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The Unfreedom Monitor: A Methodology for Tracking Digital Authoritarianism Around the World

April 1, 2022

Digital communications technologies have been a powerful tool in the advancement of democratic governance, but in recent years there is concern that they are being used to undermine democracy as well. The Unfreedom Monitor, part of Global Voices' Advox project, aims to study and report on this growing phenomenon. This briefing document provides an overview of key developments in digital authoritarianism in a sample of 10 countries, while explaining the theoretical framework and methodology behind the project. The document also provides a basis for expanding this research to other countries so we can deepen our understanding of digital authoritarianism globally as well as its crucial implications for the future.

Surveillance Tech in Latin America: Made Abroad, Deployed at Home

August 8, 2021

Tools to identify, single out, and track us everywhere we go are inherently incompatible with our human rights and civil liberties. Unfortunately, many Latin American governments are eagerly purchasing this technology and ramping up the implementation of mass biometric surveillance — even as the movement to ban technology for biometric surveillance gains traction worldwide. Meanwhile, the companies supplying the tech are flying under the radar, selling surveillance technology that is deployed across Latin America without sufficient transparency or public scrutiny. Our latest report, Surveillance Tech In Latin America: Made Abroad, Deployed At Home, exposes the companies behind these dangerous products and the government policies and practices that are undermining people's rights.As we highlight in the report, most of the biometric surveillance tech deployed in Latin America is acquired directly or indirectly from companies in Asia (Israel, China, and Japan), Europe (U.K. and France), and the U.S. They include AnyVision, Hikvision, Dahua, Cellebrite, Huawei, ZTE, NEC, IDEMIA, and VERINT, among others. These companies have a duty to respect human rights, yet their tools are often implicated in human rights violations perpetrated against civil society globally — journalists, activists, human rights defenders, lawyers, and members of targeted and oppressed groups. Latin America has a long history of persecuting dissidents and people in marginalized communities, and authorities continue to abuse public power. The COVID-19 pandemic has now given governments a new excuse to deploy dangerous surveillance tools in the name of public safety, even as they fail to protect human rights. The bottom line: the backroom deals pursued in countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Ecuador are exposing the public to unacceptable risk. Our report, a research collaboration with our partners at Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC), the Laboratório de Políticas Públicas e Internet (LAPIN), and LaLibre.net (Tecnologías Comunitarias), not only documents the agreements to procure dangerous technology, it also presents case studies to show how the technology is deployed. Finally, we offer recommendations for government, companies, and other stakeholders to increase transparency and prevent rights violations. 

Beacons of Hope: Stories of Food Systems Transformation During COVID-19

May 26, 2021

Drawn from different countries around the world, each initiative profiled in Beacons of Hope: Stories of Food Systems Transformation During COVID-19 intervenes at a different point in the food system and responds to the pandemic with creativity, adaptability, and resilience.Led by community groups, innovative policymakers, progressive private sector players, social entrepreneurs, and others, their stories reveal why food systems need to change, while also serving to push back against popular narratives that maintain the status quo and dominate thinking about the future of food.

Headwinds to Growth: The IMF Program in Ecuador

July 15, 2019

This report examines Ecuador's March 2019 agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and finds that Ecuador is likely to have lower GDP per capita, higher unemployment, and increased macroeconomic instability under the program. Even the program itself, the authors note, projects Ecuador to have a recession this year and increased unemployment for each of the first three years of the program. But these projections are optimistic, the report concludes.

Decade of Reform: Ecuador's Macroeconomic Policies, Institutional Changes, and Results

February 10, 2017

This paper looks at some of the institutional, policy, and regulatory changes enacted by the government of Ecuador, as well as overall economic and social indicators, over the decade since the Correa government took office.

Tracking REDD+ Finance: 2009-2012 - Finance Flows in Seven REDD+ Countries

January 7, 2015

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). This REDDX report tracks the 2009-2012 flow of REDD+ finance from a variety of donors to seven tropical forest countries for various types of REDD+ activities. It is based on the hard work and dedication of seven teams of national partners and other experts who surveyed donors, government agencies, implementing agencies, NGOs, and consulting firms involved in the management of REDD+ finance in key REDD+ recipient countries.

