Lowy Institute
  • Curious about how much Chinese aid in spent in the Pacific? Check out  Mapping Chinese Aid in the Pacific, by Dr Philippa Brant. It's the first comprehensive survey of Chinese-funded aid projects in the Pacific Islands region, presented as an interactive map.
  • Aid data has the potential to radically alter the way development is delivered, but will donors recognise the benefits of investing in it?  'How to Fund a Data Revolution', by Claire Melamed (ODI) and Grant Cameron (World Bank).
  • Only when Ebola was framed as a security problem did it prompt global action.
  • Real World Development Indicators: suggests helpful indicators such as 'Probability that Prime Minister/President seeks medical treatment in their own country'. (Thanks Sam.)
  • The International Criminal Court is in crisis, and it always has been.
  • The value of remittances: Westpac will shut down accounts that use money transfer organisations to send money abroad.  Will this affect Australians' ability to provide direct cash injections to friends and family in developing countries? 
  • Why a 'social progress index' is a better benchmark than GDP. Interesting TED talk from social progress expert Michael Green:



Mapping Chinese aid in the Pacific, an interactive map launched by the Lowy Institute today, is the first comprehensive survey of Chinese-funded aid projects in the Pacific Islands region.

Lowy Institute Research Associate Dr Philippa Brant drew on over 500 sources including budgets, tender documents, government statements as well as interviews and site visits to create this map. It is the first time this data has been systemically collected, verified, analysed and mapped for Chinese aid projects from 2006 onwards. Users can search via country, year and sector, as well as compare Chinese aid with other aid donors in the region.

Key findings include:

  • Since 2006, China has provided US$1.4 billion in foreign aid to Pacific Island countries.
  • China is on track to overtake Japan as the third largest donor in the region. But at a regional level, Australia is and will remain the most significant external actor.
  • In some countries however, Chinese aid amounts are rivaling that of traditional partners.

Jump in by pressing 'Explore Now' button, or visit the full-screen version on the Lowy Institute website. And note that the interactive can be  embedded on other websites too. Just click the 'Share' button to copy the code:


  • 5 lessons for aid and development from departing US AID Administrator Rajiv Shah (thanks Danielle).
  • New UN figures show Afghan civilian casualties hit record highs in 2014.
  • Australian aid to Indonesia enters the death-penalty debate - media overview from Dev Blog's Ashlee Betterridge.
  • The hashtag says it all: #humanitarianStarWars.
  • Why is Waleed Aly so scandalised by the idea of 'conditional' foreign aid? The Lowy Institute's Sam Roggeveen picks a fight.
  • Does aid in conflict zones promote peace or war?
  • ' 5 reasons why everyone should work for a large organisation at some point in their international development careers', from @aidnography.
  • Is the World Health Organization on the cusp of a post-Ebola reformation?
  • The aid industry: what journalists really think. Interesting new report from the International Broadcasting Trust.
  • Global Peace Index 2015: Which country is the world's most peaceful?  (Australia doesn't rank as high as you would think!) Check out the interactive (screen capture below).

  • ICYMI, Julie Bishop released the inaugural Performance of Australian Aid report last week (part of the new performance framework for Australia's aid).
  • Good two-part series on Julie Bishop's speeches on aid from Benjamin Day on DevBlog.
  • ANU's Robyn Davies: 'Australia's billion dollar aid cut: Indonesia gets it, or everybody does.'
  • The Reporters without Borders 2015 Press Freedom Index was released last week.  Sadly, 'there was a drastic decline in freedom on information in 2014. Two thirds of the 180 countries surveyed performed less well than in the previous year'.  In Asia, East Timor, fell by 26 places.
  • DFID spends 30% of its budget in fragile states, yet a new watchdog report says it is yet to make a difference.
  • Humanitarian Key Facts: a handy data-rich resource from Oxfam.
  • Aid workers or journalists: who should report the news? Nice  Storify piece  on the challenges facing newsrooms who increasingly rely on aid workers to report from frontlines of a crisis.
  • The UK pledges another £100 million for Syrian refugees, bringing  UK contribution to £800 million, Britain's largest ever response to a humanitarian emergency.
  • On Friday President Obama released the 2015 US National Security Strategy. Read how it elevates the role of development.
  • From Brookings, nine global priorities that will help progress at the upcoming UN Financing for Development Conference.
  • How doorstop banking can help tackle poverty.
  • UK development policy must look beyond aid, says landmark report from the UK Parliament's International Develop Select Committee.  
  • Why is justice so important to development? Watch this video from Open Society, with an impressive  line-up of appearances by the likes of Amartya Sen and Mark Malloch-Brown:


  • Inside the takedown of AusAID and CIDA, from Devex researcher Pete Troilo (thanks @DaniellesCave).
  • Meant to keep malaria out, nets are being used to haul fish in: an investigative report from NY Times.
  • What President Obama said about development in his 2015 State of the Union address.
  • Australian aid cuts are a broken promise to girls,argues Plan Australian's Ian Wishart.
  • UNDP's 2013-14 report on  development assistance in the Asia Pacific.
  • A timeline of MSF's withdrawals from hot spots around the world.
  • Ideas on who might succeed USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah when he steps down early this year.
  • 12 tips for getting a job in international development.
  • Eight months until new development goals are agreed.  But then what? Good analysis on the Guardian and in this podcast. 
  • 15 things you may not have known about EU development cooperation in 2015.
  • A Chinese-built 338 MW hydropower dam begins operation in Cambodia.
  • How lawyers can help promote development.
  • Guineaworm has (almost) been eradicated from the planet. Read about former US President Jimmy Carter's tireless efforts.
  • UNDP's Helen Clark reviews the development and humanitarian challenges the world faced in 2014.
  • Brookings development experts, including Kamal Dervis, explore ways to jump-start inclusive growth in the world's most impoverished states.
  • Canada's role in the new global development agenda, from John W McArthur.
  • The global megatrends shaping aid delivery. Below, a taste of an interesting new report from PWC:

  • With world leaders flying in for the Lima climate change meetings, listen to this Guardian podcast on what sort of climate deal the world can expect.
  • A new UN report highlights that climate change adaptation costs for developing countries are likely to be three times higher than previous estimates, even if emissions are cut to reduce global warming. 
  • An excellent background guide to Peru climate change talks from Bloomberg. Also a great interactive from World Resources Institute on top CO2 emitters from 1860-present.
  • The 20th annual Corruption Perceptions Index was published last week by Transparency International. China, Turkey and Angola slipped on the rankings, while Denmark rose to the top. Australia slipped one position in 2014, ranking 11th globally, and 3rd in Asia Pacific region. 
  • Journalism in the time of Ebola - interesting NY Times column on how the media cover health pandemics in developing countries.
  • News that Xi Jinping held talks with South African President Jacob Zuma, signing a 2015-2024 strategic plan on South-South cooperation in areas of economy, trade, investment and agriculture .
  • 'Refugee Republic', and award winning digital interactive, bringing together maps, video, data and interviews, to enable viewers to experience everyday life in a refugee camp.


The 2014 Lowy Lecture has been widely acknowledged in international press as signaling a turning point for German foreign policy:

…the speech the German chancellor gave in Australia, a few days after Vladimir Putin stormed out of the G20, may go down as a major shift in European geopolitics...Germany seems to be closing down Ostpolitik, the policy that has driven much of its diplomacy for decades. This has potentially huge repercussions that may shift the power games in Europe… It is worth listening to Merkel's Sydney speech. In a few swift sentences, she cast the Putin regime not just as a nuisance in a nasty regional rivalry, but as a threat to the very heart of European wellbeing. – Guardian (UK Edition)

Angela Merkel is a disciplined and cautious public speaker. So when she makes statements that seem fired by passion and resolve, it is good to take note. And if those statements prompt her foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to urge a softer tone, something big probably happened. That is what happened in Sydney, Australia, on November 17th, when Mrs Merkel talked at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. Her main subject was the aggression of Russia's Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. – The Economist

 German Chancellor Angela Merkel now speaks openly about, 'outdated thinking in terms of spheres of influence which tramples international law' and says it 'must not be allowed to prevail.' It's a thought she may have harbored many times, but when she said it in Sydney last week, it marked the first time she had uttered such sentiments to a global audience. It was a clear challenge and turning point after a year of diplomatic efforts that, while not useless, now appear to have been exhausted. – Der Spiegel

 As relations between Russia and the West increasingly resemble the bygone days of the Cold War, Ms. Merkel abandoned her traditionally cautious tone on Monday, castigating Russia for its actions in Ukraine, for intimidating sovereign states in Eastern Europe and for threatening to spread conflict more broadly across Europe. 'The Ukraine crisis is most likely not just a regional problem,' Ms. Merkel said in a speech at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, Australia. 'In this case, we see it affects us all'. – New York Times

If that's not enough to convince you to read the full transcript or watch the full video, watch this 4 min highlights video, which captures Chancellor Merkel's key comments on Russia. Shout out to Modular Productions for aptly capturing the 'buzz' from the lecture.

