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New Security Broadcast

English, National/National politics/National assembly, 1 season, 102 episodes, 1 day, 10 hours, 39 minutes
Can’t make it to the Wilson Center? Tune in to our podcast to hear expert speakers on the links between global environmental change, security, development, and health. Includes contributions from the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) and Maternal Health Initiative (MHI). ECSP and MHI are part of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in the District of Columbia. It is a nonpartisan institution, supported by public and private funds, engaged in the study of national and world affairs. The Center establishes and maintains a neutral forum for free, open, and informed dialogue. For more information, visit and
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Episode 270: John Podesta on the Inflation Reduction Act and a New American Industrial Strategy

By Wilson Center StaffThrough the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden administration has launched a new industrial strategy. Today’s episode of New Security Broadcast highlights a fireside chat at a Wilson Center event between John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation, and Duncan Wood, Wilson Center Vice President for Strategy and New Initiatives. Podesta and Wood explore the opportunities provided by the Inflation Reduction Act for the U.S. and its allies. Select Quotes from John Podesta “The IRA fits with our strategy that is embedded in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Chips and Science Act to try to create a better investment environment in the United States. We are open to foreign direct investment, but economies in Asia and in Europe, as well as across the globe were concerned that we were paying the most significant attention to investment in the United States. However, we have maintained dialogue with our key trading partners, and the structure of the law provides benefits to countries, particularly in the critical minerals space.” “Our strategy is to see prosperous industrialization, electrification, and decarbonization of economies across the globe. One of the effects of the bill is its global reach. BCG estimated that it would reduce the cost of clean energy deployment by 25 percent globally, which is a global public good. With the U.S. making that investment and creating that cycle of investment and innovation, it brings the “green premium,” which Bill Gates emphasizes, down even further. We are seeing that solar is the cheapest new form of electricity production around the globe today. And we are going further across a range of technologies that will be crucial for hitting net zero emissions targets, such as green hydrogen and carbon capture…The President makes no apologies for using U.S. tax dollars to support investments in the United States.”  “We need to adjust our investment strategies and our sustainable development strategies in order to meet that goal [net zero]. It's not the only thing we need to do, we still have a huge finance challenge, particularly with developing economies. And that will be a topic of focus and conversation at the upcoming COP. This is not just a matter of developing the best technology, for we also have to be able to finance their deployment. And, the United States has a deep responsibility to make sure it's doing its part. The President's nomination of Ajay Banga is a step in the right direction.” “We have to show up…It wasn’t a lack of knowledge, but a lack of long-term strategy, that illuminated what the dependence [on China] would be like. In Europe, North America, and Asia, there is a sense that this is an intolerable alliance. China will continue to be part of the global economy, the country leads in electric vehicles etc., but, as the Ukraine war taught us, we can’t be overly dependent on one country. So, what we need to do is reduce that dependency by developing new partnerships. In Europe and the U.S., it is critical to ensure that we pay attention to labor protection, human rights violations, and transparency…The mission remains sustainable development, but includes creating pathways for clean energy development that work simultaneously on the climate problem.” Photo Credit: John Podesta speaking at a recent Wilson Center event, titled The Inflation Reduction Act and the Green Deal Industrial Plan: Transatlantic Cooperation on Critical Minerals, courtesy of the Wilson Center. 
6/16/202318 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 269: The Link Between Food Insecurity and Conflict: A New Report from World Food Program USA

To better understand the complex dynamics of global hunger and the urgent need for more collective action to address this humanitarian crisis, Chase Sova, Senior Director of Public Policy and Research at World Food Program USA, and his colleagues recently launched a new report, "Dangerously Hungry." In today’s episode of New Security Broadcast, ECSP Program Coordinator and Communications Specialist, Abegail Anderson, speaks with Sova about the report's analysis on the current state of global hunger and its devastating impacts on vulnerable populations. The report showcases how food insecurity, met with external motivators, creates a greater likelihood for food-related instability and conflict. Sova emphasizes the importance of investing in sustainable agriculture, empowering marginalized populations, and building resilience for the most vulnerable communities. The conversation serves as an important and timely reminder that food insecurity is not only a byproduct of conflict and global instability, but also a driver of it, calling for a cross-sectoral approach to address these challenges and ensure food security for all. Select Quotes"Temperature and precipitation changes, desertification—all these climate-related impacts tend to impact food systems first, and so a lot of the climate change and security literature runs through food systems, and we’ve tried to capture as much of that as we can in the Dangerously Hungry report. There is also an increase in peer reviewed work looking at the individual motivations for someone to join a rebel cause or an extremist organization, and a lot of that has to do with economic benefits and exploitations that happen when someone is not able to feed their family.""Food insecurity alone is simply never a driver of instability in and of itself; it drives people to desperation, it helps amplify grievances in a country, and it does poke holes in the challenges of governance. It is not as if hungry people are always violent, and violent people are always hungry. It is important to note that usually it is some combination of drivers and individual motivators, [such as] climate change, economic shocks, and resource conflict. For that stew of food instability to occur, there have been those individual motivators.""In the desperation space, typically we are referring to the opportunity cost thesis. This occurs where incomes are low, poverty is high, and the expected return from fighting outweighs the benefits of traditional economic activity. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the better examples of this, where Al-Shabab, Boko Haram, and Islamic State are tapping into people’s deep desperation, and that calculus of someone engaging in violent extremism or joining one of these groups becomes obvious through the opportunity cost thesis.""Oftentimes, it is the government’s failure to respond to food insecurity that erodes trust between a government and people. It is this failure to intervene because of a lack of resources or a lack of political motivation that is exploited by extremist organizations. They will establish their own parallel social protection system as an alternative to the state, and they will offer their own forms of informal justice, which tend to happen in rural areas that are distant from the police arm of the state.""Apart from urbanization, we need to figure out ways to marry international humanitarian assistance with longer-term agricultural development work. We have got to be investing more in those transitions in places that are recovering from conflict and in places we are trying to prevent from falling into conflict. There has to be a concerted effort in that space, and that is something we are going to spend more time thinking about going forward. As for areas for continued research: urbanization, conflict sensitivity programming, linking humanitarian and development assistance. And we need more on international human rights and humanitarian law in order to come up with specific sanctions to hold people accountable."Sources: World Food Program USAPhoto Credit: Cover of the World Food Programme USA report, "Dangerously Hungry," courtesy of WFP USA.
5/1/202341 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 268: Building Global Collaboration on Infrastructure: A Conversation with Amos Hochstein

Today's geopolitical climate, paired with the accelerating energy transition, means it is more important than ever to coordinate on international infrastructure investments. This episode of the New Security Broadcast features a recent Wilson Center panel discussion with Amos Hochstein, Special Presidential Coordinator for Global Infrastructure and Energy Security. Moderated by Mark Kennedy, Director of the Wilson Center's Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition, and Wilson Center Global Fellow Sharon Burke, the conversation explores what U.S. cooperation—with both developed and developing countries—should look like to ensure that the unfolding technology and energy revolutions contribute to diplomacy and benefit all countries. Select Quotes"We need to make sure that as we are going through a revolution in energy and a revolution in technology, everyone around the world gets to benefit from it and rises at the same time, and that the supply chains for those revolutions are diversified and secure."“We want there to be multiple hubs of production of critical minerals all the way to refining and the manufacturing...We cannot have a monopoly and a dominant position in the energy sector as we're building a new one, just to go through the same problems that we had and the same national security risks that we had in the 20th century. So what do we do about it? We have to invest across the board...We shouldn't come to countries and say, work with our companies or work with us just because it's us. We should do it because we have a better offer for them.""We have to have reform the international institutions that provide finance, because that is going to help us unlock the private capital that needs to come...If we can de-risk those investments and if we can provide support so that [the private sector is] not afraid of all three of the ESG components, and we do this through multilateral development banks, through governmental export and financial support institutions, then we can bring [private capital] along with us...That’s one area where we can collaborate.”
4/7/202331 minutes, 20 seconds
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Episode 267: New Security Broadcast | Ecoaction's Kostiantyn Krynytskyi on Securing Ukraine's Energy Future

Since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Kostiantyn Krynytskyi, Head of Energy at Ecoaction, and his colleagues, have been tracking the ongoing environmental damage caused by Russia’s aggression. In today’s episode of New Security Broadcast, ECSP Director Lauren Risi speaks with Krynytskyi to discuss how Ecoaction, the largest environmental NGO in Ukraine, is mapping out the environmental destruction caused by the war and working to develop a green post-war reconstruction of Ukraine. Krynytskyi shares how the war has impacted Ecoaction’s priorities and shifted its approach to address short-term energy needs in Ukraine while safeguarding a secure and sustainable energy future. Select Quotes “We started advocating with our European partners for the Ukrainian electricity system to be connected to the European system. The Ukrainian energy system was preparing itself to be disconnected from the Russian one and connected to the European system in 2023. In 2022, there were supposed to be two pilot periods in winter and in summer where our energy system disconnected from Russia and then it should have connected again. This first disconnection occurred seven hours before the invasion. When the Russian army started marching on Kyiv and other cities, the electricity system was neither connected to the European system nor the Russian one … [and] it was a huge strain on the energy system.” “We advocate for the greening of emergency aid [to] diversify, give us generators, but also solar panels, heat pumps, and wind power. The war has heightened the conversation around renewables, as you can imagine, for years we have been advocating for a switch to a decentralized generation with renewables on the community level … But climate change is not the first priority, so now the focus is on energy security and the resilience of communities.” “Ukrainians currently have a strange and horrible collective experience of the targeted attacks on our energy infrastructure, and now people understand the value of [decentralized generation]. The term decentralized generation has become more mainstream, our President, Zelensky uses it, as well as the Minister of Energy … and we highlight that [it should be] based on renewables. Our main message is it doesn’t make sense to plan this transition for after the war, we need to start doing the groundwork so when the war ends, we already have projects, ideas, concepts, and strategies so it can be implemented quickly…Renewables can help now, and renewables will help in the future because a decentralized system is much harder to destroy.”Photo Credit: Kostiantyn Krynytskyi speaking at the 2023 D.C. Environmental Film Festival – Ukrainian Environmental Documentary Showcase, Photos (c) Bruce Guthrie.
3/30/202325 minutes, 7 seconds
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Episode 266: Connecting the Dots: Gender Equality and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

In today’s episode of New Security Broadcast, Sarah Barnes, Project Director for the Wilson Center’s Maternal Health Initiative Project Director met with Bridget Kelly, Director of Research for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights at Population Institute to discuss the launch of Population Institute’s new report: Connecting the Dots, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights as Prerequisites for Global Gender Equality and Empowerment. On the episode Kelly, lead author of the Connecting the Dots report, shares findings from the report on the importance of the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) agenda, how SRHR leads to gender equality, the power of and need for increased U.S. investment, and policy recommendations to fully realize the SRHR agenda and improve gender equality and empowerment.   Selected Quotes: Bridget Kelly 1) The U.S. plays such an important role in the global goal to achieve gender equality as the U.S. is the largest funder and implementer of global health assistance worldwide. But what U.S. policymakers often fail to recognize is that these gender objectives are directly impacted by the availability and accessibility of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. 2) Why are SRHR important to achieve gender equality and empowerment? Evidence shows us that girls' education, a top gender priority, and SRHR have a mutually reinforcing relationship. Early marriage and unintended pregnancy can both be a cause of and a reason as to why girls are out of school. Of the 261 million adolescent girls age 15 to 19 living in the global South, an estimated 32 million are sexually active and do not want to have a child in the next two years. Yet, 14 million of these adolescent girls have an unmet need for modern contraception and are thus at an elevated risk of unintended pregnancy. So, the barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services puts the U.S. commitment to girls’ education at risk. 3) Improved access to family planning services is linked with a higher labor force participation for women. We also know that reproductive health is a critical element to making space for women to meaningfully contribute to peace and security efforts, not only because they themselves are affected by these outcomes, but also because they are more often able to come to lasting solutions compared to their male counterparts.4) In order to create a more enabling environment for sexual and reproductive health and rights, Congress would need to pass the Global HER Act, which would permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule. The Global Gag Rule, when invoked, prevents foreign organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion. Another Act that Congress would need to pass is the Abortion is Healthcare Everywhere Act, which would repeal the Helms Amendment. Now, the Helms Amendment prohibits U.S. foreign assistance from being used for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning. There would also need to be modifications to the Kemp-Kasten Amendment to ensure that U.S. funds are not wrongfully withheld from UNFPA.5) Now is a really opportune time to invest as the world population grows… Today there are about 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 to 24. That is the largest generation of youth in history and close to 90% of this generation lives in the global South. And, these numbers of individuals are reproductive age are projected to grow. So, what these figures really highlight is just how critically important it is to increase U.S. foreign assistance for global sexual and reproductive health and rights in order to ensure that efforts do not fail to keep pace with the needs of this generation.
3/15/202313 minutes, 9 seconds
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Episode 265: Gravity and Hope in Environmental Peacebuilding: Two Young Leaders Share their Stories

In today’s episode of the New Security Broadcast, ECSP’s Claire Doyle partnered with Elsa Barron at the Center for Climate and Security for a conversation with two young leaders who are working to tackle climate change and build peace: Christianne Zakour and Hassan Mowlid Yasin. Christianne is a volunteer with UNEP’s Major Group for Children and Youth and Hassan is co-founder of the Somali Greenpeace Association. On the episode, Christianne and Hassan share about the climate, equity, and conflict issues that motivate their work and describe how they think we can make progress towards a livable future for all.  Select Quotes:Christianne Zakour:“We coordinated the Stockholm+50 Youth Task Force…We were able to get together a good number of people—fifty-something young people came together to create a youth handbook, a policy paper, and the timeline of youth activity going back to the 1970s that was supporting the Stockholm+50 conference in June last year.”“I think there needs to be enabling environments. Within the Latin America and Caribbean region, we have an agreement called the Escazu Agreement…It stands for access to public information, access to justice, and defenders of the environment. Many countries have not signed on at this point, including my own Trinidad and Tobago. But it has gone into effect now, as of either [yesterday] or the day before. And I think it so succinctly sums up the areas that we need to work on. I think we could be much closer to peace building in the region if the other countries signed on.”Hassan Mowlid Yasin: “In 2018, the frequent floods and drought that occurred in Somalia led millions of people to be displaced, and others to lose their properties. Some people included my closest relatives who used to live in rural areas and who have a pastoralist background. They depended on the products of their animals. During this drought, most of those animals died, and my closest relatives were no longer able to make a living. So in 2019, thinking, ‘what actually can we do about this?’ [I formed] an organization that speaks for the people of Somalia, for the grassroots communities—not in the sense of a humanitarian response, but [in terms of] how they can become really resilient and adaptable to climate change.”“When we go to the grassroots level, where farming occurs, we listen to them. And when we listen to them, they tell us the solutions they have, which are affordable to implement. It's through these solutions that we bring [ideas] to international forums. We tell [the international community], ‘you don't need to bring your solutions on the ground, the people have the solutions. Can you finance them, so that they can implement their solutions?’”
3/10/202345 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 264: New Security Broadcast | US Climate Envoy John Kerry on the Importance of Our Oceans

It is fully within our power to guarantee a healthy ocean and protect it for the future, says Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry in today’s episode of the New Security Broadcast. Kerry spoke at a recent Wilson Center event hosted in partnership with the Embassy of Panama to spotlight the 8th Our Oceans Conference, scheduled to take place in March in Panama. In his remarks, Kerry emphasized the vital role the ocean plays in supporting global food security and economic prosperity as well as the imperative to take action to protect the ocean from climate change.  Select Quotes:  "[The ocean has] played a huge, central role in the lives of people all around the planet, many of whom are part of the 500-billion-dollar industry that depends on the ocean for food production, for protein, for life itself…but the fact is that ninety percent of all the heating of the planet from global climate change is subsumed into the ocean and the ocean is warming."  "In our country the link between climate and oceans is becoming indelibly imprinted in people's minds. You cannot solve the problem of the oceans—i.e., bad emissions dropping into the ocean and changing the chemistry of the ocean—you can't change that if you don't deal with the climate crisis." "The United States has announced three new bilateral work streams to facilitate green shipping corridors within the Republic of Korea Canada and the United Kingdom. If shipping were a nation state it would be the eighth largest emitter on the planet so we have an imperative to move. I'm really proud to say that it was at the Our Oceans Conferences that we first started focusing in on shipping practices, and now as a result of that we are seeing the largest container shippers in the world 65 percent of the new ships ordered are ordered with dual fuel propulsion systems and over a hundred ships have been ordered that are now going to be zero emissions. That came out of the oceans conference."
2/17/202316 minutes, 13 seconds
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Episode 263: Invisible Threads: Addressing Migration Through Investments in Women and Girls

This week’s episode of the New Security Broadcast explores Invisible Threads: Addressing the Root Causes of Migration from Guatemala by Investing in Women and Girls—a new report from the Population Institute. “We feel like it's really important to highlight how the lives of women and girls and other marginalized groups are really central to a lot of the issues that are at the root causes of migration from the region,” says Kathleen Mogelgaard, President and CEO of the Population Institute. In this episode, Mogelgaard lays out the report’s findings and recommendations with two fellow contributors: Aracely Martínez Rodas, Director of the Master in Development at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, and Dr. J. Joseph Speidel, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.  In recent years, a growing proportion of migrants who arrive at the U.S. border come from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Mogelgaard notes that this surge of migrants has captured political attention in the United States, and one of the most important responses has been the release of the Root Causes Strategy by the Biden-Harris Administration. The Root Causes Strategy illustrates dynamic, complex, and interrelated drivers of migration, including economic insecurity, governance, climate change and environmental degradation, and crime and violence. To gain greater perspective on the regional challenges, the Population Institute report examines how the root causes in the White House strategy play out in one nation: Guatemala.  For Guatemala, one of the main causes of internal migration is the search for employment or higher income, says Aracely Martínez Rodas. Guatemala has the largest economy in Central America, and is considered an upper middle income country. However, half the population lives in poverty. Why is this so? Rodas identifies four structural factors in Guatemala that influence migration trends: 1) The impact of neoliberal policies implemented in the 1980s and 1990s that weakened the state; 2) Violence and structural racism have influenced the state’s ability to provide basic services, security, and living conditions that ensure quality of life; 3) The creation of gaps between middle income populations and low income populations, which often do not receive the same services or experience the same infrastructure, and; 4) A historical migration flux that has strengthened and expanded migration networks, as well as links between family, friends, and communities in Guatemala and in desired destinations.  Rodas highlights that these historical migratory fluxes and networks are notable because they create a “migrant imaginary.” With the influences of both remittances and digital technology, information about the benefits of migration are easily shared. Thus, the migrant imaginary plays an important part in how people decide to move, she continues, observing that “it's impossible to prevent.” For men, in particular, migration can be considered a rite of passage. The possibilities of making progress in one’s life offered by leaving outweigh the risks this journey may bring. “Nothing compares to the attraction of migration,” she says. Connecting Guatemala’s migration trends to its demographic profile reveals that the country is on a trajectory to what demographers consider a “stable population.” Dr. Speidel observed that in 1970, there were 5 million people living in Guatemala. Today it's 17.8 million. “The future might bring as many as 25 million in 2050 or maybe even 40 million in 2100,” Speidel says. Guatemala’s considerable progress in its family planning programming has also been effective, with the country’s total fertility rate (the average number of children each woman will have) reduced from about 5 in 1995 to 2.4 today. “If we get down to that magic number 2.1, then essentially, we're going to have a stable population,” says Speidel.  Given this demographic profile, the report notes that education is one critical investment towards addressing the root causes of migration. Half of Guatemala’s population is under the age of 22, and Speidel says that education is “sort of the ticket out to a modern world.” Mogelgaard says that an integrated approach to education that includes family planning and reproductive health services can represent opportunities to better understand how the status of women and girls connects to the root causes of migration. But what about the role of boys in this process? Rodas pointed out that conservative lobbies and religious organizations in Guatemala play a strong role in preventing sexual and reproductive health services from being available, and that they continue to bring about a “machista perspective,” where the view is to control women’s bodies. With this continuing influence on the education of boys, says Rodas, they will grow up in the same context of violence and attempts to control women. If women are more empowered, there inevitably will be conflict. This challenge is why NGOs, for example, need to work alongside religious sectors. If we forget about them, observes Rodas, we will be basically doing nothing.  Mogelgaard hopes that the Invisible Threads report and the conversations it will instigate will not only contribute to the discussion around the U.S. response to the root causes of migration, but also shape the investments that could be made right now. She says that such investments “will help to build a more robust human rights-based, gender-responsive approach to this comprehensive framework on addressing the root causes of migration from the region.”
12/16/202251 minutes, 13 seconds
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Episode 262: Mobile Clinics and Mental Health Crises Care: The NGO Response to Ukraine’s Health Crises

The war in Ukraine is not only displacing millions, straining the economy, and ravaging infrastructure. It’s also creating a mounting health crisis. In this week’s New Security Broadcast, ECSP’s Director Lauren Risi hears from Ambassador Daniel Speckhard and Dr. Mariia Dolynska about the health impacts created by the war in Ukraine and what is still needed to strengthen the health system—as well as what one NGO is doing to deliver healthcare in the embattled nation.  Millions Displaced and an Economy Under Strain  Ambassador Speckhard, a former U.S. Ambassador to Greece and Belarus who is now president and CEO of the global NGO Corus International, says that what stood out to him on his recent visit to Ukraine was the sheer magnitude of suffering. “Fifteen million people have been displaced—about 7 million have moved outside the country, but there's still 7 million people who are trying to find other places within the country,” he says. “And most of those people had to leave without really anything but what they could carry.” Some Ukrainians fled west within the country to escape the war, only to face continued threats as Russians expand their attacks.  As the war stretches on, Ukraine is experiencing a humanitarian crisis that encompasses security, economy, and health. The country is confronting economic collapse, and at least 15 million need humanitarian assistance. One in three Ukrainians is reportedly food insecure. The elderly and those with disabilities have been particularly vulnerable, says Speckhard, given Ukraine’s age structure and the hamstrung health system. Health Crises amid a Frayed System of Care The war’s impact on health is manifold, suggests Dr. Dolynska, the medical director of the NGO Infection Control in Ukraine. She explains that severe health issues like coronary heart disease and tuberculosis are going undetected, the country’s already subpar waste management has gotten even worse, and unreliable power supplies pose a central challenge to healthcare delivery. Risi points out that that the war’s environmental damages—like polluted air and drinking water—are creating health risks too. Yet Dolynska and Speckhard also stress an additional—and underappreciated—dimension to the crisis: mental health. The untold violence and broader humanitarian consequences of the conflict have taken a huge toll on the mental wellbeing of Ukrainians. “It looks like every Ukrainian survivor will have some more or less severe psychological trauma,” says Dolynska.  Speckhard recalls hearing about children’s trauma in particular during his visit to Ukraine: “Mothers were telling me how their children would still startle whenever a ball bounced—even months later they just are not feeling safe.” And those responding to the crisis, whether they be primary healthcare workers or emergency responders, are also at high risk of trauma themselves.  Extending the Focus and Reach of Health Services In response to this multidimensional health emergency, Dolynska and her team at Infection Control in Ukraine are working bravely on the front lines to support primary healthcare workers across the country. The new focus represents a shift for the NGO, which worked more narrowly on infection prevention prior to the conflict.  With help from Corus International, Infection Control in Ukraine is filling a critical healthcare gap for the Ukrainians it serves in rural areas, where healthcare facilities don’t have adequate capacities or their services have been interrupted. Dolynska says that her NGO is deploying mobile teams of experts in specialties like cardiology and psychology and offer a combination of in-person and remote care—though internet connectivity has sometimes limited delivery. They also have a mobile clinic.    “We're trying to reach the most remote areas where people have limited access to large clinical centers,” explains Dolynska. “[We] provide them screening for the most common health conditions, infectious and non-infectious, and also importantly, provide psychological support, which is quite new and quite uncommon for Ukraine.” Infection Control in Ukraine also works to ensure that their own staff and service providers are also receiving psychological care.  Building Solutions and Looking Beyond Ukraine  Dolynska and Speckhard also share their perspectives on the key messages that listeners should take away regarding the war’s impacts, especially in the health sector.  When developing interventions in Ukraine and elsewhere, Speckhard says international actors must avoid duplication and ensure local involvement. “If we create those parallel structures, we're actually going to be duplicative and not building and strengthening the resilience and capacity of existing structures.” He adds that donors also need to heed this advice by giving to organizations that engage on the ground and prioritize capacity building—like Infection Control in Ukraine. Consistent funding for these efforts, as opposed to one-off donations, is key: “This is a multiyear challenge for this country. If we don't see it as a multiyear challenge, you'll win the battle [but] you'll lose the war.” Dolynska sees a need for the international community to focus on the need for basic infrastructure and reliable electricity supply in Ukraine in the months ahead. “You can do nothing with even advanced specialists and advanced equipment if you do not have necessary basic water supplies, electricity and heating,” she observes, adding that improving clinical services and health infrastructure should go hand-in-hand.  Ukrainians will need time to rebuild health systems and other infrastructure.  Speckhard says that this process will be slow even when the conflict is finally over and Ukraine can build back more surely and securely. He warns that this drawn-out recovery process could erode unity in the country if Ukrainians start blaming their own government, not the aggressors, for a lack of clean water, electricity, or heat—as he has seen in other countries. Ukrainians should remember that Russia is ultimately to blame for the damage, and Speckhard calls on the EU to bolster Ukraine’s political resilience by “supporting [its] aspirations for a European future.” Addressing the impacts of the war in Ukraine also means looking beyond the war-torn country. “The situation has pushed another 71 million people into poverty through cost-of-living increases, with about 50 million people in the world now facing emergency levels of starvation,” says Speckhard. There is growing recognition that the impacts of the war—including impacts on health—are not confined to Ukraine alone. Moving forward, international actors must continue to both watch out for—and tackle—these global shock waves.Photo Credit: Dr. Mariia Dolynska and Amb. Daniel Speckhard tour a Corus-supported medical site in Ukraine, courtesy of Corus International.
11/18/202244 minutes, 1 second
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Episode 261: Meeting the Global Energy Transition: A Conversation with Jonathan Pershing

