Delivering Real Change: Getting International Climate Finance to the Local Level

Delivering Real Change: Getting International Climate Finance to the Local Level. International Institute for Environment and Development. Marek Soanes et al. March 2017.

With the rapid ratification of the Paris Agreement, international climate funds will be important in scaling-up developing countries climate action. Evidence shows climate finance reaching the local level – as part of a coherent approach to climate action – delivers effective, efficient and sustainable results that enhance the impact of each dollar disbursed. This working paper explores the flows of climate finance within the main international climate funds, to understand how effective they are in getting finance to the local level and what design features enable or prevent local financing. It distils lessons from development funds that are experienced in local financing. It concludes by highlighting the ways in which local climate financing can be enhanced – to further improve the effectiveness of aid. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 48 pages, 884.24 KB].

The Futile Goal of “Winning” Wars

The Futile Goal of “Winning” Wars. YaleGlobal. Louis René Beres. March 2, 2017

Wars and the technology for fighting them have evolved rapidly in recent decades. “We never win, and we don’t fight to win,” lamented US president Donald Trump shortly before announcing plans to increase US military spending. “We’ve either got to win, or don’t fight it at all.” However, Louis René Beres, author and professor emeritus of international law, describes that assessment as “dangerously simplistic” and suggests that “traditional criteria of winning and losing in war have generally become outdated and counterproductive.” Societies have much to lose with any attack, regardless of whether they win or lose, and “the overriding point of US military involvements must be to blunt or prevent infliction of substantial military harms upon the population, not to flaunt any viscerally satisfying exclamations of machismo.” The United States already spends more on defense than any other nation, almost three times as much as China, the next biggest spender, and strategic calculations are complex and endless. “Going alone is no longer an option,” and “nothing is more practical than a coherent strategic doctrine, nuanced and well thought out.” Beres concludes, “Winning modern wars is an illusory goal.” [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Innovation and Technology to Accelerate Progress in Education

Innovation and Technology to Accelerate Progress in Education. Brookings Institution. Rebecca Winthrop et al. February 23, 2017

Sustainable Development Goal 4, to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning, sets out a grand ambition for education systems around the globe to achieve not just universal primary schooling, but to expand universal education from early childhood to secondary school and achieve relevant learning outcomes. While the Millennium Development Goals helped propel millions of children into primary school, meeting this larger goal in the coming decade and a half will require accelerated progress and a break from business as usual.

This report, prepared by researchers from the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution for the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, describes the major gaps in education and the need for innovation to meet ambitious goals. Not only are children in low- and middle-income countries about 100 years behind their peers in measures of schooling, but rapid advances in technology, changes to the world of work, and the complex global challenges we face today call for a broader set of competencies every young person will need to be successful. To thrive in a changing world, young people will need skills and competencies that include information literacy, flexibility, critical thinking and collaboration in addition to academic knowledge. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 89 pages, 2.27 MB].

Strategic Insights: Is the European Union Really That Important to U.S. Security Interests?

Strategic Insights: Is the European Union Really That Important to U.S. Security Interests? Strategic Studies Institute. Dr. John R. Deni. March 9, 2017

Questioning long-held assumptions and challenging existing paradigms in U.S. security policy can be a useful way to ensure that American leaders are not pursuing strategies that do not actually support and promote U.S. interests. However, on the question of whether the European Union’s (EU) existence is in U.S. interests, the evidence is consistently clear. It most definitely is, and undermining it—for example, by promoting Brexit or suggesting other countries would or should follow the United Kingdom’s (UK) exit from the EU—risks the further unraveling of the international order that is central to American prosperity and security. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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How Does the U.S. Refugee System Work?

How Does the U.S. Refugee System Work? Council on Foreign Relations. Claire Felter and James McBride. February 6, 2017

The United States has long accepted refugees fleeing persecution or war. From taking in hundreds of thousands of Europeans displaced by World War II to welcoming those escaping from Communist regimes in Europe and Asia during the Cold War, the United States has helped define protections for refugees under international humanitarian law. Beginning in 1980, the U.S. government moved from an ad hoc approach to the permanent, standardized system for identifying, vetting, and resettling prospective refugees that is still in use today.

The size of the U.S. refugee program has often fluctuated. But the war in Syria and the resulting migration crisis in Europe has increased policymaker scrutiny on arrivals from the Middle East, beginning with the Barack Obama administration. President Donald J. Trump, citing mounting concerns over the potential for terrorist infiltration, ratcheted up that scrutiny with his January 2017 executive order placing a temporary ban on all refugee arrivals, sparking debate over the scope of U.S. refugee policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Troubled Waters: A Snapshot of Security Challenges in the Mediterranean Region

Troubled Waters: A Snapshot of Security Challenges in the Mediterranean Region. RAND Corporation. James Black et al. January 25, 2017.

The US, EU and NATO continue to maintain a significant military presence in and around the Mediterranean, but military capabilities must be nested within a whole-of-government, international approach. The challenges in this region demand unprecedented levels of civil-military and intergovernmental cooperation. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 35 pages, 1.04 MB].

Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions

Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Marc Labonte. February 7, 2017.

Congress has delegated responsibility for monetary policy to the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve (the Fed), but retains oversight responsibilities for ensuring that the Fed is adhering to its statutory mandate of “maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” To meet its price stability mandate, the Fed has set a longer-run goal of 2% inflation.
The Fed’s control over monetary policy stems from its exclusive ability to alter the money supply and credit conditions more broadly. Normally, the Fed conducts monetary policy by setting a target for the federal funds rate, the rate at which banks borrow and lend reserves on an overnight basis. It meets its target through open market operations, financial transactions traditionally involving U.S. Treasury securities. Beginning in September 2007, the federal funds target was reduced from 5.25% to a range of 0% to 0.25% in December 2008, which economists call the zero lower bound. By historical standards, rates were kept unusually low for an unusually long time. In December 2015, the Fed began raising interest rates and expects to gradually raise rates further.

[PDF format, 22 pages, 729.95 KB].