Ideas to Action:

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CGD in the News

October 4, 2018

'Tax for TRIPS' deal altered UN declarations on NCDs, TB (Devex)

By Amruta Byatnal 

From the article:  

Last week, a crucial high-level political declaration on tuberculosis passed at the United Nations General Assembly secured a partial victory for advocates of affordable medicines. At the same time, a high-level declaration on noncommunicable diseases also passed at UNGA was criticized for lacking teeth.

Now, delegates have told Devex that a diplomatic trade-off on tax and intellectual property rights between the United States and countries of the G-77 group impacted the outcomes. 


U.S. opposition to sugar and tobacco taxes is not new. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization’s Independent High-level Commission on NCDs, which included Eric Hargan, U.S. deputy secretary of health and human services, also failed to mention taxes following U.S. resistance.

“Industry has been selling this idea of doubt on evidence [that taxes work] for decades, putting the burden of proof on the public health side,” said Bill Savedoff, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.

Read the full article here


February 23, 2018

Integrating Forests With Agriculture Crucial To Sustainable Development (Down To Earth)

From the article:

...Goal 15 of Sustainable Development Goals aims to “sustainably manage forests”, along with protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems; combating desertification; halting and reversing land degradation and halting biodiversity loss.
Forests need to be managed in a sustainable manner to deliver economic, ecological and social benefits for the current generation without compromising on the ability of future generations to enjoy the same benefits.
“We have seen that balancing the economic, social and ecological do not always go hand in hand. This has a lot to do with poor governance in many countries, resulting in over exploitation, illegal activities and ignoring the multiple benefits of forests. What we need is to follow sustainable forest management principles. Sustainable forest management in theory will address both biodiversity loss and poverty reduction,” Yurdi Yasmi, forest policy officer at FAO, told earlier.
According to Jonah Busch, senior research fellow at the US-based non-profit Center for Global Development, “…forests contribute toward the achievement of many Sustainable Development Goals—not just climate and biodiversity, but also food security, energy, clean water and health.”
October 13, 2017

FT Health: World Bank Says ‘Go Big, Go Fast’ To Stub Out Tobacco (Financial Times)

From the article:

For most experts in public health, there is little doubt that higher excise taxes on tobacco would be a win-win, raising costs as a disincentive to smokers while generating additional income from those who continue to smoke.

Yet governments and international institutions have been ambivalent. They have often listened to advice — or succumbed to pressure — from corporations including the tobacco industry which has steered them away from more aggressive measures. As William Savedoff from the Centre for Global Development, a think-tank in Washington, argues, the International Monetary Fund has stalled and played down how best to use taxes to improve public health.
Now the World Bank goes further, suggesting policymakers “go big, go fast”, tax cigarettes based on quantity not price, and use “soft earmarks” that channel revenues to public health.
Ultimately governments decide on taxation. But international institutions presenting the evidence more vocally — offering technical advice and cajoling national policymakers as part of regular budget scrutiny — can only be positive.

Read full article here.

October 11, 2017

Q&A: The World Bank's Quiet Evolution on Tobacco Taxes (Devex)

From the article:

Tobacco taxes — when they are implemented with the express purpose of reducing the number of people who smoke — offer national governments an extremely effective policy tool for tackling negative health outcomes, William Savedoff, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development who will also be in Wednesday’s meeting, told Devex.

Savedoff has pressed the international financial institutions to take a more proactive stance on tobacco taxes for years, and he is happy to see that the World Bank now seems to be taking that advice to heart. Devex spoke to Savedoff ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, where the bank will present a new paper it has produced, which argues for countries to make better use of this “underutilized” policy tool.

Savedoff described his early sense of awe at seeing the “knock-your-head-with-a-hammer” obvious association between smoking and health risks, and then the potential effectiveness tobacco taxes could have on mitigating those risks — especially among countries’ poorest populations.

Here’s an excerpt from our conversation with Savedoff, edited for clarity and length.

Read full article here.

April 21, 2017

A Crowded Global Jobs Market Is Braced for 1bn More Workers (Financial Times)

From the article: 

Goal eight may seem utopian in its reach, but Jasmine Nahhas di Florio, senior vice-president for strategy and partnerships at Education for Employment (EFE), says its scope will help non-profit organisations to work with governments and large development agencies.