“Things that we used to think were 20 or 30 years into the future are in fact happening today…  Climate change is noticeably changing the extent, the severity, and the frequency of these kinds of events.” This stark assessment from Jonathan Pershing, Program Director of Environment at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, is at the center of a discussion of progress made and needed for international climate commitments, the role of critical minerals in the green energy transition, and climate-related migration trends with ECSP Senior Fellow Sherri Goodman and ECSP Program Associate Amanda King in this week’s episode of New Security Broadcast. Pershing brings a wealth of perspective to the conversation, drawing on his roles formally supporting Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and serving both as a Special Envoy for Climate Change at the U.S. Department of State and lead U.S. negotiator to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.   As the world is currently tuning in to the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Pershing noted that the year since COP 26 occurred in Glasgow “really feels like a bit of a tipping point in the scale.” One notable yardstick can be found in a comparison of the scales of global security dimensions and refugee crises occurring over the past year. While about 5 million people have been displaced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and under 10 million compelled to move because of the ongoing conflict in Syria, he continued, climate catastrophe has displaced nearly 30 million people in Pakistan alone.  “One event, short term,” Pershing said. Against this backdrop, Pershing observed that a key problem facing COP27 attendees is that “people have not been able to make as much progress as we'd like to have made.” Implementation is going to be hard, he said. “We know we've got the money now at the table, but how do you carry it forward?” A central point of contention at this year’s conference is the long-standing commitment that the developed world would help the developing world transition to renewables. Pershing identified China as a major player in the global transition to renewable energy. “If we look at the total global development of renewable energy,” he said, “and divide up the world into two parts—one part is China.” Indeed, China’s slice of that pie “is as big if not bigger than the rest of the world combined in terms of its installation of new renewable capacity.”  Pershing considered that the world is not up to the scale needed for the coming decades in terms of obtaining the materials necessary for this energy transition. In examining the U.S. role in the renewable energy transition, for example, he noted that the U.S. has been historically reluctant to create the new facilities required for the essential minerals to make such a transition. Pershing also said that while the U.S. has a share in global mines, it is only a piece of the total amount. If the U.S. wants to build out its capacity for these resources, it will take a global network.  While the energy transition and mining for critical minerals can be a point of conflict, Pershing added that it may also be a possible point of cooperation between the U.S. and China. But what would such partnership look like? “It could occur in places where it doesn't conflict with the underlying security tensions between the countries,” Pershing said, “but yet offers a real opportunity to transition to the future that we must have.” This common ground might include places where policy is central, and where information could be exchanged about creating more efficient and environmentally-sound mining operations. The Democratic Republic of Congo is one place suggested by Pershing as a nation offering the U.S. and China a chance to work together to minimize deforestation as global networks seek growing access to minerals.  Pershing concluded by offering the Global Methane Pledge as an example of the significant movement on climate change that might be realized via international climate commitments. Of the many flavors of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change, the dominant challenge is carbon dioxide, but the second most prominent contributor is methane. Yet for much of the history of climate negotiations, the dynamics of methane were underplayed. Pershing pointed to the hope offered by the growing number of countries joining the Global Methane Pledge, and pushing to realize the many near-term preventative measures that can be accomplished if the world works on reducing methane emissions. The pledge itself, he said, “could be the kind of model that helps shape some of the answers, not just to methane, but to carbon dioxide, and the other greenhouse gases.”  Sources: Global Methane Pledge 
11/10/202232 minutes, 22 seconds
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Episode 260: Community-centered Approaches to Green Mineral Mining: Lessons from Pact

According to the World Bank, building enough renewable energy infrastructure to keep global warming below 2C will require more than 3 billion tons of minerals. Reducing emissions quickly is crucial to minimizing risk for the world’s most climate-vulnerable communities, many of whom are on the front lines of a crisis they did not create. But unless we are careful, ramping up mining in order to decarbonize could actually worsen inequity and injustice. “How do we do this quickly, safely, and sustainably, in ways that benefit all?” asks Lauren Risi, Director of the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program in this week’s New Security Broadcast.  Risi explores this question with Roger-Mark De Souza, a Global Fellow with the Wilson Center and Vice President of Sustainable Markets at Pact, an international development organization with decades of experience improving health, governance, sustainable markets, and local stakeholder engagement in mining activities. What Pact is most known for, says De Souza, is how it engages communities: “[It’s] very much a co-creation process in partnership with and led [by] communities.”  Pact’s broad portfolio includes work on gold in Ghana, mica in Madagascar, cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and gemstones in Tanzania and Kenya. In the Great Lakes region of Africa, the organization has spent over a decade improving mining activities for the 3T minerals (tin, tantalum, and tungsten) through a program called ITSCI. De Souza explains that the project, which is implemented in partnership with the International Tin Association, “[looks] at the supply chain [of] the three T's with a focus on social protections, traceability, and due diligence.” According to De Souza, ITSCI is the only program that fully adheres to the OECD’s guidelines for due diligence.  Across the world, Pact also works closely with artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) operators—which De Souza calls “the hidden labor force of the mining sector.” Distinct from the more formalized, and more mechanized industrial mining sector, ASM accounts for a vast majority—as much as 90 percent—of the mining workforce worldwide. Artisanal and small-scale mining can bring significant economic benefits both for local populations and for global markets. “[ASM] is a tremendous source of livelihoods and income for communities,” says De Souza, “and [it] is critical to supply chains.”  But ASM, and mining more broadly, can also be accompanied by serious human rights risks. “There's a tension [when] mining is the foundation of communities’ livelihoods,” observes Risi, because mining often simultaneously introduces child labor, hazardous working conditions, and environmental degradation—all of which undermine local livelihoods, health, and sustainability.   Pact’s programming seeks to respond to some of these challenges. Under its ‘alternative livelihoods’ program, for instance, Pact helps children exit mining and then supports them in developing sustainable livelihood strategies post-graduation. The program has had major success in certain places: “In some mining sites, we're able to get more than 90 percent of the children out of these mines,” De Souza shares.    Despite the challenges of ASM, its importance to local livelihoods and global supply chains means it merits attention in policy solutions. To that end, the World Bank, Pact, and other partners have developed a data hub called DELVE, which seeks to collate robust information about ASM and ultimately inform better decision-making. As a multipurpose tool, it serves a wide audience including communities, the mining sector, policymakers, and NGOs.  As the demand for critical minerals continues to rise, De Souza says improving transparency across ASM and industrial mining should be a priority. “[It’s important to] have in place systems for better tracking, traceability, due diligence, tracking on conflict minerals.” For companies, looking at the risks in their supply chain is not just a moral imperative, he says. “It's also good business sense.” Encouragingly, corporate boards of directors and shareholders are increasingly asking for this information.  Beyond transparent supply chains, de Souza emphasized the need to formalize the ASM sector and strengthen gender equity in mining, where discrimination—like taboos associated with menstruation—can limit women’s opportunities. Underlying these ways forward is the more fundamental philosophy that community voices and needs must be centered. In that vein, De Souza says Pact will continue to operate by its guiding principle: “Putting communities and their wellbeing first.”  Sources: Delve, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Pact, The World Bank Photo Credit: Gold panning in Bolaneh, Sierra Leone, used with permission courtesy of Jorden de Haan/Pact. 
11/2/202222 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 259: How AGWA is Tracking and Shaping Water’s Crucial Role in Climate Adaptation

As the last decade has brought about a dramatic shift in approaches to addressing climate change, water is increasingly at the forefront of the conversations around adaptation and resilience. In part, this is because more countries now experience the damaging effects of climate change through water-related events including rising sea levels, intensification of natural disasters, droughts, and flooding. In this week’s New Security Broadcast, John Matthews, Executive Director of the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), observes that the heightened attention to water has placed his group at the center of discussions at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.  "We have been going to COPs since 2009,” says Matthews, “and trying to talk about adaption and resilience from a water perspective for a really long time now. It’s changed a lot over the years….People were asking at a few of the earlier COPs: ‘Why are you here?’” In this episode, Matthews and his colleague Ingrid Timboe, Policy Director of AGWA speak with ECSP Director Lauren Risi and ECSP Associate Amanda King about water’s rise “to the top of the agenda” at COP27 and beyond, as well as AGWA’s vital work to support global and national climate-water adaptation and resilience policy. Egypt is one country among many coping with water insecurity, and Timboe says that its role as the host of COP27 will bring significant attention to the plight of water-scarce regions—as well as the challenges they face in implementing water adaptation plans. The “variability and sensitivity” of climate effects in these nations means that approaches to adaptation necessarily will be more complex. “It’s not just about water scarcity when speaking to countries like Egypt,” she observes. “They’re also experiencing flash floods.”  AGWA’s new pilot project—The Water Tracker—is one way that the alliance is sorting through these complexities. Matthews says that one key role for the Tracker is to act as an early warning system tool that “patrols for elevated sea rise, super typhoons, and extended droughts.”  Timboe adds that the initiative also plays a more systemic role by helping countries assess how they can “integrate climate resilient water management across their national climate plans.” The Water Tracker assists nations as they look across their climate plans—including National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)—to understand how they can manage water resources in a way that will support their “goals for climate, disaster risk, sustainable, development, and biodiversity.” One place where the Water Tracker is doing this vital work is Vietnam, where 80 percent of the country’s water is embedded in agricultural production. As Vietnam continues to develop its economy and transition to greater reliance on hydropower, AGWA is supporting that country’s efforts to ensure these new hydropower facilities are environmentally and economically sustainable, as well as climate resilient.  The challenges and complexities of water-based adaptation and resilience are clear. But Matthews and Timboe emphasize that they are heartened by water’s growing role in transboundary cooperation, as momentum for regional cooperation around water adaptation builds in regions including Latin America and the Middle East.  “The political process for thinking about peace in the Middle East is so broken and so stuck,” says Matthews. But a shared sense of risk in the region about climate change’s impact on water security is creating a gateway to peacebuilding and resilience through transnational cooperation. “The Middle East has been the quietest part of our map since our founding 12 years ago,” he observes, “and it is starting to get noisy. And it’s noisy in a really good way. People want to work together.”       Contributions from the global water sector—including AGWA—will help drive new solutions and fundamental changes in overall approaches to adaptation. Yet Matthews and Timboe agree it is important that the sector move from reaction to anticipation in strengthening adaptive capacity and resilience through water resource management.  “There’s a lot of work we need to do on the water community to make sure that the work we’re doing is something that’s going to last,” concludes Matthews. Sources: Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate ChangePhoto Credit: Farmers rowing on a flooded lotus field in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam, courtesy of Indochina studio/
10/28/202241 minutes, 39 seconds
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Episode 258: Alok Sharma: Sustain Progress and Surmount Challenges for Success in Climate Action

As the world turns its attention to the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (CoP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, CoP26 President Alok Sharma reflects upon the achievements won thus far in the fight against climate change in our latest podcast. Sharma’s address at the Wilson Center also outlines the steps that need be taken at CoP27 and in the future to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for all.Sharma observes that the CoP26 in Scotland last year represented a “fragile win” and that the Glasgow Climate Pact went further than many had imagined it would to keep accepted climate goals in place. “The pulse of 1.5 degrees remained alive,” he says. A year on from Glasgow, however, the geopolitical landscape has altered. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered crises of food and energy security. Economic factors such as inflation and increased debt pressures have compounded the world’s existing environmental emergency in a moment when it is still making a tremulous recovery after Covid-19.  “But as serious as these crises are,” Sharma remarks, “we must also recognize the seismic structural shift that is underway. Our global political economy built on fossil fuels for the last century is in a state of flux.” He urges the world community not to get bogged down in, and distracted by, these new challenges. In this way, global leaders might avoid the same mistakes committed during the financial crisis of 2008, when economic meltdown put climate action on the back burner. Sharma highlights the excellent gains being made on climate action despite the changing currents, noting that “estimates suggest that by the middle of this decade, renewables’ capacity is expected to be up 60 percent on 2020 levels”. He cites cleaner energy initiatives undertaken across various countries, including the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, and the strengthened reduction targets of India’s 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution. Sharma also praises Kenya’s pursuit of its geothermal potential and welcomes Australia back to the forefront of the “fight against climate change.” Taken together, these actions and others offer a “future of hope.”Yet Sharma also offers a note of frustration and urgency. He observes that his conversations today on climate issues have not changed in nature from those he was having three years ago at the start of his CoP Presidency tenure. In assessing the G20 Climate and Environment Ministerial Meeting in Indonesia in August 2022, for instance, Sharma reveals that "some of the world’s major emitters threatened to backslide on commitments that they had made in Glasgow and in Paris.” The urge to reverse progress reveals that there is still “a big deficit in political will,” he says. “What further evidence or motivation do global leaders need to act?”A sharp critique of current infrastructure for addressing climate is at the center of Sharma’s current thinking. He says that the institutions currently in place to deal with climate action are ill-fitted to deal with today’s critical situation. “We cannot tackle the defining challenge of this century,” he argues, “with institutions defined by the last”. Sharma seconds the comments of Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, at the UN General Assembly in September 2022 that there needs to be an “overhaul of global financial architecture.” “Countries must get access to the technical help they need through fully operationalizing the Santiago Network,” he says.Sharma concludes by threading together the seeming paradoxes of our moment, noting that the positive work and progress already made in combatting global warming must be accompanied by adequate systems that recognize the systemic risk of climate change and manage it accordingly. If the global community can manage this task, he believes that the twenty first century “will be the century that we unlocked a just and sustainable path to prosperity for billions of people around the world.”
10/20/202221 minutes, 21 seconds
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Episode 257: Catastrophe and Catalyst: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister on His Nation’s Climate Tragedy

On a recent visit to the Wilson Center, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari remarked on the historic nature of the monsoon-related floods that have submerged a huge swath of his country over the last several months.   “These are no normal monsoons and no normal floods,” said Zardari. “We are used to monsoons. We are used to floods. We have provincial mechanisms [and] national mechanisms to deal with such disasters. What we were not prepared for was for floods to descend from the sky.”  This week’s episode of the New Security Broadcast features Zardari’s observations on the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, which is so extensive it is visible even from outer space. From July to mid-September, Pakistan was battered by heavy, unrelenting monsoon rains that scientists say were made more likely by climate change.  With fully one-third of Pakistan now underwater, the crippling disaster has resulted in a humanitarian crisis that is still unfolding. Zardari said that more than 33 million people—greater than the population of Sri Lanka or Australia—have been impacted, including 16 million children and 600,000 pregnant women. Key infrastructure has been decimated, and at least 4 million acres of crops were destroyed.  Such large-scale devastation means that Pakistan’s path to recovery is sure to be long and challenging, not least because the flood emergency is likely to trigger other related emergencies.  Agriculture is one key area of concern. Zardari noted that the damage to agricultural land will put even more pressure on Pakistani people’s food security and livelihoods, which are already strained by constricted food supply from the war in Ukraine. Although many of those impacted by the disaster were not living in poverty before the floods, millions of small farmers have now lost their main source of income. Zardari adds that another crisis in public health is looming as well: “We're looking at—as the WHO has warned—a second catastrophe, a health catastrophe, with waterborne diseases spreading at epidemic rates and our supplies of basics like Panadol and anti-malaria medication not [keeping] up.”  Pakistan’s Foreign Minister sees climate injustice at the center of his nation’s current calamity. Zardari says that the 33 million people impacted by the disaster “are paying in the form of their lives, in the form of their livelihoods for global warming that they didn't create.” Pakistan’s share of the global carbon footprint is a meager 0.8 percent. “The ten most climate stressed countries—of which Pakistan is one—have contributed negligibly to the overall carbon footprint,” Zardari observed. “But they are going to be the frontline victims.”  Despite this fact, "Loss and Damage is a conversation we're still debating,” adds Zardari. He says that it is critical that there be international follow-through on climate finance commitments.“ As the UN Secretary-General has stated, this is not about charity,” said Zardari. “This is about economic justice.”  Once the floodwaters recede, Zardari says the country will rebuild in a way that accounts for climate change. “We don't only want reconstruction and rehabilitation to take place,” he continued, “…we want [them to take place] in a climate resistant manner. A greener manner.” Offered a chance for Pakistan to become a test case for green infrastructure, Zardari believes that the choice is clear: “Either we do it cheaply and poorly and dirtily and wait for the next flood…Or we do it right.”  Looking beyond Pakistan, Zardari holds that “dialogue and diplomacy” are central for global action on climate change. It is time for multilateralism, not war, he stressed, adding that successful US-China cooperation on climate is especially important. “History will ask us: While our planet was burning, while we were being warned time and time again—from [former U.S. Vice President Al] Gore to Greta [Thunberg]—that the climate is in imminent danger, did we choose to ignite new conflicts, provoke new tensions, busy ourselves with the conflicts of man? Or did we rise to this occasion?”  While Pakistan’s disastrous flooding has brought tragedy to his nation, Zardari also sees this catastrophe as a bellwether of increasing global climate threats: “It is us today, it could be anybody else tomorrow.” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister added that the devastation in Pakistan should be a catalyst for other nations to develop stronger disaster preparedness: “What we have to do is ensure that while there was no script for us, while there was no ready-made plan for us, the next time this happens to some other country, we are more prepared.” 
9/30/202215 minutes, 48 seconds
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Episode 256: Addressing the Global Food Crisis: CIMMYT Experts Weigh In

The confluence of climate change, COVID-19, and the war in Ukraine have placed enormous stress on food systems across the globe. Food insecurity spiked in 2020 and has stayed high, and the number of undernourished people is on the rise.As we respond to this emergency, there is an opportunity—and a need—to strengthen the kind of strategic investments that will make our agrifood systems resilient to tomorrow’s shocks. “We cannot be running crisis to crisis,” says Bram Govaerts, Director General of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, or CIMMYT, in this week’s New Security Broadcast. “We need to look at the underlying elements that are provoking these ripple effects.”On the episode, ECSP Director Lauren Risi and ECSP Advisor Sharon Burke speak with Govaerts and his colleague Kai Sonder, head of CIMMYT’s Geographic Information System Unit, about how to address the unfolding food crisis as we simultaneously build food system resilience in the medium and long term. Drawing from their newly-published article in Nature Food, Govaerts and Sonder share approaches that governments, civil society, and private actors can take to tackle today’s wheat supply disruptions and food insecurity. They also share past success stories and lay out key challenges moving forward.Beyond the immediate humanitarian aid needed to boost food security, Govaerts identifies intensified wheat production and greater investments in local cereals as essential short-term priorities. Medium-term investments should focus on agricultural production that is agroecologically suitable, policies that support the adoption of improved crop varieties, and data analysis to target the vulnerabilities of smallholder farmers. And with long term goals in mind, Govaerts says that we need to ask “how can we enhance our ecosystem diversity, resolve the gender disparity [in the agricultural sector] and invest in agrifood transformation from efficiency to resilience?”Both experts emphasize that these approaches aren’t meant to be taken incrementally. “We’re really saying we need to start today, taking actions with an impact on the short, medium, and long term. It would be a mistake to only focus on the short-term actions that need to be taken,” says Govaerts.Sonder acknowledges that transforming agricultural systems takes time—and isn’t easy. “You need to invest in breeding systems. You need to build capacity and identify areas where that is easily possible,” he explains. “Bringing out a new variety of wheat or maize or other crop takes up to ten years.”Introducing new farming technologies can also come with challenges, since it requires making sure those technologies can actually be maintained. “You have to ensure that there are mechanics who can fix [them] quickly, that there’s a supply chain for spare parts,” observes Sonder. And securing sustained large-scale investment for research or program activities can prove difficult, as was the case for a study CIMMYT did on the potential for wheat in Africa. “The ministers were very interested,” Sonder says. “But other crisis come along, and then the funds go somewhere else.”Despite the hurdles, there are plenty of examples of agrifood interventions with positive impact. For instance, one of CIMMYT’s current areas of work is in developing risk assessment and disease warning systems to allow people to act quickly before a crisis occurs. Sonder describes how his colleagues in Ethiopia had a recent success in identifying a risk of rust epidemic in collaboration with the government and stakeholders on the ground by using weather models.  The joint effort allowed the government “to procure and to spread fungicides and to be prepared for that crisis,” he says.Addressing the challenges that underlie world hunger will take both this kind of strategic medium-term action as well as longer-term transformations—Even as we respond to the current hunger crisis with much-needed short-term efforts, we can also be reshaping our global agricultural systems for a more biodiverse, equitable, and resilient future.Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, Nature, World Economic ForumPhoto Credit: Man applies fertilizer using multi-crop bed planter in maize field in Islamabad, Pakistan, courtesy of flickr user USAID Pakistan.
7/29/202231 minutes, 55 seconds
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Episode 254: Transformative Climate Security: A Conversation with Josh Busby

Why does climate change lead to especially bad security outcomes in some places but not others? In this week’s New Security Broadcast, Josh Busby, Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin, discusses the latest thinking on this essential question as laid out in his new book, States and Nature: The Effects of Climate Change on Security, with ECSP Program Associate, Amanda King, and ECSP Senior Fellow, Sherri Goodman.  In States and Nature, Busby examines intriguing case studies that demonstrate that—when it comes to climate insecurity—proximity is not destiny. Drought-driven famine devastated Somalia, but led to less dire outcomes in neighboring Ethiopia. Another drought that sparked civil war in Syria resulted in less overt conflict next door in Lebanon. He argues that a combination of state capacity, political exclusion, and international assistance explains why some nations suffer particularly acute negative security outcomes and not others.  “Whether or not states have the capability to deliver services,” observes Busby, “is an important piece of whether or not governments are able to deliver services in the lead-up to exposure to climate threats—and are able to respond in their wake.”  Political representation—and the lack of it—also matter to a nation’s climate resilience. Busby observes that this is especially true when favored groups within a given society receive more aid when the entire nation is exposed to climate hazards. He says his research reveals that “inclusive political societies—those that try to include all social groups in representation in government—typically end up with more just outcomes.”  Busby recently had an opportunity to merge theory and practice when he took a leave of absence from UT Austin to serve as a Climate Advisor in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in 2021 and 2022. He believes that the experience will shape his research going forward. “When you're in academia,” says Busby, “you don't really have an appreciation for the levers and tools that governments have—and don't have—to be able to try to shape and influence outcomes.” What scholars bring to the discussion is essential, Busby adds. Between managing budgets and navigating a bureaucracy of confusing acronyms across the U.S. government, researchers possess an expertise rooted in their understanding of the rich and developing literature on the connections between the cause and effect of climate and insecurity. Yet, translating good ideas into policy and programs can be a challenge. “If you want to be a change agent, to make the world better,” he says, “you have to invest some time and understanding into what those instruments and levers are.”   Busby’s extensive research and recent experience at the DoD has convinced him that most of the instruments to deal with climate security impacts will be civilian instruments and levers. Citizens, and not the military, will be the first line of defense for affected nations. Governments of countries that are affected by climate impacts must respond, of course. But Busby says that their efforts will be more effective if they are backstopped by international assistance that “first and foremost is going to be development and diplomatic resources.” Given his recent stint at DoD, however, Busby does see a critical role for militaries to play in navigating climate security issues, especially via military-to-military cooperation or disaster risk reduction. Such activities will come in to play particularly when civilian capacities may be limited and where militaries are needed to respond to extreme weather events and other climate-related emergencies. Yet he insists that there is a need to invest more fully in instruments and power structures separate from national defense, if only “to ensure that it doesn't become the responsibility of the military to do this work.”  Goodman and Busby share an interest—and a track record—of marrying academia and public service. They agree that it is no easy feat to navigate ways to make a difference through a career in public service and also work in the climate space with students and young professionals.  Reflecting on her own illustrious career in public service, Goodman advises those who would follow in her footsteps and seek the rewards of that path to surround themselves—and focus on working with people who have a shared vision and sense of purpose. “Change can occur,” she says. “We have to be in it together as a collective.”  As Busby returns to the classroom, he says he wants to ensure his students are not dismayed by the challenges of the field. “It's a hard space to work in and sustain one's optimism about the future,” he observes. ”But…we have to work and continue to have a sense of duty and obligation even if the problems are hard.” 
7/22/202233 minutes, 10 seconds
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Episode 253: Clionadh Raleigh on Reframing “Climate Security”

About half the world’s population lives in an area of active or latent conflict. And few corners of the planet are not feeling the effects of climate change. But in this week’s New Security Broadcast, researcher Clionadh Raleigh cautions against drawing too strong a connection between the two phenomena in an interview with ECSP Director Lauren Risi.“Conflict is a competition for power,” says Raleigh, a professor of political geography and conflict at the University of Sussex and the executive director of the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). Because conflict’s roots cannot be found in “grievance, resource distribution, and population dynamics,” she continues, “there are conflict dynamics that play out irrespective of climate risk, and are not directly associated with environmental issues; hence, it is not useful to frame climate issues as security issues.” Raleigh says that her research on conflict points to “some indirect connections between conflict dynamics and climate change,” especially when they create “competitions in which some attributes of the environment, especially through patronage and other means of financing turn the entire scenario into a competitive interpretation of how elites are going to operate and contest against each other violently.”   One key element in Raleigh’s case is research that demonstrates that cooperation—and not conflict—is often found in regional communities with the highest climate risk and lowest potential to mitigate it. This is part of a larger pattern of cooperation in these communities, she adds.  Raleigh notes that studies indicate that at times, such broader community collaboration smooths the path for cooperation on climate initiatives—and signals the significance of creating and implementing effective adaptation plans. “The areas that have been able to build adaptation, like adaptive cooperation, managed to become resilient to conflict,” she says, “or to break down in that social and political order to resist that kind of violent competition when it stems from other sources.”One such case can be found in Kenya, observes Raleigh, “where there were peace committees throughout the country that allowed people to discuss and to mediate in situations related to resource distribution, and those mediations—especially when they were funded—were very successful.”  Nations such as Nigeria, she continues, offer a case study in collaboration failures rooted not in climate conflict but in structural challenges. In that country’s middle belt, Raleigh says, the failure of “local-based cooperative mechanisms” led to “massive conflict that has taken the form of livelihood-based competitions, rather than the climate-related conflicts.” In this context of research that argues for a broader view of conflict—as well as its causes and patterns—is the framing of climate security still useful? Raleigh says that it must be refined and given greater nuance—especially in the areas of cooperation and resilience—if it is to retain its usefulness. “I find that security framing that has been practiced for years has become outside of the situations, where we are talking about security outcomes,” she says, “it loses this nuance that we bring to it when it's being practiced.” The result, continues Raleigh, is that the framing can “create negative effects on the people who are supposed to be on the receiving end of better policies or better assistance…In these scenarios, security initiatives themselves cause insecurities among the people.” Raleigh levels particular criticism at what she sees as a pillar of climate security framing: a seeking out of regional insecurities and refashioning of them as climate-related. She argues that this ignores growing climate collaboration in favor of identifying communities to be presently or potentially “at risk.” The danger in doing so is a tendency to admit the future into evidence while spurning research on communities presently existing in difficult and politically complicated straits. “The replacement of knowledge about the competition on the political scenarios of these places by the securitization logic,” says Raleigh, “has been an influence in deriving ill-judged solutions about who and what is vulnerable—and what needs to be done.” In its place, she urges that policymakers “derive solutions for conflicts and climate crises from a broader and inclusive environmental lens, like killing two birds with one stone. But we will fail if we try to fix these conflicts without understanding the politics of the root cause.” Raleigh also notes that reaction in some quarters to the IPCC’s report—which maintained a direct causal link between climate and conflict while noting limitations in a “climate security” framing provides further evidence of the problem she has identified. “I have heard that several civil society organizations and developmental practitioners have sent an open letter to IPCC stating that they are not serious about the climate security,” she continues. “This shows that the idea of ‘climate security’ has become an unstoppable force and demands a reductive conclusion rather than the broader and sophisticated conclusion in the IPCC report.”In Raleigh’s view, closing off the contributions of broader conflict research in providing nuance is a mistake. “I am worried now that we are returning to a time where all this work and all this interpretation of resilience, the importance of different vulnerabilities, the importance of adaptation and what form it takes, and the importance of cooperation, might be lost,” she says. What is needed now, concludes Raleigh, is a fundamental change in viewpoint: “The climate security frame must be more focusing, indulging, and engaging. And it must be more focused on how the conflict itself has complicated people's adaptation rather than a causal direction.”
6/24/202225 minutes, 59 seconds
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Episode 252: Jeff Colgan on Oil Politics and International Order

