Lowy Institute
  • 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.
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  • 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) 

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  • 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.
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  • 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:

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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.

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  • 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:

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In a new Lowy Institute Analysis launched today, Nicholas Humphries, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Fellow at the Lowy Institute, examines how Customs can increase Australia's trade competitiveness at a time when goods and services are increasingly produced across borders in so-called 'global value chains'. 

The Analysis argues that to harness the opportunities of a changing global trading environment, Customs must develop an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) program. AEO programs are currently being established around the world as a means of rewarding low-risk traders with secure supply chains. Humphries argues that an AEO program will enable Customs to help Australian industry exploit new global trading opportunities, while still providing the Australian community with border protection services. 

'Without an AEO program, Australia is at a severe competitive disadvantage', argues report author Nicholas Humphries.

The Analysis can be downloaded from the Lowy Institute website. It was written as a part of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Fellowship at the Lowy Institute.

Image courtesy of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

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  • Need an overview of what happened at the UN Climate Summit? Good reporting and pictures from IISD, as well as six takeaways from the other high level meetings that also took place in NYC last week.
  • There were a string of new announcements from NYC , including:
  • Australia announced its support for a US$200 million Global Innovation Fund, which will distribute money through grants, loans and equity investments.
  • During the annual Clinton Global Initiative, Hillary Clinton announced a US$600 million global female education plan, which aims to improve quality, safety and security at schools around the world. (Interested in what the Clinton Global Initiative has achieved in the past 10 years? Watch this video).
  • There was good news at the UN last week, as the World Bank launched a major fund to advance the health of women and children.
  • With the UN discussion on the post-2015 development agenda heating up , John McArthur has some good news about child mortality in his Brookings report: seven million lives saved. But he pertinently reminds us that 'progress towards the [Millennium Development] Goals is not the same as progress because of the Goals'.
  • Chinese editorial rebuts the claim that China isn't shouldering enough global responsibility in humanitarian assistance.
  • Why 'disability is not our priority area' shouldn't be an excuse.
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  • The UN Climate Summit begins tomorrow in New York, with the 'People's Climate March' rallies around the world attracting higher than expected support.
  • The march was billed as the largest environmental protest event in history, with participants in 150 countries. In New York, numbers were estimated at 310,000, Melbourne at 30,000. See aerial drone footage of the New York march and read Naomi's Klein's op-ed. But will people power result in change?
  • US Secretary of State John Kerry was quick to issue a statement following the march, likening climate change to the fight against Ebola and ISIS, while Australia made headlines for not sending head of government representation and for rejecting a UN request to strengthen domestic climate targets.
  • Townsville residents take matters into their own hands, give it a striking, visual #headsinsandsalute 
  • Handy analysis from National Geographic on what to expect from UN Climate Summit, Follow @Climate2014Live or #climate2014 for official tweets from the Summit.
  • On the Ebola front, Sierra Leone has ordered its six million residents to stay indoors as volunteers circulate to educate households, isolate the sick and remove the dead. 
  • The World Bank president, visiting Sydney, warns of dire economic impact of Ebola if left unchecked.
  • Australia commits a further $7 million. It's still not enough, according to AMA President Brian Owler, who argues for coordinated deployment of Australian medical teams.
  • A helpful factsheet from the World Bank on global financing to address the crisis. 
  • Read Australian Jo Dunlop's (the blogger behind Freetown Fashpack) account of how health workers are responding to the crisis, as well as her personal interactions with those struck with the virus. See also Jo's pictures of how nurses are adapting their scrubs to the crisis (see image below).

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  • With Fiji elections happening tomorrow, be sure to read Jenny Hayward-Jones Policy Brief on the significance of the elections for Australian policy towards Fiji. 
  • Who gives humanitarian aid? To whom? How much? The 2014 Humanitarian Assistance Report was released last week and provides a great overview, as well as country profiles and interesting infographics.
  • Which development books should students read? A list compiled by Guardian readers.
  • Jeff Sachs alleges bias at the Wall Street Journal in its selection of climate change op-eds.
  • The UK has moved closer to enshrining a commitment to aid spending of 0.7% in law.
  • Read the full speech of the new UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, which warns that Australia's policy of off-shore detention for asylum seekers is 'leading to a chain of human rights violations'.
  • Zoom, Zoom! Sierra Leone's motorbike riders engaged by UNDP in campaign against ebola.
  • Has the era of climate change refugees begun? Interesting Washington Post blog post about Tuvalu nationals seeking refugee in New Zealand due to rising sea levels. 
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  • What's the value of Australian Aid scholarships? ANU's Dev Policy Blog have started a three-part analysis.
  • With  news of airlines cancelling travel from Ebola-effected countries, interesting that the WHO is against the idea.
  • Australia steps up humanitarian aid to South Sudan, with fears of a worsening food crisis.
  • Interesting reading on Social Impact Bonds.
  • Nice interactive over on Devex on the long history of USAID.
  • Why  the Gates Foundation isn't (yet) supporting the drive for Universal Health Coverage.
  • Listen to the Lowy Institute's Jenny Hayward Jones and Tess Newton Cain  discuss the diplomatic wrangle between Fiji and PNG over the appointment of Meg Taylor as Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat.

