IfG LIVE – Discussions with the Institute for Government


When mega-projects become mega-disasters

Season 1, Ep. 61

In his new book, Imperialism and Development – the East African groundnut scheme and its legacyDr Nicholas Westcott, Director of the Royal African Society, explores one of the most expensive and disastrous development schemes ever undertaken by a British government. What lessons can be learned, more than 70 years on, from the ill-fated launch of a scheme to grow peanuts in Tanganyika (now Tanzania)? How are major decisions on major projects made today? Who is held accountable if they go wrong? How do civil servants and ministers work together to ensure money isn’t wasted on major projects? What has actually changed, since the groundnut scheme was abandoned in 1951, to ensure mega projects don’t become mega disasters?


Bronwen Maddox, Director at the Institute for Government is in conversation with Dr Nicholas Westcott, Director of the Royal African Society, Rt Hon Baroness Amos, former UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and former Secretary of State for International Development, Professor John Kay, economist and former Financial Times columnist, Giles Wilkes, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government. Audio production by Candice McKenzie

More Episodes


Hitting net zero: how the government can decarbonise homes

Season 1, Ep. 135
Decarbonising homes will be among the most difficult elements of reaching net zero. Homes account for 15% of the UK’s total emissions, yet there has been little progress towards reducing these over the past decade. Confidence has been damaged by repeated U-turns and policy failures, including the Green Deal and the Green Homes Grant.Achieving net zero by 2050 will require a huge national programme to deliver the infrastructure needed to reduce residential emissions – retrofitting homes, installing heat pumps and developing local heat networks. The government, businesses and consumers all have key roles to play. But how should the government approach policy making in this area? Will the long overdue Heat and Buildings Strategy be worth the wait and offer a clear plan? How can previous policy failures be learnt from? And how can we ensure the UK’s infrastructure is ready to support zero-emission homes?On our panel to discuss these issues were:Lord Callanan, Minister for Business, Energy & Corporate Responsibility at BEISChris Burchell, Managing Director, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) DistributionGillian Cooper, Head of Energy Policy at Citizens AdviceGuy Newey, Director of Strategy and Performance at the Energy Systems CatapultThis event waschaired byMarcus Shepheard, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Government.#IfGnetzeroWe would like to thank Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution for supporting this event.