Debates around whether and to what extent international order is changing can be misguided “so long as we are thinking about international order as a single, monolithic thing,” says Jeff Colgan, Associate Professor of Political Science and director of the Climate Solutions Lab at Brown University in this week’s episode of New Security Broadcast. Colgan spoke at a recent Wilson Center event featuring his new book, Partial Hegemony: Oil Politics and International Order. In the book, Colgan challenges the idea of a monolithic ‘global order’ and shows that international order instead comprises a set of interlinked “subsystems.” In a world where there is no single, all-encompassing hegemon to trigger universal global change, this framework of subsystems allows us to explore how particular geopolitical realms can alter without fundamentally changing the geopolitical landscape, he says. In 1973, the world experienced the largest peaceful transfer of wealth across borders in all of human history. “Up until that point,” says Colgan, “a group of international oil companies known as the Seven Sisters controlled the vast majority of the world's oil reserves and production. And that gave them enormous power over countries like Iran and Venezuela.” OPEC formed as a direct response to this concentration of control, helping its member countries confront some of the most powerful companies in the world at the time. “It was a huge shift in international order that reverberated for years afterwards.” But understanding shifts in global order like this one requires revisiting common perspectives on international governing arrangements. Most people conceptualize hegemony as an on-off switch, Colgan says. They think that if you are the hegemon, then you dominate across “all dimensions of power—you're dominant militarily, you're the biggest economy, you're the leading technological state, you control natural resource flows, capital flows, information.”  That is not how global power currently operates, however. “In reality, of course, a state could lead in some of these dimensions, but not all of them.” It is this state of partial hegemony that describes today’s world, he says. The aim of Partial Hegemony, Colgan says, “is to help us remember that international governing arrangements only work under some conditions, so we need to learn about what those conditions are.” Shedding light on these arrangements is an integrative process. Particular issue areas like oil and its geopolitical history, he says, can be a jumping-off point for broader discussions of international relations theory, which in turn can deepen our understanding of other systems within the world order. 
4/1/202211 minutes, 2 seconds
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Episode 251: The Fight for Climate After COVID-19: A Conversation With Sherri Goodman and Author, Alice Hill

The impacts of COVID-19 have shown policymakers that we need to invest in infrastructure and shore up existing systems to ensure that they can withstand changing conditions over time, says Alice Hill, former special assistant to President Barack Obama and current senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Resilience, in this week’s New Security Broadcast. “As we go forward, we need to have resilient systems. But we haven’t done that yet, we’re unprepared.” Hill sat down with Sherri Goodman, Senior Fellow at the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program and former U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, to her new book, The Fight for Climate After COVID-19, and how the response to COVID-19 can inform approaches to building climate resilience.  “Even as we see the ferocity of events increase, we are seeing that our systems just have not accounted for the future risk, and that is what we need,” says Hill. Investing in preparedness is cost-effective in the long term, she says. Every dollar spent on preventative measures now can save from 6 to 13 dollars in repairing future damages. “If we can discipline ourselves to invest now in resilience, we will save money, save lives, save livelihoods.”  In addition to building resilience and preparing for long-term changes, Hill says that policymakers and experts must also focus on reducing emissions and cutting pollution. “There’s the mitigation—cutting harmful pollution. And there’s the adaptation and resilience—preparing for the impacts. Those two communities have been historically separated,” says Hill. In particular, experts in these communities must work together to ensure that adaptation and mitigation measures receive equal attention in the developing world. “When these events hit the developing world, it can cause a family just to spiral into poverty very quickly,” says Hill. “We need to make deep investments to help these countries understand their risks and warn their populations in advance.”  Hill and Goodman conclude their conversation by encouraging everyone to engage in understanding and responding to climate change. There is a much greater focus on the issue now, says Hill. “One of the things that I find—that has been a wonderful surprise for me—is how exciting it is to be engaged in this field. And feeling as if there are things that I can contribute to, and that I can join with others to build, that will have greater results,” she says. “I just want to encourage people to engage and then, as we engage, we can help build the political will that’s necessary for all of us to understand our risks, and then make choices that will keep us safer.” 
11/12/202131 minutes, 8 seconds
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Episode 250: Happy World Gorilla Day! A Conversation with Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka on COVID-19’s Impact on Gorilla Conservation and Public Health in Uganda

“When we started out, people thought it was weird. ‘Why are you integrating people and animals and why are you integrating human health and animal health?’” says Kalema-Zikusoka, founder of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), in this week’s New Security Broadcast. Indeed, health infrastructure and conservation have long been organized around distinct silos. “Donors were focusing on single sector funding, and government departments were aligned along single sectors,” says Kalema-Zikusoka.  To protect Uganda’s mountain gorillas, however, Kalema-Zikusoka recognized the need to set up an organization that could prevent disease transmission between humans and wildlife. Improving the health and well-being of communities in and around protected areas would help to ensure that they were less likely to have infectious diseases, could enjoy a better quality of life, and would ultimately enable communities to co-exist better with the wildlife.  Over the past decade, there has been growing awareness and acceptance of this approach to conservation and public health. Often referred to as “One Health,” it is a multisectoral approach to disease prevention that centers interconnections between wildlife, ecosystem, and human health. Evidence tracing COVID-19’s origins to virus transmission between bats, an intermediate host, and humans only heightened the awareness of the interdependency between wildlife and human health.  CTPH’s approach to community health has made them an asset for addressing COVID-19. The Ugandan Ministry of Health requested that the NGOs working with community health workers create village COVID task force committees, says Kilema-Zikusoka. They were worried that mounting infections could easily become severe ones, and there were not enough beds and oxygen, particularly in protected areas, where the lack of resources is more severe than in cities, she says. These action groups—now in 59 villages—are led by the village head and conservation team, and include the Uganda Wildlife Authority, porters at gorilla reserves, women and religious groups, and educational staff members. Such holistic, coordinated One Health efforts are essential for disaster preparedness and response in communities where wildlife and humans share a habitat, says Kalema-Zikusok.  Despite this progress, tensions between human and animal health continue to emerge. Last year, hunger and economic desperation caused by the loss of tourism revenue drove a poacher to enter a protected area and kill a member of Uganda’s silverback mountain gorilla population. To prevent further endangerment, CTPH has implemented a range of short and long term measures to tackle pandemic-induced food insecurity—distributing fast growing green seedlings in the community; encouraging sustainable farming as an alternative to poaching; and ensuring gorilla guardians and reform poachers are trained in and benefitting from COVID-19 prevention initiatives.  “This is an area we got into because of the pandemic. We started to look at food security more closely as an organization, so we have also grown just like other organizations during this very difficult time,” says Kalema-Zikusoka. There are important lessons learned and insights drawn from the pandemic that we must carry forward in order to realize a safer future for humans and animals alike. 
9/23/202130 minutes, 32 seconds
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Episode 249: Introducing New Security Broadcast

“To inform the most pressing issues of our time, to bring new voices to the policy space, and to help our audience better understand these complex connections and where we can be most effective in our responses, we bring you the New Security Broadcast,” says Lauren Risi, Director of the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP), in today’s launch of ECSP’s new podcast series, New Security Broadcast.  New Security Broadcast serves as the successor to ECSP’s long-running podcast series, Friday Podcasts. Since 2010, Friday Podcasts has spotlighted leading experts diving deep into topics around environmental security and peacebuilding, biodiversity conservation, climate security and migration, population-health-environment connections, and demographic security. It also hosted two special series, Water Stories and Backdraft, which featured experts from around the world on 21st century water challenges, and how to avoid unintended—yet potentially devastating—consequences from climate adaptation and mitigation efforts that lack a conflict-sensitive lens. “The evidence has never been stronger. Environmental change, global health, demographic trends, gender dynamics, and security all intersect in ways that influence foreign policy, national security, and global stability,” says Risi. For over 25 years ECSP has brought together scholars, policymakers, and practitioners to better understand how these issues influence one another, how they drive insecurity, and where there are opportunities to respond more effectively, she says.  To build upon this history, New Security Broadcast aims to share new research and policy responses, continue to feature ECSP insights, showcase the Wilson Center’s regional and thematic programs, and highlight cutting-edge researchers, experts on the ground, and policymakers who are grappling with today’s biggest issues. “You don’t need to look beyond today’s headlines to see that the issues ECSP has researched and analyzed for decades have only become more acute, and the need to address them more urgent,” says Risi.  Tune in to the New Security Broadcast to stay up to date and learn more.
9/16/20212 minutes, 41 seconds
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Episode 248: The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed: A Conversation with Co-authors Robin Broad and John Cavanagh

“Many people have watched fights between communities and big corporations around the world. The corporations usually win so those are the Goliath. The Davids usually lose,” says John Cavanagh, co-author of The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed. In this week’s episode of Friday Podcasts, Cavanagh and co-author Robin Broad recount how local activists mobilized a global coalition of religious leaders, labor unions, and environmental activists to block an international corporation from opening a gold mine that threatened El Salvador’s fragile water supply. “We had no choice but to begin the book with the horrifying realization that murder can be the cost of protecting the environment in many countries around the world,” said Broad. In 2009, three months before Cavanagh’s organization, Institute for Policy Studies, was preparing to present its prestigious annual Human Rights Award to a group of El Salvadoran water defenders, they received news that one of the awardees, teacher and cultural worker, Marcelo Rivera, had been assassinated, his tortured body left at the bottom of a deep dry well. The Water Defenders tells the story of ordinary people coming together across national and political boundaries to resist powerful corporate interests. In the early 2000s, mineral prices were on the rise and the Pacific Rim mining company sought to set up new mining operations to tap into El Salvador’s gold reserves, promising new jobs and one percent of their profits to the local government. While assurances of prosperity and profit by the mining company initially sounded inviting to Marcelo and the local community, “they visited a big mine in Honduras, and there they saw the horrible environmental damage that comes from the fact that gold is mined on a large scale, using cyanide to separate the gold from the rock [which is] highly toxic and very hard to contain,” says Cavanagh. In Honduras, cyanide-laced water flowed through the rivers, killing fish and causing skin diseases. The water defenders decided “that short term financial rewards for the few would be way offset by the environmental harms to the broader community,” says Cavanagh. To expand their coalition of support and raise awareness of the dangers of mining, “they did some of the most creative education and organizing that we've ever seen,” says Cavanagh. Marcelo organized with humor, leading marches of laughter where people wore clown noses and involved local community radio stations who performed skits on water. The water defenders expanded their coalition to the global level, creating a network of “international allies” and appealing to the two million Salvadoran diaspora in the United States, and environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Global International Trade Union Confederation, says Cavanagh. Against all odds, the diverse coalition of actors succeeded in helping to convince the El Salvador legislature to institute the world’s first ban on metal mining and influenced the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes to rule in favor of El Salvador in a lawsuit brought by the Pacific Rim mining corporation. Part of their success was the fact that even as their international support expanded, “the anchor was always the frontline communities. They were the ones who took the lead, and they were the ones who set the goals,” says Broad. They also framed their message around a positive goal. They didn't call themselves anti-miners; they called themselves the water defenders, says Broad. “This is a story about redefining progress in a way that hopefully works to the benefit of the majority of the population of the world, rather than just to an elite few,” says Broad. By sharing this unlikely success story, Broad and Cavanagh offer a practical playbook on effective grassroots, coalition-building to redefine development and to protect the environment in the face of powerful corporate interests.
9/10/202136 minutes, 24 seconds
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Episode 247: Engaging Marginalized Groups is Essential to Achieving Universal Health Coverage

Too often, many in my community are excluded from sexual and reproductive health services, said Ruth Morgan Thomas, co-founder and Global Coordinator of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, in today’s episode of Friday Podcasts. This episode features highlights from a recent Wilson Center and UNFPA event where Thomas and Zandile Simelane, an HIV Youth Advocate from Eswatini, address the barriers that their respective communities—sex workers and HIV positive youth—face in accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and universal health coverage (UHC).  Leaving marginalized individuals out of conversations about SRH and UHC heightens the chance that social protections will not fully accommodate their health needs. For individuals engaged in sex work, access to SRH services is an occupational health issue, said Thomas. “It isn’t just sexual and reproductive health. It’s actually about our work and keeping us safe in our work.” Nevertheless, because many governments do not formally recognize sex work, it is excluded from typical social protections, she said.  This lack of protection is compounded by the active criminalization of marginalized groups, including sex workers, LGBTQ+ individuals, and individuals who inject drugs, said Thomas. Criminalization “underpins and exacerbates” the stigma and discrimination that these groups already face, creating barriers that prevent them from accessing other essential health services. The impacts of criminalization are especially damaging because those causing harm – including governments, law enforcement, and health care providers – are often the very individuals and institutions tasked with protecting and caring for marginalized communities, she said.  Adolescents and young people are another key population often left out of conversations about SRH and UHC. Due to cultural norms and individual morals surrounding sexuality, providers are often not welcoming of young people seeking SRH care and may even scold them for engaging in sexual activity, said Simelane. This treatment discourages youth from seeking needed services. As a young Swazi woman, you are treated as a child, even at the health center, she said.  Family planning terminology and the vastness of services under the family planning umbrella can also create barriers for young people. Family planning translates differently to a 16-year-old who isn’t planning for a family and who might need information on HIV testing, but doesn’t know where to access that information, said Simelane. This confusion and lack of youth directed services often “filters” young people out and results in them not seeking needed care, she said.  Social media is a powerful tool to include communities directly in service planning and provision. “Ten years ago, when I tested positive, it dawned upon me that young people are actually on social media,” trying to engage with each other, said Simelane. “So why not bring the information that they need to them on these social media streets?”  Nevertheless, there are huge disparities in access to digital services, particularly for marginalized groups, said Thomas. COVID-19 is exacerbating the effects of this digital divide. Because of this, social media efforts must be paired with on-the-ground work, she said. Whether it’s in the digital or physical space, marginalized and criminalized communities worldwide need to be part of our health response, including sexual and reproductive health, to make universal health coverage a reality, she said.
7/15/202119 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 246: John Scanlon on the Case for Criminalizing Wildlife Trafficking under International Law

“The world is still feeling the full brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic which most likely had its origins in a wild animal,” says John Scanlon AO, Former Secretary-General of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and Chair of the Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime, in this week’s Friday Podcast. Scanlon spoke at a recent Wilson Center event on the connections between wildlife crime, human health, and security.  “We need to recalibrate our relationship with nature for many compelling interrelated reasons, including to protect biodiversity, combat climate change, and to prevent future pandemics,” says Scanlon. “This is going to require profound changes in how we regulate the taking, trade, and consumption of wildlife, how we combat wildlife crime, and how we manage and finance the protection of wildlife at its source.”  Currently, there is no global agreement for combatting wildlife crime. CITES, a 50-year-old global agreement that exists to regulate international trade in wildlife only considers biological risks to a species’ survival and does not take into account the risks to human or animal health. We need to adopt a One Health approach to regulating wildlife trade that considers the biological impacts on human and animal health, says Scanlon. However, CITES member states remain wary of expanding the treaty’s mandate to include human and animal health criteria. Another approach, proposed by the global health community, is to include legally binding commitments in an international pandemics treaty to prevent the spillover of viruses and other pathogens from wild animals to people.  Not only does wildlife crime endanger health, but it also comes at a financial cost. The World Bank estimates that illicit wildlife trafficking and the impacts of these crimes on ecosystems cost the global economy a staggering $1-2 trillion a year. Scanlon says that a new international agreement is needed to criminalize wildlife trafficking. “It would apply to any species of wild fauna and flora, including fish and timber species, that is protected under any international or importantly, any national law.” Such an agreement would perform needed functions including, “setting out the conduct that should be criminalized, committing states to make it a criminal offence to import any wildlife it is being acquired in contravention of the national laws at the source country, and on the exchange of critically important information.”  An international agreement on wildlife trafficking has been publicly endorsed by the presidents of Costa Rica and Gabon and, if adopted, would be the first time that a crime significantly impacting the environment is embedded into the international criminal law framework, says Scanlon. “If we get it right, the local communities living amongst wildlife and the governments of source countries, as well as our global biodiversity, climate health and security will all be beneficiaries.”   “We’re struggling to combat climate change and staring down the loss of a million species. Given the scale of the risk to people and planet, we must ratchet up both our national and global response,” says Scanlon. By promoting changes to the existing international legal framework, we can change how states commit to working with each other to help avoid future pandemics and to end wildlife crime in a manner that delivers multiple local and global benefits.
7/8/202110 minutes, 8 seconds
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Episode 245: The Cost of Care: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Exacerbated the Baby Bust

The decision to have a child usually requires a feeling of stability and confidence in the future, says Natascha Braumann, Director of Global Government and Public Affairs for Fertility at EMD Serono, on this week’s episode of Friday Podcasts.  But with COVID-19, especially in the first months of the pandemic, there was no feeling of stability. “No one knew what was going to happen.”The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated decades of slow population growth in many high-income countries. Many factors have led to the decline in birth rates. One positive factor is the advancement of women in society. “For the past few decades, women have spent more time in education,” says Braumann. “They’ve spent more time climbing the ladder at work, so to speak.” Progress on gender equity and access to modern contraception contribute to this decline. Yet women don’t necessarily want fewer children. Evidence shows that people generally have fewer children than they say is ideal, says Braumann. Financial struggles are part of the equation. In high-income countries, families often must rely on income from both parents to live, particularly in urban areas. Childcare costs also factor into these decisions. When taken in aggregate, shifting roles for women, financial stress, and high costs of care influence individuals’ choice to delay childbearing, which then leads to lower fertility rates, says Braumann. Policies tend to favor government-funded care for the old rather than the young, because voting populations in democracies are increasingly old. To increase birth rates, policymakers must consider factors like the cost of caregiving. If you look at those countries like France, where the gap between the ideal number of children and the actual number of children is fairly low, you see countries that have a very robust and well-funded government system of providing day care, says Braumann.The discussion about a pandemic baby bust fails to acknowledge how intentional delays in childbearing are occurring only in high-income countries, says Braumann, where women have reproductive choices available to them and can delay childbearing in times of uncertainty. In low- and middle-income countries, the COVID-19 pandemic has closed clinics, delayed services, and reduced access to contraception, which has increased rates of unintended pregnancies. “And that is a backsliding of huge progress that’s been made over the last years,” says Braumann, “and a really tragic and distressing side effect of the COVID pandemic and the lockdowns that happened.”  The COVID-19 pandemic made clear what many families around the world already knew: having children is expensive and challenging. “Everyone saw the very fragile construct of many modern families come crashing down in a very short amount of time,” says Braumann. People with children will think more critically about having more, and people without children who saw the misery that those families went through, will also think long and hard about having children in the future, she says. That goes double for women who were torn between all the different responsibilities that often fell on their shoulders, says Braumann. “And I think there's no easy solution to that. But it's going to linger over the next years.”
6/29/202120 minutes, 1 second
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Episode 244: A Conversation with Dr. Nahid Toubia: Bodily Autonomy and the 2021 State of World Population Report

Bodily autonomy is something almost innate in us, and yet also a Eureka moment for many people, says Dr. Nahid Toubia, Director for the Institute of Reproductive Health and Rights in Sudan on this week’s episode of Friday Podcasts. “Every human being really has the right to own their body, to own their decisions, to own their choices regarding their life, their futures, how they want to live, who they want to partner, whether they want to have children or not, what kind of families they want to have,” she says. “So, all of these choices are all wrapped up in this concept of body autonomy.” While some view bodily autonomy as a “luxury issue,” or secondary to other essential issues such as nutrition, housing, political participation, and poverty, “[bodily autonomy] actually is the basis for all these other issues that we want to get at,” says Dr. Toubia. Women cannot get an education or participate in the economy if somebody else controls their body, she says. Without bodily autonomy, “everything else is not going to happen.”For Dr. Toubia, discussing the complexities of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the 2021 State of the World Population report was monumental. “I really applaud UNFPA for the courage that they have produced this report and increasingly handling, you know, more what people see as peripheral or controversial issues,” says Dr. Toubia. “But it's okay, somebody needs to push the envelope, as they say.” Other UN and U.S. agencies need to follow and a critical first step is to adopt the language of bodily autonomy into their guidelines, proposals, partnerships with local communities, and programs to make bodily autonomy something people truly understand, she says. Dr. Toubia approaches FGM, one of the clearest attacks on bodily autonomy, from an “African feminist perspective.” While women need allies, they must speak for themselves, she says. “So one of the things we did very early and we still continue to do, even in a place like Sudan, is to bring forth the voice, number one, the first person who is important in this, the woman, herself, the girl who was cut.” When women are given a safe space to discuss this harm, they open up and speak about their experiences. “And that's where change happens,” she says.The language used to discuss these issues is also crucial, says Dr. Toubia. While Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) is widely used and is instrumental in centering human rights in sexual and reproductive health, the term can be too complex for the average person to understand. SRHR provides an “umbrella” to demand broad systems-level change, whereas bodily autonomy is more immediate, centering on the individuals themselves. For that reason, she says “bodily autonomy is more understandable than sexual and reproductive health and rights.”This linguistic shift has provided a newfound sense of agency, empowering people to voice and claim this most fundamental of rights, says Dr. Toubia. “And now suddenly there is a word, there is some language for it: I deserve to be autonomous. I deserve to own my body,” she says. “And I think that’s a huge, a huge step forward.”
5/27/202128 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 243: Sue Biniaz on Getting the U.S. Back on Track for Climate Action

“The more the United States can get itself back on track, the better position it is in to exercise climate leadership,” says Sue Biniaz, a member of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s team, in today’s Friday Podcast. Biniaz spoke about the Biden-Harris administration’s international climate policy at a recent Wilson Center event on climate security risks in the Arctic. In her remarks, Biniaz outlined four overarching themes in President Biden’s January 27th Executive Order: renewing the United States’ climate objectives; exercising U.S. climate leadership; raising global climate ambition; and putting climate at the center of U.S. foreign policy and national security. Rejoining the Paris Agreement and re-upping the nationally determined contributions (NDCs)—national climate action plans where parties to the Paris Agreement are set to maintain national emission targets and implement policies and measures in response to climate change—are “key elements” towards getting the United States back on track for climate action. But it’s also about raising ambition. After the Paris Agreement’s focus on keeping temperature rise below 2ºC, the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC made clear the need to increase the scale and speed of climate action, says Biniaz. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no conference of the parties (COP) and countries didn’t revisit their NDCs in 2020 as planned. This creates added pressure, but also opportunity for 2021, says Biniaz, because determining a new collective temperature goal, a timeline for achieving net zero emissions, and increasing 2030 emission targets will be addressed and dealt with. To exercise U.S. climate leadership, says Biniaz, the Biden administration is “making climate change a priority and integrating it into both bilateral diplomacy and a wide range of international fora.” This includes reconvening the Major Economies Forum—a meeting of countries that represent about 80 percent of global emissions, population, and GDP—and holding a Leaders’ Climate Summit held on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. The appointment of John Kerry as the first-ever special presidential envoy for climate is another demonstration of U.S. leadership. “Our whole team has been actively involved in climate diplomacy in the last several weeks, both to align on goals and to try to raise ambition particularly among the major economies.” Kerry has been pressing countries, at least the major economies, to commit to net zero emissions no later than 2050 and to “not only to commit to the goal but to say here's how we intend to get there.” In her September 2020 contribution to a Wilson Center and adelphi project, 21st Century Diplomacy: Foreign Policy is Climate Policy, Biniaz wrote, “Climate change has too many sources, on the one hand, and implications, on the other, to be either ignored or treated as a niche issue with little or no bearing on other fields.” “The Executive Order makes very clear,” Biniaz says, “climate change is at the center of foreign policy and national security.”
3/19/202111 minutes, 23 seconds
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Episode 242: A Conversation with Marisa O. Ensor on Securitizing Youth and Youth’s Role in Peace and Security Agendas

