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In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
Rajesh Mirchandani came to CGD from BBC News, where he garnered more than two decades’ experience as a journalist and broadcaster, reporting and anchoring from around the world for the BBC’s global television and radio networks, including BBC World News and the World Service. He has covered a wide range of stories and issues, from two US presidential elections to the Haiti earthquake, AIDS in India to oil exploration in the Arctic, education for displaced children in Colombia to green energy investments in California. He previously won two awards from the Los Angeles Press Club for his work during six years as a BBC North America correspondent.
Mirchandani brings a passion for international development and climate change issues—and says his most rewarding journalistic assignments were stories of solutions to development problems. He is regularly invited to participate at high-level events around issues such as the post-2015 agenda, girls’ empowerment, and changing media landscapes. In 2012 he completed an MA in public diplomacy at USC in Los Angeles, where he focused on communication strategies of state and nonstate actors, and the power of social movements as agents of change.
You've seen the headlines: Hundreds of villages burned. Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Myanmar for Bangladesh—and in just one month.
"In humanitarian terms, it's as desperate a situation as you can imagine,” says Eric Schwartz of Refugees International. We’re talking about the Rohingya—an ethnic minority group in Myanmar now facing what the UN has called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Schwartz is my guest on this week’s CGD podcast, along with Jeremy Konyndyk, CGD senior policy fellow and former director of USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance. I asked them both: what can the international community, and especially the US, do about the plight of the Rohingya? Here’s a preview of their response:
“Minimally, we need to be shouting from the rooftops about this horror, and we need to be doing it at the highest level, and we need to be doing it day in and day out,” Schwartz says. “Because our values demand it, but our interests demand it as well.”
“There’s a story that [President George W Bush] was briefed on what happened in Rwanda, and said, ‘Not on my watch,’” Konyndyk tells me. “This is a ‘not on my watch’ moment for the Trump Administration and everyone who works in it, and I would hope they treat it accordingly.”
To learn more, listen to the full podcast at the top of this page and read Jeremy's blog post on how the US should respond to the Rohingya crisis. For innovative solutions to help refugees, check out our reports on refugee compacts and private sector engagement.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh in a matter of weeks. The UN has called the situation “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” What can the international community, and especially the US, do about it? Refugees International's Eric Schwartz and CGD's Jeremy Konyndyk have some ideas.
Influential policymakers and practitioners from across the world and across the development landscape will be at CGD next week, ahead of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings. Luminaries from the fields of development finance, humanitarian policy, technology, and gender will share their expertise on how to address some of the biggest challenges and opportunities in global development. This blog post shares more details of CGD’s events next week.
If you are in Washington, DC, or able to tune in online, please join us to hear—among many others—Nandan Nilekani, co-founder and non-executive chairman of Infosys (and the architect of India’s Aadhar biometric identification system), Sir Suma Chakrabarti, president of the EBRD, UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao, Stefano Manservisi, the EU Commission’s director-general of international cooperation and development, and World bank chief economist Paul Romer.
Here are more details of CGD’s events next week:
Stitching Together the New Silk Road: How Governments and Institutions Can Make the Belt and Road Initiative a Success for Developing Countries
Thursday October 12, 9:30 – 11:00am
China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to connect countries that account for 60 percent of the world's people and 30 percent of global GDP. How can we make sure it produces real and lasting benefits for developing countries that are involved?
At this special mini-summit, co-hosted by CGD, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Reinventing Bretton Woods Committee, CGD president Masood Ahmed will convene a discussion among global leaders, including governments, multilateral development finance institutions and private finance institutions to identify and discuss practical considerations for BRI partners, as well as challenges and solutions. Participating will be high level representatives from China, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, AIIB, World Bank, New Development Bank, ADB, EBRD, IMF and others. You can find full details and register here.
How Can We End Violence Against Women and Girls? What We Need and What We Know
Thursday October 12, 4:30 – 6:00pm
One in three women around the world has experienced violence in their lifetime. It is the single most common form of violence in the world, but also one of the least analysed and discussed. Evidence shows that fighting violence against women not only addresses horrendous human rights violations and the negative impact on women’s lives and health, but also contributes to countries’ and societies’ sustainable economic, political and social development.
The EU and UN recently launched the Spotlight Initiative, including an initial allocation of Euro 500 million (more than half a billion US dollars) to fight violence against women and girls. How can the impact of this Fund be optimized? What does research and first-hand experience on the ground tell us about what works?