EFE, a US-based social enterprise, aims to create tens of thousands of jobs for young people in the Middle East and north Africa. “The only way we can do that is by co-ordinating with government and multilateral agencies,” says Ms di Florio. “Goal eight is now on their agenda and when we can align with national policies we are more effective.”

William Savedoff, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Global Development, agrees: “These goals become tools and governments use them to mobilise support and focus attention.” Mr Savedoff argues that there can be no expansion in the number of jobs without economic growth. “So the best programmes are those that set the context for economic growth,” he says.

Read the full article here

January 2, 2016

GHD Is Not An AFZ. HTH You Understand What They Mean! (NPR)

From article:

"I can't stand acronyms in general," says William Savedoff, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (acronym: CGD). When a report comes with a one-to-two page list of all the acronyms a reader will encounter, he says, well maybe that's just a few acronyms too many.

Acronyms can also dehumanize. Health gurus worked hard to come up with a phrase to describe people who have AIDS. The phrase "people living with HIV/AIDS" was used to get away from the stigma of calling them AIDS victims, says Savedoff. Then the phrase was turned it into an acronym: PLWHA. "It seems so impersonal," he says.

Read full article here.

August 12, 2015

Can Randomized Trials Eliminate Global Poverty? (Nature)

From article

In 70 local health clinics run by the Indian state of Haryana, the parents of a child who starts the standard series of vaccinations can walk away with a free kilogram of sugar. And if the parents make sure that the child finishes the injections, they also get to take home a free litre of cooking oil. These simple gifts are part of massive trial testing whether rewards can boost the stubbornly low immunization rates for poor children in the region. 

Read full article here.

May 22, 2015

It's Not What You Spend (The Economist)

From article

At the moment, donors fearful of theft or waste usually write detailed plans for how their money is to be spent and insist that they are followed to the letter. But watchfulness may make little difference. Laying a square metre of road costs the World Bank over 50% more in countries where firms report paying bribes above 2% of the value of contracts than in ones where such payments are reported to be lower—even though its anti-fraud measures are equally stringent the world over.

Another reason donors are prescriptive is lack of faith in local bureaucrats’ competence. Scepticism is sometimes warranted, says Mr Solheim, though often overdone. Meanwhile donors are stifling ingenuity and making it hard to adapt schemes to local needs, says William Savedoff of the Centre for Global Development, a think-tank in Washington, DC, that champions the cash-on-delivery approach. To immunise more children, for example, one country will need cold-boxes to stop vaccines spoiling; another to pay health workers’ transport costs to visit isolated villages. A distant donor is unlikely to know what is lacking in each case.

Read full article here.

March 10, 2015

Free Lunch: Audacity in India (Financial Times)

From the article: 

...Parallel to the budget, New Delhi has just "radically transformed" the fiscal relationship between the central government and the states. That's the judgment of Anit Mukherjee at the Centre for Global Development, who draws attention to the fact that the split of public revenue will jump from about 30-70 to 40-60 in the central government's favour. That's a radical act of fiscal devolution.

Very noteworthy is that some of this money (about USD6bn per year) will be allocated according to the extent of forest cover, giving an incentive for states to protect their forests. Mukherjee's CGDev colleague Jonah Busch has the details. This could bring a host of environmental benefits in the form of the ecosystem services forests generate. But it is important far beyond India.

By creating incentives for forest preservation (and expansion) for the states, the reform also creates incentives for the central government to work for a global climate deal that rewards countries for contributing to emissions control. Given that India has traditionally been one of the most recalcitrant emerging countries in previous climate negotiations, this is very good news in the run-up to the Paris climate talks at the end of the year. Other countries should look and learn from India's way of making environmentalism pay.

Second, the new incentive is one of surprisingly few policies worldwide that pay for developmental or environmental results. No conservation, no money. The global development community will no doubt watch India's experiment with intense interest.

Read the article here.

September 1, 2014

From Law Suits to E-Cigarettes, How Big Tobacco Is Fighting Back (The Guardian)

From the article:

The global epidemic of tobacco use kills more people annually than malaria, tuberculosis and Aids combined. Increasingly, the people affected by tobacco live in developing countries. Though tobacco use is not an infectious epidemic, it has a lot in common with contagious illnesses – we know how to prevent the spread of the disease (effective measures that discouraging smoking) and yet the disease continues to evolve (tobacco corporations adopt new strategies to make smoking attractive). Like a mutating parasite, tobacco companies respond to public health efforts by exploiting weaknesses and compromising the global response. It is a big problem that requires bigger action.

Read the article here