“I've been quite impressed by the wide diversity and complexity of young women's and men's engagement for peacebuilding and development often while confronting seemingly insurmountable challenges,” says Marisa O. Ensor, Adjunct Professor in the Justice and Peace Studies Program at Georgetown University, in this week’s Friday Podcast. In her new edited volume, “Securitizing Youth: Young People's Roles in the Global Peace and Security Agenda,” contributors cover a wide set of topics that impact youth, peace, and security, including violence, gender dynamics, social media, climate change, and forced displacement. Young people's position in society is shaped by a number of variables, like age, gender, ethnicity, and religion, says Ensor. This means that the experiences of young women are very different from those of their male counterparts. Yet, often the term “youth” tends to be equated with males. “The category of female youth is not even recognized in some parts of the world,” says Ensor. At the same time, she says, the term “gender” continues to be equated with women. “This remains highly problematic.” The number of youth today is larger than it has been at any other time in human history, but it is not evenly distributed across the globe. 600 million young people live in conflict-affected regions, and youth make up a majority of the population in the world's least developed countries. If one hopes to understand the situation on the ground in these countries, one absolutely needs to pay attention to the experiences of youth, says Ensor. It's also important to avoid essentializing youth, she says, because they don't constitute a monolithic or homogenous category any more than their older counterparts.“Pathways to peace can take many different forms in different parts of the world,” says Ensor. She’d like to see more investments and partnerships when it comes to young people’s inclusion in broader security and peacebuilding initiatives and dialogues. “We need to acknowledge the multiple barriers—structural and cultural barriers—that constrain young people's meaningful inclusion,” she says. Young people, even when they lack the experience, connections, or resources, still bring energy and enthusiasm and their particular kind of knowledge of the situation on the ground. “This must be recognized and valued with young people viewed as equal and essential partners.” Narratives on global youth remain saturated with concerns of youth as a threat and liability. In response to this, Ensor says, “We need to bear in mind that resilience is not the opposite of vulnerability.” Young women and men can be both vulnerable and resilient, often simultaneously, especially in the less developed, fragile contexts where the majority of them live, she says. “Policy and programming must be informed by these much more complex realities if they are to be inclusive and effective and sustainable.”
3/12/202118 minutes, 51 seconds
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Episode 241: Reviving Culture Through First Nations Midwifery

“It's more than just clinical care. It's cultural. It's connection to country. It's connection to land. It's all of those things that are important to the woman and family, kinship, babies,” says Mel Briggs, a First Nations midwife in Australia, speaking about the importance of Aboriginal midwifery in this week’s Friday Podcast. Like her great-grandmother, Briggs followed the call to midwifery and finds joy in helping women and families “create really healthy, chunky, fat babies.” “First Nations people of Australia hold the oldest bloodline and the oldest living culture on the planet,” says Briggs. Their midwifery practices existed long before colonization, but due to colonization, Aboriginal models of care were “taken away from us” in favor of Western medical models, she says. Australia is currently home to 30,000 dual registered nurse-midwives, but only 300 identify as Aboriginal. A history of colonization has impacted birth practices and led to poor health outcomes in First Nations communities. For example, the introduction of Western foods into Aboriginal communities has led to high rates of chronic diseases, like obesity. Chronic illnesses affect maternal health and often lead to pregnancies being considered high-risk. For Briggs, this means the women she supports don’t have the option to birth at home and must birth in a hospital setting. “When you look at the medical model, it’s not the woman’s fault that these things have happened to them. It’s the society and it’s the models that have done this,” says Briggs. Older generations of Aboriginal people “hunted and they gathered and they were healthy and fit… let’s go back to that. Let’s just do that… and then the next generation, we’ll have a generation of those women who will be able to birth at home and be healthy and well.” Since many First Nations women give birth in hospitals, Briggs supports birthing mothers in cultural practices before and after they go to deliver. “When we're in that space, the women are actually healing, so that they can birth peacefully and calmly. And that gives them strength going into a place where they're going to be controlled,” says Briggs.Briggs recalled a recent hospital birth experience that respectfully bridged the gap between the medical model and First Nations traditional practices. The birthing woman, who Briggs described as “strong in her culture,” told the hospital staff that when her baby was born, she didn’t want them to speak. She stressed the importance of her child’s first heard word being in her language and when her baby was born, she and Briggs said “Walawaani,” which means ‘I hope you had a safe journey.’ “It was like a big celebration,” says Briggs. “Everybody just started crying.” It was nice to include the hospital staff in Aboriginal traditions, says Briggs. “Even though we needed to use an obstetric medical, clinical intervention, it was still respecting culture. And that's what needs to happen.”Bringing healthy babies into the world and supporting women on their motherhood journey will allow her community to “grow and thrive,” says Briggs. “It's taken a very long time, 230 years, in fact. We've been controlled and oppressed for a very long time. I just feel like, It's time. It's time for our people to thrive, and to be equal.”
3/4/202127 minutes, 42 seconds
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Episode 240: A Conversation with Steven Gale on USAID’s New Foresight Unit

“I think most people will agree today that the development landscape is, well, it’s highly uncertain, it's increasingly complex,” says Steven Gale, Lead of the Futures/Foresight Team at the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), in this week’s Friday Podcast. “I think the future is even going to be more complex.” “Foresight is probably the most common technique in the futures area,” says Gale. The tool has been primarily used by the private sector, the military, and the intelligence community when looking at what a possible future would look like. Foresight helps planners and decision-makers better prepare for the unexpected by not just looking at one future, but by looking at a range of futures. “The tools of foresight are especially helpful,” says Gale, “when the future you want to explore is highly uncertain, ambiguous, increasingly complex.”Another “futures” technique often used that is similar to foresight, but much more precise, is prediction. “It's a statement of what will likely occur in the future using existing data and analytic models,” says Gale. Prediction is what you expect to happen when your hypothesis is true, data highly accurate and consistent, variables are known and agreed upon, and the future you want to predict is essentially an extension of the past, he says. “The net result is most of our professionals prefer foresight over prediction because of uncertainty and complexity.” Foresight isn’t unique to USAID. For example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) also houses a Strategic Foresight Unit. Gale says that as both entities are focused on foresight for development, the USAID Foresight Unit has a lot in common with the OECD DAC. In March 2021, the U.S. and Switzerland will co-chair the DAC foresight unit’s annual event, Friends of Foresight. A number of the issues addressed will revolve around COVID-19, green and digital COVID-19 recovery, and examining what socioeconomic recovery from the pandemic will look like, says Gale. In response to why foresight is taking on a higher profile at USAID, Gale says, “the short answer is COVID-19.” Once the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, USAID created a task force to assess and manage the more immediate challenges of COVID-19. As the task force began to look at these challenges, he says, it began to think about the next COVID-19 and established the Over the Horizon Strategic Review to not just look at the immediate impacts of COVID, but to look at a range of other possibilities. Gale’s book on over-the-horizon development scenarios, “The Future Can’t Wait,” addresses the future of foresight, scenario planning, and what it means for development. Quoting an excerpt from former USAID Administrator, Andrew Natsios, he says, “Perhaps, the most embarrassing failure of international development agencies has been their excessive focus on programming for the past problems, for the past challenges, instead of anticipating the challenges of the future.” That shortcoming, Gale says, “is precisely what foresight seeks to address.”
2/25/202123 minutes, 46 seconds
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Episode 239: Native American Midwives Help Navajo Families Thrive

When Navajo Midwife Nicolle Gonzales talks with Native American women about birth, there's a sense something is missing, she said in this week’s Friday Podcast. “But,” she said, “we don’t know what it is.” Gonzales grew up and remains on a Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. She became a midwife and founded the Changing Woman Initiative (CWI) to address unmet maternal health care needs in her community. She is of the Tl’aashchi’I, Red Bottom clan, born for Tachii’nii, Red Running into the Water clan, Hashk’aa hadzohi, Yucca fruit-strung-out-in-a line clan, and Naasht’ezhi dine’e, Zuni clan. Providing quality midwifery care requires an intimate understanding of a community’s traditions, said Gonzales. For example, the Navajo Nation is a matrilineal society. This history affects Navajo women in ways that Western activists miss. “There's this whole wave of white feminism, talking about empowering women,” said Gonzales. “Like me as a Diné [Navajo] mother and a woman, like I'm already empowered because I walk side by side with my culture, my community.” The focus of Indigenous feminism is thus not forging a new egalitarian societal system but returning to the pre-colonial system in which men and women were already equal, she said. Native American and Indigenous communities have also been shaped by past trauma, said Gonzales. The legacy of colonization has separated Native women from traditional birthing practices for two generations, leading them to lose a sense of self, she said. In addition, rates of substance use, physical and sexual violence, and mental illness are high in Native American communities. This reality poses challenges to new parents, as they must balance healing their personal traumas with the demands of child rearing, said Gonzales. Failing to acknowledge this historical and social context has devastating consequences. In the United States, Native American mothers die at a rate two to three times higher than non-Hispanic white mothers. While tragic, these numbers are not surprising, said Gonzales, noting missed opportunities to support women during and around childbirth. “And so when we fail our women like that, of course, you know those numbers are going to look terrible,” she said, referring to maternal health outcomes.However, when the proper, culturally informed support is provided, the birthing process can be transformational for Native American and Indigenous women, said Gonzales. By guiding families through ceremonial birthing processes, which can include using herbal medicines and birthing in a hogan (traditional dwelling), Navajo midwives help parents reconnect with their cultural heritage, serving as a bridge between a lost past and a healthier future for Navajo families. Including communities in maternal health care is essential. Given the diversity of Native American and Indigenous communities, services must be tailored to each tribe’s customs and needs. “How is it possible that people from other states and other communities and even like organizations can make policy decisions for Native communities who've never been there who don't know what our problems are, who don't know, our traditional systems?” said Gonzales. “That doesn't feel okay to me.” Some progress is being made. Representative Deb Haaland is the first Native American to be appointed to serve in a president’s Cabinet. This representation is incredibly important for Native American and Indigenous communities, said Gonzales. When Representative Haaland goes into spaces that are all white and she wears her traditional clothing and moccasins, she said, it’s like she's always bringing her community along, wherever she goes.This commitment to community is at the center of Gonzales’ work. In every space, she makes the conscious effort to represent her people and “bring her ancestors into the conversation.” By doing so, she challenges the Western narrative that frames Indigenous communities as relics of the past, by focusing on the “death” of Indigenous languages, peoples, and cultures. “We're not dying,” she said. “We're not thriving either, but we're trying to.” Returning Indigenous midwifery to Native American communities, is part of this effort to thrive. “Yes, there's lots of death, but birth and mothers bring life into community,” said Gonzales. “And I help with that. Midwives help with that.”
2/18/202134 minutes, 35 seconds
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Episode 238: Valerie M. Hudson on How Sex Shapes Governance and National Security Worldwide

“The very first political order in any society is the sexual political order established between men and women,” says Valerie M. Hudson, a University Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M, in today’s Friday Podcast, recorded at a recent Wilson Center launch of the book, The First Political Order: How Sex Shapes Governance and National Security Worldwide. Co-authored by Hudson, Donna Lee Bowen, Professor Emerita at Brigham Young University, and P. Lynne Nielson, a statistics professor at Brigham Young University, the book investigates how the relationship between men and women shapes the wider political order. “We argue, along with many other scholars, that the character of that first order molds the society, its governance, and its behavior,” says Hudson.“The subordination of women, the straitjacketing of women if you will, through this Syndrome, harms not just women, but children, men, and whole societies,” says Hudson, referring to the “Patrilineal/Fraternal Syndrome.” The Syndrome, as defined by Hudson and her co-authors, is a series of interlocking mechanisms designed to keep women subordinated. These mechanisms start with the violent coercion of women by men to get what they want and loop, like magnetic beads, to systematic means of female control, such as son preference, early marriage, polygamy, bride price, and dowries. “The syndrome is really a trap,” says Hudson, and the subordinate system sets societies up for poor health, food insecurity, low economic performance, demographic woes, and a lack of attention to environmental security. The Syndrome leads societies to unfortunate outcomes “because it’s based upon a first political order of instability, domestic instability, domestic violence, domestic terror, domestic corruption, and domestic autocracy.” Hudson says in discussing these topics with U.S. national security audiences she asks whether the audience considers themselves to be national security realists—if they believe the treatment of women does affect national security instability and if they believe that the women, peace, and security agenda is in the national interest. “Can you call yourself a realist if you don’t?” she asks. “If the U.S. isn’t tracking the situation with women, how is it going to effectively anticipate instability in other countries?” “Let’s suppose that we accept that women matter. What would change in how we do business?” asks Hudson. Without accepting that women matter, how could the U.S. know to avoid peace negotiations that are detrimental for women; track internal threats if domestic violence isn’t viewed as domestic terror perpetration; recognize that ending child marriage globally would do more for world peace than any other investment; and know when exporting democracy could be effective, and where it’s likely to fail. “I believe that one day the idea that foreign policy or national security policy could ignore the situation of women will be seen as laughably naive,” says Hudson.
1/22/202113 minutes, 51 seconds
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Episode 237: “Climate is the Multilateral Challenge of the Moment”: Highlights from a Conversation on Climate Change, Multilateralism, and Equity

“After a period of populist nationalism…multilateralism is back, and climate is the multilateral challenge of the moment,” said David Lammy, a member of Parliament for Tottenham in the United Kingdom and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, in a recent 21st Century Diplomacy event, co-hosted by the Wilson Center and adelphi. The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is not a “reset,” but rather a catalytic moment for the international community precisely because of the pandemic and consequences for the global economy, he said. When you look at who has been left behind in countries like the United States and United Kingdom, and globally, who is at risk climate impacts, it is “black and brown people suffering all over the planet, and that is a call to arms,” said Lammy.While climate change poses threats to human security, climate responses can provide opportunities for human progress. “The reality is that as we face the COVID crisis, an economic crisis as a result of that, and a crisis around inequality and inclusion, we see that climate solutions, climate action, are perfectly poised right now to be drivers of job creation, growth, inclusion, sustainability, and resilience,” said Jennifer Austen, Director of Policy and Strategy for COP26. It is a myth that society faces a binary choice between protecting the planet and growing the economy. “There is a real recognition amongst businesses, investors, cities, states, both in the risk of inaction and the opportunities of taking action,” said Austen.For some U.S. states, equity is increasingly becoming the core of their climate policies, said Julie Cerqueira, Executive Director of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Specifically, we may look to state climate policy for examples of how to not only avoid introducing additional burdens for communities, but to also reverse past damages, said Cerqueira. California, for example, recently moved towards 100 percent zero-emissions vehicles by 2035, including heavy duty vehicles. “Vulnerable communities, communities of color, are the ones that are around ports, they’re the ones that around highways, they’re the ones that around sort of the transit corridors for these heavy duty vehicles,” said Cerqueira, “and by focusing on addressing pollution from heavy duty vehicles, you are alleviating a lot of the pollution that those communities are sustaining.”Having robust, sustained dialogue with stakeholders is extremely important, said Cerqueira. “Likewise, it’s looking at job growth and making sure that it’s not just creating new jobs, but that there are real pathways to those jobs for vulnerable communities, which means the right training for jobs that exist in those areas.” Economic diversification must be a part of planning as well, Cerqueira said. “If you’re going to be closing a coal plant or going to be converting a plant that is focused on producing gas vehicles, what is the strategy for diversifying the local economy, because it is not easy to just replace what ends up being the core economic driver in those places.”“We focus a lot on federal policy in the U.S., especially as federal policy relates to climate, but the truth is that most of these decisions are taking place at the hyper-local level,” said Elan Strait, Director of U.S. Climate Campaigns for the World Wildlife Fund. “And how this relates to what we’re talking about in terms of race and equity—the best predictor of where a coal plant is going to be in the United States is the race of the surrounding community, not the income level or the education level of the community,” said Strait. “If black and brown communities had as much political power at the local level in the United States as white communities do, I don’t know that we’d have coal plants in the United States—anywhere.” Giving communities much more authority to determine what goes on in their backyards could help solve a major emissions problem in the United States, said Strait.Sources: American Chemical Society, Deloitte, National Bureau of Economic Research, State of California, US Department of Energy, World Economic Forum, World Resources Institute
12/18/202014 minutes, 10 seconds
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Episode 236: Māori Midwives on the Power of Indigenous Birthing Practices

Camille Harris, Registered Māori Midwife, is unapologetic about her decision to study midwifery and practice exclusively with Māori families, in this week’s Friday Podcast. “It was always to serve my people,” she said. Both Harris and her professional partner, Registered Māori Midwife, Waimaire Onekawa, started their midwifery careers later in life with a clear dedication to Māori women in New Zealand. “And we just want to be able to give women—Māori women—and whanau [family], the love and care that we would hope to receive if we were the people being the recipients,” said Onekawa.Investing in indigenous midwifery is critical, said Onekawa. Indigenous midwives understand indigenous birthing practices, such as the Māori practices of returning to a woman’s papakainga (homeland) for the birth; welcoming the baby into the physical realm with traditional waita and karakia (songs and prayers); tying the umbilical cord with muka (a flax fiber); burying the placenta; and putting newborns to sleep in a wahakura (traditional woven bed), as well as subtler cultural nuances. “They understand us,” Onekawa said of the women they serve. “We have this innate sameness. Even if we’re not exactly the same, we know the experiences they’re having. It’s highly likely that we’ve had them too.” This understanding helps Māori midwives provide culturally respectful care, she said.Unlike post-colonial birthing that tends to exclude men, Māori midwifery focuses on traditional practices, when men and family were included in the birth process. Onekawa and Harris encourage fathers (as opposed to medical professionals) to be the first to touch their baby, so that “their heritage, who they are and where they’re from, and all that they carry” is passed onto the baby from the start, said Harris. This is a powerful moment of cultural reconnection and can have long-term benefits for fathers, especially considering the past traumas of Māori men, she said. “And you see that change in them from the moment they lay their hands first on their baby,” said Harris. “They’re just beaming for weeks and weeks after, and it’s just so beautiful to see the softer side of these men being reborn through that process,” said Onekawa. Having men there from the start improves outcomes for mothers and babies, as men also become more involved in postnatal care, she said. Although midwives are essential, Camille and Waimarie both stressed that the real strength lies within the women they serve. Midwives are just “the enabler, the fire starter,” empowering women with the knowledge to realize their own strength and keep themselves and their babies well, said Harris. “We’re public servants at the end of the day,” said Onekawa. “We’re just here to help guide them through their journey. And what a pleasure at the end that we get to be a witness to them bringing their new baby into the world.”
12/16/202034 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 235: Vanessa Nakate on Giving Weight to the Voices of Those Most Affected by Climate Change

“We need to give more weight to the voices of people who are most affected by climate change,” says Vanessa Nakate, a prominent Ugandan climate activist, in this week’s Friday Podcast. At the local, regional, and global levels, Nakate’s work sheds light on the imperative for policymakers to value the lived experiences of oft-overlooked groups such as women, youths, and citizens of developing nations. “When I talk about climate justice, it is not something that I want for the future—it is something that I want right now, because our present is catastrophic,” she says.Nakate began her journey as an activist in 2018. With a desire to catalyze the betterment of her community and country, she investigated people’s needs and determined that climate insecurity presents a fundamental challenge. “Everything I was seeing in the news—in regard to the landslides, to the floods, to the droughts in my country—they had a connection with climate change.”Uganda relies heavily on agriculture to support livelihoods, putting the country on the front lines of climate change. “The changing weather patterns are a danger to us because they are causing shorter and heavier rain seasons, and longer and hotter dry spells,” says Nakate. Beyond the threat of economic and food insecurity, uneven rainfall presents a public safety risk. Nakate says that the water levels can submerge people’s homes, farms, and businesses. “It’s quite dangerous to walk in the middle of the city after a heavy downpour because you could step in a ditch and the next time they see you, you’re already gone,” she says.Nakate led her first climate strike in early 2019. “We are doing everything we can to hold governments accountable and to demand climate justice,” says Nakate. Part of her message is urging political leaders to divest from fossil fuels and to combat corporate pollution. “Around one hundred corporations are responsible for 71 percent of global emissions,” she says. “We should move from just talking about how badly they are destroying our home, our planet, to actually holding them accountable.” In pursuit of this accountability, Nakate spoke of the need to prosecute ecocide in international courts, describing environmental destruction as a crime against humanity, ecosystems, the present, and the future.In addition to championing climate justice in the international arena, Nakate is working to build resilience for local communities. In 2019, she started a project installing solar panels and clean cooking stoves in education facilities. “I wanted to drive a transition to renewable energy, especially in rural schools,” says Nakate, adding that energy inaccessibility and food insecurity hinder the learning process. “The students have to eat, no one can study on an empty stomach.”
12/11/202016 minutes, 25 seconds
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Episode 234: Midwife-Delivered Interventions Could Provide Dramatic Benefits

In a year that has presented enormous challenges, it is even more gratifying to present evidence that strengthens the importance of midwives as providers of essential sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and the impact they can have on maternal and neonatal mortality and stillbirths, said Anneka Knutsson, Chief of the SRH Branch at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in this week’s Friday Podcast. Knutsson spoke at a recent Wilson Center event, in partnership with UNFPA and Johnson & Johnson, to launch the Impact of Midwives study conducted by UNFPA, the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), and the World Health Organization (WHO) and published in The Lancet Global Health. This research will provide an updated, evidenced-based, and detailed analysis of the present progress and future challenges to deliver effective coverage and quality of midwifery services, said Knutsson. The study will enable stronger policy dialogue within countries and strengthen existing sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and adolescent health services, said Knutsson. This study also adds confidence to findings from the 2014 Lancet paper on midwifery, said Andrea Nove, Technical Director of Novametrics and lead author. The study examined four scenarios of coverage for midwife-delivered interventions: 1) a modest 10 percent scale up every five years, 2) a substantial 25 percent scale up in the same time period, 3) universal coverage, and 4) a decrease in coverage. The data showed that a substantial 25 percent scale up by 2035 could avert 40 percent of maternal and newborn deaths and one-quarter of stillbirths. That would translate to 2.2 million fewer deaths by 2035, said Nove. The study specifically focuses on “midwife-delivered interventions,” said Nove. Such interventions must directly affect mortality or nutritional status, be listed in the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescent’s Health, and be able to be delivered in entirety by a midwife trained to ICM standards, said Nove. “Nobody is suggesting here that midwives should be left alone to deliver these interventions. But we did want to highlight the fact that they are an occupation group, which can have a massive impact,” said Nove. Franka Cadée, President of ICM, could barely contain her excitement about the study. “And I’m excited mainly, because this paper supports and confirms growing scientific evidence that should be celebrated by every woman and every midwife worldwide. And of course, if we care about healthy families and the healthy future generation, it should be celebrated by everyone worldwide,” she said. “Midwifery has a long-term impact. And this paper shows that.”In addition to decreased maternal deaths, neonatal deaths, and stillbirths, greater access to midwifery care worldwide could improve many other aspects of reproductive health. For example, in many high-income countries, midwives provide contraceptive care, abortion services, antenatal care, breastfeeding care, cervical cancer screening, and immunizations, said Cadée, and these types of care should be accessible through midwives globally. “So what it boils down to,” she said, “is that women worldwide should have access to midwives, who’ve been educated to the standards of the International Confederation of Midwives, and who are supported by a team and that magic word, the enabling environment.” “If we implement this evidence, the world would look brighter,” said Cadée. “Not just for midwives and women, but for humanity.” Sources: The Lancet Global Health, World Health Organization.
12/10/202016 minutes, 43 seconds
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Episode 233: “An Idea Born of Desperation”: Simon Nicholson on Solar Radiation Management

“If solar radiation management were done well—that is, the science is right, the engineering is right, and the policy and governance frameworks around all of the stuff work—then solar radiation management could be a really important, positive contribution to humanity’s responding to climate change,” says Simon Nicholson, associate professor at American University’s School of International Service and co-founder of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment in this week’s Friday Podcast. “But, there are all kinds of risks associated with this endeavor.”Solar radiation management (SRM) denotes a set of ideas about responding to climate change by reflecting solar energy back into space before that energy can be captured by greenhouse gases and cause temperatures to rise. Proposed SRM techniques include stratospheric aerosol injection (introducing reflective particles, like sulphur dioxide, into the stratosphere) and marine cloud brightening.SRM could enter the scene very quickly, bringing massive and far-reaching implications with them, says Nicholson. “We’re talking about potentially intervening in the climate system in a way that drastically reduces global average temperatures in a very short span of time, which could have massive positive implications, but could also, if mishandled, have massive negative implications.”Although scientists say it will likely be a couple of decades before SRM technologies are ready to deploy, avoiding the potential downsides of SRM will require anticipatory governance to shape SRM research and manage its deployment. “[I]t's much better to try and shape something like this on the front end than to respond to it when it's suddenly in the world,” says Nicholson.While a coordinated, well-designed international effort is not impossible, it is more likely that SRM initiatives will be more scattered throughout the world, says Nicholson. The Australian Government is already experimenting marine cloud brightening to cool the area around the Great Barrier Reef, which has been severely impacted by higher temperatures. There have also been efforts in the United States to begin outdoor experimentation on stratospheric aerosol injection. Without anticipatory planning that helps to shape the research on solar radiation management and its eventual deployment, people will respond to these experiments as they emerge, says Nicholson, resulting in a “co-creation of a scientific research agenda that's more expansive, and at the same time, governance apparatus around them."SRM has remained on the fringes of conversations about climate change, in part due to concerns that even conversations about its potential might distract politicians from taking action to properly mitigate climate change. Indeed, SRM is no silver bullet, says Nicholson. Solar radiation management only dampens the temperature signal. If greenhouse gases continue to be released into the atmosphere, as soon as you stop the solar radiation management, the warming will continue. “Solar radiation management would be just one small piece, alongside all of the other things that need to be done,” he says.Even so, SRM research is already underway, and excluding it from climate discussions will not change this, says Nicholson. “Whatever one thinks about solar radiation management as a good or bad idea, the governance challenge still remains.”
12/4/202021 minutes, 33 seconds
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Lessons from Africa: Building Resilience through Community-Based Health Systems

If there’s anything about responding to an epidemic, it’s that speed matters, and so does investing in people closest to the problem, said Dr. Raj Panjabi, Assistant Professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and CEO of Last Mile Health, in this week’s Friday Podcast. The latter, he said, is the root of resilience.In addition to threatening immune systems, COVID-19 is a serious threat to the broader health system and to non-COVID-19 health care. Drawing on lessons from the Ebola outbreak, Panjabi said that the best system is an everyday system capable of surging in a crisis. Creating such a system would involve sufficiently funding community health workers before communities experience a state of emergency.In the absence of existing and well-funded health systems, communities are left scrambling in a crisis and quality of care declines as a result. During the Ebola epidemic, the availability of skilled facility-based birth attendants across Liberia plummeted three-fold because health workers were becoming infected, Panjabi said. To complicate the issue further, health systems had poor infection control, and people were afraid to go to the hospital. Even in low-transmission areas, expectant mothers who believed they could get an infection from a health worker in a health center were about 50 percent less likely to go to the hospital for the birth, said Panjabi.However, there were cases of strong community-based responses. South Africa, for instance, had about 27,000 HIV & TB community health workers who were retrained. They went on to screen more than 11 million people—about 20 percent of the population— and help detect COVID-19 at the community level in the first months of their pandemic, Panjabi said. South Africa managed to do this because it had been already investing in everyday health workers. And Liberia has improved its health systems since Ebola as well. One in two rural children with malaria are being tested and treated “by their neighbors, by community health workers,” said Panjabi.These case studies illustrate why it is crucial that community health workers in Africa—most of whom are women from poor communities—should be viewed as invaluable employees rather than as informal volunteers. After all, investing in community health workers is not simply a health issue, said Panjabi. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a reminder that robust health systems can benefit both the economy and the security of nations, he said. Based on fiscal stimulus projections from the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Panjabi said that allocating just $2 to $4 billion of a $100 billion budget would help fund a potential pandemic health workforce that could not only help us deal with this current pandemic but help us become better prepared for the next one.For every dollar invested in community health workers, there is ten dollars’ worth of economic return. That stimulus provides protection against the next outbreak and allows patients to lead longer, healthier, and more productive lives, said Panjabi. “But it’s also one of the fastest ways to create jobs for young people on the continent,” he said.
10/30/202013 minutes, 25 seconds
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The Importance of Community Trust to Combat COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

