Unfortunately, it remains part of Canada's culture of philanthropy to think charities should spend all their money directly on programs and that "administrative" spending is wrong and should be discouraged. There's a double standard, with different expectations of businesses than of charities when it comes to investing internally.
My life's story has led me on this path to wanting to make access to decent, empowering work available to women through the acquisition of tradeable skills. Decent employment for women is the main escape route out of poverty in Africa, and it strengthens the link between economic growth and aggregate poverty reduction.
Development is sensitive, political, difficult and often surprisingly controversial work, and the changes sought can be difficult to measure or quantify. Transformative agendas cannot be accomplished through an obsession with "bang for the buck" and the pressure to demonstrate numerical impact within short periods of time.
Women's organizations, governments and United Nations entities celebrated the 15th anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325. This landmark resolution stated that women's participation, security and protection were essential in the prevention and resolution of armed conflict. This resolution was much heralded at the time and was followed by seven additional resolutions on women, peace and security. However, civil society organizations have observed again and again that these strong words have not been translated into action.
Although city planning is well-intentioned it can add costs and complications to residential development. These complications often culminate in months, or even years, of waiting for city hall's approval -- if these delays cause the supply of new homes to lag behind demand, new housing may become scarce, driving prices higher across the region by creating a perpetual seller's market.
Last week, the Yukon Court of Appeal heard arguments about the future of the massive Peel River watershed, and about the meaning and application of modern aboriginal treaties. Will this land be mostly protected from development, as the planning commission decided after extensive aboriginal consultation? Or will it mostly be used for resource extraction, as the Yukon government wants? So soon after the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will First Nations interests again be sacrificed for the economic gain of others?
On close examination, however, it becomes evident that not only is Canada's approach to development assistance outdated, it is outright embarrassing and risks ruining Canada's international reputation. I often use the term "lost in transition" to describe aid that barely gets to its intended beneficiaries, a concept that is appropriate for Canada's case. Even when poorly conceived and executed aid gets to the recipient, it often does more harm than good.
There has never been a more critical and opportune time to take control of Toronto's development plans. Our city is in the middle of a development boom, yet we face a housing crisis. Despite this grim reality, there is still the opportunity to do better for our city. In fact, we are well-positioned to build a beautiful city that is vibrant, inclusive, and more mindful of the environment.
If you look at Calgary and Edmonton, their skylines full of construction cranes, developers must do more than 'aim for height'. As the old adage goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day". Developers must be creative and work closely with architects to foster the development of robust communities that reflect cohesive design, and feature functional buildings that people want to live in.
The international community was slow to respond to the African ebola outbreak. One reason was a lack of early warning. It comes down to something population health scientists call "surveillance", a word that alarms the lay public, since it conjures images of Big Brother observing our intimate activities. Surveillance systems can be simple or complex. They always cost money. But if they help to identify an outbreak, and thus help to prevent an epidemic, then they save much more money. But poor governments are unlikely to invest in prevention systems when there are immediate health crises that need resources right now: HIV/AIDS, Malaria, maternal and reproductive health issues, etc.
#BringBackOurGirls was a massively popular way of protesting in part because it was so simple. Most major celebrities, politicians and even conservative political pundits participated. It was all an impressive display that sadly overlooked the real solutions to dilemmas like the Nigerian kidnappings.
Mosquito bites mean something different in many parts of the world. Working for an international aid and development agency, I've learned about the dangers of malaria, an infectious disease transmitted by the bite of an infected female mosquito. On World Malaria Day, I think about the millions of children who have no bug spray -- not ever.
Consider what is happening in Syria even as we read these words. Aid agencies have become so desperate for help that they repeatedly call upon the affluent West to step up and assist the 9.3 million people living at risk, and the 3.5 million Syrians living under siege. Surely these people matter to us, right?