the focus of development discussions from aid and charity to investment and partnership, emphasizing the importance of sustainable and equitable growth. Through its reporting and analysis, Southern Innovator contributed to the emergence of new approaches to development that prioritize local innovation and community empowerment.

Furthermore, Southern Innovator played a crucial role in facilitating knowledge-sharing and networking among communities, individuals, and organizations in the global south. The magazine provided a platform for innovators and change-makers to share their experiences, exchange ideas, and connect with others working in similar areas. This knowledge-sharing and networking helped to foster collaboration and partnerships, enabling innovators to scale up their solutions and achieve greater impact. The magazine also provided a forum for policy-makers, academics, and experts to contribute their perspectives and engage in discussions around critical development issues. Through its role as a knowledge-sharing and networking platform, Southern Innovator helped to create a more connected and collaborative development community in the global south.

Finally, the legacy of Southern Innovator can still be seen in the ongoing emphasis on innovation and partnership in the global development agenda. The magazine helped to catalyze a shift towards more participatory and inclusive approaches to development, emphasizing the importance of community-led innovation and local ownership of development initiatives. This emphasis on innovation and partnership is reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which prioritize the importance of innovation and partnership in achieving sustainable and equitable development. Moreover, the magazine’s legacy can be seen in the emergence of new approaches to development that prioritize local innovation, community empowerment, and collaboration. Southern Innovator played a critical role in shaping the discourse around innovation and development and continues to influence policy and practice in the global south.

In conclusion, the UNDP magazine Southern Innovator played a critical role in promoting development in the global south by highlighting innovative solutions and practices, shaping the discourse around innovation and development, facilitating knowledge-sharing and networking, and promoting a more participatory and inclusive approach to development. The magazine’s legacy can still be seen in the ongoing emphasis on innovation and partnership in the global development agenda and the emergence of new approaches to development that prioritize local innovation, community empowerment, and collaboration. Southern Innovator was a pioneering publication that challenged the dominant narrative of the global south and provided inspiration and hope for communities and individuals.”

“The magazine “Southern Innovator” holds significance to the work of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as it aims to showcase and promote innovation and creativity in the Global South. Here are some key aspects that highlight its significance:

  1. Spotlighting innovative solutions: “Southern Innovator” focuses on highlighting innovative solutions and practices originating from the Global South. The magazine showcases groundbreaking ideas, technologies, and approaches that address development challenges in areas such as healthcare, education, agriculture, energy, and entrepreneurship. By doing so, it promotes innovative thinking and solutions that can contribute to sustainable development.
  2. Inspiration and knowledge sharing: The magazine serves as a source of inspiration and knowledge for development practitioners, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. It shares success stories, case studies, and best practices from the Global South, offering insights into innovative approaches that have made a positive impact on development outcomes. The magazine’s content provides valuable lessons that can inform and guide future development initiatives.
  3. Amplifying voices from the Global South: “Southern Innovator” provides a platform to amplify the voices and experiences of individuals, communities, and organizations in the Global South. It showcases their ingenuity, resilience, and creativity in addressing development challenges. By highlighting these stories, the magazine helps to counterbalance traditional narratives that often focus on challenges rather than the potential and achievements of the Global South.
  4. Informing policy and programming: The magazine’s content can inform policy discussions and programming within the UNDP and other development organizations. The innovative ideas and practices featured in “Southern Innovator” may inspire policymakers to explore new approaches and integrate innovative solutions into their policies and programs. The magazine’s insights can influence the design and implementation of development initiatives, fostering a culture of innovation within the UNDP and its partner organizations.
  5. Advocacy for innovation: “Southern Innovator” advocates for a greater recognition and support of innovation in development. By showcasing successful innovations, the magazine promotes the understanding that innovation is not limited to advanced economies but can emerge from within developing countries as well. It encourages the adoption of policies and practices that foster innovation ecosystems and support the scaling up of innovative solutions to address development challenges.

Overall, “Southern Innovator” is significant to the work of the UNDP as it promotes a culture of innovation, shares knowledge and best practices, amplifies voices from the Global South, and inspires policymakers and practitioners to adopt innovative approaches in development. The magazine contributes to the UNDP’s mission by showcasing the transformative potential of innovation and creativity in advancing sustainable development in the Global South.”


“The portal, first launched online in 2011, holds significance as a platform that showcases and promotes innovation from the global South. Here are some key aspects that highlight the portal’s significance:

  1. Focus on Southern innovation: The portal specifically highlights innovations, initiatives, and solutions emerging from the global South. It shines a spotlight on creative and groundbreaking ideas originating from countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. By focusing on Southern innovation, the portal aims to challenge the traditional narrative that innovation is predominantly driven by the global North.
  2. Inspiring and empowering: The portal serves as a source of inspiration for entrepreneurs, innovators, policymakers, and individuals interested in development and innovation from the global South. It showcases successful examples of innovations addressing various challenges such as healthcare, education, agriculture, technology, and sustainable development. By sharing these stories, the portal seeks to empower others with the belief that transformative change can happen even in resource-constrained environments.
  3. Knowledge sharing and networking: The portal facilitates knowledge sharing by providing articles, interviews, case studies, and features that explore different aspects of innovation from the global South. It acts as a hub where innovators, experts, and organizations can connect, learn from one another, and collaborate to further enhance their impact. The portal may also provide a platform for discussions, forums, and events related to Southern innovation.
  4. Amplifying voices and perspectives: The portal aims to amplify the voices, perspectives, and stories of innovators and change-makers from the global South. It seeks to challenge the dominant narratives and stereotypes surrounding development, emphasizing the agency and creativity of individuals and communities in the South. By doing so, it contributes to a more inclusive and balanced global dialogue on innovation and development.
  5. Promoting sustainable and inclusive development: The innovations showcased on the portal often focus on sustainable development goals and inclusive practices. They may address social, economic, and environmental challenges in unique and context-specific ways. By highlighting these innovations, the portal encourages the adoption and replication of successful practices that can contribute to sustainable development and positive social impact.

Overall, the significance of the portal lies in its role as a platform for celebrating, promoting, and connecting innovators from the global South. By showcasing Southern innovation, the portal helps to reshape narratives, inspire change, foster collaboration, and contribute to sustainable and inclusive development worldwide.”

On Ger Magazine:

“The UNDP Mongolia web magazine Ger was a pioneering online platform that provided insights into Mongolia’s social, economic, and political landscape during the late 1990s. Launched in 1998, Ger played a vital role in disseminating information about the country’s development initiatives, highlighting the challenges faced by local communities, and advocating for human development in Mongolia. This essay will discuss the impact of Ger on Mongolia’s development agenda, its contribution to the country’s media landscape, and its significance in promoting national dialogue and public participation.