“Vaccine hesitancy is to be expected in a normal circumstance—it’s very different from being what we call ‘anti-vaccine,’” says Dr. Rahul Gupta, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical and Health Officer at March of Dimes, in this week’s Friday Podcast. He spoke at a recent Wilson Center event on ongoing efforts to develop and deliver a COVID-19 vaccine, co-sponsored by the University of Pittsburg, March of Dimes, and the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation. "It is normal for average citizens and residents to be questioning the vaccine before they take it into their bodies. That's where the transparency of the manufacturing process, the regulatory process, and building trust in that system is so critical and important. It is not wrong, at all, to be hesitant. What is important is to demand that we have a safe and effective vaccine," said Gupta. “Leadership matters,” said Dr. Lisa Waddell, Chief Medical Officer of COVID-19 Emergency Response at the CDC Foundation. “If we have a consistency in messaging around the vaccine and everyone is actually sharing that message, then yes, it is going to build trust.” It is important to communicate early, often, and in different ways to ensure that people receive these messages, said Waddell. We also have to consider the role health inequities and racial injustices play toward vaccine hesitancy, particularly in African American and Latinx populations, and provide information on the COVID-19 vaccine and address concerns through trusted messengers, said Gupta. “It is good to ask questions and it is good and important to have trusted messengers in front of you who can answer the questions, who can relate, who can communicate,” said Dr. Paul Duprex, Director of the Center for Vaccine Research and Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. “We have before us a national and a global teachable moment when it comes to vaccines,” said Dr. Ruth A. Karron, Director of the Center for Immunization Research and the Johns Hopkins Vaccine Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. While vaccines are regularly researched, developed, and deployed, the process is not often on center stage. This gives us an opportunity to really educate the public, said Karron. “And I think that if we do this right, we could not only increase confidence in COVID-19 vaccines, but increase confidence in all of the vaccines that we deploy.” “It's important to remember that we need to champion these products, we need to show what they have done in the past,” said Duprex. Polio, which ravaged the world’s youth for decades, has been “pushed to the edge of eradication by safe, efficacious vaccines,” he said. “I think we have to remember not to forget. Not to forget what these diseases did in the past and to actively collaborate, to work with each other, and to communicate well that vaccines work.”
10/29/202019 minutes, 35 seconds
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The Resurgence of Indigenous Midwifery in Canada, New Zealand, and Mexico

Globally, Indigenous women experience worse maternal health outcomes than non-Indigenous women. In the United States, the risk of maternal death is twice as high for Native women than for white women, while in Australia the risk is four and a half times higher. This week’s edition of Friday Podcasts highlights remarks from a recent Wilson Center event with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Confederation of Midwives about Indigenous midwifery.“The decline of Indigenous midwifery really happened through the outlawing and the denigration of Indigenous midwifery, and was an attack on our Indigenous knowledge systems, our ways of being, our ceremonies and our practices,” said Claire Dion Fletcher, an Indigenous Potawatomi-Lenape Registered Midwife and co-chair of the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives. “The control of Indigenous women through the, at times, violent control of our reproduction was and continues to be a tool of colonization.”“In the 19th century with the medicalization of birth, there was a decline of midwifery in Canada, almost to the point of non-existence,” said Fletcher. Yet Indigenous women still wanted to have traditional births according to their customs and knowledge. “The Inuit women in Nunavik wanted Inuit midwives,” she said. “They wanted to give birth in their communities with their families surrounded by their knowledge and their teachings.” To this day, the resulting community-driven Inuit midwifery program has some of the “best health outcomes in the world,” said Fletcher. Similarly, colonization played a key role in the decline of Indigenous midwifery in New Zealand, said Nicole Pihema, Māori Registered Midwife and President of the New Zealand College of Midwives. In New Zealand in 1840, British colonizers and Māori leaders signed a document intended to ensure that the British would not interfere in Māori life, said Pihema. But instead, the colonial government continued to interfere in Māori life by passing harmful legislation including the Tohunga Suppression Act of 1907, which led to the desecration of Māori midwifery practices. However, there is a resurgence within Māori midwifery to try to rediscover traditional practices, said Pihema. This resurgence requires a commitment to normalizing inclusive language, “because you can teach cultural competency all you want, but you're never [going to] get it unless you know the language,” she said.“In Mexico, midwifery has existed even before we were colonized by the Europeans,” said Ofelia Pérez Ruiz (through a translator), an Indigenous Registered Midwife and spokesperson for the Chiapas Nich Ixim Movement of Traditional Midwives. “And traditional midwifery in Mexico has been here despite criminalization and going through exclusion policies,” she said. In Mexico, Indigenous midwives are not included in conversations about maternal health. “They [doctors and health institutions] don't take us into account as part of the maternal and neonatal care,” said Pérez Ruiz. “We want to have a relationship with health institutions, but based on respect. We wanted to work along and hand in hand with the doctors using those skills and knowledge of all of us as a team … so that indigenous women will receive a timely care and respectful care during their pregnancy, birth, and after birth.”
10/15/202023 minutes, 8 seconds
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The State of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: A Conversation with Dr. Zara Ahmed

“Unintended pregnancy and abortion are reproductive health experiences shared by tens of millions of people around the world, irrespective of personal status or circumstance. What differs though are the obstacles,” said Dr. Zara Ahmed, Associate Director of Federal Issues at the Guttmacher Institute in this week’s Friday Podcast. Research from the Guttmacher Institute on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) found that in 2018, there were 121 million unintended pregnancies globally, and of those, 61 percent ended in abortion. About half of these abortions were in unsafe conditions and led to approximately 23,000 preventable pregnancy related deaths, said Ahmed. “A major finding of our research is about the legal status of abortion,” said Ahmed. “This is important. Abortion rates are the same where abortion is broadly legal and where it's restricted - exactly the same.” Guttmacher research shows that in settings where abortion is restricted, the proportion of unintended pregnancies that end in abortion increased nearly 40 percent over the last 30 years.“There are persistent inequities in meeting needs for contraceptive services,” said Ahmed. Today, 923 million women want to avoid a pregnancy and among these women, about one in four, or 218 million, have an unmet need for modern contraceptive methods. Unmet need for modern contraception is higher in low-income countries and for adolescents than it is in high- income countries and for older women. In order to meet this global need for family planning, the United States must restore funding for UNFPA and increase funding for global family planning and reproductive health programs, said Ahmed.The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened access to SRH services worldwide. A decline of 10 percent in access to SRH services, said Ahmed, would lead to “an additional 49 million women with an unmet need for modern contraception, an additional 15 million unintended pregnancies, an additional 28,000 maternal deaths, an additional 168,000 newborn deaths, and an additional 3 million unsafe abortions, as well as an additional 1,000 maternal deaths due to unsafe abortion.” “In the middle of a global pandemic, the Trump administration is trying to make it harder for people to get the [SRH] care they want and need. A few weeks ago, the administration announced that it's proposing to expand the dangerous and harmful Global Gag Rule even further than it already has,” said Ahmed. The Global Gag Rule (GGR) is a policy that “prevents foreign NGOs that receive U.S. funds through grants and cooperative agreements from using their own non-U.S. funding to provide abortion services, information, counseling, referrals, or advocacy,” she said. Guttmacher research in Uganda shows that the GGR led to a “reduction in the number of community health workers, engaged in family planning work.”“People are complex and they live multifaceted lives with changing [SRH] needs,” said Ahmed. The global community must invest in the full range of SRH services to meet these needs. “Doing so is a smart investment, but it's also the right thing to do.”
10/8/202015 minutes, 32 seconds
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A National Reckoning: Highlights From A Conversation with Congresswoman Alma Adams

“I believe that we're experiencing a national reckoning and in this unique moment, I definitely see an opportunity for Congress, but also for our local governments to enact policies that begin to address our country's greatest ills,” said Representative Alma Adams (D-NC-12) at a recent Wilson Center event on women, race, and COVID-19 in the United States. “COVID-19 has revealed what the Black community and communities of color have known for a long time—health outcomes are further compounded by systemic and structural racism. COVID-19 has exposed what women have known for a long time—gender inequality exists, it threatens economic empowerment, and it increases vulnerabilities.” “The pandemic has shown us in the starkest terms how wide the gaps are in health outcomes between Black and White America and between men and women,” said Rep. Adams. Black women, regardless of their educational level or socioeconomic status, are nearly four times more likely to die from preventable pregnancy-related complications than women of other races. “The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among affluent countries because of the disproportionate death rate of Black mothers,” she said. “Black maternal health in the coronavirus era is truly a crisis within a crisis.” “The pandemic has completely wiped out the historic job gains women have made over the past decade,” said Rep. Adams. Before COVID-19, women made up the majority of the U.S. workforce. They are highly represented in the sectors most impacted by the pandemic. Women are the majority of essential workers, and non-white women are more likely to be doing essential jobs than anybody else, said Rep. Adams. “The work that they do has often been underpaid, undervalued, and an unseen labor force that keeps the country running.” While there has been a positive reduction in women’s unemployment since the pandemic’s onset, most of those impacted are mothers. 41 percent of mothers, and close to 80 percent of Black mothers are the breadwinners for their families, yet continue to face wage inequality. “They're doing the providing, yet they're not getting the income,” she said. “We deserve equal pay for equal work. You know working hard is not enough if you don't make enough.” “We are finding that from the offset of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an increase in gender-based violence around the world. For every three months of lockdown, there will be an additional 15 million cases of gender-based violence,” said Sarah Barnes, Project Director of the Maternal Health Initiative and Women and Gender Advisor at the Wilson Center. “As a survivor myself of domestic violence, I know firsthand how important it is that we keep working to pass and strengthen legislation to improve services for survivors like the Violence Against Women Act,” said Rep. Adams. “I see a tremendous opportunity for Congress and our society, as well, to pursue transformational structural change because the system isn't working for so many people, especially women and minorities, and it really is time to try to do something else.”
7/30/202015 minutes, 10 seconds
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Non-Communicable Diseases and COVID-19: A Conversation With Dr. Belén Garijo and Dr. Felicia Knaul

“NCDs have raised the risk of and the severity of the COVID-19 infection,” says Dr. Belén Garijo, Executive Board Member and CEO of Healthcare at Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany, in this week’s Friday Podcast. Women living with NCDs like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, mental health disorders, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes, have an increased risk of severe complications and death from COVID-19. “When you take a look at the mortality rate for one million inhabitants, you see a lot of diversity, and what has been consistent amongst all the countries is the association between severity of the infection and underlying diseases,” says Garijo. “We know that this pandemic is affecting women in a number of ways that are very harsh compared to men,” says Dr. Felicia Knaul, an international health economist and founder of Tómatelo a Pecho. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, women have experienced “more unemployment, more lack of access to jobs in all but the health sector, more issues of caregiving and less ability to earn income, more exposure to domestic violence.” “In the U.S., women accounted for up to 55 percent of the 20.5 million jobs that have been lost in April. In February, the unemployment rate for adult women was 3.1 [percent], in April this has gone up to 15 percent. In the same period, the unemployment rate for adult men was of 3.6 percent. And in April, this rate, 13 percent,” says Garijo. “The risk that we're facing is that we will see the gains of decades—which were not enough, but were still gains—in gender equality being eroded if we're not careful,” says Knaul. “This pandemic has really changed the way we are looking at our research focus,” says Garijo. “I can tell you that we have, right now, almost completely focused our efforts in finding solutions for pandemics. I am hoping that we will never forget this, and that our pandemic preparedness will stay strong for the future in any and every continent. As an industry, we can never do that alone. We need to collaborate with others. We need to collaborate with governments. We need to collaborate with academic institutions, with healthcare professionals, with patient associations.” “You cannot have strong health systems if you don't include women, not least which, because they are the majority of providers today.” says Knaul. “We've been working on some ideas around how to strengthen health systems in the face of COVID-19 and the first and key lesson is that this cannot be done without a gender transformative response.” A gender transformative response requires the inclusion of all genders, “otherwise we would never be strong enough, not only to respond to the COVID-19 onslaught, but what we're talking about today, which is the incredible onslaught of NCDs that face low- and middle-income populations and countries, as well as, high-income countries.” “I am absolutely sure that you are aware of the articles highlighting that countries that have performed better against COVID-19 are led by women. I have to say that I don't believe this is by chance,” says Garijo. “Female leaders promote the more inclusive leadership model and they are willing to listen. They are willing to listen to diverse opinions and voices. They don't believe they know it all.” This podcast is part of the Maternal Health Initiative’s CODE BLUE series, developed in partnership with EMD Serono, a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
6/11/202020 minutes, 47 seconds
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Highlights from COVID-19: Magnifying the World’s Inequities

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc the world over, and recent data shows that the hardest hit will be the world’s women and girls and populations impacted by racism and discrimination. This week’s Friday Podcast highlights remarks from a recent Wilson Center event sponsored by EMD Serono, the biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in the United States and Canada, on the impact of COVID-19 on race and gender inequities.“Mortality of men [due to COVID-19] is higher but let me just emphasize that women play an outsized role in responding not only to COVID-19, but in many of the pandemics,” said Katja Iversen, President and CEO of Women Deliver. “The default health worker is now female,” said Dr. Roopa Dhatt, Founder and Executive Director of Women in Global Health. “Women make up majority of the workforce, but they remain clustered in the lower status, lower paid jobs, mainly the frontline. They also occupy most of invisible lower status jobs as well, so we need to factor in that they're subject to more sexual harassment and violence as a result and are not part of the decision-making table.”“In the midst of this pandemic, bad policies and structural barriers may contribute to millions of people losing access to essential sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services,” said Zara Ahmed, Associate Director for Federal Issues at Guttmacher Institute. To minimize the negative impacts of COVID-19 on SRH services, Ahmed recommends defining and promoting SRH as essential; strengthening supply chains to make SRH medicines more accessible; making contraception available without a prescription; adopting innovative care models of care; and addressing the unique needs of vulnerable and marginalized populations.UNFPA projections show that for every three months of lockdown, there will be an additional 15 million cases of gender-based violence. “In terms of gender-based violence, we're seeing an increase, and this is because of isolation, locked down, restricted movements, tensions in the households from financial and economic stresses,” said Leyla Sharafi, Senior Gender Advisor of UNFPA. Further marginalized groups like women with disabilities, indigenous women, and women and girls living in humanitarian settings have a heightened risk of experiencing violence, said Sharafi.COVID-19 also exacerbates racial inequities. “So, we have three main root causes [of inequities] and those are racism, classism, and gender oppression,” said Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, Founder and President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative. “We do know that black women in the United States, despite income or education, are still more likely to die in childbirth than their white counterparts, so that's really where you see the overarching how those inequities and those beliefs around hierarchy can come together in one space and cause people to die,” said Dr. Crear-Perry.Health care providers are at the center of addressing inequities in the healthcare system, said Dr. Neel Shah, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School and a practicing OB-GYN in Boston. “One of the challenges that I'm seeing right now is that the biology of this disease and the sociology of this disease really interact, and the people that are historically experts in the biology aren't fully attending to the sociology and honestly, vice-versa,” said Dr. Shah. “Currently we have to isolate people who are both symptomatic and asymptomatic which is effectively everyone. And isolating everyone takes all of the existing inequities in our society and it throws them into a pressure cooker.”
5/28/202020 minutes, 46 seconds
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Highlights from the First-Ever State of the World’s Nursing Report

The year 2020 has been designated as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife by the World Health Organization. In April 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO), International Council of Nurses, and Nursing Now, published the first-ever State of the World’s Nursing Report. This week’s Friday Podcast highlights remarks from a recent Wilson Center event on the report’s findings and recommendations.One of the most exciting things about the report is the evidence on the nursing profession. The data gives nurses the opportunity to find their voices, said Barbara Stilwell, Executive Director of the Nursing Now Campaign. Instead of saying they need more nurses because they feel short of staff, they can present data to decision-makers to show that more nurses are needed on a ward. “You can put it in a graph like Florence Nightingale did and you can take it and show it and make your case for being given more resources,” said Stilwell. “And that’s exactly what’s happening now where we see nurses advocating for more resources to help them deal with the pandemic.” While report findings show that approximately 90 percent of the world’s 28 million nurses are female, they still operate at a disadvantage compared to their male colleagues when it comes to pay equity, hiring, education, and workplace violence and harassment. “The same systems and structures of marginalization or oppression that we see in society such as sexism, racism, patriarchy, we also see these reflected in health systems,” said Rosemary Morgan, Assistant Scientist for the Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University.While the vast majority of the nursing workforce are women, men hold most nursing leadership positions. “We must have a gender transformative leadership development program for women in the nursing workforce,” said Leslie Mancuso, CEO and President of Jhpiego. She called for nurses to have equal standing and a level playing field in pay and practice. Nurses, she said, should be treated equally regardless of gender, degree, or wages. One way to ensure that female nurses are adequately represented in nursing leadership is to invest in nursing.The report highlights that we spend 25 percent of the healthcare education budget globally on nurses and midwives who make up 59 percent of the workforce. But that large a shortage may not be acceptable, given what it means for people’s work-life balance, stress, pressure, burnout as well, said Howard Catton, the Chief Executive Officer of International Council of Nurses. WHO is working on investments in the health workforce to address the 6 million shortfall in nurses. The solution involves not only investment for education and training to increase the supply of nurses, but also creating decent, well-paid jobs with good working conditions, said Michelle McIsaac, Economist at WHO and Co-chair of the Global Health Workforce Network Gender Equity Hub.While the data are impressive, so are the gaps in reporting, said Jennifer Breads the Gender Technical Advisor at Jhpiego, particularly around entry-level salaries, educational investments, labor market flows, and gender wage gaps.The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the importance of nurses globally. Now more than ever, special attention needs to be focused on nursing. “Nurses remain the heroes we have in tough times that we are in today and they need our support,” said Emily Katarikawe, Country Director of Jhpiego Uganda.
5/14/202019 minutes, 12 seconds
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Unpacking Covid-19 and the Connections Between Ecosystems, Human Health, and Security

“What are the underlying drivers of risk that created the conditions for Covid-19 to emerge, and how do we better address them?” said Lauren Herzer Risi, Project Director for the Environmental Change and Security Program, in this week’s Friday Podcast, recorded during a recent Wilson Center Ground Truth Briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic. This question framed the discussion, which explored the intersection of the environment, public health, and national security. Although the global pandemic came as a shock to many, the novel coronavirus was not a surprise to epidemiologists and experts who had been sounding the alarm for decades. There have been clear signals of the risks we face from animal-to-human virus transmission, including Ebola, SARS, and other regional epidemics, said Risi. These zoonotic diseases, especially now, are creating concerns about food safety, wildlife conservation, and public health. But the risks don’t just come from wet markets and our increasingly connected world.Drivers of the OutbreakRapid urbanization and population growth created a ticking time bomb, as we have increasingly intruded into natural habitats. The loss and fragmentation of wildlife ecosystems has brought humans into closer contact with animals than ever before. While the exact origins of coronavirus have yet to be confirmed, we know that this amplified opportunity for virus transmission is a major factor. “An estimated 70 percent of new human infectious disease outbreaks come from pathogens that originated in animals,” said Sharon Guynup, Global Fellow at the Wilson Center and a National Geographic Explorer. We are constantly expanding our interaction with animals and nature. “We need to be very, very clear that this is a human-made problem, a humanity-made problem,” said Dr. Ellen Carlin, Assistant Research Professor at the Center for Global Health Science and Security and Director of the Graduate Program in Global Infectious Disease at Georgetown University. “It’s really all of us collectively making decisions about the way that we live.” Human behavior puts pressure on natural ecosystems through land use and development, mass urbanization, agricultural intensification, extractive industries, and the growing global demand for commodities. Climate change further exacerbates the environmental degradation. Overall this trend is accelerating the emergence of zoonotic diseases in human populations.Another aspect of this close contact between humans and animals is the prevalence of illegal wildlife trade and consumption. Some have called for bans in China, but wildlife trade and wet markets aren’t unique to China, and a solution will require global efforts, said Guynup. It will also be crucial to uphold and enforce the bans put into place, as China’s actions will have a ripple effect on the policies of neighboring consumer and hub countries. For progress to be made, she said, countries must develop multi-pronged approaches, including strengthening policies and enforcement at national levels, raising public awareness, promoting community involvement, and changing consumer behavior. While Covid-19 is much bigger than just a wildlife trade issue, it is a critical piece of the puzzle, said Guynup.National Security RisksThe cascading impacts of the pandemic on human health, national economies, and society has elevated the coronavirus as not just a public health crisis, but a national security threat as well. There is currently a disconnect between environmental threats and security paradigms, said Rod Schoonover, founder and CEO of Ecological Futures Group. “Unfortunately, U.S. national security is outdated and needs to be recalibrated, I think, to reflect the threats that the country faces,” he said. Topics like climate change, land use, and biodiversity need to be core national security concerns instead of add-ons to geopolitical goals, said Schoonover, who was Director of Environment and Natural Resources for the National Intelligence Council. Security dialogues need to involve experts such as epidemiologists, ecologists, and climate scientists in order to establish a climate-smart, ecologically informed pandemic preparedness policy. “If you understand the deep connectedness of the planet,” he said, “you understand that the very support system of humanity is in jeopardy.”Solutions for Covid-19How to solve the current pandemic is a priority, but developing long-term plans for how we can better prepare for next pandemic is also important. “Given the deep interconnectedness of our world, this coronavirus will not be the last outbreak,” said Guynup. Among the many scientific and global health initiatives looking to develop solutions, the Global Virome Project is working to discover unknown zoonotic viral threats and stop future pandemics before outbreaks occur. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness is coordinating the development of vaccines against coronavirus and emerging infectious diseases. Although there is no binding global legal agreement on wildlife crime, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), is scaling up enforcement efforts and incorporating the consideration of health risks. We need to tackle the drivers of the pandemic to ultimately achieve prevention, said Dr. Carlin. A shift of epic proportions will be needed to reduce environmental and ecosystem harm. We have a choice to ignore recommendations and continue on with business as usual, or we can recognize our vulnerability to these emerging viral threats, Guynup said. “Our well-being is inextricably linked with that of the planet’s web of life,” she said. “In fact, one could argue that the state of the world can be measured by the state of the wild.”
4/29/202031 minutes, 52 seconds
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Listen to Midwives to Achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030

What is inherent in the word “universal,” is that it is for all women, said Anneka Knutsson, Chief of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Branch at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), at a recent Wilson Center event on the importance of midwives in achieving universal health coverage. To achieve the ambitious sustainable development goal of universal health coverage, one challenge is to make sure that the women most marginalized aren’t left behind. Elena Ateva, Advocacy Manager at White Ribbon Alliance, said that in order to best support women, we need to ask them what they really need and want. And what women want differs from woman to woman depending on her beliefs, customs, gender identity, sexuality, etc. “We cannot determine policies for somebody else. We need people to be part of those processes,” said Ateva. Midwives can play an important role in representing the needs of a community and reaching women traditional health facilities have often excluded. But, we have to be careful when thinking midwives, alone, are the answer, said Franka Cadée, President of the International Confederation of Midwives. “Midwives are part of a system.” Cadée said that while people are happy to have midwives working with patients, midwives need to also be at the decision-making table, at the ministry, and working with politicians. In the United Kingdom, a midwife serves as a medical officer to advise the Minister of Health on midwifery. To have a midwife in this high-level position allows midwives the opportunity to represent the communities they serve, as well as support the midwifery profession. One way to elevate the status of midwifery and enact concrete change is through midwifery education. Since the early 1990’s, Sweden has created 13 midwifery education programs that go beyond clinical skills. Marie Klingberg-Allvin, Midwife and Professor in Global Sexual and Reproductive Health at Dalarna University said it is important to have strong academic environments which include research. Understanding and contributing to research gives midwives the ability to reflect, to read new science, to be part of developing new standard guidelines in the clinic, and to be vocal and take lead for their own profession, she said. Globally, women make up the vast majority of midwives and gender discrimination plays a role in the limited number of midwives in decision-making positions. To close the gender gap, Klingberg-Allvin said, “you need to have gender-intentional governments to start with” and you also need to have a government that gives status to sexual reproductive health and rights. Cadée said, “Midwives don’t need to be empowered; midwives are very, very powerful. Midwives simply need to be listened to.”
4/2/202013 minutes, 44 seconds
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Chitra Nagarajan on What’s Changed for Women in Lake Chad Region

