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.

 

Will SCOTUS Ruling on EPA’s Clean Power Plan Derail Paris Agreement?

Last Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court decided, by a 5 to 4 vote, to allow states to temporarily stop preparing to implement the Obama administration's signature regulation for cutting greenhouse gas emissions until a series of lawsuits against the rules have been decided.  This casts uncertainty on climate policy actions both in the U.S. and internationally, as many developing countries are only willing to take climate action if the US shows leadership.

Guess Who’s (Not) Coming to Dinner? The Unrepresentative Statistics of White House State Dinners

Here at the Center for Global Development we’re concerned with how the practices of rich countries affect developing countries.  So with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff visiting President Obama this week, it’s a natural time to ask, who gets invited to White House State Dinners and who gets left out in the cold?  It turns out that Europe and Latin America get wined and dined, while Sub-Saharan Africa has gotten snubbed.  So, for that matter, has Southeast Asia.

The State Department/USAID 2015 QDDR: We Already Do That

Are our foreign affairs agencies prepared to mitigate threats to global security and advance US interests?  That’s the central question the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) must answer.  And although the report is filled (literally, filled) with ideas for small improvements, there’s little in it that (a) identifies the reasons State and USAID are falling demonstrably short of the admirable ambitions outlined in the report, and (b) offers real, and sufficiently grand, solutions for addressing them. 

A Glimmer of Hope for a Carbon Tax in the US?

I’ve spent the last year at CGD working with a team of experts to figure out how to encourage more funders to pay tropical forest countries for results in reducing deforestation.  My CGD colleagues Jonah Busch and Frances Seymour have done extensive research that documents that forests are critical for development and to combat climate change. And paying forest countries for performance – actual results in reducing deforestation – can provide an essential incentive and can complement funding for inputs, as reflected in CGD’s Cash-on-Delivery aid research.  

Export Promotion Is Not the Same As Building Markets Abroad

Last month, President Obama laid out a bold pledge to consolidate and reorganize the federal government in support of a more competitive America.  If you missed that line, it was right before his joke about salmon being regulated by different agencies depending on whether they’re in fresh or salt water.  While President Obama specifically referenced a dozen agencies working on export promotion, it’s difficult to gauge whether the consolidation wave will touch all of them or just a lucky few.  Those talks are happening behind closed doors.  So, we’re left trying to read the tea leaves.  Base

Too Big to Succeed? Why (W)Hole-of-Government Cannot Work for U.S. Development Policy

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

While talking beautifully about its development plans, the Administration is really not living up to its rhetoric of elevating development to equal status with diplomacy and defense, the so-called 3Ds. If development is really such an equal partner alongside defense and diplomacy, why is USAID increasingly a minor subcomponent of the State department? The promises of making USAID the “world’s premier development agency” are ringing embarrassingly hollow. How can an agency be influential when it doesn’t even control its own budget or set its own strategic priorities? Even in areas where USAID has traditionally been very strong—disaster relief and food security, for instance—the State Department has taken over. (The Feed-the-Future initiative is effectively directed by State and, despite early promises that USAID would lead on Haitian earthquake relief and reconstruction, it was recently leaked that a State coordinator is running the show.) And it should hardly be surprising that USAID is getting its lunch eaten in the interagency when it had no head for a year and, nearly two years in, still has less than half of its top managers on the job.

But what if the problems of the 3Ds aren’t really about the staff vacancies, the battle of Washington egos, and an empire-building State Department? What if the real problem is that the much-vaunted “whole-of-government” approach is fundamentally unworkable in the United States?

In Kenya, Questions and Suggestions on AGOA

Last week Secretary of State Clinton, U.S. Trade Representative Kirk, Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack, and other U.S. government officials were in Nairobi at the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, making new and improved promises about the commitment of the United States to African development. I was in Nairobi last week too to moderate our fifth consultation meeting for the CGD Global Trade Preference Reform Working Group.

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