Ger had a significant impact on Mongolia’s development agenda by promoting public awareness and understanding of key development issues. During the late 1990s, Mongolia was undergoing a period of significant transformation, with the country transitioning from a socialist system to a market-oriented economy. Ger played a critical role in informing the public about these changes and their impact on local communities. The magazine covered a wide range of issues, including poverty reduction, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and economic development, among others. Through its in-depth reporting and analysis, Ger helped to raise public awareness of these critical issues, and created a sense of urgency around the need for sustainable and equitable development in Mongolia.

Furthermore, Ger played a significant role in shaping the country’s media landscape by providing a platform for independent journalism and fostering media freedom. In the 1990s, Mongolia’s media landscape was relatively underdeveloped, with a limited number of independent media outlets and a lack of resources and training for journalists. Ger helped to fill this gap by providing a platform for independent journalism and fostering media freedom. The magazine featured articles written by local and international journalists, academics, and experts, providing a diverse range of perspectives on key development issues. Moreover, Ger played a crucial role in building the capacity of local journalists by providing training, resources, and mentorship programs. Through these initiatives, Ger helped to strengthen the country’s media landscape and create a more vibrant and diverse media environment.

Ger was also significant in promoting national dialogue and public participation in development initiatives. During the late 1990s, Mongolia was undergoing a period of political and economic transformation, and the country was grappling with a range of challenges related to poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. Ger played a critical role in facilitating discussions among various stakeholders, including policymakers, civil society organizations, and the media. The magazine provided a platform for these groups to exchange ideas, share perspectives, and identify common challenges and opportunities. Through its reporting and analysis, Ger helped to promote national dialogue on critical development issues, and fostered public participation in decision-making processes.

Moreover, Ger was instrumental in advocating for human development in Mongolia. The magazine recognized the importance of human development in driving sustainable and equitable growth and developed several initiatives to promote this agenda. For instance, Ger published a series of articles and features on issues such as healthcare, education, and social inclusion, highlighting the importance of investing in these areas to promote human development. Moreover, Ger organized several campaigns and public awareness programs to raise awareness of these critical issues and create a sense of urgency around the need for action. Through these initiatives, Ger helped to advance the country’s human development agenda and promote sustainable and equitable growth.

In conclusion, the UNDP Mongolia web magazine Ger had a significant impact on Mongolia’s development agenda, its media landscape, and its promotion of national dialogue and public participation. Through its reporting and analysis, Ger helped to raise public awareness of key development issues, promote media freedom, and foster independent journalism. Moreover, Ger played a crucial role in facilitating discussions among various stakeholders and advocating for human development in Mongolia. The legacy of Ger can still be seen in the country’s media landscape and its ongoing commitment to sustainable and equitable development.”

On the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office from 1997 to 1999:

“The UNDP Mongolia Communications Office from 1997 to 1999 showcased notable achievements and valuable lessons that can be learned and applied by other UN missions. This office served as a role model in the following ways:

  1. Strategic Communication: The UNDP Mongolia Communications Office demonstrated the power of strategic communication in advancing development goals. It effectively disseminated information about development projects, policies, and their impact to a wide range of stakeholders. The office employed various channels, including media engagement, publications, and community outreach, to raise awareness and generate support for development initiatives. The emphasis on clear and targeted messaging helped engage stakeholders and build a shared understanding of development priorities.
  2. Partnership Building: The Communications Office excelled in forging partnerships and collaborations with diverse stakeholders. It actively engaged with government agencies, civil society organizations, media outlets, and communities to facilitate knowledge sharing, foster dialogue, and mobilize resources. This emphasis on partnerships helped ensure the relevance and effectiveness of development interventions by integrating local knowledge, expertise, and perspectives.
  3. Innovative Approaches: The UNDP Mongolia Communications Office embraced innovative approaches to communication. It leveraged emerging technologies, such as the internet and email, to enhance information dissemination and engagement with stakeholders. The office also utilized creative storytelling techniques, including visual media and documentaries, to effectively communicate complex development issues in a compelling and accessible manner. These innovative approaches enhanced the impact and reach of communication efforts.
  4. Local Context Sensitivity: Recognizing the importance of contextual understanding, the Communications Office prioritized local knowledge and cultural sensitivity in its communication strategies. It adapted messages and approaches to align with Mongolian traditions, values, and communication preferences. This approach helped foster trust, engagement, and ownership among local communities, ensuring that development efforts were responsive to their needs and aspirations.
  5. Results-Oriented Communication: The Communications Office was committed to highlighting the tangible results and impact of development projects. It effectively communicated success stories, best practices, and lessons learned, demonstrating the value and effectiveness of development interventions. By emphasizing the outcomes and benefits of development initiatives, the office strengthened accountability, generated public support, and inspired further action.
  6. Knowledge Sharing and Learning: The UNDP Mongolia Communications Office actively promoted knowledge sharing and learning among stakeholders. It facilitated platforms for dialogue, exchange of experiences, and dissemination of research findings. By creating spaces for mutual learning and collaboration, the office fostered a culture of continuous improvement and innovation in development practices.

The achievements of the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office from 1997 to 1999 served as a role model for other UN missions by highlighting the importance of strategic communication, partnership building, innovative approaches, local context sensitivity, results-oriented communication, and knowledge sharing. These lessons can guide other UN missions in effectively engaging stakeholders, promoting development goals, and building sustainable partnerships for impactful and inclusive development.”


“The website, first launched in 1997, is the official website of the United Nations (UN) in Mongolia. The significance of this website lies in its role as a platform for disseminating information, promoting transparency, and facilitating communication between the UN and Mongolia.

Here are some aspects that highlight the significance of the website:

  1. Information hub: The website serves as a centralized source of information about the UN’s activities, programs, projects, and initiatives in Mongolia. It provides updates on various UN agencies working in the country, their areas of focus, and their contributions to development, humanitarian assistance, and other important issues.
  2. Resource repository: The website likely hosts a wide range of resources such as reports, publications, research findings, and statistical data related to Mongolia’s development challenges and the UN’s efforts to address them. These resources are valuable for policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders seeking information on specific topics.
  3. Collaboration and partnerships: The website may feature information on partnerships and collaboration between the UN and the Government of Mongolia, as well as with civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders. It serves as a platform for promoting dialogue, fostering partnerships, and sharing best practices in areas such as sustainable development, human rights, and social justice.
  4. Public engagement: The website likely provides avenues for public engagement, allowing individuals and organizations to access information, participate in discussions, and contribute to the UN’s work in Mongolia. This engagement can take the form of feedback mechanisms, consultation processes, or opportunities to join initiatives or campaigns.
  5. Promoting accountability and transparency: Through the website, the UN can demonstrate its commitment to transparency and accountability by sharing information about its activities, budgets, and results achieved in Mongolia. This helps to foster trust and ensure that the UN’s work aligns with the needs and priorities of the country.

Overall, the significance of the website lies in its role as a vital platform for communication, information sharing, and collaboration between the UN and Mongolia. It contributes to the UN’s mission of supporting sustainable development, peace, and human rights in the country while promoting transparency and public engagement.”