“Women and men face very different risks and challenges,” said Chitra Nagarajan, a writer and journalist who covers climate change, conflict, and gender. She spoke in this week’s podcast about what’s changed in the Lake Chad region. In the last few years the combination of profound climate change and high levels of insecurity have made life harder for the local population. To get a sense of how recent changes have affected Lake Chad’s residents, Nagarajan interviewed more than 250 people. These are some of her findings.“It’s very clear and we know this from other contexts as well,” she said, “that the people who face the most risk and who have been affected the most are those who were already vulnerable and marginalized beforehand or people who acquired vulnerabilities.” As a result, the conflict has impacted men and women differently. Men are much more likely to be viewed with suspicion by all parties to the conflict, more likely to be in detention, more likely to experience extrajudicial killing, and more likely to be recruited by force. Women, on the other hand, face high levels of gender-based violence like sexual abuse and exploitation, forced sex work, increased early marriage, and domestic violence. Despite the harms that women have faced in this conflict, some are newly empowered, taking on roles previously off limits. With men gone, women are heading households and finding ways to sustain families and communities. They wield the decision-making power in their households and communities. “And you really see how women have transformed their own understanding of what they are capable of and also their desires for what they want for their children,” said Nagarajan. This desire to be self-sufficient has in turn increased girls’ education. I want my daughter to have education, to have access to opportunities, so that she will not suffer the way that I have or the way I am, Nagarajan recalled one woman told her. But gender-based violence persists in the region. Due to an underfunded humanitarian response, many gaps exist. In addition, not enough services are provided to change attitudes about stigma and prevent violence. “It is good to provide services to survivors of gender-based violence, but even better than doing that is preventing the violence from taking place in the first place,” she said. “And we have seen very little truly preventative programing on the ground.” Policymakers ignore the impacts of conflict on women’s reproductive health. Women and girls are not able to control their reproduction. And men do not want their wives to have access to contraceptives. “I do think that this is an issue of masculine ego and thinking I am a real man if I have lots of children,” said Nagarajan. Because women and girls who are not married find it hard to access contraceptives, demand for highly unsafe methods to terminate pregnancies has increased. Women wish to end pregnancies for many reasons. They may not be able to take care of so many children. Other reasons include high levels of sexual violence, absence of men, and high levels of victim blaming and stigmatization if the pregnancy is a result of sexual violence. One young woman Nagarajan met was the sole survivor of her family. A soldier forced the woman to have sex in exchange for shelter, then left the area. The young woman relies on the goodwill of neighbors in an informal settlement in Nigeria. When I met her, said Nagarajan, her top priority was to end her pregnancy, because she feared neighbors would stop supporting her due to the extramarital nature of her pregnancy. But she had no access to help to end it.Many people who live around Lake Chad get no support from governments or politicians. “Lack of governance and lack of effective services have been one of the biggest barriers both in terms of being a driver of violence but also in terms of providing services and support to the affected population,” said Nagarajan. A more holistic approach needs to be taken into consideration to focus on civilian protection and reduce harm. “A lot more can be done,” she said, “to put these words into action.”
3/27/202036 minutes, 28 seconds
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A Conversation with Rodolfo Camacho on Using Data for Water Security

While there are many uses for global data sets and innovative data analysis technologies, the most important thing, Rodolfo Camacho said in this week’s Water Stories podcast, is not analyzing the data. It’s the collaboration among countries sharing data. Camacho, Project Director at Winrock International and Chief of Party for USAID’s Sustainable Water Partnership (SWP), sat down with Lauren Herzer Risi, Project Director of the Environmental Change & Security Program to discuss the importance of big data and machine learning on improving water security. As the leader of the SWP project, Camacho and his team work to provide technical services and assistance to implement global water security programs. Their work covers all aspects of water security, including water for human consumption, to maintain ecosystems, and for production in the agriculture, energy, and industrial sectors. Another essential part of water security, he said, is to build community resilience to water-related risks such as floods and droughts by increasing access to safe water.In order to develop effective water allocation and distribution plans, the team evaluates the status of water resources. Data and analytics help Camacho’s team understand the amount of surface water and ground water available, trends in the quality of the water, and who is using the water in various quantities. Compensating for Gaps in DataData can also fill the gaps that are often present in developing countries, said Camacho. He noted that data collection can pose a challenge in places where both data and gauging stations are scarce, inconsistent, and unreliable. When actual data is not available, AI technology and machine learning enables Camacho’s team to run models and extrapolate estimates. For example, Camacho described an aspect of SWP’s water allocation project in Kenya and Tanzania. “We have sections in Tanzania in the Mara River,” he said, “where there are no gauging stations.” Therefore, there are no records. Once we understand the water flows by analyzing the data, Camacho said, we can use what we have to calibrate models to establish rainfall patterns. The team can then use modeled quantities and develop better plans for water allocation.Camacho described how data could be used in water allocation and planning. To develop a water allocation plan for the Mara River Basin (Kenya/Tanzania), Camacho and his team must factor in not only how much water is available, but also how much of that is being channeled to population, agriculture, and domestic usages. The Partnership applies data collection and analytics to come up with water planning systems that also take the surrounding ecosystem’s needs into consideration. In the Tonle Sap Basin (Cambodia), the project focused on communities’ access to clean water. Water data and analytics are used to understand water quality and reliability. In nearby agricultural areas, pesticides and other contaminants get into the water supplies. This has a huge impact on the communities that rely on the river for fisheries. “We are not using best practices and that has an effect downstream,” said Camacho. As a result, you get fish die off or contaminated water that cannot be used. Because data is viewed as an important asset to international development and increased water security, a concerted effort has been made to standardize data formats and make global data sets more widely available. New tools are being developed to increase water security and sustainability. Data visualization and forecasting allow information on essential water variables and patterns to be accessed worldwide and then used for disaster and emergency preparedness. Camacho pointed out that these new advances will be useful tools for developing nations where big data is harder to collect. The most significant feature of emerging data technologies, according to Camacho, is these tools’ ability to transcend boundaries and borders and enable cooperation to improve water security.
2/28/202018 minutes, 15 seconds
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From Arms to Farms: A Conversation with Casimiro Olvida

“This project is serious,” Casimiro Olvida said. “It will help the community. If you do not believe me, you can kill me anytime.” He recalled saying this in 1995 to Communist rebels in Mindanao who were suspicious that his USAID-funded team was supporting the Philippine government. We have the same goals, he told them, to help the poor and protect the environment. Apparently, he was convincing. Now Watershed Protection Project Manager of the Sarangani Energy Corporation, Olvida spoke in this week’s podcast with ECSP’s Lauren Risi, at the International Conference on Environmental Peacebuilding in October 2019, describing his decades of work in forest management in the Philippines.As Senior Natural Resources Management Consultant of the USAID-funded Philippine Environmental Governance Project (EcoGov), also known as "From Arms to Farms,” Olvida aimed to deliver tangible livelihood assistance to former combatants and their families. Another main goal, he said, was to ensure adherence to the provisions of the 1996 peace agreement of the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders to prevent further armed struggle.The work could be scary, Olvida said. The MILF had not yet been in negotiations with the government, and facilitating those discussions proved to be challenging. He received death threats and was pressured to expedite the process, but he refused to take shortcuts. For the former combatants, the choice was simple, said Olvida. They could either follow the rules agreed upon by EcoGov and the MILF leaders, or they could take it up with their commanders. Given the choice, they always ultimately agreed to play by the rules. This progress made the work rewarding, despite the potential dangers.Olvida’s efforts focused on integrating community-based approaches to forest management with local governments and engaging all actors in the space—including government officials, the indigenous community, and former MILF combatants. Much of his work required him to immerse himself in the culture of the communities affected by the armed conflict in Mindanao. He stayed in the villages with key leaders to learn more about the indigenous knowledge, systems, and practices for forest management.The first step to community organizing is to immerse yourself, Olvida said of his 16-year stint getting to know the culture, leadership, and influencers of the community from the inside. By rejecting his privilege and choosing not to stay in a hotel, he was far more successful embedding himself and his project into the community. He was able to build trust and work effectively as part of the community to develop solutions for managing the natural resources in the area.On the other side of EcoGov’s project, the community-based approaches and development goals needed to be absorbed into the policies and procedures of local government. For Mindanao, this process was largely successful with the creation of convergence initiatives, which enabled government agencies to work together on this issue area. Olvida cited governance as “the missing link” for implementation.However, he acknowledged that it’s difficult to make progress on a project when funding stops. When newly appointed local government personnel lack forest management experience, they return to the old ways. Without consistent funding and an implementation system set in place, Olvida said, a forest management project cannot be sustainable.
2/27/202021 minutes, 57 seconds
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Wim Zwijnenburg on Using Data to Visualize the Impacts of Conflict on the Environment

Through open source information, remote sensing, and existing data, we can have a better sense of how conflict impacts the environment and how it then impacts people depending on the environment, said Wim Zwijnenburg, a Humanitarian Disarmament Project Leader for the Dutch peace organization, PAX, in this week’s Friday Podcast. Wim sat down for an interview with ECSP’s Amanda King at the first International Conference on Environmental Peacebuilding, hosted at the University of California, Irvine, in October 2019. Data Visualization for AdvocacyPAX works to improve data visualization, especially information about what’s happening on the ground in conflicts. Drawing on everything from social media and existing models, to satellite imagery from remote sensing platforms, they identify hotspots, see if environmental infrastructure has been hit, and monitor specific incidents. “Eventually,” he said, “we want to show that you can do way more and you can improve the conflict analysis and monitoring with existing means.” One of the most successful examples where data influenced policy was in Iraq. In 2014, the Islamic State took over the large parts of Northern Iraq. It used the environment as a weapon by setting fire to oil wells and sulfur stocks, resulting in release of a plume of SO2 in the air, the hospitalization of 1,000 people, and death of a dozen people. At the same time, they damaged water infrastructure, reducing access to clean water and usable land. Together with the Iraqi Ministry of Environment we published our report showing what was happening in Iraq in terms of environmental pollution and what needs to be done, Zwijnenburg said. Information we’ve been collecting since 2014 helped to advocate for a strong UN resolution to speed up the process for post-conflict environmental assessment, he said, and hopefully save them time and money. Modern Weapons Target Environmental InfrastructureModern warfare and new weapons are changing military tactics. In Yemen, the Houthis have developed a drone system that can hit targets more than 1,000 kilometers away. Over the last year, in response to daily bombings, the Houthis targeted airports, water filtration stations, and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. And in September 2019, 25 drones and missiles, likely from Iran, hit the biggest oil processing plant in the world in Saudi Arabia. Given newer weapons’ capabilities, targeting environmental infrastructure has become a way for states and armed groups to pressure others. Zwijnenburg painted a bleak picture of the future, describing a world that must contend with modern warfare and technologies’ long-term environmental consequences, increasing tensions over access to natural resources, and more gruesome technology for attacking others. However, he noted that innovative technologies can help us see the impacts of conflict and may also help us more quickly respond to environmental issues. Since using technologies in new ways gives us more insight into what is happening in conflicts, we can respond faster and hold perpetrators more accountable. What’s more, the ability to visualize the impacts of conflict can also help raise awareness of the links between environmental damage and conflict. “It is empowering communities because people have the ability and the tools to understand what is happening around them,” said Zwijnenburg, “and that information is useful for policy work and political pressure.”
2/20/202021 minutes, 1 second
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Dr. Mishkat Al-Moumin on the Importance of Women & the Environment to Sustainable Peace

“I believe if you acknowledge women as primary users of environmental resources, if you draft the policy with women [at] the table, offering you their unique perspective and unique feedback, you’re going to have a more stable policy. A policy that gets implemented,” says Mishkat Al-Moumin, scholar in residence at the Environmental Law Institute, in this week’s Friday Podcast, and second in a series of interviews recorded at the First International Conference on Environmental Peacebuilding. Al-Moumin served as Iraq’s first Minister of Environment in the Iraqi Interim Government in 2004. She had previously served as one of the first female professors at Baghdad University’s College of Law. “That might sound like kind of an easy summary. But in reality, being accepted at the law school was really not that easy,” she says. Navigating personal and professional challenges as both a woman and a single mother in Iraq led Al-Moumin to understand the importance of recognizing the linkages between women and the environment. While she ran the Ministry of Environment with a budget of just 7 million dollars, Al-Moumin continued advocating for women’s inclusion and participation. “The ministry had the second lowest budget throughout the cabinet,” she says. And they were tackling massive environmental challenges, from the extreme degradation of marshlands to the pollution from years of war. Juggling these issues taught Al-Moumin about conflict in a very personal way. In 2004, she survived an attack on her life, in which four of her personal bodyguards were killed. Shortly thereafter, she applied and was accepted to Harvard University’s Kennedy School, where she was able to examine her on-the-ground experiences through a broader lens. Her research continues to focus on the conflict-environment-law nexus, with a particular focus on the Middle Eastern context. “If environmental policies are designed in a way that deprives certain people from access to an environmental resource, then a conflict will arise,” says Al-Moumin. In Iraq, conflicts are viewed as having either a religious or ethnic lens. The environmental dimension is generally ignored, she says. This is compounded by the fact that most Middle Eastern policy prohibits certain actions without accounting for how particular resources will be managed. In Iraq, for example, timber is prohibited from being cut down without a legal framework for sustainable harvesting. This causes a struggle for everyday citizens, as they are likely to be shut out of certain resources. Women are particularly impacted, as the laws are written by men and tend to ignore women’s roles in natural resource use and collection.In general, Al-Moumin says, Middle Eastern policy tends to look to history for answers to present-day challenges. Laws from the Ottoman Empire still persist, she says. But meeting the challenges of tomorrow requires forward thinking—and greater empowerment of every citizen, regardless of gender. “It’s the government’s job to solicit people’s opinions and open up venues for them to participate. Otherwise, you know,” says Al-Moumin, “that disconnect will continue forever and violence will be the answer [every] time we have a problem.”
2/13/202018 minutes, 33 seconds
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Geoff Dabelko and Sharon Burke on Environmental Peacebuilding in an Era of Great Power Competition

The United States and China are on the road to war, said Senior Advisor of New America’s Resource Security Program, Sharon Burke in this week’s Friday Podcast. “And if you’re an environmental peacebuilder and you’re not thinking about that, you might want to,” she added. She spoke with Geoffrey Dabelko, Professor at Ohio University and Senior Advisor to ECSP, at the first ever International Conference on Environmental Peacebuilding in October 2019 at the University of California, Irvine. It’s a war we can’t afford, said Burke. “But we’re not doing anything to avoid it at the moment, in my opinion, other than deterrence.”In a primarily adversarial relationship, said Burke, does environmental peacebuilding have the ability to be a bright spot on an otherwise bleak path toward a seemingly inevitable war?According to Burke, the role of natural resources has become relevant to strategic investments and security in two main ways. First, resources are already a part of the competition, and will increasingly shape the struggle for both material resources and geopolitical influence. The effects of climate change on resource availability will also drive the priorities of both China and the United States as the two largest economies in the world. A key difference, Burke points out, is size. The United States has a population of 330 million people, compared to China’s population of 1.4 billion. Another difference relates to how the countries are trying to address resource gaps related to climate change. China has begun diversifying resource suppliers and taking into account the strain climate change will put on the global supply chain, especially in the agricultural and critical minerals sectors. On the other hand, the United States puts greater trust in the markets and lacks a natural security strategy.Dabelko compared the current situation with China to the environmental peacebuilding efforts between the United States and Soviet Union during and after the Cold War. The U.S. military engaged with other militaries globally during this period using environmental and scientific exchanges as a means to open a dialogue and reach a secure end. In recent years, there have not even been attempts at these types of exchanges with an environmental component. Burke believes that it’s still worth a try. “[The environment is] certainly going to be a point of contention going forward,” said Burke. “So why can’t it also be a point of collaboration?”Burke and Dabelko wrapped up the conversation by imagining a possible future marked by a changing climate. Burke hypothesized that as climate change affects global agriculture, we will need trade to adjust and adapt to the changing patterns of food production. Burke noted that that our planet does have the capacity to grow enough food even as the population grows, but the areas where food is grown will need to shift as the climate changes. In order to thrive, we will need to become more flexible with trade and stay away from locking in strictly bilateral deals. Climate change may create a powerful need for global collaboration and cooperation, Burke concluded. This interview was recorded at the first International Conference on Environmental Peacebuilding, hosted by the Environmental Law Institute, Duke University, University of California, Irvine, and the Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation in October 2019.
2/6/202021 minutes, 39 seconds
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Multiple Sclerosis and Pregnancy: A Conversation with Terrie Livingston

“For me, [multiple sclerosis (MS)] presented itself shortly after the birth of my second son. I had these symptoms; I had this profound fatigue that I didn’t have with my first child,” said Terrie Livingston at a recent Wilson Center event about the growing threat of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) on maternal health. Livingston is the Head of Patient Outcomes and Solutions at EMD Serono, a business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “MS primarily affects women, with the average age of diagnosis at about 33 years of age…when women are really thinking about having a family,” said Livingston. Livingston didn’t associate her symptoms with MS initially, and assumed they were due to either her recent pregnancy or the demands of caring for a newborn. Pregnancy is an immunotolerant state, in which the immune system is able to tolerate a foreign substance, i.e. placenta and fetus. Due to changes in hormones, there are fewer relapses in MS patients who are pregnant, said Livingston. There is, however, a significant increase in the number and severity of relapses postpartum, she said. Symptoms of MS can be mistaken for other common symptoms of pregnancy, complicating diagnosis. In fact, it was about two years between the symptoms presenting and Livingston actually receiving the diagnosis of MS.Misconceptions about the disease adversely impact a woman’s perception of her ability to become pregnant. Livingston recalled a time when physicians discouraged women with MS from having a family, telling them that it wouldn’t be possible. In fact, the U.S. has seen an increase in the prevalence of pregnancies in MS patients. It’s important to raise awareness around race, disparities, and social determinants of health when it comes to MS and other non-communicable diseases, said Livingston. “Just like the changing face of the U.S., MS is also changing,” she said. What was once thought of as a disease that primarily affected Caucasian women, MS is now most prevalent in African American women. As an Asian American, Livingston attributes some of her delayed diagnosis to the fact that she’s “not the typical MS patient.” Also lacking is an awareness of the links between MS and other chronic illnesses —like hypothyroidism, inflammatory diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and mood disorders. 40 to 60 percent of MS patients have mood disorders that include anxiety and depression. The heightened risk of other chronic co-morbidities is why it is important for individuals with MS to plan ahead when it comes to pregnancy, said Livingston. Pregnant women with MS need integrated care plans that are tailored to their needs based on where they are in their journey. Since Livingston was diagnosed in 2006, the number of Disease-Modifying Therapies (DMTs) available for MS has increased from 4 to 17. “If you think about from 2006 to now, that’s 1 DMT that was approved every single year over the 13 and a half years,” she said. This gives providers and patients more options for treatment, but importantly, Livingston said, “it also gives patients hope.” There is a “big opportunity” to provide education to patients with MS, and we need to continue addressing those unanswered tough questions, said Livingston. In her role as an MS patient advocate she is uniquely placed to drive research efforts and tackle topics around co-morbidities, symptom management, race, ethnicity, and healthcare disparities. “Living with MS, it has allowed me to impact people in a way that I could have never imagined,” said Livingston.
12/20/201915 minutes, 2 seconds
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To Address Security in Africa, Focus on the Citizen: Ambassador Phillip Carter III on the Connections between Development and Security

To address the security challenges facing Sub-Saharan Africa we need to shift the focus from a concept of state security to one of citizen security, says Ambassador Phillip Carter III (ret.), former Ambassador to the Ivory Coast and the Republic of Guinea, in this week’s Friday Podcast. “Our current strategy of a military response to terrorist organizations or criminal networks is inadequate at best, and probably unsustainable at worst,” says Carter. “To me, the greatest security threat in Africa is poor or bad governance.” If you ask Africans what they perceive as threats to their security, terrorism isn’t at the top of their list, says Carter. “It’s dealing with corruption, it’s dealing with criminality, it’s making sure that their daughter can go to school without being assaulted, that their son can go to work without paying a bribe to a police officer.” Foreign policy has long operated in the realm of “state security”—investing in government institutions, militaries, and Ministries of Defense to promote security. “That needs to be challenged,” says Carter. “We find that many militaries are there to protect the regime, not necessarily the population.” In addition to the military interventions focused on countering violent extremist organizations, “we need to look at the softer side of things,” says Carter. “Investing in issues like girls’ education, addressing the issue of gender inequality—these development objectives are actually security objectives. We know that high levels of gender inequality foster violence and we know that investing in girls’ education results in manifold increases with regard to GDP growth and prosperity that is inclusive. We know that when you empower women in a society, you are improving the sustainability of growth, of prosperity, of economic activity, and security.”Supporting local institutions is critical to strengthening governance, says Carter, and a large part of that is ensuring that local organizations have the data and information to understand what their constituencies need. “I believe that good governance and democracy are social vaccines for a lot of things, but we have to engage in institutions that organizationally represent those values—they’re representative, they’re democratic in their structures, they’re inclusive, and they’re data driven,” said Carter. “If the assistance is driven out of Washington rather than out of the local community, it’s not going to be as effective as it could be.”
12/6/201919 minutes, 46 seconds
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Gordon Mumbo on Water and Livelihoods in the Mara River Basin

“If you live in the developed world or in some urban centers, then the supply of water is guaranteed,” said Gordon Mumbo, team leader for Sustainable Water for the Mara River Basin, a project of Winrock International and USAID’s Sustainable Water Partnership, in this week’s Water Stories podcast. When you wake up, you expect water to flow from your tap. “If you don’t find it flowing, you get upset and will probably call the utility company.” But people living in the Mara River Basin don’t have that luxury. “They have to walk to the river to get water and bring it home,” said Mumbo.With the Sustainable Water Partnership project, Mumbo is working to make sure the Mara River keeps flowing and meets the demand for water. A cornerstone of the project is determining how much water is available and how much water the basin needs. Mumbo and his colleagues are working across Kenya and Tanzania on a water location plan that considers how much water is needed to sustain the environment, the people, and the wildlife, said Mumbo. Once they are able to identify the gaps between supply and demand, they will be better positioned to manage the river.The project is also working to preserve the watershed by creating livelihoods that don’t require cutting trees and other vegetation. With a high demand for honey in the region, beekeeping has been one of their successful alternative livelihoods. “One would not want to cut down a tree where a beehive is kept,” said Mumbo.When the Mara River Basin project started, there was no adequate platform for private investment, said Mumbo. He and his colleagues helped the private sector organize to invest in water management. For example, they registered a Mara Basin hoteliers association to facilitate their investment in water management to maintain the ecotourism industry. The hoteliers understand that the health of their business depends on the health of the Mara.The government, meanwhile, needs to create an enabling environment that can attract investment from private investors. This involves creating a friendly policy environment, regulatory systems, access to financing, and sharing water information with the private sector and the general public.When asked what the greatest lesson from the Sustainable Water Project has been, Mumbo said that gaining the public participation of stakeholders in water conservation was key. You must be able to share the data freely with stakeholders for them to understand how much water is available and when certain policies—like water managers sometimes asking farmers to stop irrigating—are necessary. This understanding and rapport is vital for the future as a rising population and a changing climate will only make the need for effective water management in the Mara River Basin greater.
11/15/201922 minutes, 47 seconds
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David DeArmey on Engaging Communities to Increase Water Point Functionality

The Wilson Center is partnering with the USAID Sustainable Water Partnership and Winrock International to share stories about global water security. The series has highlighted the connections between water and food security, water as a tool for resilience in times of crisis, and the challenges and opportunities of too little water, too much water, dirty water, and unpredictable water.“Water point functionality goes beyond the mechanical structure of a pump,” says David DeArmey, Director of International Partnerships at Water for Good in this week’s Water Stories podcast. “Community dynamics play a role in how the water point is managed on a daily basis.” After identifying where to place water access points in communities throughout the Central African Republic (CAR), Water for Good helps facilitate a series of workshops to engage local communities with WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) training, financial and infrastructure management, and the importance of preventative maintenance. A regional representative from the Ministry of Hydraulics is also incorporated into the training workshops to help strengthen state presence and build a more resilient system. After the bore holes are drilled down to the water table and hand pumps are installed, the NGO performs regular preventative maintenance to replace pump parts that wear out over time to prevent mechanical failures. A Volatile ContextSince achieving independence in 1960, the country never effectively established a state presence despite being vast, about the size of Texas, DeArmey said. Even basic infrastructure that one would expect for a country to function does not exist outside of the capital city of Bangui. For example, only 400 of the 15,000 miles of road are paved. “But beyond infrastructure, there is a chronic security issue,” he said. Chronic political instability led the country into its second civil war in 2012 with an unprecedented level of violence. Today, nearly 80 percent of the country’s territory is controlled by up to 14 different rebel factions. Although it operates in a volatile context, Water for Good continues its work in CAR, performing preventative maintenance on water points. Since many of the technicians who inspect the pumps are Central Africans who understand the dangerous conditions on the ground, Water for Good is able to navigate safely throughout the country. Employing Central Africans and training them in the long-term maintenance program protects them. “The communities know them well and they are accepted even in times of insecurity,” said DeArmey. Peacebuilding in a Complex Setting“Having the capacity to drill wells, especially in times of conflict, can create unexpected opportunities,” said DeArmey. During the height of the conflict in 2014 and 2015, inter-community tensions caused major divisions between local Christian and Muslim communities. After the Muslim population fled the Lomi District, part of the city of Berberati, the neighborhood began to suffer from an “economic and social void.” Because the Christian population wanted to ensure that the Muslims had a safe environment to return to within their neighborhood, they decided to create a new water point and invite the Muslim community to return and join them in managing it and sharing its water. “That Christian community served as an example in the rest of the city and beyond,” DeArmey said, “and it created a really positive environment in some of the darkest times of the country. So drilling a well in the Lomi District directly helped engage with peacebuilding in a very complicated setting.”
9/6/201914 minutes, 41 seconds
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With Knowledge Comes Responsibility: A Conversation with Sylvia Earle on the Ocean

“Having a planet that is suitable for us has taken a very long time, like four and a half billion years,” said Sylvia Earle, Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society, in a podcast interview with Ambassador David Balton before a recent Wilson Center event on marine protected areas. “It’s taken us about four and a half decades to significantly unravel, deplete, [and] modify those precious systems that really have little margin of error.” After decades of working in marine research and exploration, Earle noted that rapid technological development during the second half of the 20th century led to major discoveries in ocean science, possibly more than all preceding history. “Today, we’re beginning to engage technologies that will enable humans to experience the ocean as well as to deploy an incredibly growing array of sensors and devices to map the ocean,” she said.However, despite our expanded understanding of marine science, ignorance poses the biggest challenge to oceans today, said Earle. “Why don’t people care about the ocean? Most people see it from the surface if they see it at all.” They miss the abundance of life in the ocean. Yet the ocean and its relationship to planetary processes is vitally important to our economy, security, health, and prosperity. The ocean is what keeps us alive. “No ocean, no life,” said Earle. Despite what we now know about the nature of the world and what it takes to hold the planet steady, keeping the planet’s chemistry within safe limits, she said, we are perversely still “burdened with habits that are born of a time” when we did not fully understand the fragility of the earth. Humans are still changing the earth’s temperature, shifting the chemistry of the air and water, and slaughtering wildlife. Especially in the ocean, the scale of this degradation is unprecedented, she said. We still have policies created when we thought that the ocean was too big to fail. Laws and policies still allow the legal extraction of large quantities of wildlife from the ocean, sending the message that it is okay to do things even though they are really threatening our existence. Protecting nature must no longer be optional, but rather our highest priority, she said. If we fail to stabilize the way the natural systems function, nothing else matters, she said.We must do everything we can to “give nature a break,” said Earle. We must embrace critical natural areas that are still in good shape to ensure that they remain in good condition, and we must do everything we can to restore areas that have already been depleted or damaged. “It makes sense to at least identify some of the most critical areas and embrace them with care,” she said. “That’s not a lot to ask. In fact, I think we are asking too little.” Quoting Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, Earle said, “We are of the first generation to know what the problems are, and we are the last generation to be able to do something about it.”
8/8/201914 minutes, 20 seconds
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Erika Weinthal on the Weaponization of Water in Conflict Settings

