Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

A Microcosm of US Border Policy toward Mexico

Boquillas del Carmen is a tiny village just over the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park in Texas that experienced a tremendous decline when US authorities closed the border in 2002. For decades, the town’s economy depended on tourists crossing over to enjoy spectacular views of the Chisos Mountains while eating homemade enchiladas at the one or two restaurants in town. Then, some months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US government shut down all unofficial, unmanned border crossings with Mexico, including the one at Boquillas. Suddenly there were no more tourists.

Corporate Commitments: Necessary but Not Sufficient to End Tropical Deforestation

Over the last few years, an increasing number of companies that produce, trade, or buy “forest risk” commodities have pledged to get deforestation out of their supply chains. But voluntary efforts by progressive companies will not on their own be sufficient to end tropical deforestation. A “jurisdictional approach” that marries public and private efforts at the scale of political units offers a promising way forward.

Executive Orders Affecting Refugees Will Only Harm the US National Interest

Among the wave of executive orders being developed by the Trump administration, so far two specifically target US commitments to refugees. They are consistent with Trump’s campaign promises to tighten borders and disengage from the world. And, if signed, they would result in serious harm to vulnerable people and alienate allies the United States needs to fight violent extremism and protect American interests.

The "Arbiter of Value" and the Industrial Organization of Basic Education

The "arbiter of value" is a key concept in Mark Moore’s RISE working paper: "Creating Efficient, Effective and Just Educational Systems through Multi-Sector Strategies of Reform." This concept, which he brings to the education sector after decades of experience in a variety of public sector organizations (his 1994 book Creating Public Value is a classic in the field), helps understand the industrial organization of basic schooling and why schooling is mostly publicly managed around the world—and even why a failed political coup affects who can teach school in Turkey. 

Cutting UN Funding Will Cost the US

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Trump Administration is considering a new Executive Order that mandates cutting all funding to bodies that give full membership to the Palestinian Authority and fund abortion amongst other categories, but also suggests “at least a 40 percent overall decrease” in remaining US funding towards international organizations. The proposed cuts would do almost nothing to reduce the deficit while weakening US national security and international leadership.

An Ambitious Goal for International Cooperation in 2017: A Global Treaty to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance

Earlier this month, evidence emerged that a Nevada woman who died last September had contracted a superbug resistant to all 26 available antibiotics, including colistin, the drug of last resort. If left unchecked, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could cause up to 10 million deaths a year by 2050 with a cumulative loss of $100 trillion to the global economy. The misuse of antibiotics in human medicine allows bacteria to evolve resistance to many life-saving drugs. But their excessive and inappropriate use in farm animals—which consume 70-80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States—is another key factor accelerating drug resistance globally.

The Warlord and the Ambassador: A Review of Dante Paradiso’s "The Embassy"

The Embassy: A Story of War and Diplomacy by Dante Paradiso tells the inside story of how US Ambassador John Blaney and his team kept the Liberian embassy open, risked their lives to cross the front lines to meet with General Cobra, and played a crucial role in negotiating a complicated sequence that included Taylor being forced into exile, the rebels allowing ECOWAS peacekeepers to reopen the port, and getting peace negotiators back to the table. Paradiso, a foreign service officer who served in that embassy, skillfully tells the story through the eyes of several unsung heroes.

Will an RCT Change Anyone’s Mind? Should It?

We respond to critics of our evaluation of Liberia’s “partnership” school program, distinguishing legitimate concerns about the charter-style program itself—which can be turned into testable hypotheses—from methodological limitations to what an impact evaluation can show.

How Much Aid is Really Lost to Corruption?

One of the questions reportedly from the Presidential transition team to the State Department was: “With so much corruption in Africa, how much of our funding is stolen?” During the nomination hearings for Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, Senator Rand Paul provided one answer: seventy percent of aid is “stolen off the top.” The question is a fair one to ask. The bad news is that the short answer is “we don’t know.” The better news is that the slightly longer answer is “nowhere near 70 percent.” And the best news is that if we spent more time tracking the results of aid projects, we’d have a much better idea of where corruption was a problem and if our efforts to reduce it were working.

Postcard from Davos

The world’s elite—plus a few ringers like me—gathered last week in the small Swiss village of Davos to discuss the state of the world at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Although not formally on the agenda, the issue of tropical forests infiltrated a number of discussions. But first, a quick recap of the meeting’s big themes that provided the broader context.

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