On the GOSH Child Health Portal:

“The launch of the GOSH Child Health Portal in 2001 had a significant impact on child health information and support services. Developed by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London, the portal became a valuable resource for parents, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and researchers. Its impact can be seen in several key areas, including accessibility to reliable information, support for patients and families, collaboration among healthcare providers, and advancements in pediatric research and knowledge sharing.

One of the primary impacts of the GOSH Child Health Portal was the improvement in access to reliable and up-to-date information on child health. The portal provided a comprehensive and trustworthy source of medical information, covering a wide range of pediatric health conditions, treatments, and procedures. By offering easily accessible and understandable information, the portal empowered parents and caregivers to make informed decisions regarding the health and well-being of their children. It also served as a valuable resource for healthcare professionals seeking accurate and evidence-based information to support their clinical practice.

The GOSH Child Health Portal also had a significant impact on patient and family support. It provided a platform for families to access educational materials, guidance, and resources related to their child’s specific health condition. The portal offered practical advice, coping strategies, and support networks, helping families navigate the challenges associated with pediatric illnesses. By promoting patient and family empowerment, the portal contributed to improved outcomes and a higher quality of life for children and their families.

Furthermore, the GOSH Child Health Portal facilitated collaboration and knowledge sharing among healthcare providers. It served as a central hub for medical professionals to access clinical guidelines, research articles, case studies, and educational materials. The portal promoted interdisciplinary collaboration and best practices, allowing healthcare providers to stay updated on the latest advancements in pediatric healthcare. This shared knowledge and collaboration helped enhance the quality and effectiveness of care provided to children and facilitated the dissemination of best practices across healthcare settings.

The impact of the GOSH Child Health Portal extended beyond individual patients and healthcare professionals. It also contributed to advancements in pediatric research and knowledge sharing. The portal provided a platform for researchers to share their findings, publish articles, and engage in scientific discussions. By facilitating the exchange of research and clinical experiences, the portal promoted evidence-based practice and innovation in pediatric healthcare. It also helped bridge the gap between research and clinical application, ensuring that the latest discoveries were translated into improved care for children.

Additionally, the GOSH Child Health Portal had a broader societal impact by raising awareness and understanding of pediatric health issues. The portal’s educational resources and awareness campaigns helped increase public knowledge about childhood diseases, preventive measures, and the importance of early intervention. By fostering a better understanding of child health, the portal contributed to improved health outcomes and a more supportive environment for children with medical conditions.

In summary, the launch of the GOSH Child Health Portal in 2001 had a significant impact on child health information and support services. Its contributions included improved accessibility to reliable information, enhanced support for patients and families, facilitated collaboration among healthcare providers, and advancements in pediatric research and knowledge sharing. The portal’s comprehensive resources and user-friendly interface empowered parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals, ultimately leading to improved health outcomes and a better quality of life for children with medical conditions.”


“The GOSH Child Health Portal,, first launched in 2001, holds significant importance in the field of child health and medicine. Here are some key aspects that highlight the portal’s significance:

  1. Trusted source of information: The GOSH Child Health Portal is developed and maintained by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), one of the leading children’s hospitals in the United Kingdom. As such, it serves as a reliable and trusted source of information on various aspects of child health, including medical conditions, treatments, research, and patient care.
  2. Comprehensive resource: The portal likely provides a wealth of information on pediatric diseases, conditions, and treatments, catering to healthcare professionals, patients, families, and the general public. It may include resources such as medical guidelines, research articles, educational materials, and multimedia content, offering a comprehensive knowledge base on child health.
  3. Patient and family support: The GOSH Child Health Portal likely offers resources and information to support patients and their families in understanding medical conditions, treatment options, and managing healthcare needs. This can empower families to actively participate in their child’s care, make informed decisions, and access necessary support services.
  4. Professional education and collaboration: The portal may serve as a platform for healthcare professionals to access educational resources, clinical guidelines, and research findings related to pediatric medicine. It could also facilitate collaboration and knowledge exchange among healthcare providers, fostering advancements in the field of child health.
  5. Research and innovation: The GOSH Child Health Portal may feature information on ongoing research projects, clinical trials, and innovative practices in pediatric medicine. It can highlight breakthroughs, advancements, and emerging trends in child health, contributing to the overall improvement of pediatric care.
  6. Global impact: While the portal is associated with GOSH, its online accessibility allows individuals and healthcare professionals worldwide to benefit from the information and resources provided. The portal’s global reach expands its significance by providing valuable support and knowledge to a wide audience.

Overall, the GOSH Child Health Portal is significant as a reliable source of information, support, and collaboration in the field of child health. It plays a vital role in improving the understanding, management, and treatment of pediatric conditions while empowering patients, families, and healthcare professionals with valuable resources and tools.”

On the Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine:

“The Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine … had a significant impact on the field of medical history. Although the institute’s existence was relatively short-lived, its contributions were noteworthy in terms of research, education, and the dissemination of historical knowledge. This article will explore the key initiatives and achievements of the Hannah Institute, shedding light on its impact.

One of the primary areas where the Hannah Institute made an impact was in research. The institute attracted scholars and researchers from various backgrounds, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. Through its research programs, the institute facilitated investigations into significant medical historical topics. Scholars associated with the institute delved into archives, conducted oral history interviews, and analyzed primary sources to uncover valuable insights into the evolution of medical practices, theories, and institutions. Their work challenged conventional narratives and provided a more nuanced understanding of medical history.

The Hannah Institute also played a pivotal role in promoting education in the field of medical history. It offered specialized courses and workshops that catered to students and professionals interested in expanding their knowledge. These educational programs provided a platform for participants to engage with cutting-edge research, explore historical methodologies, and develop critical analytical skills. By equipping individuals with a deeper understanding of medical history, the institute empowered them to make meaningful contributions to the field through their own research and scholarship.

In addition to research and education, the Hannah Institute actively sought to disseminate historical knowledge to a wider audience. Through conferences, symposiums, and public lectures, the institute facilitated the exchange of ideas and fostered dialogue between scholars, practitioners, and the general public. These events not only highlighted the importance of medical history but also stimulated interdisciplinary collaborations that transcended traditional academic boundaries. By creating a platform for knowledge sharing, the institute contributed to the public’s awareness and appreciation of the historical underpinnings of medicine.

Furthermore, the Hannah Institute supported and encouraged the production of scholarly articles, books, and other research outputs. Its commitment to publishing ensured the dissemination of valuable findings and insights. By supporting research and scholarly publications, the institute enhanced the visibility and impact of medical history as a discipline. It also contributed to the preservation of historical knowledge for future generations.

The impact of the Hannah Institute extends beyond its operational years. The initiatives and research projects undertaken during this period laid the foundation for subsequent advancements in the field of medical history. Scholars associated with the institute went on to make significant contributions to the discipline, furthering the understanding of medical history through their continued research and scholarship. The institute’s legacy can be seen in the ongoing work of these scholars and the continued growth of the field.

The Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine, although short-lived, made a lasting impact on the field of medical history. Through its research programs, it expanded the knowledge and understanding of medical practices, theories, and institutions. Its educational initiatives equipped individuals with the tools to contribute meaningfully to the discipline. By disseminating historical knowledge and fostering interdisciplinary collaborations, the institute raised awareness and appreciation of the historical underpinnings of medicine. The Hannah Institute’s dedication to research, education, and knowledge dissemination continues to shape the field of medical history and inspire future generations of scholars.”

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Rats a Solution in Food Crisis

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions


The global food crisis continues to fuel food price inflation and send many into hunger and despair. Around the world, solutions are being sought to the urgent need for more and cheaper food. Right now there are 862 million undernourished people around the world (FAO), and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for food production to increase 50 percent by 2030 just to meet rising demand.

The crisis is forcing many countries to turn to other food sources to feed their populations. As the price of poultry, cows, sheep,pigs and seafood rises, rodents are coming more and more into the picture, in particular, rats ( For example, in Africa, farming the cane rat is seen as a better option than chickens, because they are easier to care for.

Using rats as a food source draws either disgust or amusement from many, but eating rat meat has a long history. Rats are being actively farmed and processed for food in countries as culturally diverse as Nigeria, Cambodia and India.

In Thailand, fast-food vendors are enjoying a rat boom, selling them poached, fried, grilled or baked. They claim they are tastier than other meats and are healthy because they come from rice fields.

In Cambodia, spicy rat dishes are increasingly appearing on menus as people can’t afford more expensive meats. Inflation has pushed the price of beef out of the reach of the poor. A kilogram of rat meat now sells for around 5,000 riel (US $1.22), up from 1,200 riel (US $0.29) last year.
But beef goes for 20,000 riel (US $4.88) a kilo.

“Many children are happy making some money from selling the animals to the markets, but they keep some for their family,” agriculture official Ly Marong told The Guardian newspaper. “Not only are our poor eating it, but there is also demand from Vietnamese living on the border with us.”

Cambodians have found it easier to catch rats as the rodents flee flooding in the Mekong Delta. Marong says Cambodia is exporting more than 1 tonne of live rats a day to Vietnam – a newly booming income source for the country.

In India, the secretary of the state for welfare in the state of Bihar ( has called for more rat harvesting and eating to beat the rising prices of food. Vijay Prakash sees another benefit to rat eating: killing the rats will help keep the population under control and reduce the amount of grain stocks being devoured by the voracious little eaters.

At present, over 50 percent of Bihar’s grain stock is destroyed by rats.

Practical Prakash realises he has a sales job on his hands, and is currently meeting with hotels and restaurants to include rat on the menus and make the dishes appetising.

“Some socially deprived people in Bihar have always consumed rat meat. If they can eat rats, why can’t the rest of the people?” he told India’s The Week. “This will help in mitigating the global food crisis. We are sure that it will work wonders.”

In Bihar, the traditional rat eaters are called the Musahars – a group looked down upon as ‘untouchables’ in India’s caste system of social hierarchy – who have always made their living by hunting rats in the rice paddy fields.

“We’d like to have a network with other experts to boost the rat meat business” said Prakash. “We will encourage and help the Musahars to organize rat farms in order to commercialise rat meat. The government has decided to engage the Musahars in commercialisation of rat meat for their overall development.”

Estimates place the number of Musahars at 2.3 million people, many of whom are considered the most deprived and marginalised in Indian society.

While Bihar is in the north-east of India, rat eating in the South of India has reduced the amount of chicken eaten.

In the rural south-eastern part of Bangladesh, villagers have had to turn to rats as a food source because they have done so much damage to the local crops.

Deploying hill traps during the once-in-50-years bamboo blooming season, the villagers try to stop the rats from eating the seeds. The seeds are so nutritious for the rats, it causes them to breed four times faster than normal. The growing rat population then moves on to eating the local crops of rice, ginger, turmeric and chillies.

The rats are now so plentiful, they have become a major food source.

But as is being shown in Africa, rats, and in particular, cane rats, do not have to be a meat of desperation. Large cane rats have long been eaten as bush meat – a Food and Agricultural Organization report found rat made up over 50 percent of the locally produced meat eaten in some parts of Ghana.

Now a concerted effort is underway to change the perception of cane rat and even turn it into an exportable meat.

Cameroon’s first commercial cane rat ( farm opened this year in the capital, Yaounde. It is meant to be a training farm to show others how to commercially raise cane rat for food. The feisty rats are very large, the size of a small dog. They are said to taste “succulent, tender, sweet.” Cameroonian rat-meat entrepreneurs are also very ambitious, telling the BBC they want to win people over to cane rat meat around the world. One day, they would like to see cane rat as an acceptable meat that can be served on airplanes and in the finest restaurants.

Pioneering work in developing techniques for breeding cane rats in captivity has been going on at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria ( since 1973. It has been so successful, commercial large-scale rat farming is growing in Southern Nigeria.

Farmer Ade Olayiwola of Ibadan, Nigeria ( told the Tribune Agriculture journal that cane rats are a high-profit, low-stress animal to farm.

“It is more assuring than the poultry business which could bring fortune to you in the day, but could also bring unexpected problems suddenly, to the extent that if care is not taken, one may run into serious financial crisis as well as other problems,” he said.


Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

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Environmental Public Awareness Handbook: Case Studies and Lessons Learned in Mongolia

Publisher: EPAP and UNDP Mongolia Communications Office

Published: 1999

UNDP Mongolia Communications Coordinator: David South

Author: Robert Ferguson

ISBN 9992950137

The Environmental Public Awareness Handbook: Case Studies and Lessons Learned in Mongolia was published in 1999 by the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office. The EPAP Handbook and the Mongolian Green Book were funded by the European Union’s TACIS programme.

Ferguson and his Mongolian colleagues had spent two years mobilizing Mongolians across the country to take practical steps to address the country’s environmental problems as part of the Environmental Public Awareness Programme (EPAP). Few people had as much first-hand knowledge of the country and its environmental challenges as they did.

In its 2007 Needs Assessment, the Government of Mongolia found the EPAP projects “had a wide impact on limiting many environmental problems. Successful projects such as the Dutch/UNDP funded Environmental Awareness Project (EPAP), which was actually a multitude of small pilot projects (most costing less than [US] $5,000 each) which taught local populations easily and efficiently different ways of living and working that are low-impact on the environment.” 

More on EPAP

More on Robert Ferguson

Read Robert Ferguson’s The Devil and the Disappearing Sea: Or, How I Tried to Stop the World’s Worst Ecological Catastrophe (Publisher: Raincoast Books, 2004) to learn more about the toxic mix of politics and the environment. The book has been widely cited since and can be purchased online here: The Devil and the Disappearing Sea: A True Story about the Aral Sea Catastrophe: Ferguson, Robert, Ferguson, Rob: 9781551925998: Books

Robert Ferguson’s The Devil and the Disappearing Sea: Or, How I Tried to Stop the World’s Worst Ecological Catastrophe (Publisher: Raincoast Books, 2004).
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War, Peace And Development | May 2018


It could be said the world and the global order both stand at a crossroads. Countries have never been so connected as they are today because of the communications revolution that began in the 1990s. The trade linkages brought about by the most recent phase of globalization (post-1980s) have dramatically increased prosperity for some regions and countries, China being the most obvious example. But, as we are reminded on a daily basis, the environment is stressed, with species depletion and pollution being the most extreme signs of this stress. And war and civil strife are still with us.