The Ecuador Blueprint: A Plan to Strengthen Coastal Marine Protected Areas

August 21, 2014

Ecuador's coastal and marine area is home to approximately 58% of the country's population. This population lives within 100 km of the coast and is highly dependent upon the coastal and marine ecosystems. Its coastal geography is composed of estuaries, mangroves, mountain systems, beaches, bluffs, islands, shallows, rocky and sandy seabeds and even semi-arid areas: all of which possess tremendous biodiversity and productivity. The convergence of ocean currents creates highly productive rocky seabeds, which are also ideal for the concentration and reproduction of migratory marine species (humpback whales, sea turtles, albatrosses, manta rays, sharks). Ecuador currently possesses 16 coastal marine protected areas (MPAs): nine of which are comprised of estuarine systems and mangrove forests; the other seven are coastal and have a marine protected fringe. Management of current and new protected areas poses a great challenge to the Ministry of the Environment (MAE), as mounting threats will require significant institutional, financial and technological resources. This report analyzes the legal framework, competencies and jurisdictions of all marine enforcement agencies in order to design a cost effective national surveillance system for Ecuador's MPAs. We specifically assessed current MPA surveillance and control capacity at each MPA and designed a blueprint for strengthening enforcement at both the site and provincial level that accounts for factors such as human resources, systematic training, interagency standard operating protocols, vessels, surveillance and communication technology, and long-term costs. With respect to competencies and jurisdictions, the report recommends three priority initiatives that would have immediate positive impacts in MPA enforcement:1. The MAE must formalize interagency agreements with the Navy and Police as Park Rangers do not possess the power of arrest and there is ever growing security risks at-sea; 2. As the Maritime Police, the Navy must increase their involvement in matters of surveillance and control of MPAs; 3. The MPA Directors must begin to utilize their authority to administer sanctions locally in order to expedite the sanction process and ensure compliance.The final enforcement system design provides strategic sensor coverage to MPAs, buffer zones and access ways. The strategy combines high-power video cameras and a robust VHF marine and private radio network with the minimum number of personnel and patrol vessels to provide a constant presence and fast response capacity. All CAPEX and OPEX decisions were made in consideration of a highly limited budget, which is currently underwritten by numerous sources. More importantly, we have defined a blueprint of critical steps for the capacity building and professionalization of the Park Rangers, who truly are the core component of the MAE enforcement program. 

Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change: How Strengthening Community Forest Rights Mitigates Climate Change

July 29, 2014

This report analyzes the growing body of evidence linking community forest rights with healthier forests and lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.This report makes a strong case for strengthening the rights of indigenous and local communities over their forests as a policy tool for mitigating climate change.

Case Study: Collaborative Crop Research in Action

July 10, 2014

A new report about McKnight support for Andean grains research and development in Bolivia and Ecuador.

What Does Community Philanthropy Look Like? Case Studies on Community Philanthropy, Vol. 1

February 13, 2014

What makes the global spread of community philanthropy organizations so exciting is the variety of forms they take, adaptations to different local contexts, challenges, resources, and leaders. The core similarities matter -- all in some way help geographic communities mobilize financial and other kinds of capital for improvement of the lives of residents. But so do the differences. Some have endowments, some don't. Some are large, more are small. Some call themselves community foundations, others do not. This diversity is one sign of community philanthropy's flexibility, potential, and rising popularity.But it also presents a challenge to those who want to better understand and support community philanthropy, especially on a global level. A practice so varied, so organic and tied to local conditions, complicates classification, resists general conclusions, and calls for lots of learning through example. A movement relatively young and quickly evolving, with a limited body of applied research, requires ongoing documentation and study.The case studies presented here provide intriguing snapshots of locally driven development in communities across the globe.

Putting the Pieces Together for Good Governance of REDD+: An Analysis of 32 REDD+ Country Readiness Proposals

April 17, 2013

Developing countries are receiving new financial and technical support to design and implement programs that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (referred to as REDD+). Reducing emissions from forest cover change requires transparent, accountable, inclusive, and coordinated systems and institutions to govern REDD+ programs. Two multilateral initiatives -- the World Bank-administered Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries (UN-REDD Programme) -- are supporting REDD+ countries to become "ready" for REDD+ by preparing initial strategy proposals, developing institutions to manage REDD+ programs, and building capacity to implement REDD+ activities. This paper reviews 32 REDD+ readiness proposals submitted to these initiatives to understand overall trends in how eight elements of readiness (referred to in this paper as readiness needs) are being understood and prioritized globally. Specifically, we assess whether the readiness proposals (i) identify the eight readiness needs as relevant for REDD+, (ii) discuss challenges and options for addressing each need, and (iii) identify next steps to be implemented in relation to each need. Our analysis found that the readiness proposals make important commitments to developing effective, equitable, and well-governed REDD+ programs. However, in many of the proposals these general statements have not yet been translated into clear next steps.

Ecuador's New Deal: Reforming and Regulating the Financial Sector

February 14, 2013

This paper looks at Ecuador's financial and regulatory reforms during the past five years, perhaps the most comprehensive of any country in the 21st century: taking control over the central bank, regulating capital outflows, taxing the financial sector, encouraging domestic investment and co-operatives, and protecting consumers.