Former president of Malawi Joyce Banda (until recently also a former CGD distinguished visiting fellow) will join EU Commission Director-General Stefano Manservisi, UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and CGD senior fellow Mayra Buvinic to discuss how international actions, on-the-ground experience and rigorous research can help eliminate violence against women and girls in all its forms, now and in future. Register here.
Societal Platforms: Building beyond Aadhaar for Sustainable Development
Friday October 13, 9:30 – 11:00am
India’s pioneering biometric identification system, Aadhar, has seen more than one billion people enrolled in a scheme to deliver targeted subsidies. At this special event, India’s architect of Aadhar Nandan Nilekani will speak on “Societal Platforms: A Cambrian Approach to Sustainable Development”—how we can distill principles from the unique architecture of Aadhaar to develop new platforms that can enable people to access an increasingly wide array of transformative services.
Just as GPS technology for military satellites is now used for a huge range of purposes including hailing taxis to (potentially) driverless cars, what other social and economic challenges could India’s experience help resolve? How can other developing countries learn from India’s lead? How should the international community support similar approaches in other countries?
Following Nilekani’s remarks will be a panel discussion featuring Paul Romer, World Bank chief economist, Carolina Trevelli, former minister of development and social inclusion, Peru, and CGD senior fellow Alan Gelb.
This event is hosted in partnership with the World Bank Group, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Omidyar Network. Register here.
Addressing the Challenges Facing the Global Humanitarian System: A Conversation with Mark Lowcock, the UN’s New Head of Humanitarian Coordination
Friday October 13, 1:00 – 2:15pm
With more than 145 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, more than 65 million people forcibly displaced, growing risks of climate-driven natural hazards, food insecurity on the rise and four countries struggling to stave off famine, the global humanitarian system faces exceptional challenges. As needs outstrip funding, it is clear that traditional ways of doing business will not suffice. These global crises cannot be addressed without rethinking the link between humanitarian response and development assistance.
CGD is delighted to welcome Mark Lowcock, less than two months into his new position as the Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. As the UN system’s lead for global relief activities, he is charged with coordinating how humanitarian agencies respond and work together to address global emergencies. After delivering remarks, he will join CGD president Masood Ahmed to discuss successes, challenges, priorities, and reforms for the global humanitarian system in a time of urgent and growing need. You can register here.
If you’d like to leave questions ahead of time for any of the speakers at these events, you can add them in the comments section at the bottom of this page, or of each individual event page (linked above). We’d welcome them—and we hope you will be able to join us in person or online next week.
3.5 million children around the world are refugees, many with little or no access to schooling. That means we won’t come anywhere near our targets for the fourth Sustainable Development Goal—quality education for all—unless we can address the refugee crisis. Save the Children International president Helle Thorning-Schmidt joins the CGD podcast to discuss how donor countries can help.
“I feel we are stealing their future twice,” says Helle Thorning-Schmidt, president of Save the Children International. “First they have to flee from their homes and everything they know, then we steal their future by not providing an education to these children.”
She’s talking about refugee children, of whom there are 3.5 million around the world. “More children ... are getting access to primary education, but because so many children are refugees and they’re not getting education, we are actually not increasing the number” of children in schools, she tells me in the podcast.
In other words, we won’t come anywhere near our targets for the fourth Sustainable Development Goal—quality education for all—unless we can address the refugee crisis.
And it’s not enough just to sit them down in the seats. “Far too many children go to school without learning anything,” Thorning-Schmidt says, echoing the oft-repeated CGD premise that “schooling ain’t learning.”
So what should countries be focusing on? “It’s money, it’s quality of the teaching, it’s what goes on in the classroom, but it’s also legislation and red tape in many countries that stops these children from accessing school and learning,” Thorning-Schmidt says. “Often it’s very simple things we have to be doing.”
When you think about the global refugee problem and who can help solve it, you might not intuitively come up with the private sector. It's generally considered the preserve of governments and humanitarian and development agencies.
But businesses have a valuable role to play, says CGD senior policy fellow Cindy Huang: “They can engage with refugees as employees, as people who can supply goods and services, and also people to invest in, and that is very unique.”
To be clear, the idea here is not to start setting up factories in the middle of refugee camps, Cindy assures me in the podcast: “Global businesses with their partners—multilateral partners, other governments—should come up with standards for ethical engagement, a kind of code of conduct.”
That may sound like extra work, but it’s worth the effort, Huang says: “Refugees become net economic contributors if given . . . rights and support.”
In terms of solving the refugee crisis, “it’s not a slam dunk,” she tells me. “But we see with the right policy moves and the investment, positive change is possible.”
