Lowy Institute
  • 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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  • UNDP's 2014 Human Development Report is out. Headline news is that more than 2.2 billion people are either near or living in multidimensional poverty.
  • Interestingly, rankings remain unchanged at both ends of the Human Development Index (see image). Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands and US remain in the lead for another year, while Sierra Leone, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger continue to rank at the bottom of the list. Here's The Guardian's analysis.
  • What you need to know about the new BRICS development bank: catch up with this easy guide from the Wall Street Journal and this analysis from Philippa Brant on China's growing web of development financing.
  • Is 'green growth' a fad?  Matthew Dornan from DevPolicy explains.
  • Guinea worm is almost eradicated. It's a huge victory for public health, and for Jimmy Carter's charity. (H/t Browser.)
  • Martin Drewry argues in The Guardian that Africa loses more to Western countries than it gains in aid. A new approach is needed.
  • Disturbing UNICEF data on rates of female genital mutilation and child marriages.
  • @GlobalPolicy 's first e-book: The Donors' Dilemma: Emergence, Convergence and the Future of Foreign Aid'.

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In recognition of the International AIDS conference in Melbourne this week, an AIDS-themed edition of our regular Aid & Development Links. The conference opened yesterday with a minute's silence for the delegates lost in the MH17 disaster. 

Firstly, the latest facts from UNAIDS Gap report for Asia and the Pacific:

  • In 2013, there were 35 million people living with HIV. 4.8 million are in Asia and the Pacific.
  • New HIV infections have fallen by 38%  globally since 2001, but in Asia and the Pacific there were an estimated 350,000 new HIV infections.
  • Indonesia is cause for concern, with new HIV infections rising by 48% since 2005.
  • India accounts for 51% of all AIDS-related deaths in the region.
  • In Asia and the Pacific, only in Thailand and Cambodia are more than 50% of people living with HIV on antiretroviral treatment
  • Of the 35 million people living with HIV in the world, 19 million do not know their HIV-positive status. But as people find out,  they seek life-saving treatment. For example, In sub-Saharan Africa, almost 90% of people who tested positive for HIV went on to access antiretroviral therapy. 

AIDS analysis and readings: 

  • The Guardian reviews the status of recent claims of an AIDS 'cure'.
  • Oilsearch’s role in partnering with the PNG Government on  HIV prevention, testing, counseling and treatment services is an important model for developing countries.
  • Dream of Ding Village,  by Chinese author Yan Lianke, is a novel that offers a disturbing insight into the AIDS epidemic in China resulting from blood-selling.

Helpful AIDS 2014 Conference links:

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 In 2013, the Lowy Institute launched its inaugural Media Awards in an effort to enrich the discussion of global issues in Australia.

As part of this initiative and in the lead-up to the 2014 Lowy Institute Media Award, on 29 July we invite you to join us for a special panel discussion with Zoe Daniel, ABC foreign correspondent and Stan Grant from Sky News as they share their experiences working in the field as Australian foreign correspondents.

For more information and tickets, visit the Lowy Institute website.  

Image courtesy of IMDB.

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  • Six new documentaries  in PNG aiming to inspire young women in the country. 
  •  The 2014 Millennium Development Goals Report was released last week. Good news that targets relating to poverty have been met, with poverty rates halved between 1990 and 2010. But bad news on the child mortality and maternal mortality targets. See Robin Davies' commentary on the new report. 
  • The US and China  meet this week to chair a special Joint Session on Climate Change
  • The mega-cities of the future will be in Africa and Asia.
  • Seven billions: visualising the world as seven regions, each home to one billion people. 
  • India now gives more foreign aid ($1.3 billion) than it receives ($665 million).  (HT@petemartin7)
  • Africa's manufacturing islands and anti-Americanism in the Middle East: Chris Blattman links to a bunch of development-related academic papers.
  • With little fanfare, the US recently made some important changes to its policy on landmines.
  • We often talk about quantity of foreign aid, but how do donors rank on quality? Brookings have released the third edition of their Quality Official Development Assistance (QuODA) assessment 
  • 'Dysfunction': Medicins Sans Frontiers reviews three recent crises, and marks the UN's humanitarian response poorly.
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A new Lowy Institute poll released today has thrown fresh light on Australians' attitudes towards the UK.

The Lowy Institute Australia-UK Poll has found more than 8 in 10 Australians see the relationship as important (with 28% saying it is 'very important'). However, when asked to choose Australia's 'best friend' from a list of six countries around the world, the UK ranks third in popularity behind the US and New Zealand, with around a third (35%) of Australians saying the US is 'Australia's best friend', and almost a third (32%) nominating New Zealand as Australia's best friend.

