Ideas to Action:

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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Holiday Lights Are for Celebration—and for Shining Light on Energy Inequality

Every year, millions of Americans power up decorative lights to celebrate the holidays. These festive lights invoke the best human aspirations of peace, joy, and generosity. This time of year, Americans should also celebrate that we can enjoy these traditions because we live in a country with a modern energy system that (almost always) delivers affordable 24/7 electricity.

Seven Ways the International Community Can Help Zimbabwe through Tough Times

Events are in tremendous flux in Zimbabwe after the non-coup committed by the military last week and the resignation of President Robert Mugabe on November 21. It’s not too early for the international community to start considering constructive steps to help the country get through the inevitable transition and back on a path to democracy and prosperity.

The World Bank Now Has Three Poverty Lines. Why Not Three for Energy?

The World Bank now has three benchmarks for measuring poverty. The “headline” extreme poverty threshold of $1.90/day will stay, but two new international poverty lines were added for lower middle-income ($3.20/day) and upper middle-income ($5.50/day) countries. While it’s great that the World Bank is bringing a little more nuance to the way we define poverty, it's still a repackaging of Lant Pritchett’s kinky development.

Do African Countries Consume Less (or More) Electricity than Their Income Levels Suggest?

 Are some countries too poor to consume a lot more energy? Or is income growth being held back by a lack of reliable and affordable electricity? While there is a strong relationship between energy consumption and income, the direction of causality is often far less clear. One way to estimate unmet demand may be to try to compare pairs of countries—e.g., how much additional energy does Kenya need to reach the level of Tunisia?

We Don’t Want Kinky Energy Either

Energy wonks will gather in New York City on April 3 for the third annual Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) forum to discuss progress on SDG7, whose aim is “By 2030, [to] ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services.” The target is wonderful. The details are where this gets a little kinky.

Universal Basic Income: What Would Mahatma Gandhi Do?

Should India go for Universal Basic Income or not? This year's Economic Survey includes a thoughtful, cogent, and thorough discussion of the potential to replace India’s vast complex of subsidies and targeted in-kind benefits to the poor with a guaranteed cash transfer to all citizens.

How to Support Post-Dictator Recovery in the Gambia

In the Gambia, the newly elected Barrow administration has to rebuild the country which has been suffering autocratic repression and staggering corruption for 22 years. The Gambia is the only country in the region to have grown poorer over the past two decades. I lay out ways outsiders can help the Gambia recover.

The Warlord and the Ambassador: A Review of Dante Paradiso’s "The Embassy"

The Embassy: A Story of War and Diplomacy by Dante Paradiso tells the inside story of how US Ambassador John Blaney and his team kept the Liberian embassy open, risked their lives to cross the front lines to meet with General Cobra, and played a crucial role in negotiating a complicated sequence that included Taylor being forced into exile, the rebels allowing ECOWAS peacekeepers to reopen the port, and getting peace negotiators back to the table. Paradiso, a foreign service officer who served in that embassy, skillfully tells the story through the eyes of several unsung heroes.

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