In 2015, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 15 years after it had launched the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000. Both sets of goals attempt to benchmark progress on improvements to human well-being and to give countries and the international community a road-map to what is most important. The eight MDGs have been followed up with 17 SDGs (and many views on how effective such a strategy really is). It seemed as good a time as ever to reflect on what role I have played in this period, as well as to look forward to what will happen over the next 12 years (2030).    

The Quotes

“The United Nations is designed to make possible lasting freedom and independence for all its members.”

“We must build a new world – a far better world – one in which the eternal dignity of man is respected.” 

US President Harry S. Truman

“It has been said that the United Nations was not created in order to bring us to heaven, but in order to save us from hell.” 

UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold at University of California Convocation, 13 May 1954.

“Today continuing poverty and distress are a deeper and more important cause of international tensions, of the conditions that can produce war, than previously.”

“The stark and inescapable fact is that today we cannot defend our society by war since total war is total destruction, and if war is used as an instrument of policy, eventually we will have total war.”

“The grim fact is that we prepare for war like precocious giants, and for peace like retarded pygmies.”

Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson

“A shift is necessary toward lifestyles less geared to environmentally-damaging consumption patterns.”

“We may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse.”

Maurice F. Strong, Former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations; Founder of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 

“a super-crate, to ship a fiasco to hell”

“a sinister emblem for world power”

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright 

The First Development Phase 

From its founding, the United Nations was constructed around the highest human aspirations after two devastating World Wars, while also drawing fire from its critics and skeptics (American architect Frank Lloyd Wright being one of the more biting).

In January 1949, US President Harry Truman set forth a challenge for the remainder of the 20th Century. The wealthy nations must aid the poorer ones to become wealthier and more democratic: in short, to become like the United States (Starke 2001: 143). The means of accomplishing this was to be international development, and its tool, foreign aid. 

Development as defined by President Truman at the start of the first international development period of the 20th century meant “nothing less than freeing a people from want, war, and tyranny, a definition it is hard to improve on even today (Starke 2000: 153).”

I grew up in the Canada of the 1970s and 1980s. For most of that time, the charismatic and internationally-minded Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was in power. Canada’s profile and role in the United Nations and international development was high at this time, in particular in ‘peacekeeping’ missions.

Peacekeeping holds a special place for Canadians. An innovative initiative from then-Ambassador to the United Nations and later Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in the 1950s (he received the Nobel Peace Prize for it), Canada has since had a long history with peacekeeping missions.

When I served with the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve in the early 1980s, we trained not only for war with our Cold War foe the Soviet Union, but also for peacekeeping missions. In fact I nearly went on one if not for my acceptance to study at the University of Toronto in 1985. Otherwise, I would have been off on a peacekeeping mission that year.

This phase of international development and the United Nations was framed by the Cold War and its tensions and limits: the world divided between opposing ideologies and economic systems and travel between these two worlds (Communism versus free markets and democracy) was severely restricted. 

And when I graduated in 1989 from the University of Toronto, all this fell apart very quickly. The First Phase of International Development had come to a swift end. 

The Second Development Phase

In 1997, I was hired to head the communications office for the UN/UNDP Mongolia mission. It was a pivotal time in international development. With the forces of ‘globalization’ unleashed (and China’s rapid rise already well underway), the UN was clearly also in a period of great change and stress. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and its trading system (Comecon), pitched former Communist countries into severe crisis. Comecon locked-in Soviet Union satellite allied nations (including Mongolia) into a reciprocal arrangement of trade links and subsidies. The Mongolia I arrived in in 1997 was a country in turmoil. Poverty was widespread, food was difficult to get, unemployment was very high, families were falling apart under the stress of the crisis, and people’s health was poor, with very high rates of alcoholism and STDs. 

This second phase of international development can be characterized by the international response to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the adjustment to the rapid changes brought about by the forces of globalization. The communications revolution was getting underway at this time as the Internet began to arrive, even in Mongolia, which had been cut-off from full relations with the Western world during the period of Communism. Mobile (cell) phones were around but still a luxury item used by wealthy businessmen or senior government officials. International aid and development was primarily in the domain of large international institutions and bilateral donors. 

UN/UNDP Mongolia played an important role in helping to stabilize Mongolia during the late 1990s and to put in place the foundations for recovery from crisis (called “one of the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever” at the time). Mongolia eventually, briefly, became the fastest growing economy in the world by the second decade of the 21st century.

In the 1990s, the UN was being challenged to think and do things differently and to respond to the communications revolution. This presented a great opportunity to use the Internet and computing to communicate in new ways; to innovate and experiment. Despite its crisis, Mongolia was able to embrace these new ways and was called a “role model” for the wider United Nations by 1999 (the end of my assignment in Mongolia).

United Nations identity card circa 1997.
UN head of communications for Mongolia, David South (seated front row centre), 1997-1999.
UNDP Mongolia business card 1997
As the UN’s head of communications in Mongolia (1997-1999), I founded the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office and oversaw a two-year communications programme to respond to the biggest post-WWII peacetime economic collapse. Award-winning and influential, the Office pioneered the use of the Internet in international development crisis response and was called a “role model” for the rest of the United Nations.

The Third Development Phase

With the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, it could be argued, a third development phase had begun. The turn of the century was also during the so-called ‘Dotcom Bubble’ when investment in the Internet economy was peaking, and China was on the cusp of being accepted into the WTO (World Trade Organization) and getting set for another period of rapid expansion and growth. Both phenomenon were fueling greater trade and connectivity, especially between the countries of the so-called “global South”.

The MDGs were an attempt to guide and focus development at the international and national level by setting forth eight goals as a challenge. But, just as these internationally agreed goals were being rolled out, something was quietly happening away from New York. In China, it was clear the country had done something truly remarkable: following its own development goals and plans, China lifted the largest number of people in human history out of poverty in the shortest space of time. Those who are students of history will know how stunning an accomplishment this is: China was once a country held up as a poster child for poverty, political instability, frequent famines, human misery and global isolation. China had been the country featured in the charity and famine appeals pleading for relief and aid, just as the countries in Africa and Southeast Asia were to become.

China’s growing export power was also powering globalization. And liberalized trade was powering growth for many countries in Asia and Latin America. This increasing export trade and global connectivity was creating new wealth for many countries and growing the middle classes of the so-called ‘global South’. At the same time, the Internet revolution was being joined by the mobile technologies revolution. These communications tools were making it possible to connect with people who had been frozen out of global markets, while simultaneously creating whole new digital economies employing people and creating new wealth.