  • A proposal to end the exaggeration of what counts as foreign aid.
  • How do countries and other donors compare in their Ebola assistance? The Ebola Response Tracker by ONE is a great interactive.
  • With the Lima Climate COP just around the corner,  how ambitious are China's climate targets? Good fact sheet from The Climate Institute.
  • In Berlin last week countries pledged US$9.3 billion for Green Climate Fund for developing countries to deal with climate change.
  • News that China will build a US$12 billion railway in Nigeria, connecting Lagos to Calabar.
  • 'The less the government controls, the more authoritarian it becomes.' The future looks dismal in war-torn South Sudan.
  • The Djioubti Minister for Foreign Affairs urges a reconfiguration  on the debate  African nations face in forging 'eastern' or 'western' partnerships.
  • Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the world's most widely ratified human rights treaty. See UNICEF's anniversary interactive.
  • Last week the Australian Government announced it would send volunteer health workers to Sierra Leone to help fight Ebola. The decision, largely criticised for being too little too late, only came after an EU guarantee was secured to evacuate Australian health workers if needed. Those interested in registering their interest can do so via Aspen Medical.
  • Questions  continue to be raised on why Australia (and Canada) are going against the advice of the World Health Organisation and placing travel bans on Ebola-hit countries.
  • The GiveWell blog investigates where your Ebola donations go.
  • The UN must reform the system for the appointment of Ban Ki Moon's successor, says a consortium of NGOs, UN associations and former UN officials.
  • Aussies are giving more than ever to charities, says NAB's annual charity giving index.  
  • Comprehensive action needed to shift global economy into higher gear, says OECD in latest economic outlook. (See image below and note expected rises for China, India, Indonesia) 

  • Civil society groups walked out of the World Bank's official safeguards consultation over concern about a proposed reduction in the Bank's social and environmental standards.
  • Oxfam has called for the Australian Government to enact the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
  • 24 October was World Polio Day. Check out this interactive map to see global hot spots.
  • Related, this story from Pakistan, where terrorist forces aim to stop polio vaccinations. Pakistan is one of only three countries, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, where polio is still endemic.
  • 24 October was also  UN Day. Read this research paper from UN watcher and New York University academic Richard Gowan: Peacekeeping at the precipice: Is everything going wrong for the UN?
  • China's use of coal falls for the first time this century; but will this  change its negotiating position at UN climate talks later this year? 
  • Lastly, a podcast from Freakonomics Radio called Fixing the world: Bang for buck edition. Economists and intellectuals decide how to spend the world's combined aid budget.
  • A new report from UNDP on how cash transfers in developing countries are helping win the fight against HIV.
  • In 2013, international migrants sent US$413 billion home to families and friends — three times more than the global total of foreign aid (about US$135 billion). Watch this recent TED talk with economist Dilip Ratha.
  • How text messaging is being used to combat Ebola.
  • The Guardian explains how infectious diseases and poverty are linked.
  • 'Smart cities' may be the way forward for India's megalopolises.
  • Last Friday was World Food Day. How well do you understand global hunger?  View the top 10 myths about hunger, take The Guardian's hunger test, and see how diets vary around the word. 
  • Around 1.2 billion people across the world have no access to modern energy. The World Bank has a new video on ending energy poverty:


Good news out of the UK this morning with Australia's Richard Flanagan winning the 2014 Man Booker Prize for his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Random House). 

It is a gripping read, based on Flanagan's father's harrowing experience as a Japanese prisoner-of-war on Burma's 'Death Railway'. Man Booker judges described the book as something that 'kicks you so hard in the stomach' it takes the breath away.

On Remembrance Day 2013 Executive Director Michael Fullilove hosted Richard at the Lowy Institute, reflecting on war, memory, the Australian character and the relationship between fiction and history. Michael and Richard held a fascinating conversation about Richard's motivations for writing the book, as well as the extensive research and twelve-year-long writing process. You can listen to the podcast here, or watch below Michael's short video interview with Richard.

  • Poverty among Australians is on the rise; one in six children struggling, says new Australian Council of Social Services report.
  • China is at the bottom of the pack among major donors in making foreign aid information accessible, according to the latest edition of a global index on aid transparency.
  • Interesting podcast on what the Ebola crisis means for long-term development progress in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
  • Oxfam America considers the arguments for and against reducing the number of the UN's new Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Lessons on aid spending from Korea.
  • With horrific violence from ISIS towards aid workers, good reading from Devex on the increasing risks to aid worker security.
  • WATCH: Acceptance speech from Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2014: