Tracing migration’s impact

first_imgDeconstructing the multifarious and complex questions around migration and globalization may be the most direct route to a solution for the migration crisis facing the world today, Harvard experts said last week.Questions about its ethical, legal, social, cultural, and economic implications were the focus of the Harvard Global Institute’s second annual symposium on effecting resolution to critical issues.“The topic at hand today is an absolutely perfect one for the goals of the Global Institute, which is to bring scholars and researchers and students across fields together, to look at large global problems and to take a comparative look at issues that concern a variety of parts of the world and build on the enormous strengths we have at Harvard in regionally based centers and studies and programs,” President Drew Faust said in her opening remarks.The symposium, made up of scholars from many disciplines across Harvard, included sessions on migration and the modern world, the economic and political consequences of migration, and migration and social obligation.“The current cycle of migration crises in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia have haunted the global horizon for over a decade,” said Homi K. Bhabha, the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities and one of the symposium’s moderators. “It’s not just an issue of modern life or modern history, it’s one of the major frameworks of it. Migration is like nation, it’s like class, it’s one of these major pedagogical and political and philosophical categories.”“On every dimension immigrants are absorbing into American society, in many ways faster than European immigrants 100 years ago,” said Mary C. Waters, the John L. Loeb Professor of Sociology. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerThose categories were defined and debated in the final panel, “Migration and Social Obligation.” Much of the discussion explored the question of who owes what to whom. What do residents owe migrants and what do migrants owe residents? Is that obligation based on legal status, socio-economic status, the capacity to speak the language, and/or the reason for the migration?“We’re not doing big picture on how you engage with populace politics and xenophobic anxieties in a country,” said panel moderator Jennifer L. Hochschild, the Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government and Professor of African and African American Studies. “This is more on the ground, what do we actually do as concrete individuals in an institution like Harvard that’s going to make a difference in the lives of people.”Panelist Sabrineh Ardalan, assistant director at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program and assistant clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School, said her work at the clinic gives her an up-close view of the burdens on asylum seekers to prove their eligibility for protection, demonstrate credibility, and provide corroborating evidence. Applications for asylum have doubled since 2014, with 260,000 filed last year.“Every day, our clinic gets at least one phone call, and usually many more, from someone desperate looking for a place to call home, lost in the bureaucratic mess of our immigration system,” she said.There are 41 million immigrants in the U.S., which means one in every four residents here is an immigrant or a child of immigrants, according to Mary C. Waters, the John L. Loeb Professor of Sociology, who specializes in the study of immigration. She said the U.S. has always been intertwined with those who immigrate to this country: Our society needs them and they need us.“On every dimension immigrants are absorbing into American society, in many ways faster than European immigrants 100 years ago. And because undocumented immigration has basically not increased at all since 2008, it means that undocumented people are more and more settled families,” said Waters. “The average undocumented person has been here longer than 10 years. These are families with children — over 11 million of them. That is more people than lived under Jim Crow in the South prior to the Civil Rights Movement.”Restricting immigration, she said, “is bad for American society, American democracy, and it’s bad for the immigrants.”Jacqueline Bhabha, professor of the practice of health and human rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said any focus on social obligations in the U.S. must be qualified by a focus on its  global responsibilities. The number of asylum-seekers last year is indicative of the millions of people in the world in desperate need of protection from civil war and genocide, she said.“The simple answer to ‘What do we owe to whom and does it depend who is arriving?’ is, ‘We owe everybody the same,’” she said. “Because the principle of nondiscrimination is very fundamental to our modern, post-World War II regime, and indeed to the liberal constitutions we have inherited over the past 2½ centuries.”In closing remarks, Krishna Palepu, the Ross Graham Walker Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and senior advisor to Faust, said it is the mission of the Harvard Global Institute to do exactly what it did at the symposium: bring together people with multiple perspectives and different skill sets to have important conversations on crucial issues.“This afternoon has been a great illustration of the power of that kind of conversation,” he said.last_img read more

Read More →

Joseph Mariathasan: Sustainability presents an opportunity for investors

first_imgPorter says a big part of the problem lies with companies that see value creation in a very narrow sense, focusing on optimising short-term financial performance. This overlooks many factors, such as the wellbeing of their customers and the depletion of natural resources vital to their businesses.The growth in acceptance of environmental, social and governance issues is causing a change in attitudes. Sustainable investment is now being accepted both by investors and by corporations.However, as Porter points out, our understanding of the potential of shared value is just beginning.Corporations are struggling to determine how best to measure their impact in terms of “externalities”. Fund managers are faced with the issue of how best to apply a consistent framework in assessing companies across diverse sectors and geographies.Yet progress is being made. Firms such as Trucost are providing independent assessments of the positive impact of investments. Companies such as Olam have taken a lead in trying to incorporate natural and social capital within a company’s balance sheet. Olam’s Chris Brown and Ravi Abeywardana argue that a natural and social balance sheet would be analogous to a financial balance sheet. The latter provides stakeholders with an understanding of what the company owns (assets) and owes (liabilities), and whether it is solvent and can meet short-term debts.A natural and social balance sheet would highlight whether a company’s operations were sustainable or unsustainable when assessed against predefined boundaries.A group of Oxford University economists recently released a report entitled The Wealth of Nature, exploring the linkages between natural capital and human prosperity. They argue that the erosion of natural capital poses threats to continued national and global prosperity, yet political and economic systems are unprepared for that risk for three reasons.First, natural capital is not being accurately measured or valued in the context of ecological tipping points and thresholds. Second, aggregate economic models are ill-equipped for identifying the dependencies between ‘capitals’. The problem with most cost-benefit analyses and economic methodologies used is that they assume natural capital is akin to man-made capital. But how does one value a tiger when they may no longer exist?Thirdly, the economists argue that society currently lacks appropriate political and economic institutions to manage natural capital effectively. National wealth accounts still provide an incomplete picture of the value of natural capital.The Oxford report makes a couple of important recommendations. Firstly, all natural capital – including minerals, resources, fossil fuels, but also valuable ecosystem assets and natural infrastructure – could support greater prosperity if it were more appropriately valued and hence more efficiently used. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) global initiative was an attempt to remedy this, but there is still a long way to go.Secondly, critical natural capital – such as a stable climate and well-functioning ecosystems – should be protected with governance regimes based on scientifically informed political decisions. That is, however, looking more difficult with the Trump administration’s stance. The EU, China and India seem more likely to take the lead in this respect.Al Gore’s own fund management company, Generation Investment Management, has built a substantial business from the idea of investing in sustainable companies. These companies do not borrow from future earnings to support current earnings; their sustainability practices, products and services drive revenues, profitability and competitive positioning; and they provide goods and services consistent with a low-carbon, prosperous, equitable, healthy and safe society.The real measure of the success of sustainable investment, however, would be when all investment managers can claim the same.For investors, if Al Gore’s optimism holds true, there is plenty to be excited by. At the IPE Conference in Prague last week, Al Gore declared the world was experiencing a global sustainability revolution with the magnitude of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, but the speed of the digital revolution.He declared it as the single largest investment opportunity in history, emanating from developing and developed countries alike.For both fund managers and corporations, there are both opportunities and pitfalls. Michael Porter, in a 2011 Harvard Business Review article titled Creating Shared Value, argues that the concept of shared value – i.e. the idea that there are links between societal and economic progress – has the power to unleash the next wave of global growth.Yet, as he points out, the capitalist system is under siege as business has increasingly been viewed as a major source of societal, environmental and economic problems. President Trump’s retreat from globalism with a focus on “America first” is just another manifestation of a diminished trust in the ability of businesses to deliver societal good.last_img read more

Read More →