“When you're in a post-conflict phase, it means we really should be moving away from humanitarian assistance into development because we've moved along the conflict spectrum toward peace and development,” said Erika Weinthal, the Lee Hill Snowdon Professor of Environmental Policy at Duke University, in this week’s Water Stories podcast. A problem arises, Weinthal said, when you don't recognize that conflict is still going on. Humanitarian vs. Development Responses In many conflict settings, the humanitarian and development community both try to provide aid to those in need. However, they often work at odds with one another, she said. The humanitarian sector focuses on addressing immediate needs by providing basic services and access to potable water. Meanwhile the development sector aims to build lasting infrastructure and foster sustainable, long-term, prosperity. Aid communities should be careful about the terminology they use when referring to various stages of conflict, she said. Using the term “post-conflict” comes with implications because it mandates a particular type of intervention. “The global community has often said Afghanistan is post-conflict, Iraq is post-conflict, but the empirical reality on the ground is that there is a lot of conflict still going on,” she said. Where a protracted humanitarian crisis still festers, development actors on the ground, she said, must recognize that what may be the most beneficial in terms of restoring livelihoods is providing basic resources and access to water.Untraditional WarWeinthal has also tracked attacks on infrastructure in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Libya. Due to the changing nature of warfare, especially in the Middle East, both state and non-state actors are involved in conflicts. “You’re seeing a large number of groups that are vying for control,” she said. “It’s no longer a traditional war.” Therefore, different infrastructure is targeted at different times by different actors. In the early years of the Yemen conflict, there were many attacks on energy infrastructure. By 2015, we began seeing more attacks on water, agriculture, and health, she said. Slow Violence Weinthal’s research focuses on the role water plays in active and protracted conflicts, specifically the consequences of targeting water systems and weaponizing water during war. One way water is weaponized is through “slow violence,” a process that unfolds gradually with such long-term effects that are so under the radar that they may seem invisible, such as restrictive government policies or contaminated natural resources. The oil contamination of the Niger River Delta and the displacement of people from large dams are examples of slow violence, said Weinthal. A large part of her research focuses on the impact that the Israeli occupation has had on water access in the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli permit denials are preventing Palestinians from seeing new water infrastructure built, wastewater treatment systems installed, and new wells drilled, she said. We often don’t look at the long-term impacts on the ecosystem and on human well-being, she said.
7/31/201921 minutes
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Partnerships, Politics, & Plastic Pollution: A Conversation with Rob Kaplan on Reducing Ocean Plastics

“I’ve never seen this kind of political and public sector engagement in an environmental topic happen so fast,” said Rob Kaplan, the Founder and CEO of Circulate Capital in an interview with Ambassador David Balton following a recent Wilson Center event on reducing marine plastic pollution. Interest in reducing ocean plastics has gone from a blip on the radar at ocean conferences to “now becoming a top priority,” said Kaplan.After working on sustainability initiatives in the private sector for roughly a decade, Kaplan transitioned to researching strategies to reduce ocean plastics. Eventually, he founded Circulate Capital, an investment management firm with two goals. “First, we want to invest in companies that prevent plastic pollution,” he said. These companies “collect, sort, process, and even manufacture using plastic waste that would ultimately otherwise end up in the environment.” The company also helps a variety of investors, in both the public and private sectors, allocate more capital to reduce marine plastic pollution. Public-Private Partnership Circulate Capital has already attracted more than $100 million in corporate investment from PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Danone, and Dow. However, when it comes to making loans to recycling companies in regions of the world that are the largest producers of plastic pollution, Kaplan realized that the private sector could do only so much alone. “We’re working in really tricky geographies, where nobody has done this before, and that just equates to financial risk,” he said.To absorb some of the risk and create a bigger impact together, Circulate Capital and USAID launched a new partnership. For every loan made to a recycling company in an emerging market, USAID provides a credit guarantee, thereby reducing the risk for corporate investors.Galvanizing Political Will The interest in fighting ocean plastics is growing both in the United States and internationally. Even in this immensely polarized time, the issue has bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, Kaplan noted. The Save Our Seas Act was one of the few pieces of bipartisan legislation passed by Congress last year, let alone passed unanimously. “The political will is there,” Kaplan said. “There is nobody really for plastic waste. It hasn’t become politicized.” At the Wilson Center event, Senator Whitehouse (D- RI) said that he and Senator Sullivan (R-AK) are working together on an even larger bill to protect the ocean. Private sector companies are trying to be part of the solution, said Kaplan. “I think most companies agree that they don’t want their packaging ending up in the environment,” he said. “They don’t want animals eating it. They don’t want it polluting people’s waterways and their livelihoods on the ground in the communities where they’d like to do business.” When asked what was next for the partnership, Kaplan said that his company plans to invest $100 million in companies in the next three or four years, demonstrate proof of concept, and attract more capital. Ultimately, he said, much more must be invested to combat ocean plastic pollution. “We need many billions of dollars deployed into this space as quickly as possible,” he said.
6/21/201914 minutes
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Healthy Women, Healthy Economies: Gender Parity in the Workplace

“When you get to the power of voice, you have to be brave and you have to be that person that will speak up and say this isn’t right, but I want to be a part of the solution,” said Eileen Martin, the Global Director of Inclusion at EMD Serono, the U.S. division’s biopharmaceutical arm, of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. She spoke at a recent Wilson Center event on the intersections between women’s health, leadership, and economic prosperity. This edition of Friday Podcasts is led by Sarah B. Barnes, Project Director of the Maternal Health Initiative at the Wilson Center. Healthy Women, Healthy EconomiesWhen women are healthy, everyone benefits. When women are supported to fully contribute to national economies, again, everyone benefits. Often, the barriers women face toward economic participation are preventable with smart policies. The Healthy Women, Healthy Economies (HWHE) toolkit provides those policies and workplace strategies for hiring entities like governments, companies, and NGOs to encourage, integrate, and retain women in the workplace. “Policy is key”, said Martin. Merck-Brazil used the policy toolkit to find both external and internal successes around improved women’s health and participation in the workforce. Internally, Merck-Brazil increased the number of women in leadership positions from 30 percent to 43 percent over a two year period. Externally, the toolkit aided the company in their work to bring awareness to the significance of colorectal cancer and to influence government and insurance policies to include recognition of and services for colorectal cancer, where previously only breast and cervical cancer were included. The Balancing Act and Sponsorship“Let’s forget about 9 to 5,” said Martin. Women tend to have a double and triple burden on a day-to-day basis that inhibits a normal work schedule and has women providing unpaid work way beyond a 40 hour work week. When employers implement policies and strategies to hire, maintain, and promote women in the workforce, a woman’s juggling act of balancing career, family, and health is relieved. “Let’s leverage technology and let’s really redefine what a ‘9 to 5’ day actually looks like.” Martin stated that there is a lack of sponsorship for women in the workforce to support their progression. “Women tend to be over-mentored and under-sponsored,” she said and went on to explain, that while a mentor can really cheer on employees and be an advocate, they don’t have the political or the social capital to pull someone forward in the organization. A sponsor has to be somebody who can “put their political and social capital on the table and pound their fists” to demand that women in the workplace are given their rightful seat at the table.
5/31/201912 minutes, 41 seconds
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Africa in Transition: Highlights from a Conversation on Investing in Youth for Economic Prosperity

Africa in Transition, a new series hosted by the Wilson Center and the Population Institute, explores the role of population trends—migration, urbanization, fertility, maternal mortality—in shaping sub-Saharan Africa’s chances for prosperity, health, and security. In this podcast, we share highlights from the first Africa in Transition event. Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, Professor at Cornell University, starts the conversation by reminding us that “African countries are in the middle of multiple transitions that have the potential to create opportunities for prosperity, growth, and increased human capital, but also to create greater inequality. The challenge, therefore, is to build prosperity, but to do it for all.” Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, the founder and CEO of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) said that “the solutions to our problems can only be solved by us people in Africa.” What the international donor community can do to support those efforts is provide technical assistance and training. The solution has a lot to do with empowerment, she said. The number of women in leadership positions is on the rise in Africa, said Musimbi Kanyoro, President of the Global Fund for Women. “There are women who understand the facts […] and they are speaking up and wanting more recognition and space, wanting more resources, wanting more funding and investing in their own families and their children.” This is especially evident with women’s involvement in the workplace. However, African women do not receive equal representation in governance. “When women are in leadership positions, you see other areas impacted as well.” “Meaningful youth engagement […] is one of the most important things that we can do” to build a prosperous and goal-oriented society, said Unami Jeremiah, founder of Mosadi Global Trust. Intergenerational dialogue and thoughtful transition plans are critical to ensuring a secure future for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. To further empower women and youth, panelists highlighted the need to provide family planning and reproductive health services, and comprehensive sexuality education (CSE). In many cases, sexuality education programs are aimed solely at young people in school settings, said Jeremiah. To be effective, CSE must be shared with parents and caregivers, otherwise upon entering the home “one might as well leave their CSE at the door.” CSE is meant to teach people how to be safe and healthy, said Kanyoro, citing the influence of the Me Too movement on modern CSE. “It will make a difference in how we begin to tell the story of comprehensive sexuality education to everyone, because that is a human right.” For more information on the Africa in Transition: Investing in Youth for Economic Prosperity event, please visit the event page.
5/24/201917 minutes, 13 seconds
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International Aid, Local Capacity Building: Improving Community Health Through Partnerships

Seeing the influx of international aid into Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, Dr. Florence Jean-Louis, Director of Human Development at Fonkoze, asked herself, “How can all this support, all this solidarity, stay in-country and have a real impact in the long-term?” She spoke at a recent Wilson Center event on the importance of community health systems to the sustainable development and stability of countries. The answer, she concluded, was to build the capacity of local organizations. Case #1: Haiti and the Power of the Local Community In Haiti, Fonkoze began as a small local organization with a grant from USAID. As a new organization, Fonkoze aimed to address sustainability by employing local community members, rather than professional foreign staff. “It took a lot of training, coaching, and consulting to get there,” said Dr. Jean-Louis. Using a volunteer-based strategy and grants from USAID and Advancing Partners & Communities (APC), Fonkoze has achieved a great deal of impact and positive health outcomes from nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, and other programs. Case #2: Increasing Ebola Survivors’ Access to Care in LiberiaLiberia was one of the countries most affected by the Ebola crisis in 2014 and 2016. Those who survived the infection faced significant morbidity and challenges to their quality of life, including mental health problems and eye issues. “The focus of our work was on survivors, which including increasing access to specialty care,” said Dr. Rose Macauley, Chief of Party at APC Liberia. Funded by USAID, APC Liberia trained 60 mental health clinicians to meet the needs of Ebola survivors. Prior to this program, Liberia only had one psychiatrist for the 4.5 million people that lived there, said Macauley. Through the grant, APC also funded two faith-based institutions that care for survivors. More than 22 percent of the country’s Ebola survivors registered with them. APC also supported the development of the National Ebola Survivors’ Network of Liberia, a civil society organization that empowers survivors to recover, advocate for themselves, and integrate into their communities. Case #3: Expanding Services for the Disabled in LaosMillions of undetonated submunitions remain scattered throughout Laos since the Vietnam-American War. These explosives continue to be a source of danger and have caused thousands of accidental injuries and deaths since the end of the war. As a grantee of APC, World Education Laos implemented the TEAM (Training, Economic Empowerment, Assistive Devices, and Medical Rehabilitation) project, which gave out “$2.7 million dollars of grants in almost three years to 16 sub-grantees in Laos,” said James MacNeil, Vice President of World Education. These sub-grantees included the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), as well as the Quality of Life Association (QLA), which are both local organizations dedicated to providing support and assistance to victims of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and people with disabilities to promote rehabilitation and sustainable livelihoods. As a result, these programs have made a significant impact in the disability sector in Laos. Each speaker highlighted how partnerships between local organizations, international organizations and donors, and governments help communities respond to local challenges. These partnerships provide resources to support local organizations and solutions that build capacity to help countries become self-reliant. “Local organizations should be key actors in the work for sustainable development since they are the ones who stay, who strive, who sustain efforts with no termination date,” said Dr. Jean-Louis.
5/17/201922 minutes, 20 seconds
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Attitudes, Hotspots, and Role Models: Promoting Family Planning in Rural Communities

“Strengthening community health is critical to expanding voluntary family planning,” said A. Jean Affo, Chief of Party at Advancing Partners & Communities (APC) Benin at a recent Wilson Center event on the importance of community health systems to the sustainable development and stability of countries. In Benin, around half of the population lives in rural areas with a lack of access to quality healthcare services and information. Traditional attitudes and gender norms prevent women and couples from utilizing family planning methods, said Affo. Combined with early marriage, inadequate family planning leaves women and girls vulnerable to health issues associated with inadequate timing and spacing between pregnancies.In the Agago District of Uganda, family planning is further complicated by the destabilizing effects of conflict in nearby Sudan. Frederick Mubiru, Chief of Party at APC Uganda, discussed the value of fertility hotspot mapping, an epidemiological analysis which identifies areas where fertility rates are highest. Mapping these “hotspots” allows organizations to dig deeper into community-specific behaviors and create tailored interventions, said Mubiru. For example, APC Uganda specifically mapped areas where adolescent pregnancy is particularly prevalent and aimed to determine which socio-cultural factors contributed to these rates. Panelists agreed that practicing cultural sensitivity and a community-based approach are key when promoting uptake of family planning in various communities. This means getting not only women but also men, teachers, religious leaders, and other community leaders involved. In Agago, APC implemented an intervention called “Emanzi,” which means male role model. “It’s an approach that takes [men] through a nine-week curriculum that addresses gender issues but also teaches couples communication and joint decision-making,” said Mubiru. A community-based approach to promoting family planning must reflect a strong understanding of the area population, said Susan Otchere, Senior Technical Advisor of Family Planning and Reproductive Health, Birth Spacing and Advocacy at World Vision, who has worked on family planning and maternal and child health. In Garba Tula, Kenya, she said, communities tend to be nomadic pastoralists who are predominantly Muslim. With that knowledge, World Vision realized that the community responded more positively to the terminology “birth spacing” than “family planning,” because it was more closely aligned with the Quran’s teachings to keep women healthy by spacing births and allowing for breastfeeding, said Otchere. Sensitivity to these nuances, she said, allowed the team to gain the trust of the community. Moving forward, countries that wish to develop sustainably must make strengthening community health systems a priority. Increasing local financing will be crucial to sustaining community health programs, said Affo. But the next call to action, said Otchere, is to integrate food security with health programs. “I see this as a community’s journey to self-reliance,” she said.
5/17/201918 minutes, 35 seconds
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Ambassador Marcia Bernicat on the U.S. Global Water Strategy

The overarching goal of the U.S. Global Water Strategy is to create a more water secure world, said Ambassador Marcia Bernicat, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans, and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State at a recent Wilson Center event. “Simply put,” she said, “a world where people have the water they need, where they need it, when they need it, without living in fear of floods or droughts.”In honor of World Water Day 2019, Ambassador Bernicat took a look back at the challenges and objectives included in the U.S. Global Water Strategy, which was released in November 2017. Three Main Challenges “We addressed three major challenges in that strategy,” said Ambassador Bernicat. The first challenge is that a significant portion of the population in many countries still lacks access to safe drinking water and sanitation, she said. Nearly two billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water and nearly four billion lack access to safely managed sanitation services. “This is not only a threat to human health,” she said, “but a factor in migration, civil unrest, and terrorist recruitment.”Second, the U.S. Global Water Strategy sets out to tackle rising levels of water insecurity around the globe. By 2030, according to projections, more than half of the world’s population will be living in water stressed conditions. “Many countries will not have enough water to meet domestic, industrial, and environmental water needs,” said Ambassador Bernicat. “These countries are fundamentally water insecure and risk increased fragility or failure.” The third challenge concerns the possibility of conflict over water. “More than 270 water basins worldwide are shared by two or more countries,” said Ambassador Bernicat. “As water resources become scarce and variable, tensions over shared waters are likely to grow, increasing the potential for conflict at the local and regional level.”Four Strategic Objectives To answer these challenges, the U.S. Global Water Strategy provides four strategic objectives:1) to promote sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation services along with the adoption of key hygiene behaviors,2) to encourage the sound management and protection of freshwater resources,3) to reduce conflict by promoting cooperation on shared waters, and4) to strengthen water sector governance, finance, and institutions. “To achieve these objectives, the United States is building capacity, investing in infrastructure, promoting science, technology, innovation and information, mobilizing financial resources, engaging diplomatically, and strengthening partnerships, intergovernmental organizations, and the international community,” said Ambassador Bernicat. The Importance of Interagency CooperationThe U.S. Global Water Strategy relies heavily on an interagency approach to address these global water challenges. More than 20 U.S. government agencies work on water in more than 60 countries. “This is not a problem that the United States will solve alone. It is through partnerships where we can leverage our respective strengths where we will be most successful,” she said. “And that is the message for today.”Because the problems matter, they are worth tackling head on, said Ambassador Bernicat. “I am convinced that working together, we can achieve a more water secure future.”
4/5/20196 minutes, 41 seconds
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A Look Downstream: Thoughtful Water Infrastructure Planning May Yield Economies of Flexibility

Three big trends are coming, said Ken Conca, Professor at American University’s School for International Service at a recent Wilson Center event that explored the future of water. “We’ll be storing a lot more water,” he said. “We’ll be recycling a lot more water. And we’ll be thinking much more systematically and foundationally about flood risk.”To meet the water challenges of the next 30 to 50 years, water storage will become increasingly important to smooth out extremes, to buffer against shortages, and to replace natural storage that we’re losing as snowpack and ice melt begin to vanish in a greenhouse world, he said. Water recycling will become a tool to enhance the water supply and reduce the energy and conservation costs of our current inefficient water system. Inefficient Use of WaterFor example, Conca said that we clean water to world class drinking standards and use a large amount of energy to pump it to your toilet. If your toilet is more than 20 years old, with two flushes of that to make a few ounces of urine go away, you have just flushed away what the World Health Organization says is the daily survivable minimum of water for immediate personal use. “That is not a smart system, and that is going to start to change,” he added.Conca also predicted that more attention will go to combatting flood risk, particularly the “double-exposure” that coastal communities face. On the one hand, they’re exposed not only to intensifying storms from the sea and higher sea levels. On the other, they are vulnerable to the danger of flash flooding from heavy rains, like those from Hurricane Harvey that stalled over and inundated Houston. While climate change is obviously one of the drivers behind these adaptation trends, it isn’t the only one, he said. Other drivers include the shifting dynamics of water economics and a variety of new actors, such as the Department of Defense, which are taking actions to manage their exposure to risk and making much needed updates to existing water infrastructure. “That’s one of the really key points,” he said. “We have to get the infrastructure decisions right.” Longevity poses a planning challenge, given that new water infrastructure may need to survive more than a hundred years. Unintended ConsequencesUnintended social and ecological consequences of infrastructure decisions could also have a large effect on “the peace and conflict dimensions that we will have to pay attention to as well,” he said. Disputes may arise when big dam projects do not consider environmental or human rights consequences, when livelihoods and profits are altered by the use of recycled water, and when flood protection affects property values and the way of life in historic neighborhoods and communities. While in aggregate, the big trends may look like positive adaptations that will increase resilience and further risk management, Conca pointed to a downside. They are laden with tremendous potential for injustice, for inequality, for contentiousness, and for conflict, violent or otherwise. “I’d like to stress that it’s not enough to capture the macro-benefits to society of these broad adjustments that we know are coming and that we know make sense writ large,” he said. “We have to manage the micro-considerations. Who wins? Who loses? Whose voice? How do we spot the unintended consequences? How do we spot the second-order effects?” Water Project Micro-effectsFor many people, the second-order and unintended effects are the real story, Conca says. “As we get climate smart, we also have to get conflict smart and equity smart.” To do so competitively, we must put more time into decision-making and consider the micro-effects of water infrastructure projects. If these effects are over-looked, production based on the principles of economies of scale appears to be the most cost effective strategy in designing water infrastructure. For example, building one big pile of concrete and generating 1,000 megawatts in one project is much more efficient than 10 projects generating 100 megawatts each or 1,000 projects that produce one megawatt each. However, with factors such as changing land and water prices, updated environmental regulations, and a variety of social considerations, economies of scale eventually may turn into “diseconomies” of scale. Economies of Flexibility“We don’t know what the future is going to entail,” Conca said. “There is a value that we can price in delaying a decision until you have more information,” he said, and in the ability to change your mind. These advantages form a cost efficient “economy of flexibility” by adapting and adjusting water infrastructure decisions to a variety of ever-changing challenges. These “economies of flexibility” eventually outweigh economies of scale in the long-term future of water infrastructure.
3/28/201912 minutes, 5 seconds
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Sam Huston on Stabilizing Water Utilities in Fragile Environments

“One of the interesting things about dealing with water and sanitation issues is that in many ways it’s a crosscutting issue,” said Sam Huston, Chief of Party at Tetra Tech’s USAID-supported Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene Financing (WASH-FIN) Project. Practitioners often must deal with multiple challenges that are usually much broader than their specific focus, he noted during an interview for this week’s Water Stories podcast. Over the past two decades, Huston has engaged with local communities on water utility reform programming in low-intensity post-conflict and potentially new conflict environments. For much of 10 years, Huston worked in and out of South Sudan and for 4 of those years worked on a water peacebuilding program, The Water for Recovery and Peace Program. The challenges one faces when trying to jump-start a water utility in a post-conflict environment can be considerable. A country may have no power grid. Or the supply chains for diesel fuel needed to run backup or primary generators do not exist. “You’re soon involved in not just jump-starting a utility,” said Huston, “but all kinds of logistical challenges around securing what would be readily available on the market in a fully functioning economy.”To move a water utility toward autonomy, practical interventions may be needed to get it fully operational. This might involve changes in a water utility’s record keeping systems. Is the accounting system computerized? Is the customer database up to date? Are utility managers thinking about how they can improve collection from customers? How transparent are accounting and billing systems? Non-flashy interventions related to core systems can collectively move the utility to a position where it is able to cover more and more of their operational costs, said Huston, “so that they can operate in an autonomous way.” To stabilize a utility, it is critical to figure out how “to ring fence these utilities after the capital investments have been made so that they’re able to operate on a sustainable basis and they’re not directly dependent on the political cycle for funding to maintain operations,” Huston said. Water utilities are not going to perform consistently if they rely on external financing to cover day-to-day operations. If you need to knock on the door of the Ministry of Finance every other day to fill up your generators and to run your water pumps, you’re not going to be providing water on a very reliable basis, he said.The pathway out of fragility for a utility is ultimately a transition plan from being dependent on the public purse for operations to moving to a situation where you depend only on customer fees and user tariffs to fund day-to-day operations, Huston said. Water utilities need to come up with a viable business plan and work within their systems to recover costs so they can become operational. “It sounds easy,” he said, “but it’s a really long hard slog.”
2/22/201938 minutes
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Gidon Bromberg on Water and Environmental Peacebuilding

“The Jordan River has been the lifeblood of the Levant,” says Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli co-director of EcoPeace Middle East, in this week’s Water Stories podcast. The river’s importance offers a unique platform for multi-level conflict resolution and environmental conservation efforts in a region wracked by conflict.Following the 1993 Oslo Accords, “there was a sense of euphoria; we all thought that peace was about to break out completely,” says Bromberg, who helped found EcoPeace Middle East in 1994. “And the goal for creating the organization was the fear that the environment was not on the peace agenda, that fear that peace was going to lead to unsustainable development.”When violence broke out once again, the bonds between the Jordanian, Israeli, and Palestinian members kept EcoPeace together. “We came to see…the model we had created in how to work together was actually a model for peace,” says Bromberg. EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors program brings together residents of Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian communities to focus on their shared water sources, such as the heavily polluted Jordan River. “Communities came to see…that the only way to promote economic development in my community was to work with the other side, to develop relations and to move forward on a common agenda,” says Bromberg. “We’ve found that youth are often braver than any other level of community interaction. From their perspective, if we need to work with the other side in order to solve this problem, then why aren’t we doing that?” he asks. For example, city mayors were persuaded to engage in water clean-up projects only after students requested it.“I don’t want to paint a rosy picture: there is a lot of work still to do. But we have 100 years of conflict, and in just 10 focused years of peacebuilding [and] of advocacy, we’ve been able, through this multi-level intervention, change mindsets. Ministers and authorities that just several years ago were continuing to tell us that we’re dreamers, that we’re naive, that we’re wasting our time—today, some of them are the biggest advocates.”
1/31/201946 minutes, 3 seconds
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Patricia Da Silva: ‘The Time is Now’ to Accelerate Progress for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

