Progress Paradoxes and Sustainable Growth: Insights from the New Science of Well-being

Progress Paradoxes and Sustainable Growth: Insights from the New Science of Well-being. Brookings Institution. Carol Graham. December 19, 2018

The past century is full of progress paradoxes, with unprecedented economic development, as evidenced by improvements in longevity, health, and literacy. At the same time, we face daunting challenges such as climate change, persistent poverty in poor and fragile states, and increasing income inequality and unhappiness in many of the richest countries. Remarkably, some of the most worrisome trends are in countries with rapid economic growth and falling poverty. Not surprisingly, there is much debate about the sustainability of our future. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 26 pages].

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Labor Market Considerations for a National Job Guarantee

Labor Market Considerations for a National Job Guarantee. Brookings Institution. Ryan Nunn, Jimmy O’Donnell, and Jay Shambaugh. December 6, 2018

Despite a relatively strong U.S. economy in late 2018, many workers continue to experience stagnant wages and underemployment. In response, policy interventions like subsidized wages, training and search assistance, expanded public employment, and federal guarantees of employment have all been proposed, but relatively little is known about how a federal job guarantee would function. The authors therefore discuss a number of relevant labor market considerations: How many people are likely to participate in a job guarantee? What types of work and nonwork activities are the eligible population currently engaged in? What types of work would program participants do? Can we expect workers to be well matched with their employers? Are there unintended consequences of the program for participants or nonparticipants? The authors conclude that, while a job guarantee could lift employment rates and incomes for many participants, there is considerable uncertainty associated with its impacts. In particular, a potentially very large but unknown fraction of workers currently earning low wages—as well as those outside the labor force—would take up a job guarantee, meaning that it could affect far more workers than are currently unemployed or underemployed. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 37 pages].

Transforming Agriculture for Climate Resilience: A Framework for Systemic Change

Transforming Agriculture for Climate Resilience: A Framework for Systemic Change. World Resources Institute. Rebecca Carter, Tyler Ferdinand and Christina Chan.  October 2018

 Transformative approaches to adaptation in agriculture will be needed to maintain and enhance global food security, avoid maladaptation and reduce growing risks of crisis and conflict. Today, the agriculture sector practices adaptation with relatively limited incremental adjustments to existing systems to better manage current climate variability and cope with near-term climate risks. Increasingly, severe climate impacts are beginning to test the limits of what we can adapt to through such relatively minor adjustments. These impacts will increasingly require more dramatic shifts at greater scale, speed, and intensity to manage risk, strengthen food security and protect lives and livelihoods—especially among the poorest and most vulnerable, who often depend on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, fishing and tourism.

This working paper explores the concept of transformative adaptation for agriculture and why it is needed. It looks at how transformative outcomes could be achieved by aligning adaptation projects along pathways and adjusting planning processes to incorporate longer-term, more systemic approaches. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 24 pages].

The Costs of Climate Change

The Costs of Climate Change. YaleGlobal. Kenneth Gillingham. October 18, 2018

 Economic models allow societies to analyze complex problems and make sensible decisions. Yale University Professor William Nordhaus has been named winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics for his research on models that integrate climate change into long-term economic analysis. Paul Romer of New York University was also named for his work on endogenous growth theory. Kenneth Gillingham of Yale University reflects on Nordhaus’ profound contributions to the field of economics – and to society more broadly – that led to this recognition, explaining that “Nordhaus laid the groundwork for what is now an entire field on the economics of climate change.” The research analyzes how climate change can be mitigated at the lowest-cost possible, what the optimal climate policy is, and how society’s choices about climate mitigation can influence long-run well-being. Gillingham concludes that Nordhaus’ work is global in scope and visionary, dedicated to preparing societies for what may be the most pressing challenge of our time. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Scorched Earth

Scorched Earth. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Margo Balboni. September 27, 2018

 Processes of environmental degradation can exacerbate, prolong, and even spark conflicts.  In Iraq and Yemen, where water and cultivable land are becoming scarce, efforts toward rebuilding these countries will need to factor in a changing climate. Despite their importance, environmental issues are often neglected in post-conflict reconstruction processes. Some of the most sweeping risks—environmental and climate crises—are the most likely to be overlooked because they are “threats without enemies.” [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 12 pages].

New Kid in Town: Blockchain for Megaprojects?

New Kid in Town: Blockchain for Megaprojects? YaleGlobal. Will Hickey. August 7, 2018

 Blockchain technology promises fast payments combined with secure digital records and elimination of third-party intermediaries and delays. “Any contract, valuation, record or work process that can be digitized can be incorporated into a blockchain, representing enormous strides in processes, efficiency and transparency,” explains Will Hickey for YaleGlobal. “Blockchain technology’s capability to organize a vast number of details associated with a series of transactions may be ideal for managing infrastructure megaprojects throughout the developing world like those associated with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.” Emerging economies could gain a head start in using the technology, similar to how they leaped to smartphones before using landline telephones, and in turn strengthen legal and accounting standards. Blockchain’s rise depends on public acceptance and demand. Other challenges include high electricity needs, data storage capacity and entrenched special interests that may resist transparency and reduced red tape. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Sourcing Legally Produced Wood: A Guide for Businesses—2018 Edition

Sourcing Legally Produced Wood: A Guide for Businesses—2018 Edition. World Resources Institute.  Ruth Nogueron et al.  August 2018

This publication updates the 2014 version of Sourcing Legally Produced Wood, which provided information on illegal logging and associated trade, public and private procurement policies, export country logging and log export bans, and introductory guidance to the wood products legality legislation in the United States, the EU, and Australia. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 40 pages].