Businesses have unique opportunities to help refugees and improve their bottom line at the same time, says CGD senior policy fellow Cindy Huang. All they need is the right policy framework. Get the highlights from Huang’s latest report, Global Business and Refugee Crises, a collaboration with the Tent Foundation.
In 2014, unprecedented numbers of children and families began crossing the southern border of the United States, sparking an ongoing debate on what was driving them and how the U.S. should respond. Using data provided by the Department of Homeland Security, new research by Michael Clemens finds the flow of unaccompanied child migrants to the United States has been driven by a complex mix of violence and economic forces. How do these elements interact, and how can foreign policy be a form of migration policy?
USAID Administrator Raj Shah has called for “massive private and commercial-sector investment” in development as imperative to ending extreme poverty. Dr. Shah, whose five year leadership of America’s international development agency ends next week, urged the development community to do more to bring forth large sums of private capital for much-needed infrastructure projects in developing countries.
Speaking to me in a CGD podcast, Shah pointed to major initiatives such as Power Africa and Feed the Future, implemented under his stewardship, as successful examples of mobilizing private-sector money for public development gains. Shah described the increased use of public-private partnerships as a new model for development that had been one of the key successes of his time at USAID.
But new and more public-private partnerships, he stressed, were essential to the future of global development. “We need private-sector partners making investments, for commercial return, but real investment. And we need governments, like the United States government, and institutions like USAID being the conveners that brings people together to get the job done,” said Shah. Without public-private partnerships, he warned, it is “hard to see how we mobilize lots of additional resources for the things most critical to create inclusive growth around the world.”
Here at CGD, we are focused on this summer’s Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as a key moment to galvanize private-sector resources. In our podcast, Shah would not reveal if the United States plans to make any specific proposals at the event, but he said it would be a chance for the country to be “much more effective and aggressive” at increasing private-sector investment in development projects. Watch what Shah says about the Addis event here; below you’ll find links to the full podcast, available both as video or audio only.
Before I sat down with Shah I asked you for suggested areas of questioning. Thanks to those who responded — I incorporated some of your thoughts when I asked about local ownership versus centralized control, and when I asked about things that have not gone so well. In particular, I wanted to know what lessons he’d learned from the Global Health Initiative, a potentially huge project that has fizzled. I’d love to hear your reactions when you hear how Shah answered that question!
Shah leaves his job next week after five high profile years at the helm of USAID. He gave few clues about what lies in his future — but obscurity certainly does not. Click these links to listen to the podcast or watch the full video.
Almost a year since the adoption of the SDGs in a celebrity-endorsed fanfare, ONE cofounder Jamie Drummond and CGD's Rajesh Mirchandani discuss how the practice of advocacy has changed through time, and what organizations like ONE and CGD can learn from each other.
What will you remember about 2017? The growing crisis of displacement? The US pulling out of the Paris agreement and reinstating the global gag rule on family planning? Or that other countries reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris agreement, that Canada launched a feminist international assistance policy, that Saudi Arabia finally let women drive?
CGD experts have offered analysis and ideas all year, but now it's time to look forward.
What's going to happen in the world of development in 2018? Will we finally understand how to deal equitably with refugees and migrants? Or how technological progress can work for developing countries? Or what the impact of year two of the Trump Administration will be?
Today’s podcast, our final episode of 2017, raises these questions and many more as a multitude of CGD scholars share their insights and hopes for the year ahead. You can preview their responses in the video below.
Thanks for listening. Join us again next year for more episodes of the CGD Podcast.
While exciting new technologies for mobile money transfer deservedly make the headlines, there's a drier aspect of financial inclusion that doesn’t get as much attention: regulation. Liliana Rojas-Suarez visits the CGD Podcast to explain how better regulation can improve both financial inclusion and financial stability.
Just ahead of the annual World Bank/IMF spring meetings, the Bank’s new CEO, Kristalina Georgieva, spoke with me about a new way of thinking at the 72-year-old institution. The Bank has renewed ambition, she told me, to be a catalyst for massive transformative investment in development. She went on to lay out how the Bank plans to do that in this edition of the CGD Podcast.
Elizabeth Littlefield, President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, sits down with me to discuss the agency's success in leading the transition from aid to private finance (despite its modest size), as well as what it has in store for the remainder of the Obama presidency.
Changing the law is a good step, but changing norms is the real challenge. Former president of Malawi Joyce Banda and FGM survivor Kakenya Ntaiya offer effective ways to address cultural practices that harm young girls.