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.

 

Welcome, President Joyce Banda!

Last week CGD hosted an event on advancing women’s political leadership, featuring Malawi’s first female president and Africa’s second, President Joyce Banda. President Banda discussed her own experiences as a woman in African politics and her current work to encourage other women to become political leaders, arguing forcefully for leveling the playing field

Traffic Lights Could Help OPIC Balance its Three Competing Policy Objectives

America’s development finance agency is constantly being pulled in three directions. The primary mandate of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is to promote development by catalyzing private capital from US firms in emerging and frontier markets. OPIC is also supposed to support US foreign policy by making commercial investments aligned with diplomatic, security, or democracy objectives. Lastly, OPIC must operate on a commercial basis so projects are both sustainable over the long-term and cost nothing to US taxpayers.

El Niño vs El Tío: What’s Causing Food Insecurity in Southern Africa?

The UN’s World Food Program now estimates that some three million Zimbabweans, or roughly one-quarter of the population, may require food aid this year. Zimbabwe is suffering from erratic rainfall this year, blamed in large part on the El Niño weather phenomena. An estimated 70% of Zimbabweans rely on agriculture, so the impact on poverty and human welfare will no doubt be severe. But in reading about Zimbabwe’s current predicament, something struck me:  neighboring Zambia seems to have no urgent food aid requirements.

Zimbabwe’s Courts Deliver “a Great Day for Women”

To combat child marriage, the UN calls for, among other steps, the enactment of laws to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18. Zimbabwe is poised to follow this advice following a Constitutional Court ruling last month when human rights lawyer Tendai Biti (a former minister of finance and CGD visiting fellow) won a landmark case in Zimbabwe’s highest court that ruled marriage before age 18 is illegal.

My Top Three Videos about Energy and Development: Rosling, Gates, and Pritzker

Energy is a colossal development issue, touching on virtually every aspect of human progress from health and education to job and wealth creation. Modern energy access got its own Sustainable Development Goal (#7). Here are my three all-time favorite videos about the power unleashed by delivering energy to people—and what we can do about it.

US Holiday Lights Use More Electricity Than El Salvador Does In a Year

At this time of the year, sparkling trees and decorated lawns have taken over. A 2008 study from the US Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that decorative seasonal lights accounted for 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity consumption every year in the United States. That’s just 0.2% of the country’s total electricity usage, but it could run 14 million refrigerators. It’s also more than the national electricity consumption of many developing countries, such as El Salvador, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nepal, or Cambodia.

Three Energy Hopes for the G-20

“Energy Sustainability” is high on the agenda for the G-20 meeting in Antalya, Turkey, next week. In practice, this means the governments of the world’s leading economies will pledge to continue the laudable goals of phasing out inefficient subsides and boosting energy efficiency. But the meatier agenda is two wonkier research items. According to the Turkish presidency priorities communiqué (PDF), the G-20 will “study the reasons behind the high cost of renewable energy investment and examine the deployment of public and private resources to fulfill the need for energy investment.”

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