April 8, 2005
Notes from Gerald Barney's presentation
Gerald Barney was here to give us a “Demonstration of Threshold 21 Decision-Making Software.” He emphasized the importance to develop new tools/models which are not from the donor organizations. He noted that Threshold 21 is such a tool. The demonstration itself can be found on the web at the Threshold 21 site.
He discussed the changing context of development by mentioning several recent and upcoming events:
Millenium Development Goals, Millenium Project
Rome High-Level Forum on Harmonization
Monterey Conference on Financing for Development
Johannesburg Plan of Implementation for Sustainable Development
1. Long-term holistic vision and strategy
2. Country ownership
3. Country-led partnership
4. Focus on development results
analytical tools use in development planning [he presented a visual model on overhead--we hope to make this available on the blog!]
-- vision: “the dream drives the action”
-- develop alternative strategies to ‘get there’
-- apply a tool to the information
-- iterative process of re-trying options
“Monitoring and evaluation” are new emphasis of donors.
1. integrate systems, 25-year outlook
2. practical, transparent, transferable
3. Donors and MDGs are involved
4. Time-bound projections of results
Economic models – CGE (Computable General Equilibrium)
Integrated, dynamic models – like T21 – which include all of the above interrelatedly.
[He presented T21 Overview Diagram--this model was a primary focus of his presentation, and we'll post it here when it becomes available]
“feedback loops become very important”
-- positive – exponential growth (such as simple bank account growth)
-- negative – regulatory equilibrium effects (such as a thermostat)
[He presented several feedback loops and demonstrated the interrelations among and integration of factors]
He credited Carter Center’s support in development of Threshold 21 software.
He showed examples of application of tool – Population Sector, Industry Sector.
The tool includes equations and pictures, to lend itself well to accuracy and ease of presentation to stakeholders.
Baseline Simulation and Historical Data
“What if” simulations
-- He demonstrated application of tool to Mozambique regarding economic policies
-- He noted the ways that one could modify projections based on new data points
-- Causal Tracing – can look back to the inputs to the variables that are used in the projections
Data collection is a challenge – use country’s own data or international data
Many partner organizations
Questions from the audience:
1. Cost to countries/interested parties to use model?
Barney’s Answer: Training, customization of model to situation, etc = $250,000 to $300,000
2. Calibrate assumptions between/among variables quantitatively?
B: Did not specify, but qualified that they have experience of 20+ years
3. What is the degree of accuracy, weaknesses, Ghana situation?
B: He noted that he is not establishing absolute accuracy, but that it allows for insights about interactions of factors; also, guides decision-making about options; he suggested that it can clarify if a decision makes things better or makes things worse
B. Ghana work was funded by a U.S. foundation, not completed due to initial hesitation by donors; second effort was in response to limitations of Sacks’ models to test country of Ghana – he offered some perspectives on the issues that application addressed
4. Application to drinking water crisis of some developing countries?
B: difficulty of disaggregating water issues; includes inflow and outflow dynamics and allows for national scaling but not particular parts of country. He referenced applications of tool to Tunisia water issue and China agriculture.
5. How does tool account for non-economic, community-based issues?
B: Information needs to include consequences of issues – and people in those situations need to inform the tool of these consequences.
6. Is the goal to offer scenarios or to offer specific data to identify decisions?
B. Means of testing the reality/viability of priorities, and clarify which ones seem to have some basis for further pursuit/donor
7. Atwood’s comment: Historical frustration of difficulty to observe synergies among elements, and difficulties with people offering sector-based advice. He noted that he sees the benefit to policymakers as well as people within sectors.
(Thanks to Christopher Rogers for taking such great notes!)