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What We're Reading in Summer 2021

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of vaccines and reopening, it was the age of the Delta variant and closing down again. For many of us, the past year and a half has been stranger than fiction, a whirlwind of emotions and uncertainties. We hope this year's summer reading list provides you with new stories, strategies, and distractions to get you through the next few socially-distanced, masked-up months.

An image of US missiles.

Does Focus Follow Money in National Security?

If your toolbox is overflowing with precision guided munitions, the problems you will focus on are ones that (arguably) can be solved with precision guided munitions. Our comparatively tepid response to the pandemic is another sign of the longstanding and excessive prioritization of potential violent over present nonviolent threats to national security.

An image of people standing in line waiting for a COVID test.

Better Together: Exploring the Role of Pooled Procurement in Improving Access to Medicines amid COVID-19

Access to safe, effective, and affordable essential medicines is an integral global health goal, and all the more important during a public health emergency like COVID-19. Supply chain inefficiencies, procurement capacity constraints, and financial difficulties impede access to affordable, quality medicines; crises exacerbate these issues.

Pie chart showing breakdown of a national budget

Spending Wisely and Transparently to Realize the Promise of Education for All

This week, world leaders convene in London with the aim to mobilize funds for the Global Partnership for Education to benefit at least 175 million children over the next five years. Reversing the learning losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will require substantial, well-targeted public spending. This is particularly true in the context of assisting poor and disadvantaged children who were already at a higher risk of being left behind prior to the pandemic to catch up as quickly as possible.

An image of Mexican pesos.

The Strange Case of Low Financial Inclusion Using Digital Payment Services in Mexico

Mexico followed, in past years, what appeared to be a textbook formula for expanding access to and use of digital financial services for its citizens. And yet, less than half of its adult population reported having a bank account only two years ago, which is lower than the Latin American average of 55.1 percent, and significantly below the upper-middle-income country average of 73.1.

An image of a person giving another person a bowl of food.

Who Represents Whom? A Conversation on Decolonizing Humanitarian Governance

The Black Lives Matter movement, #AidToo, and the failure to support locally-led responses during COVID-19 have spotlighted power imbalances in the humanitarian sector. Whether between large NGOs and local organizations, or crisis-affected populations, there are limited ways for people to participate in decisions that affect them, particularly those on the frontline.

A girl points at a blackboard covered in writing. Photo by Chau Doan / World Bank

Five Ways That Education Systems Can Support Girls in the Face of Climate Change, Today

In an accompanying blog we argue that girls’ education is unlikely to reduce future emissions, and that we should not think of girls in low-income countries as ‘assets’ to solve a climate crisis. But there is a link between education and climate change—it’s just the other way around. Here are five ways in which climate events are negatively impacting young people, especially girls, and how education systems can help tackle them.

Students in a classroom in Bangladesh. Photo by Dominic Chavez / World Bank

Fund Girls’ Education. Don’t Greenwash It.

You might think girls' education and climate change are quite different issues. But, with money for and political attention on climate change growing, savvy education donors and advocacy organisations are increasingly making links between the two. The UK’s FCDO, for instance, claims girls in poor countries are “among the greatest assets we have in responding to the climate crisis.” 

We argue this strategy is empirically and morally flawed. There is no need to greenwash education.

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