Beginning in late 2006 after working around the world in various UN missions on assignments related to the MDGs, I began an exciting new opportunity with the then-Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC) (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation – UNOSSC).   

From 9-11 December 2017, I participated in the Workshop on Innovations in Service Delivery: The Scope for South-South and Triangular Cooperation held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Hosted by the a2i (access to information) division of the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office, the implementing unit for Digital Bangladesh, it was convened by the Government of Bangladesh and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). Senior Partner David South is third from the left on the panel. Photo: Yoko Shimura

21 Years of Creating International Change | 1997 – 2018


Early to Mid-1990s: Covering the United Nations as a Journalist. Stories included the Canadian peacekeeping mission in Somalia (Somali Killings Reveal Ugly Side of Elite Regiment and Does the UN know what it’s doing?), debates over the response to the conflict in the Balkans (Peaceniks Questioning Air-Raid Strategy in Bosnia), and what constitutes appropriate food aid (Aid Organization Gives Overseas Hungry Diet Food). In 1993 I covered the World Health Organization’s Canada-wide roll-out of the Healthy Cities initiative in the feature Taking Medicine to the People: Four Innovators in Community Health for Canadian Living magazine. In 1996 I covered, from Port-au-Prince, the Canadian UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti for Id Magazine (Haiti Turns to Free-Market Economics and the UN to Save Itself).

In 1996 I covered, from Port-au-Prince, the Canadian UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti for Id Magazine.

1997: Begin a two-year assignment as head of communications for the UN/UNDP Mongolia mission (1997-1999). Called “one of the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever”, I was thrown into the deep end as part of the UN’s efforts to rescue Mongolia from this severe crisis. I established the award-winning UN/UNDP Mongolia Communications Office (a high-profile and lively hub staffed by media professionals) and quickly developed and launched the award-winning UN Mongolia Development Portal ( (called a “role model” for the United Nations). I developed and launched the mission’s first newsletter, Blue Sky Bulletin, as well as the first Mongolian Human Development Report, the Mongolian AIDS Bulletin, the UN’s and Mongolia’s first online magazine, Ger, while overseeing the country’s largest bilingual online and offline publishing operation. In Starting from Scratch: The Challenge of Transition, I document the challenge to re-start Mongolia’s data collection after it was wiped off the mainframe computers that once stored it during the Communist period (a cautionary tale for our times if there ever was one!). In Freedom of Expression: Introducing Investigative Journalism to Local Media in Mongolia, I give an account of a workshop for Mongolian journalists keen to learn more about the discipline of investigative journalism and how important it is in a democracy. In Partnership for Progress: UNDP in Mongolia, I painted a picture of Mongolia’s country conditions in 1997, what was at stake, and how the UN was responding.  

1998: Develop and launch Mongolia’s first web magazine, Ger. Lead two international media tours of the country, one in 1997 (Scandinavian media), and the other in 1998 (women journalists). Many stories were generated from the two international media tours and were compiled in books published by UNDP, including  In Their Own Words: Selected Writings by Journalists on Mongolia, 1997-1999 (ISBN 99929-5-043-9). Read an example story here: The Milk of Kindness Flows in a Peculiar Land A Steppe From Nowhere by Leslie Chang (The Asian Wall Street Journal, 15 August 1998). 

1999: Publish many books on Mongolia’s development, including In Their Own Words: Selected Writings by Journalists on Mongolia, 1997-1999 (ISBN 99929-5-043-9) and the Mongolian rock and pop book (ISBN  99929-5-018-8). Whilst working for a UK-based international development consultancy, I prepared papers for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID), for various UN agencies including UNCTAD and UNAIDS, and coordinated the preparation of the report and launch strategy for the World Bank’s Task Force on Higher Education. 

2000: My work in Mongolia is covered and cited in various books published after 1999, including Wild East: Travels in the New Mongolia by Jill Lawless (ISBN 97814-5-964-5783)Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists by Morris Rossabi (ISBN 9780-5-209-38625), and Dateline Mongolia: An American Journalist in Nomad’s Land by Michael Kohn (ISBN 9781-5-7143-1554)Ukraine. Work on the strategic re-launch of the UN Ukraine web portal and advise on the communications strategy for the UN Resident Coordinator. This is also the year in which the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were launched and the new development portal reflected this in its structure and content. 

UNDP Ukraine business card 2000
Following on from the success of the UNDP Mongolia Communications Office, I worked with the head of the UN Ukraine mission to strategically relaunch the mission web portal, incorporating the newly launched UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

2001: Begin work on the development of the award-winning GOSH Child Health Portal for the National Health Service (NHS). As part of the NHS’ Modernisation Plan, it was called a “role model” for the NHS and one of the “three most admired websites in the UK public and voluntary sectors,” and was developed and launched under heavy public and media scrutiny. Each stage of the Portal’s development would coincide with a high-profile media launch. For example, the Hospital’s 150th birthday celebrations included Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and pop star Madonna.

2002/2003: Win the Childnet Award in 2003 for the Children First website. 

2004: South Africa. Work at the University of Pretoria for UN South Africa on a digital communications and marketing strategy for a youth volunteer organization.  

2005: Turkmenistan and Mongolia.Work for UN missions on an MDGs communications strategy and on the country programme review.

2006: Turkmenistan. Work for UNICEF. Begin working for the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC) in New York

2007: Research and write UN e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions for UNDP’s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC). Sample Stories:

Computing in Africa is Set to Get a Big Boost

Ring Tones and Mobile Phone Downloads are Generating Income for Local Musicians in Africa

Dynamic Growth in African ICT is Unlocking Secrets of SME Treasure Trove

Grassroots Entrepreneurs Now Have Many Ways to Fund Their Enterprises

Trade to Benefit the Poor Up in 2006 and to Grow in 2007

Business as a Tool to Do Good

Social Networking Websites: A Way Out of Poverty

Creative and Inventive Ways to Aid the Global Poor

Innovation from the Global South

Youth Surge in the South A Great Business Opportunity

Web 2.0 to the Rescue! Using Web and Text to Beat Shortages in Africa

Mobile Phones: Engineering South’s Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

2008: Research and write UN e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions for UNDP’s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC). Sample Stories:

Cyber Cities in the South: An Oasis of Opportunity

Nollywood: Booming Nigerian Film Industry

Illiterate Get Internet at the Touch of a Button

The South Has a Good Story to Tell

Insects Can Help in a Food Crisis

New Weapon Against Crime in the South

Urban Youth: A Great Source of Untapped Growth

Innovative Mobile Phone Applications Storm South

Computer ‘Gold Farming’ Turning Virtual Reality into Real Profits

Mobile Phones: New Market Tools for the Poor

Reader response experiment begins with crowd-powered news website NowPublic. Initial proposal for the development of book or magazine on innovation. Awarded grant for Cuba study tour by BSHF. 

