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What Will It Take to Stop Tropical Deforestation? Lessons from a Case Study of Indigenous Peoples and REDD+ in Peru

When I first heard about international programs that would pay to reduce deforestation, I assumed that indigenous peoples who inhabit tropical forests would be unanimously supportive. As I should have anticipated, indigenous peoples and their organizations are quite heterogenous in their reactions to forest conservation initiatives for many reasons, including past experiences of repression and current political movements to claim their rights.

Guyana’s Forest Preservation Agreement: Hopes, Fears, and Consequences

Since 2008, programs for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) have pioneered the use of performance payments to reduce tropical deforestation. While these programs generated hopes of slowing climate change and protecting indigenous peoples’ access to their lands, they also generated fears over misuse of funds, abuses of rights, displacement and commodification of the environment.

Can Taxes Postpone Millions of Deaths Worldwide? A New Task Force Led by Michael Bloomberg and Lawrence Summers Inquires

This week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers announced a new Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health. This is the first time such a high-level group of respected economic and fiscal policy opinion leaders has convened on this issue, creating an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of taxes for promoting health and to take action to save lives.

Dear Finance Minister: The World Bank Has Cleared the Air on Tobacco Taxes

Dear Finance Minister,

This Wednesday, you will be attending an event on tobacco taxes at the World Bank’s annual meetings, where President Jim Kim and Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be speaking. You will be attending this high-level discussion along with about 14 other Finance Ministers. While the meeting may look routine, it is actually one of the most important you will attend this week. You will be discussing how the Finance Ministry can save more lives than the Minister of Health—by raising tobacco taxes in a way that best discourages smoking.

Taking Stock of Aid Agency Evaluations in Global Health: Here’s What We Know about Evaluation Quality and What Funders Can Do Better

With the US Congress considering cuts to foreign assistance and aid budgets in other donor countries coming under increased pressure, evidence about what works in global development is more important than ever. Evidence should inform decisions on where to allocate scarce resources—but to do so, evaluations must be of good quality. 

Tobacco Companies Fail the Corporate Social Responsibility Test of a Free-Market Advocate

Philip Morris International and other cigarette manufacturers are among the most profitable firms in the world, selling the world’s most lethal legal product. They prominently advertise their commitment to corporate social responsibility on everything from child labor to renewable energy. They’ve even conceded that smoking is dangerous and say they are committed to a smoke-free world. But none of these initiatives make up for breaching their most fundamental corporate social responsibility—one defined quite cogently by free-market-advocate Milton Friedman—to pursue their profits “without deception and fraud.”

Development's Hopes and Dilemmas in the Country at the Center of the World: Papua New Guinea

In a recent trip to the center of the world, I found myself confronting the big development questions in a low-income country with reasonably propitious circumstances. Papua New Guinea (PNG) is larger, richer, and growing faster than I had thought. It will go to the polls this very month to elect a new government. It is also facing all the dilemmas faced by most low-income countries since the 1950s—political fragmentation, resource curses, income inequality, and poor health. Have we learned anything to help it meet those challenges?

The World’s Most Profitable Slow-Motion Disaster: Tobacco

In April, I attended a very hopeful event sponsored by the World Bank entitled, “Tobacco Taxation Win-Win for Public Health and Domestic Resources Mobilization.” My optimism was buoyed by seeing people from different ministries, disciplines, and perspectives all recognizing the need to raise tobacco taxes and sharing ideas on how to reduce the death toll from smoking. Then the bubble burst. I got home and saw a Wall Street Journal article about the increasing profitability of cigarette corporations in the US domestic market—a reminder that, unbelievably, we are still on the defensive against this large, growing, and completely avoidable disaster.

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