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Last night  the Lowy Institute announced ABC Middle East correspondent Hayden Cooper as the winner of the 2014 Lowy Institute Media Award for his ABC Foreign Correspondent report on journalist Peter Greste. You can watch Hayden's acceptance speech above.

Other finalists selected by the judges were Amanda Hodge (The Australian) for her work on the Indian elections and sexual violence in India, Christopher Joye (Australian Financial Review) for his coverage of intelligence and spying issues, Michael Bachelard (Fairfax Indonesia correspondent) for his reporting on the Indonesian elections, and Michael Edwards (ABC) for his coverage of the polio epidemic in Pakistan.

'Cooper's coverage of the trial, and his compelling interviews with Greste's colleagues and family, exposed the personal risks all foreign correspondents take reporting from countries in turmoil. Cooper's telling of Greste's story is a deserving winner', said Lowy Institute Executive Director Michael Fullilove, who was a member of the Media Award judging panel along with former Australian Senator and diplomat Amanda Vanstone, multi award-winning journalist Chris Masters, former foreign correspondent Jane Hutcheon, and Lowy Institute Board Director Mark Ryan.

 The keynote address at last night's award ceremony was delivered by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said 'We are often reminded that our freedoms, our way of life are secured because our defence forces are prepared to put their lives on the line. We should not forget that the price of the news we read every day, of the transparency, accountability indeed democracy that only a free press can ensure is all too often paid in lives and liberty put at risk by journalists like Peter Greste.'

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In a new Lowy Institute Analysis launched today, International Security Program Director Rory Medcalf and Nonresident Fellow C Raja Mohan argue that Indo-Pacific middle powers should look to build security coalitions in response to changing power balances in Asia.

China's increasing assertiveness and doubts about America's role in the Indo-Pacific have resulted in enhanced security cooperation between middle powers in the region. 'With Tony Abbott and Narendra Modi due to meet in the coming months, India and Australia are well placed to form the core of middle power coalition building', says C Raja Mohan in the new paper.

 The Analysis argues that cooperation between Indo-Pacific middle power coalitions would help them deal with the uncertainties surrounding the future of US-China relations while helping to build a more multipolar Indo-Pacific order. 'The next logical step should be the creation of "middle power coalitions". These informal arrangements will allow regional players to cooperate on strategic issues in groups that do not include China or the US', says Rory Medcalf in the paper.

Key findings:

  • China's assertiveness and uncertainties about America's response are causing middle powers in Indo-Pacific Asia to looking beyond traditional approaches to security.
  • Cooperation between Indo-Pacific middle power coalitions would build regional resilience against the vagaries of US-China relations.
  • India and Australia are well placed to form the core of middle-power coalition building.

The Analysis is free to download from the Lowy Institute website.

Image courtesy of Royal Australian Navy.

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  • With the UN confirming 1323 cases of the Ebola virus,  and 729 dead, why do so many people in West Africa  think is it a hoax? Read this Foreign Policy dispatch.
  • See how African countries are getting wealthier, fast. Infographic charting GDP growth across Africa since 1980.
  • If you haven't already, read Robin Davies reflections on Australia's new aid paradigm. Part 3, released last week, examines the new opportunities for research and development 
  • Midwives are key to a healthy and safe pregnancy for women. Read this UN State of the World's Midwifery Report, monitoring 73 countries which carry the burden of more than 96% of maternal deaths and 93% of newborn deaths globally.
  • World Bank briefing on the development challenges facing Indonesia's new President Joko Widodo.
  • On 25 August, Jenny Hayward-Jones will host a discussion with Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls Natasha Stott Despoja and award-winning journalist Jo Chandler. They will explore the serious problems facing women in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.  Get your ticket now! 
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