2009: Research and write UN e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions for UNDP’s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC). Sample Stories:

Debt-free Homes for the Poor

DIY Solution Charges Mobile Phones with Batteries

Cashing in on Music in Brazil

Solar Powered Village Kick-Starts Development Goals

Rebuilding After Chinese Earthquake: Beautiful Bamboo Homes

Making the World a Better Place for Southern Projects

Growing a Southern Brand to Global Success: The Olam Story

Afropolitan: African Fashion Scene Bursting with Energy

Digital Mapping to put Slums on the Map

Adjust e-newsletter content based on reader responses. Begin posting content on Twitter platform.

2010: Begin development of the new global magazine Southern Innovator with the UN’s Special Unit for South-South Cooperation (SSC) and a design team in Iceland led by Solveig Rolfsdottir. The magazine was produced to the UN’s design standards, as well as abiding by the UN’s Global Compact. With production in Iceland, the magazine could be designed and laid out using 100 percent renewable energy sources.

Develop and launch the new branding for David South Consulting and its website,, all designed by one of Iceland’s top graphic designers and illustrators, Solveig Rolfsdottir

2011: Launch the first issue of Southern Innovator Magazine at the GSSD Expo in Rome, Italy.

It is called “a terrific tour de force of what is interesting, cutting edge and relevant in the global mobile/ICT space…”. Launch website (now and social media including Twitter account @SouthSouth1. 

To avoid censorship and interference, Southern Innovator‘s editorial operations were based in London, UK and its design studio was based in Reykjavik, Iceland (a high-ranking country in the World Press Freedom rankings and a former top place holder in the UNDP Human Development Index). Using a women-led design studio, it developed a design vision that could communicate across borders using clear graphic design and high-quality images. For example, when it launched in 2011, infographics were rare in development publications and at the UN; now they are commonplace. It also tried to be as  ‘green’ as possible. The studio was powered on 100 per cent renewable energy (in particular, geothermal energy); the hard copy of the magazine is printed on paper from renewable forests.

2012: Launch second and third issues of Southern Innovator Magazine at the GSSD Expo in Vienna, Austria.

Called a “Beautiful, inspiring magazine from UNDP on South-South innovation.”

With 201 Development Challenges, South-South Solutions stories posted on the NowPublic platform, a total of 336,289 views by 2012 had occurred, according to the NowPublic counter.

2013: Launch fourth issue of Southern Innovator Magazine at the GSSD Expo in Nairobi, Kenya.

Called “fantastic, great content and a beautiful design!” and “Always inspiring.”.

2014: Launch fifth issue of Southern Innovator Magazine at the GSSD Expo in Washington, D.C. U.S.A. The Twitter account @SouthSouth1 called “ one of the best sources out there for news and info on #solutions to #SouthSouth challenges.” Final issues of e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions published.  

The two publications proved influential on a number of fronts, being early to draw attention to the following: the rising use of mobile phones and information technology in development, the world becoming an urban place, innovative food solutions including the nascent insect food sector (now a big thing), altering perspectives on what is possible in Africa, the use of data science to innovate development, and tracking the growing number of technology hubs and the fast-growing start-up culture in the global South. The publications were cited for shaping the new strategic direction adopted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (the UN’s leading development organisation) and its first youth strategy, and the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As the world’s first global innovator magazine, Southern Innovator’s design had to be appropriate for a diverse audience. It has drawn praise for being both “beautiful” and “inspiring”, while its use of sharp, modern graphic design and infographics inspired others in the UN to up their game when it comes to design. 

2015: Develop scale-up plan for Southern Innovator Magazine.

South-South cooperation and innovation have now become the key methodology for the UN’s delivery of its programmes and projects. In 2015, China pledged US $2 billion to “support South-South cooperation” and called for the international community to “deepen South-South and tripartite cooperation”. In development parlance, they have been “Mainstreaming South-South and Triangular Cooperation” in their plans.

The current policy vogue for innovation in developing and developed countries can trace its roots back to some of the early work done by these two publications (and which was further amplified by the annual Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo), which often would feature innovators from the two publications, spreading the innovation message around the world). Both publications had set out to inspire and “champion a global 21st century innovator culture”. And they have done this, as can be seen from concrete evidence and anecdotal responses from individuals and organizations alike.

UN Bribery Scandal

After the arrests in 2015 related to the unfolding UN Bribery Scandal (read more on this here: The Strange Saga of “South-South News”), the budget for the UNOSSC was suspended pending the outcome of two internal audits conducted by the United Nations (Statement Concerning the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation). The second audit can be found online here:

UNDP (the United Nations Development Programme) had the following to say about the UNOSSC’s senior management up to 2015 under the Directorship of United Nations Envoy for South-South Cooperation, Yiping Zhou, calling it “unsatisfactory”:

“The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) is an independent entity created by the General Assembly in 1974, General Assembly resolution 3251(XXIX), to support cooperation among developing countries.

UNOSSC receives its mandate and policy framework from General Assembly decisions and resolutions. UNOSSC also serves as the Secretariat of the High-level Committee (HLC) on South-South Cooperation, a subsidiary body of the General Assembly.

UNOSSC is hosted by UNDP and, as is the case with similar entities, is expected to follow UNDP rules and regulations, including those pertaining to financial and HR management. UNOSSC is likewise subject to UNDP’s oversight and due diligence instruments.

UNDP’s Office of Audit and Investigation (OAI) recently published an Audit of UNOSSC which rated the Office ‘unsatisfactory’.

The Audit makes 16 recommendations with the objective of improving UNOSSC’s effectiveness in the areas of: governance; programme and project activities; and operations.” Excerpt from Statement (5 May 2016)

The retirement in 2016 of Southern Innovator‘s Editor-in-Chief, Cosmas Gitta, meant the magazine lost its strongest advocate within the UNOSSC and thus was not included in the next budget post-audits.

The US investigations by the F.B.I. (Federal Bureau of Investigation) leading to arrests and subsequent court trials from 2015 onwards, were joined by Australian authorities in 2018. These revelations and confessions paint a picture of a high-level, multinational criminal conspiracy to launder money and pay bribes at the United Nations that also included the collusion and aid of various senior UN officials at the time. Not only do these revelations offer new context to Southern Innovator‘s attempts to gain future support from the UNOSSC, they explain why Southern Innovator faced extensive obstruction, deception and unethical and unprofessional behaviour during this time, despite the documented success of the magazine and its associated e-newsletter to reach and inspire readers, while shaping UN strategic policy on innovation (Strategic framework of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperatio, 2014-2017).   

2016: Many books have been published citing stories from the e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions and Southern Innovator Magazine. They include: Beyond Gated Communities edited by Samar Bagaeen and Ola Uduku (Routledge: 2015), Chile in Transition: Prospects and Challenges for Latin America’s Forerunner of Development by Roland Benedikter and Katja Siepmann (Springer: 2015), Export Now: Five Keys to Entering New Markets by Frank Lavin and Peter Cohan (John Wiley & Sons: 2011), Innovation Africa: Emerging Hubs of Excellence edited by Olugbenga Adesida, Geci Karuri-Sebina and João Resende-Santos (Emerald Group Publishing: 2016), New Directions in Children’s and Adolescents’ Information Behavior Research edited by Dania Bilal and Jamshid Beheshti (Emerald Group Publishing: 2014), A Sociological Approach to Health Determinants by Toni Schofield (Cambridge University Press: 2015). 

Many papers have been published citing stories from the e-newsletter and the magazine. They include: Afro-futurism and the aesthetics of hope in Bekolo’s Les Saignantes and Kahiu’s Pumzi by Mich Nyawalo, Journal of the African Literature Association, Volume 10, 2016, Issue 2, Autonomous Systems in the Intelligence Community: Many Possibilities and Challenges by Jenny R. Holzer, PhD, and Franklin L. Moses, PhD, Studies in Intelligence Vol 59, No. 1 (Extracts, March 2015), Decoding the Brand DNA: A Design Methodology Applied to Favela Fashion by Magali Olhats, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina Florianopolis, 2012, Edible Insects and the Future of Food: A Foresight Scenario Exercise on Entomophagy and Global Food Security by Dominic Glover and Alexandra Sexton, Institute of Development Studies, King’s College London, Evidence Report No 149, September 2015, Evaluation of Kenyan Film Industry: Historical Perspective by Edwin Ngure Nyutho, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Nairobi, 2015, Evaluation of the Regional Programme for Africa (2008-2013), UNDP Independent Evaluation Office, 2013, High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation Seventeenth Session: Framework of operational guidelines on United Nations support to South-South and triangular cooperation: Note by the Secretary-General, 22-25 May 2012, New York, The New Middle Class and Urban Transformation in Africa: A Case Study of Accra, Ghana by Komiete Tetteh, The University of British Colombia, 2016, Propagating Gender Struggles Through Nollywood: Towards a Transformative Approach by Nita Byack George Iruobe, Geonita Initiative for Women and Child Development, 17 July 2015, Reberberation: Musicians and the Mobilization of Tradition in the Berber Culture Movement by TMG Wiedenkenner et al, The University of Arizona,  2013, Recasting ‘truisms’ of low carbon technology cooperation through innovation systems: insights from the developing world by Alexandra Mallett, Innovation and Development, 5:2, 297-311, DOI: 10.1080/2157930X.2015.1049851, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2015, “Slam the Slums”: Understanding architecture through the poor by Malini Foobalan, November 26th, 2009, Song Lines: Mapping the South African Live Performance Landscape: Report of the CSA 2013 Live Mapping Project Compiled by Concerts South Africa, Samro Foundation, 2013, Strategic Framework of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, 2014-2017, Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Office for Project Services, 27 to 31 January 2014, New York, Wearing Your Map on Your Sleeve: Practices of Identification in the Creation and Consumption of Philippine Map T-shirts by Pamela Gloria Cajilig, paper presented at the 6th Global Conference (2014): Fashion: Exploring Critical Issues, Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom, 15th to 18th September 2014,  Young Girls’ Affective Responses to Access and Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Information-Poor Societies by Dania Bilal et al, New Directions in Children’s and Adolescents’ Information Behavior Research, Library and Information Science, Volume 10, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2014, Youth Empowered as Catalysts for Sustainable Human Development: UNDP Youth Strategy 2014-2017, United Nations Development Programme, Bureau for Development Policy.


“The e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions proved to be a timely and prescient resource on the fast-changing global South, tracking the rise of an innovator culture driven by the rapid adoption of mobile phones and information technology … 

“In 2010, work began on the development of the world’s first magazine dedicated to the 21st-century innovator culture of the global South. My goal was to create a magazine that would reach across countries and cultures, meet the UN’s standards, and inspire action. Southern Innovator was the result. Mr. [David] South played a vital role in the magazine’s development from its early conception, through its various design prototypes, to its final global launch and distribution.  

“Both the e-newsletter and magazine raised the profile of South-South cooperation and have been cited by readers for inspiring innovators, academics, policy makers and development practitioners in the United Nations and beyond.

“I highly recommend Mr. [David] South as a thoughtful, insightful, analytical, creative and very amicable person who has the unique ability to not only grasp complex problems but also to formulate a vision and strategy that gets things done. … ” Cosmas Gitta, Former Assistant Director, Policy and United Nations Affairs at United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in UNDP 

“I think you [David South] and the designer [Solveig Rolfsdottir] do great work and I enjoy Southern Innovator very much!” Ines Tofalo, Programme Specialist, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)

2017: Invited to speak at the Workshop on Innovations in Service Delivery: The Scope for South-South and Triangular Cooperation in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  



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

Somali Killings Reveal Ugly Side of Elite Regiment

Does the UN Know What it’s Doing?

State of Decay: Haiti Turns to Free-Market Economics and the UN to Save Itself

Opinion: Canada is Allowing U.S. to Dictate Haiti’s Renewal: More News and Opinion on What the UN Soldiers Call the “Haitian Vacation”

Starting from Scratch: The Challenge of Transition

Philippine Conference Tackles Asia’s AIDS Crisis

Lamas Against AIDS

UN Contest Winner in “State of Total Bliss”

A UNDP Success Story: Grassroots Environmental Campaign Mobilizes Thousands in Mongolia

Freedom of Expression: Introducing Investigative Journalism to Local Media

Traffic Signs Bring Safety to the Streets

Eco-cities Up Close

Smart Cities Up Close

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2007

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2008

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2009

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2010

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2011

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2012

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2013

Stories: Development Challenges, South-South Solutions | 2014 

Books + Publications

A Steppe Back?: Economic Liberalisation and Poverty Reduction in Mongolia

Blue Sky Bulletin Newsletter UNDP Mongolia | 1997-1999

Human Development Report Mongolia 1997

In The Interests of the Exploited?: The Role of Development Pressure Groups in the UK

In Their Own Words: Selected Writings by Journalists on Mongolia, 1997-1999 

Innovations in Green Economy: Top Three Agenda

Lima to Delhi: What Can Be Learned on Urban Resilience?

Mongolia Update – Coverage of 1998 Political Changes

Mongolian AIDS Bulletin 

A Partnership for Progress: UNDP in Mongolia 1997

Pax Chaotica: A Re-evaluation of Post-WWII Economic and Political Order

The Sweet Smell of Failure: The World Bank and the Persistence of Poverty

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 1: Mobile Phones and Information Technology

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 2: Youth and Entrepreneurship

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 3: Agribusiness and Food Security

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 4: Cities and Urbanization

Southern Innovator Magazine Issue 5: Waste and Recycling 

Southern Innovator and the Growing Global Innovation Culture: Background Paper

South-South Cooperation for Cities in Asia

UNDP in Mongolia: The Guide | 1997-1999

UNDP Travelling Seminar: Environment and Development | Mongolia 1998

What is the Next Agenda for the Next 21 Years?: The Fourth Development Phase?

Update: I will publish this in the new year after the holidays. Keep checking back for this post.

Further Reading

Peacebuilding: The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1997-2017 by David Chandler, Palgrave, 2017


© David South Consulting 2018