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Lawrence MacDonald was vice president for communications and policy outreach at the Center for Global Development. A development policy communications specialist and former foreign correspondent, he worked to increase the influence and impact of CGD's research and analysis by leading an integrated communications program that includes events, publications, media relations, online engagement, and government and NGO outreach. He also hosted a weekly podcast, CGD’s Global Prosperity Wonkcast, and serves frequently as chair for public events at CGD and elsewhere.
Before joining the Center in October 2004, MacDonald was a senior communications officer at the World Bank where he provided strategic communications advice to chief economists, coordinated the preparation of research publications, created the World Bank Research web site, and was founding editor of the Bank's Policy Research Report series. Before that he worked for 15 years in East and Southeast Asia as a reporter and editor for The Asian Wall Street Journal, Agence France Presse and Asiaweek Magazine, during which time he lived in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, and Manila. His Mandarin is less fluent than it used to be but still serviceable.
It’s that time of year again when climate negotiators from around the world head to the jamboree known as the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or, in UN summit jargon, the UNFCCC COP. This year’s COP, held in Warsaw, will be the 19th annual round of global talks on averting a planetary catastrophe.
I asked CGD senior associate Michele de Nevers, formerly a senior official at the World Bank and the veteran of many previous COPs, to join me on the Wonkcast to discuss the prospects for the Warsaw COP.
My guest on this week’s Global Prosperity Wonkcast is CGD senior fellow Lant Pritchett, whose new book, The Rebirth of Education: Schooling Ain’t Learning, was released last month and is now available on Kindle. The book addresses a fundamental problem in education: despite great progress to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goal target for primary school completion, students the world over are leaving school having learned very little. “They need to be in school and learn,” Pritchett says. “If you create systems where the only measures of schooling are kids in seats, you’re going to get measures of time served rather than learning gained.”
In an astonishingly short time, we will soon be packing up our books and computers and moving to a new headquarters, the entire fifth floor of 2055 L Street, NW, a newly rejuvenated mid-century modern office building, just a few blocks from our current location. If all goes according to plan, we will be up and running in the new location on November 25.
My guest on this week’s Global Prosperity Wonkcast is CGD senior fellow Vijaya Ramachandran, here to speak to us about the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The FAO is the leading global institution dedicated to raising agricultural productivity, but a new report from CGD says that the FAO, despite its respected status as the premier global food agency, risks squandering its potential when demand for food is rapidly rising and supplies are threatened.
My guest on this week’s Wonkcast is Cao Jing, one of China’s leading experts on carbon taxes. A CGD visiting fellow and associate professor of economics at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Jing was recently the subject of a Bloomberg profile. Working in collaboration with others at Harvard University, she is developing a proposal for China to tax carbon emissions. She is also involved with the "New Climate Economy Study" (also called Stern 2, to review economic costs and benefits of tackling climate change) led by former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón and Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the landmark Stern Report on the economics of climate change. Jing recently presented the plan at CGD’s Research in Progress seminar, and I’m delighted that she agreed to join me on the show to discuss it.
Emerging market currencies have seen a lot of action over the last few months. India’s rupee has fallen 20% against the dollar, the Indonesian rupiah and the Brazilian real are floundering after falling 15%, and Turkey’s lire has slipped 10%. I invited CGD senior fellows Liliana Rojas-Suarez and Arvind Subramanian to explain what’s driving the fluctuations. Since these economies have mosty been performing pretty well—consistently growing faster than the rich countries—to the untrained eye, the currency slides seem dramatic and unexpected.
What role can biometrics play in aiding development? My guest this week, senior fellow Alan Gelb, explains why new biometric identification technologies may be the key to radically expanding the social, political, and commercial opportunities for people in the developing world. Biometrics, he says, make it possible to fulfil for people everywhere the right to a unique, personal identity.
This Wonkcast was originally recorded in February 2011. Andy Sumner updates the data from the original Bottom Billion brief in his recent working paper, Where Will the World's Poor Live? An Update on Global Poverty and the New Bottom Billion.
Paul Collier’s 2007 book, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, changed the way we think about poverty and development. Collier argued that the majority of the 5-billion people in the "developing world" live in countries with sustained high growth rates and would eventually escape from poverty. The rest—the bottom billion—live in 58 small, poor, often land-locked countries that are growing very slowly or not at all. These countries, stuck in poverty traps, should be the focus of foreign aid, Collier argued.
Struggling to provide relief and reconstruction assistance in the wake of super typhoon Haiyan (a.k.a. Yolanda), the Philippines has launched a foreign aid information hub and gently encouraged donors to follow through on their own transparency pledges, with a top official reported in the Philippine press as saying that the two efforts "should go hand in hand."
Andrew Selee, vice president for programs at the Wilson Center, a think tank in Washington DC, has written a slim volume that will be useful to anybody who is part of a think tank leadership team. The book, What Should Think Tanks Do? A Strategic Guide to Policy Impact, focuses on Washington tanks and will therefore be of particular interest to those of us inside the beltway. Nonetheless, the issues Andrew discusses will resonate with think tank leaders—and funders—everywhere.