Ideas to Action:

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CGD Policy Blogs

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Streamlining REDD+ to Confront the Growth and Spread of Tropical Forest Clearing

The latest news from FORMA (Forest Monitoring for Action) is very bad.  Figure 1 shows that the FORMA index of global forest clearing rose 60% from January, 2007 to October, 2012.  It declined during the economic crisis, from late 2008 to early 2010, but has climbed steadily since then.  To make matters worse, this increase has been accompanied by rapid dispersion of clearing. As Table 1 shows, only Brazil has displayed a significant decline during the past five years.  The FORMA indicator has increased slightly in Indonesia and sharply in other regions of Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.  In January, 2007, Brazil and Indonesia accounted for 77.3% of the global indicator total.  By October, 2012, their share had fallen to 39.4%.

The (Other) UN Cholera Whitewash

There is understandable outrage over the United Nation’s reaction to its role in first creating and then denying responsibility for Haiti’s cholera outbreak in 2010 that killed 8,000 people.  But last week another UN cholera denial story garnered less attention, this time in Zimbabwe following a UN tribunal ruling in Nairobi.

Performance-Based Financing Is a Major Opportunity for PEPFAR

The recent IOM evaluation of PEPFAR made clear that a key challenge for the program moving forward will be to get country governments to effectively assume primary responsibility of AIDS programs in their countries, both in terms of finances and “leadership”. But seeing that most PEPFAR funds are channeled through US-based contractors – and not country governments – it seems impractical to expect countries to be able to take real leadership and accountability for AIDS spending.

White House Proposal Could Revolutionize Food Aid

Washington is abuzz with rumors that the White House budget will include a far-reaching reform of US food aid that moves away from in-kind food aid transported on American ships. Even though no details are available, the plan faces considerable resistance from agricultural and maritime interests that profit from the current system. But current practices are inefficient, costly, and slow and most development advocates support the administration’s desire to shake things up.

Trade-offs in FY14: A Case for the Global Fund

Amid an increasingly complex fiscal environment in Washington (i.e. the newly-triggered sequester and the soon-to-expire FY13 continuing resolution), I can’t help but think about the tough trade-offs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) must be considering as they finalize the President’s FY14 budget request to Congress, expected to be released in mid-March. From an economics perspective, I appreciate careful consideration of these trade-offs. But from a health economics perspective, I have concerns about what cuts will mean for critical US investments in the global fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria. For reasons that have mostly to do with timing, coming in low on the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria request for FY14 could spell disaster.

Getting to Normal in the Two Sudans – Kate Almquist Knopf

Ten years after the conflict in Darfur began, Sudan and the newly-sovereign South Sudan are still experiencing terrible violence and efforts to ensure lasting peace in the region are falling short. What can the United States do differently to help foster governance that works for both countries? My guest on this week’s Wonkcast is Kate Almquist Knopf -- author of a newly-published CGD report that argues, surprisingly to me, that the United States should normalize diplomatic relations with both Sudan and South Sudan.

A Concrete Abstract

Business training programs are a popular policy option to try to improve the performance of enterprises around the world. The last few years have seen rapid growth in the number of evaluations of these programs in developing countries. We undertake a critical review of these studies with the goal of synthesizing the emerging lessons and understanding the limitations of the existing research and the areas in which more work is needed. We find that there is substantial heterogeneity in the length, content, and types of firms participating in the training programs evaluated.

Send an Ambassador, Not an Envoy, to Khartoum

This week marks what some consider the tenth anniversary of the conflict in Darfur. Sadly, this is not the only conflict still ravaging the people of Sudan and South Sudan. As the White House is preparing to name the United States’ seventh special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan in the last 12 years, I believe it’s time for a different approach to US policy, one that puts the central governance challenges in each state at the forefront.

Foreign Aid Reform Already Paying Sequestration Price

I’m guessing I’m not the only one still in a state of denial that sequestration will actually happen. The across-the-board cuts—if and when they happen tonight—will hit my own household (I’m married to my favorite bureaucrat) and the US foreign aid programs I monitor here.

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