Lowy Institute
  • Why is Australian aid funding so frequently in the cross-hairs? Kylie Bourne on why we need to talk about aid.
  • Bled dry: an ICRC report on how war in the Middle East is bringing the region's water supplies to breaking point.
  • Bill Gates reviews the world's response to Ebola and what might be the next global epidemic.
  • New report from the OECD on the world's 50 most vulnerable countries.  
  • UN backs out of deal with Uber due to concerns over female driver protection.
  • Roads are a key aspect of the development agenda, but at what environmental cost?
  • The Economist reviews the four big meetings to occur in 2015 that will decide global governance outcomes.
  • Startling graph below from CARE Australia: Australian foreign aid as a percentage of national income.


 New Lowy Institute polling released today shows that the Australian Government's data retention ('metadata') laws, which passed the parliament last night, have the support of a clear majority of Australians.

When asked whether 'legislation which will require Australian telecommunications companies to retain data about communications such as phone calls, emails and internet usage, but not their content' is justified, 63% of the adult population say it is 'justified as part of the effort to combat terrorism and protect national security'. Only one-third (33%) say it 'goes too far in violating citizens' privacy and is therefore not justified.'

Younger Australians (18-29) are more likely to say the legislation is not justified (47%), but this age group is divided about the policy, with 50% saying it is justified. 

'Australians appear to accept some infringements on their privacy in the interests of fighting terrorism and protecting national security,' said Lowy Institute Executive Director Dr Michael Fullilove today. 'This result is consistent with 2013 Lowy Institute polling which found that most Australians believed the government had struck about the right balance between protecting the rights of citizens and fighting terrorism.'  

This result is drawn from the forthcoming 2015 Lowy Institute Poll, the full version of which will be released in June 2015. The Lowy Institute Poll is based on a nationally representative telephone survey of 1200 Australian adults between 20 February and 8 March 2015. The Poll's error margin is approximately +/- 2.8%.  For more information see Lowy Institute press release. 


In a new Lowy Institute Analysis paper released today, Howard Bamsey and Kath Rowley argue that a failure to pay high-level attention to international climate change negotiations raises several risks to the national interest. Australia and Climate Change Negotiations: At the Table, or on the Menu? argues that climate change negotiations are changing the global economy in ways that matter to Australia. Strong, constructive engagement in those negotiations by Australia would serve climate, economic and other national goals.

'As one of the world's biggest fossil fuel producers and exporters, Australia has an important stake in when and how the world pursues emissions reductions,' say Bamsey and Rowley.

Climate change negotiations will create new norms, standards, rules and laws. These developments create challenges and opportunities for Australian businesses and individuals. Bamsey and Rowley argue that ministerial leadership, a strong negotiating team, and active support for preparations for the Paris conference in December would return much needed momentum to Australia's negotiating effort.

Read or download the Analysis from the Lowy Institute website.

Photo by Flickr user The Danish Wind Industry.

  • Germany announces record boost to aid budget to €7.4 billion, though still far from the 0.7% target.
  • Apart from making pretty visualisations on maps, what can  geo-coding, add to  aid delivery?
  • Does America's diplomatic failure on the Asian Infrastructure Bank symbolise US decline?
  • Coaxing the dragon: why China should join the aid debate in Africa.
  • A crisis of anxiety :  a NY Times op-ed on high rates of mental illness among aid workers.
  • Great overview on aid commitments to  Cylone Pam from Lowy Institute staff, including a piece on how to rebuild paradise.
  • UN Social 500: index of social media influencers working for the UN.
  •  ICYMI: Great documentary from SBS Dateline on Australian aid worker Jo Dunlop's work in Ebola-ravaged Sierra Leone.

  • Are digital currencies a plus for poor countries? A podcast from The Guardian discusses how the rise of virtual currencies are helping people embrace e-commerce without the need for centralised banking structures.
  • Four years into the Syrian conflict, hundreds of local and diaspora groups are successfully negotiating access and delivering aid to civilians in areas that international agencies are struggling to reach, says a new report from ODI
  • A new essay from LSE anthropologist Jason Hikel on the death of international development.
  • These 12 journalists covering aid and development are ones to watch.
  • An interesting poll on how much of their budget Americans think is going towards foreign aid.
  • Watch this Hans Rosling  presentation to the Clinton Global Initiative University on preconceived notions regarding population growth and international development:


In a new Lowy Institute Analysis launched today, Nonresident Fellow Professor Alan Dupont argues that successive Australian governments have failed to clearly define the nation's defence strategy.

Full Spectrum Defence: Re-thinking the fundamentals of Australian defence strategy argues that Australia needs a defence strategy that counters threats across multiple domains, is based on more diverse regional defence relationships and is underpinned by better risk assessments and defence acquisition processes.

'Australia's inability to clearly and succinctly define its defence strategy is a perennial failing. Recent defence white papers are part of the problem: they have lacked coherence, their messaging has been poor, and many of their underlying assumptions and planning practices are questionable,' Dupont said.

Key points of the Analysis include:

  • Australia's current defence strategy suffers from six major defects.
  • The forthcoming Defence White Paper is an opportunity for the Government to produce a clear statement of Australia's defence and military strategies and their principal objectives.
  • Australia needs an ADF that is more versatile, can counter threats across all domains, including space and cyber space, has more diverse defence relationships, and has better processes for risk management, defence acquisition and mobilisation.

The Analysis is already being widely reported in The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald. It is available on the Lowy Institute website. Stay tuned to The Interpreter for comments from some of Australia's leading defence and national security analysts. 

Photo courtesy of Australian Defence Image Library.


A special 'International Women's Day' themed edition of Aid & Development Links. 

  • Australia used International Women's Day to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and launched a new publication, Empowering Women: Australia's support for gender equality and the empowerment of women. The report showcases the extraordinary stories of some of the many women who have been supported by Australia's diplomatic, economic and foreign aid programs around the world.
  • UNDP's first female Administrator, Helen Clark, called for increased female participation in modern development challenges such as climate change, peace and security, and crisis response. 
  • The US State Department celebrated International Women's Day with their annual International Women of Courage Award.
  • Women's Rights: how far have we come? The Guardian has an analysis on achievements in gender equality since the 1995 Beijing Declaration. Also this good infographic from UN Women.
  • Foreign Policy Interrupted amplifies female voices in all areas of foreign policy. Be sure to sign up for their Friday email of female authored foreign policy analysis. 
  • India clearly has a long way to go when it comes to the status of women, as demonstrated by this chilling BBC interview with one of the men convicted for the infamous 2012 Delhi bus rape. Indian authorities tried to ban the BBC's film, India's Daughter.
  • The Lowy Institute will be holding an International Women's Day themed all-women panel event on Thursday evening. It's sold out, but look out for the podcast Friday. It should be a great discussion on the challenges facing women globally, with human rights campaigner Elaine Pearson, journalist Lauren Williams and Melanesia expert Jenny Hayward-Jones. Moderated by ABC's Geraldine Doogue.
  • Australia's Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja has released a message commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Beijing World Conference on Women:

  • 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.