It seems Australians feel closer to these other English-speaking nations than to their neighbours in Asia. When Australians are asked to choose our country's 'best friend' from a list of six countries around the world, the US, New Zealand and the UK rank well above China, Indonesia and Japan, with only 11% choosing any of these last three nations as Australia's 'best friend'.

 Australians' warmth towards the UK has been a consistent feature of Lowy Institute polling, with the UK scoring a warm 77 degrees on our 'thermometer' of feelings towards other countries of the world in 2013.  (See image below from the Lowy Institute Polling Interactive)

By way of background, in May 2014, the Lowy Institute commissioned market research company Newspoll to conduct a short poll on Australian attitudes towards the UK, to tie in with the new Lowy Institute-Ditchley Foundation Australia-UK Asia Dialogue, which the UK and Australian foreign ministers announced in March at AUKMIN. The dialogue begins today in the UK. 

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  • WhyDev presents its World Cup of Human Development. Compare your favourite teams in the 'Global Development World Cup' interactive. And want to learn more about Brazil? This World Without Poverty site has some great info, videos and other links.
  • A new female entrepreneurship index has some lessons for organisations wanting to support aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries. 
  • Another UNSC temporary seat candidature campaign, another round of new development assistance. This time it's Turkey and it is courting Pacific Island votes.
  • The booming protein business: as incomes rise, so does demand for meat and dairy.
  • ICYMI: @LowyInstitute launched an excellent paper by NYU academic Richard Gowan who positively reviews Australia's term on the UNSC. 
  • Arvind Subramanian from the Center for Global Development has an eclectic reading list about economic development.
  • What will happen to aid in the post-2015 era? How should the old aid model change? Important new paper from ODI & UNDP.
  • The World Resources Institute has launched Global Forest Watch, using satellites and big data to monitor deforestation:

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  • The FT summarises a good-news report showing improvement in global food security.
  • Bold moves last week from President Obama who unveiled sweeping US carbon emission rules.  Will this expose Australia's  5% emissions reduction target by 2020 as too low?
  • 'Africa is a country' and 26 other developing country myths.
  • Is India a bigger aid donor than Australia?
  • Nice little video on MDG progress from ODI — great graphs.
  • ICYMI: the 2014 Lowy Institute Poll launched last week, which included data on how Aussies perceive foreign aid. Read Ashlee Betteridge's analysis on DevPolicy blog.
  • For those heading to Sydney Film Festival, be sure to catch an excellent documentary trailing HRW's Emergency Team as they investigate human rights abuses in hot spots around the world. Watch the trailer:

 

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Today, the Lowy Institute for International Policy releases its tenth annual poll on Australian attitudes to the world.

The 2014 Poll has found that Australians believe China and Japan have equal claims to the title of 'Australia's best friend in Asia'. Sentiments towards China have also warmed significantly this year to its equal highest rating of 60° on the Lowy Institute's 'thermometer' of feelings towards other nations. 

Despite this increased warmth, nearly half (48%) of the adult Australian population believe China is likely to become a military threat to Australia in the next 20 years (up seven points), and a majority say the Australian Government allows too much investment from China (56%). A very high 64% of Australians either don't know or hold no view when asked whether they admire Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Other highlights:

  • Australians appear comfortable with their government spying on other countries, including allied countries. The majority of Australians think it is acceptable to spy on China (65%), Indonesia (62%) and East Timor (60%), but also on the US (54%) and even New Zealand (51%).
  • In a shift of public opinion, 45% of Australians now see global warming as a 'serious and pressing problem', up five points since 2013 and 9 points since 2012. In a new question this year, 63% of Australians say the government 'should take a leadership role on reducing emissions', while only 28% say 'it should wait for an international consensus before acting'. 
  • In a strong endorsement of the Abbott Government's policy of turning back asylum seeker boats, 71% agree that the government should turn back boats when safe to do so. For 59%, offshore processing in places such as Nauru and PNG is supported. However, temporary protection visas are more divisive — 48% agreeing and 49% disagreeing.
  • Confirming findings from previous Lowy Institute polls, only 60% of Australians, and only 42% of Australians 18-29, say that 'democracy is preferable to any other kind of government'. When asked to choose between 'a good democracy and a strong economy', only a slight majority of Australians (53%) choose a 'good democracy'. 

Download your free copy of the 2014 Lowy Institute Poll. Also remember to visit an updated 2014 Lowy Institute Poll Interactive, a data visualisation tool exploring key results from ten years of Lowy Institute polling.

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