“Almost everyone of reproductive age—about 4.3 billion people—will not have access to at least one essential or reproductive health intervention over the course of their lives,” said Patricia Da Silva, Associate Director, International Planned Parenthood Federation United Nations Liaison Office. She spoke at a recent Wilson Center event showcasing recommendations from the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission report, “Accelerate progress--sexual and reproductive health and rights for all,” on how to advance sexual and reproductive health from a human rights perspective.The Commission presents a “comprehensive, evidence-based, and integrated vision of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) that recognizes that improving health depends on rights,” said Da Silva. Guaranteeing that all people, regardless of who they are or where they live, have access to “affordable, essential, and attainable” sexual and reproductive health services is a core pillar of the Commission. Countries tend to focus on certain components of SRHR, such as improving access to contraception, HIV prevention, and maternal and newborn health services, but the Commission includes often neglected components of sexual and reproductive health, such as “abortion, infertility treatment, LGBTQI friendly services, youth friendly services, comprehensive sexuality education, as well as the prevention, detection, and management of gender-based violence,” said Da Silva. Some key recommendations from the Commission include providing access to safe abortion services for all women, supporting changes in policies that enable all people to understand, protect, and fulfill their sexual and reproductive health and rights, ensuring universal access to an integrated package of sexual and reproductive health services, with a particular focus on reaching vulnerable populations, and finally, addressing sexual and gender-based violence through policy changes and prevention programs. Existing gaps in access to sexual and reproductive health can create consequences not only for individuals and communities, but also for national economies around the world, said Da Silva. Investing in and ensuring access to reproductive services for all, primarily contraception, and high-quality maternal and newborn health services would result in a net savings of 6.9 billion dollars. “Spending money now, making corrective policy actions now, can save huge economic benefits for the future,” said Da Silva.“The rights-based roadmap approach proposed by the Commission…it is the way to accelerate progress for SRHR. It is the way to achieve sustainable and equal development for all. And ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, the time is now.”
1/24/201915 minutes, 52 seconds
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Ken Conca on Transboundary Water Basin Management

“When we start talking about water in the context of security, we’re immediately drawn to a conversation about conflict. And that’s often framed in terms of scarcity of water and a real zero-sum game around water, where scarcity begets grievances, which beget instability and conflict,” says Ken Conca, Professor at American University’s School of International Service, in this week’s Water Stories podcast. Of the world’s 276 transboundary water basins, fewer than half are governed by an agreement or accord that allocates use of the shared water between countries—and less than a quarter of these accords include all the riparian states in a basin. “But when we step back, I think the larger frame is really one of uncertainty and of managing risks, and in that context, I think the good news is that there are a lot of cooperative opportunities,” says Conca.Today, “we have a very weakly developed and patchwork body of international law. When you look at the content of that international law, we find that most of those agreements are actually fairly static, inflexible water-sharing agreements,” he says.Conca points to some potential models for cooperation and collaboration: For example, the 1997 United Nations Watercourses Convention codifies several key principles that basin agreements should include to be equitable and effective: environmental protection, information sharing, and notice of infrastructure development, among others. “On one level it provides a very good framework,” he says, but “it doesn’t deal with a lot of the challenges of adaptation and resilience we face. So the challenge in international water law is really to create more flexible accords first.”“We need to start doing the kinds of climate vulnerability assessments that the Paris Accords envisioned at the basin level,” he says, pointing out that national-level adaptation assessments don’t address shared water courses or dynamic flows across borders. “It’s critically important we start doing that sort of analysis.” “We need to think less about allocating a fixed pie of water and more about expanding that pie through sensible and cooperative management,” says Conca.
1/18/201911 minutes, 24 seconds
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Doris Kaberia on Public-Private Partnerships and Holistic Approaches to Water Management in Kenya

“You cannot separate water and health,” says Doris Kaberia in this week’s Water Stories podcast. “People need safe drinking water for them to be healthy.” Kaberia works with Millennium Water Alliance, a coalition of international NGOs working on water sanitation and hygiene around the world, where she manages a Kenyan water program. RAPID (Resilient Arid Lands Partnership for Integrated Development) “brings public-private sector partners…and governments together to manage water resources, particularly in the northern part of Kenya where water is really scarce.” “There has to be calculation of water demand,” she says. “You match resource and the water demand. Otherwise there is always competition for water.” This holistic view is helping Kenya manage water resources for its more than 40 million citizens. “We not only addressed the water-related shocks, but it was really integrated with health,” she says. RAPID improved water sanitation and hygiene conditions in northern Kenya, enabling health facilities to operate by ensuring they had clean water.Public-private partnerships have proven valuable in Kaberia’s work. She says, however, that building partnerships was difficult, because “the way the development practitioners think, and the way private sector thinks, and the way governments think is totally different.” But if “you look at companies and industries, you will realize that most of the industries also need water for their manufacturing, for cooling of machines,” so you can connect with them on the shared needs. Kenya RAPID works with Coca-Cola, IBM, and Davis & Shirtliff, among others, to improve the sustainability of their interventions as they pursue their water development goals. This interview was originally recorded in October 2016.
1/10/201928 minutes, 3 seconds
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Sandra Ruckstuhl on Capturing Practical Lessons on Water, Conflict, and Cooperation

We realized “there was a need for a toolkit on water,” says Sandra Ruckstuhl in this week’s Water Stories podcast, “with a focus of conflict and conflict mitigation, but also peacebuilding.” Ruckstuhl, a consultant for the World Bank who has researched water programs in Yemen and the Middle East, helped the Wilson Center produce USAID’s Water and Conflict toolkit, which documents examples of successful development interventions focused on water and peacebuilding.“We have lots of assumed peaceful outcomes from projects, but very little of it has been measured and documented,” says Ruckstuhl. “We would do a real service to the field if we really started documenting and measuring this kind of information so we can inform better and better practice in this area.” Ruskstuhl and her team worked to ensure that the toolkit could be used by practitioners without professional training or formal education in conflict studies. “When we are talking about peacebuilding,” Ruckstuhl says, “we are boiling it down to collaborative governance—and that also is transferrable to different sectors.” “When we are designing and implementing some development investment, we’re injecting ourselves into a system,” in which water management, health, food, and other public services are interconnected. Ruckstuhl calls for more incentives that would push practitioners to foster cross-sector connections, which would allow different sectors to work together more collaboratively. Project designers must consider all the stakeholders involved, including governance institutions, which in many circumstances are dominated by men. “The constructive role women can play in the household, in these governance institutions, in the decision-making for things like water allocation…that knowledge and that capacity of women can be missed,” says Ruckstuhl. Integrating gender concerns more effectively would contribute to more equitable water management, so she proposes educating communities on the value of including women in projects focused on water and conflict.
12/13/201824 minutes, 28 seconds
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Aaron Wolf on Transboundary Water Conflict and Cooperation

“Countries—even countries that don’t like each other much—have, and continue to have, conversations over water resources, even when they won’t about other issues,” says Aaron Wolf, Director of Water Conflict Management and Transformation at Oregon State University, in this week’s Water Stories podcast.Wolf’s research shows that water stress—instead of spurring wars between countries—can actually bring them to the negotiating table. “Water creates horrible suffering, human destruction, ecosystem degradation, and very, very little political violence,” says Wolf. Tensions can rise, however, when an upstream country wants to build infrastructure (such as a hydroelectric dam) that would impact the people downstream. “It is not that the dam itself that causes the problem; it is the dam in the absence of an agreement about how to mitigate the impacts of the dam,” says Wolf. Many treaties do not account for greater variability in flow arising from droughts or floods—both of which will be exacerbated by climate change. In the Middle East, “there are droughts that were so bad that the Israel-Jordan water agreement had nothing in text to deal with that. Fortunately, their relationship was solid enough that they could adapt based on their personal relations,” says Wolf.To identify these gaps, Wolf and his team developed the Basin at Risk project, which provides a quantitative, global-scale exploration of the relationship between freshwater resources and conflict, as well as indicators to measure cross border tension. “With those verified indicators, we were able to look at basins in the next three to five years. Fortunately, most of those are no longer at risk precisely because the global community did what it does best—they help with the institutions, they help build the river basin organizations, and the treaties, and so on,” says Wolf.
11/30/201821 minutes, 48 seconds
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Cultivating Meaningful Youth Engagement in Sexual and Reproductive Health Programming

“We need to mainstream young people into the decision-making process,” said Senator Nikoli Edwards, age 25, of Trinidad and Tobago at a recent Wilson Center event on engaging youth to protect their sexual and reproductive health and rights. “Where it’s not a matter of, ‘let’s bring a young person into the room as an afterthought,’ but it should be written that a young person has to be a part of the discussion or has to be contributing in a significant way.”As a young person, “your expectations have been heightened, you have been encouraged to do all of this great work, but where are the institutions, where are the support mechanisms, where are the opportunities?” asked Edwards. The panelists unanimously agreed that high expectations for young people to serve and agitate for change have not been met with endless opportunities to engage.Although many organizations have celebrated young peoples’ input, they still need to be more intentional about how they engage youth, said Cate Lane, Senior Technical Adviser at Pathfinder. Oftentimes, “we engage young people, we solicit their input, we ask them to tell us what they need and what they want,” she said. “We rev them up. They’re excited, and then we’re like, ‘thanks so much for your input,’ now we’re going to go implement our project.”“When we are talking about youth participation, we should think about the diversity of young people,” said Dr. Ilya Zhukov, Global Focal Point for Comprehensive Sexuality Education at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Bringing key populations of young people, including LGBTQ+, HIV positive, and disabled youth, to name a few, together with decision-makers can ensure that health programming is informed by those it is meant to serve.“When your opinion and your thoughts are influencing real documents that will then influence your education—that is a real thing,” said Lada Nuzhna, Youth Representative at Teenergizer!. Exchanges between young people and organizations working to promote adolescent health and rights should be a two-way street. “We need to see this not as a one-way street of us soliciting information from them, but as an opportunity for them to develop skills, networks, to gain access to things that they wouldn’t normally gain access to,” said Lane.Adolescence is a dynamic period in life that can pose challenges to the longevity of youth project engagement. “If we engage young people, we can’t expect that they are going to be with us for the next five years because they are in school, they’re working, getting married,” said Lane. However, mechanisms such as youth advisory boards and councils could enable organizations to consult periodically with young people to ensure programs are responsive to their needs.Experts agreed that a system to bring youth into the conversation on a regular basis is necessary to cultivate meaningful youth engagement, in addition to allocating resources—financial and human—to ensure that adolescent sexual and reproductive health programming is effective and responsive. “We should bring young people to the table and involve them not only in discussion but in the development and implementation of programs,” said Zhukov. Governments, leaders of organizations and policymakers should continue to think about how to meaningfully engage with young people as partners. “I think it’s something we have to tackle,” said Lane. “There has to be this sense of partnership, where we meet each other in the middle.”
11/7/201812 minutes, 45 seconds
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Eliane Razafimandimby: Improving the Quality of Maternal and Child Care

“Even in a weak system without a quality improvement structure, it is possible to support district managers and facility providers to measure and improve quality care,” said Eliane Razafimandimby, Chief of Party of USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) in Madagascar, at a recent Wilson Center event on improving the quality of reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child healthcare (RMNCH). Madagascar is currently in the early stages of improving the quality of its RMNCH care. After failing to meet the maternal and newborn Millennium Development Goals by 2015, the government created a roadmap to achieving the maternal and newborn MDGs by 2019 and mandated MCSP to support the Ministry of Health in strengthening its health system to reduce maternal and newborn mortality.In order to have an impact on quality, “we needed to engage with the health system at different levels,” said Razafimandimby. A systems approach required emphasis on policy at the national level, capacity-building and data usage at the district/regional level, and targeted service-delivery support and community engagement at the facility level. The ambitious task of assessing quality of care and implementing change involved nearly two-thirds of the country, across 16 regions and 80 districts. Quality care indicators monitored at more than 600 facilities showed promising reductions in maternal and newborn mortality. Health facilities implemented preventative measures to improve quality. Having a newborn station in the operating room after a C-section allowed midwives to care for the baby without having to carry him or her to the neonatal unit for care, which was often located in another building. This small change facilitated more immediate newborn care as well as greatly reduced the risk of infection. Other improved outcomes were linked to significant increases in antenatal screening for preeclampsia and the adoption of postpartum family planning methods before discharge from a facility. “These improved outcomes were not only seen at the primary facility level but also at district and regional hospitals,” said Razafimandimby. Despite success at the facility, district, and regional levels, national progress is slow. “Development of a national quality strategy and structure remains a high priority for Madagascar,” said Razafimandimby. “To be able to sustain and continue improvement work, national level leadership is really essential.”
10/12/20188 minutes, 9 seconds
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Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue: Moving from Laundry Lists to Bottom Lines

“A lot of the advocacy of family planning has been built around establishing a long list of the many ways in which family planning can be relevant” to other development goals, says Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue of Cornell University in our latest Friday Podcast. While comprehensive accounts of the ways family planning access benefits communities, these “laundry lists” are not “clear, synthetic, or integrative,” he says.Instead, Eloundou-Enyegue proposes that development planners focus instead on four “bottom lines” to more clearly communicate the importance of family planning across all sectors.The first bottom line is financial: “Take people through the savings that they are going to achieve with each dollar that is invested in family planning,” said Eloundou-Enyegue.The second bottom line is equity, which appeals to stakeholders who seek to promote justice in communities. Inequalities in fertility, income, and family structure “translate into very large inequality among children that will lead to even wider, larger inequality in the next generation,” Eloundou-Enyegue says. “Family planning can play an important role in breaking this intergenerational cycle.”The third bottom line Eloundou-Enyegue proposes is durability, which appeals to visionary leaders through the dividends that family planning offers over multiple generations. In addition to the immediate benefits, there is a second dividend, when the current working age population reaches retirement with greater savings, and then a third dividend comes from greater investment in the early childhood development of the next generation.The final bottom line is demand, particularly from youth: “There is actually a very large demand for family planning among youth if we return to the full meaning of ‘family planning,’” says Eloundou-Enyegue, focusing not just on births but on the course of one’s entire life. “Planning families for youth, and African youth, today, who are very concerned about their futures, is to think about how to plan their transition into work,” including developing skills and leadership.“There is room there to incorporate family planning in a large vision which is concerned about planning futures, planning families, naturally, and planning lives,” says Eloundou-Enyegue.
8/3/201813 minutes, 30 seconds
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Jocelyn Ulrich: Enhancing Public Health to Unleash the Economic Power of Women

Healthy Women, Healthy Economies is a global initiative that aims to unleash the “economic power of women by bringing governments, private sector, and other civil sector actors together to improve women’s health,” says Jocelyn Ulrich of EMD Serono, the U.S. branch of Merck KGaA, Darmstad, Germany, in our Friday Podcast. Providing for women’s health needs enables them to “join, thrive, and rise” in the economy, “bringing prosperity home to their families and communities.”This partnership was established in 2014 within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum by the 21 APEC economies, led by the United States and the Philippines, and members of the private sector. The project sought to address significant barriers to women’s full participation in the workforce, which include non-communicable diseases related to reproductive health and the dual responsibility of the workplace and caregiving for children and elderly parents.The partnership engaged in a comprehensive literature review and created a toolkit for governments and private sector actors to address these hurdles, with specific recommendations:• Improve access to sexual and productive health services• Increase awareness of services for voluntary family planning• Provide high-quality maternal, sexual, and reproductive health services• Protect against discriminationSince 2015, the project has convened workshops to track progress against the toolkit’s policy goals. One of the advantages to working under the auspices of APEC is engaging high-level ministers in women’s health.The toolkit’s policy recommendations align with the Sustainable Development Goals. “Sustainable economic growth really can’t be achieved if we’re leaving half of the population behind,” says Ulrich.
7/27/201811 minutes, 55 seconds
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Franklin Moore: Fostering Local Innovation Through Community Organization

Africare’s work has been built on a “strong belief that community mobilization and local capacity building and innovation are the cornerstones of successful development, and that, for us, includes resilience,” says Franklin Moore, Chief of Programs for Africare, in a podcast from a recent Wilson Center event. “Community engagement, capacity building, and looking at locally driven behavior and social change is what empowers communities.”Africare organizes community committees to identify innovations and behavior changes to make themselves more prosperous and resilient, including climate-smart agricultural techniques and women’s empowerment.In Niger, agro-pastoral communities rehabilitated land through the use of zai pits and half-moons, traditional farming techniques that retain rainwater for crops. Along with planting drought-resistant cowpea and forage sorghum, these steps enabled the communities Africare worked with to stockpile 57,000 tons of animal forage. During the 2011 drought, these communities were able to feed their livestock using the stored forage even when grazing land was degraded. Livestock death rates dropped 14 percent, and communities that might have otherwise had to sell off their livestock were able to keep them.Engaging women is key. “In Niger, food security committees are required to have at least 30 percent of their members [be] women,” says Moore, and in Zimbabwe, women make up 80 percent of Africare’s food distribution committees, because in these communities, “food distribution is really something females know a whole lot more about than males.”Child spacing also contributes women’s empowerment by improving women’s health and ability to participate in livelihood activities. Africare’s “husband schools” teach men about the importance of reproductive healthcare. “When we talk about child spacing, it is critically important that the men know as much or more about this as the women do,” Moore says.Community-based capacity building programs can change lives. “The organization of the community affects what the community is doing, who the community is, and in fact the size of the community,” says Moore.
7/20/201815 minutes, 38 seconds
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One Woman’s Story: Preeclampsia Goes Untreated in Ethiopia

“This is a woman who did exactly what she was supposed to do; she did exactly what we encourage pregnant women to do,” said Amy Dempsey of the Population Council at a recent Wilson Center event on World Preeclampsia Day. The Ethiopian woman was suffering from preeclampsia—a preventable condition—but like many pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries, she did not receive the treatment needed to stop it. “Pregnancy was the first time she had ever stepped foot in a health facility,” said Dempsey. Preeclampsia is characterized as the rise of blood pressure during pregnancy. Symptoms include (but are not limited to) headaches, nausea, abdominal pain, changes in vision, and shortness of breath. “She had constant headaches and blurry vision…At each visit, her providers measured her blood pressure but none of them told her that it was high or why they were measuring it,” said Dempsey. “She was told that what she was feeling was normal for a pregnant woman.” Although magnesium sulfate is commonly used to prevent seizures (eclampsia) later on in pregnancy, the patient did not receive treatment for her preeclampsia symptoms. “After one contact point with the health system, she was sent home with paracetamol to treat her headaches,” said Dempsey. In her eighth month of pregnancy, she collapsed. Her husband drove her to their church, where he hoped faith would heal her. “When her condition did not improve, he took her back to their local healthcare facility,” where she was referred to a hospital, treated with magnesium sulfate for her seizures, and given an emergency Caesarean section, said Dempsey.Fortunately, the woman was able to deliver a healthy baby boy. But five months later, she still experiences the same symptoms of headaches and abdominal pain, and has not been back in contact with her health providers since her initial postpartum visits.“She was never told that what she was experiencing were symptoms of preeclampsia,” said Dempsey. “What she went through is fairly common for women in low- and middle-income countries, where challenges that they encounter are quite different from the barriers that women in high-income countries deal with.” Sources: Healthline, Population Council, Preeclampsia Foundation
6/15/20184 minutes, 13 seconds
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Fragile Families: Scaling Up Healthcare in Conflict Settings

“How do our interventions provide an opportunity to really work at some of the core drivers of instability or lack of resilience?” said Larry Cooley from Management Systems International at a recent Wilson Center event on scaling up reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health interventions.In fragile settings—countries in conflict or crisis—scaling up healthcare is increasingly complex, yet incredibly urgent. Maternal mortality in fragile states is almost quadruple that of other low- and middle-income countries, and infant mortality is double. And 60 percent of the countries with the highest maternal and neonatal mortality rates are classified as fragile, conflict, and violence impacted by the World Bank.Understanding the context in fragile states is key, said Cooley. “Governments and markets”—the two main platforms for scaling up health interventions—“are both compromised.” Interventions and programs are often politicized along battle lines.Countries experiencing conflict or instability often cannot rely on public financing, and international support is inconsistent. “Resources tend to flow in very quickly around a crisis,” said Cooley, “and they flow out equally quickly.” Consequently, financing organizations such as the Global Financing Facility (GFF) invest in non-governmental organizations and humanitarian aid programs to secure stable ground.“Always—even within fragile systems—there are people and points of strength that can be built upon,” said Laura Ghiron, vice president of Partners in Expanding Health Quality and Access. “For example, there are those who know the limitations of the system,” said Ghiron, “but are trying…to work around them.”Most importantly, scaling up in fragile settings requires a heavy focus on the system, and not the details of the intervention in and of itself. “We need to be giving appropriate attention to the system that is going to have to deliver that intervention,” said Dr. Stephen Hodgins, associate professor for Global Health at the University of Alberta and editor-in-chief of Global Health: Science and Practice.“Sometimes the interventions that we are introducing make relatively heavy demands,” said Dr. Hodgins, “and we need to make a determination whether that is realistic given the system that we actually have to work with.”At the end of the day, scaling up interventions should be doing no harm, said Cooley, and should be seen as “a chance to really advance some of the building blocks of peace and stability.” Sources: Global Financing Facility, World Bank
6/8/20187 minutes, 33 seconds
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Halvard Buhaug: Climate Changes Affect Conflict Dynamics

“Climate is unquestionably linked to armed conflict,” says Halvard Buhaug, Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, in the latest Wilson Center podcast. “If we produce a map of the world with locations of ongoing and recently entered armed conflicts, and we superimpose on that map different climate zones or climatic regions, we would very easily see a distinct clustering pattern of armed conflicts in warmer climates.”Since 1950, countries that have experienced at least one civil conflict have been an average of 8 degrees Celsius warmer than countries that have remained peaceful, reports Buhaug. Furthermore, rates of conflict are 10 times higher in dry climate zones than in continental climate zones.While these statistics show a clear correlation between climate and conflict, they do not prove that severe climates or changes in climate can cause conflict. Does such a causal connection exist? Maybe, says Buhaug: “There is emerging evidence that climate changes can affect the dynamics of conflict,” including duration, likelihood of a peaceful ending, and the severity of conflict. Extreme weather in particular “can make conflict resolution harder [and] can make it easier for rebel organizations to recruit soldiers.”However, there is yet “no scientific consensus that climatic changes can cause the outbreak of new conflicts,” he says. To identify causal mechanisms, we need more research: We “need to study dogs that don’t bark: societies that regularly experience extreme weather events…but where we do not observe a violent outcome.”Whether or not climate causes conflict, “adaptation and development can be very important in lessening the human costs of that conflict,” he says, especially because “conflict is an important cause of vulnerability to climatic changes.” “Ending armed conflict is the most effective strategy to lower the human consequences of climate change and to create facilities compatible with sustained growth,” says Buhaug.
5/4/201818 minutes, 23 seconds
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Dr. Belen Garijo: “I Believe We Need To Do Better” For Caregivers Across The World

“As many as 865 million of our mothers, daughters, [and] sisters across the globe are not reaching their full potential to contribute to their national economies,” said Dr. Belén Garijo, CEO for healthcare and executive board member of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, at a recent Wilson Center event. The act of caregiving, and the physical and mental health impacts that accompany it, often disproportionately rest on the shoulders of society’s women. These negative health impacts often hold women back from achieving their full potential, according to Dr. Garijo. “When health costs rise, households may not tighten the belt as much for men as for women,” she said. “We are advocating for policies that enhance productivity, and most importantly, advance equity.”Merck KGaA has been investigating their own employee productivity and retention of female workers. According to Dr. Garijo, the pharmaceutical company has implemented policies to support career pathways for women, such as unconscious bias trainings for senior executives, sponsoring high-potential women within the company, and flexible work arrangements. The “Healthy Women, Healthy Economies” toolkit, developed in partnership with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and other partners, analyzes “traditional healthcare access barriers, as well as broader topics, like the impact of unpaid work,” said Dr. Garijo, and relates these issues to “economic impact and success in the workplace.”Accompanying the toolkit is “Embracing Carers,” a global initiative launched by EMD Serono, the branch of Merck KGaA in North America, which is “actively engaging in quantifying the impact of the role of caregiving and advocating for progress on behalf of those filling these rewarding and challenging roles,” said Dr. Garijo. With the support of progressive policies, private and public sector leaders, and male counterparts, we can not only achieve gender equity, but also create a more productive workplace. “We are very committed to addressing the challenges,” said Dr. Garijo, “but we cannot do this alone.”
4/5/201813 minutes, 5 seconds
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Maternal Health Experts: Strategic Partnerships and Data Key to Strengthening Health Systems

“We need to think differently about how we invest in our country programs, and what outcomes we are interested in,” said Dr. Koki Agarwal, director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) and a Vice President with Jhpeigo, at a recent Wilson Center event.USAID’s “Acting on the Call” report recommended 29 evidence-based maternal health interventions, though Kelly Saldaña from USAID’s Bureau of Global Health said that with enough research and data, there are likely many more. “There’s a need to study further interventions…to have a better understanding of how we can link health systems directly to the outcomes we are trying to achieve.”To improve maternal, child, and adolescent health systems globally, we need to “have the ability to use that data to make changes within a health system,” said Dr. Agarwal. Strategic partnerships are essential to building stronger health systems. Donors, in tandem with their country partners, have to bring all the players together, said Dr. Agarwal: “Bringing in that partnership, understanding what is happening across the country at the onset, is a much more successful way of building a sustainable program at the country level.”Supporting country leaders to strengthen health systems is a crucial part of development partners’ jobs, said Mary Taylor, a professor at the Arctic University of Norway. “Country leadership is a process.”
3/16/20187 minutes, 52 seconds
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2.6 Million Babies Are Stillborn Every Year

Every day, 7,100 babies are stillborn. A tragic, complicated problem, stillbirth—which the WHO defines as a baby born with no signs of life at or after 28 weeks' gestation—remains difficult to control and to assess. Some hospitals hide data on stillbirth, due to the shame and stigma associated with it. However, as White Ribbon Alliance CEO Betsy McCallon said at a recent Wilson Center event marking the 30th anniversary of the Safe Motherhood Initiative, stillbirth “had been hidden and neglected, but that is changing.”Distinguishing a stillbirth from a neonatal death can be challenging, particularly when the lack of a skilled birth attendant prevented adequate resuscitation. Despite the complexity, “we need to measure it,” said Barbara Kwast, one of the pioneers of the Safe Motherhood Initiative. While stillbirth was not included in the original SDGs, after strong advocacy by the international global health community and bereaved families, stillbirth is now part of the SDG’s Every Woman Every Child framework. UNFPA’s Petra ten Hoope-Bender cited a new “people’s movement” that is bringing “dynamism, new energy into that agenda.” To reduce the rate of stillbirths, Kwast urged the maternal health community to decrease the rate of birth asphyxia and to use a partograph to help make decisions during labor. “The international community has done an extraordinary amount of work around third stage [of labor] to prevent postpartum hemorrhage,” but now “we need to pay more attention to the first and second stages of labor,” where 50 percent of stillbirths occur.
1/12/20187 minutes, 15 seconds
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“It Can Be Done”: Address Malata’s Dream for Safe Motherhood in Malawi

“Women still die…and they die preventable deaths,” said Address Malata, vice chancellor of the Malawi University of Science and Technology, at a recent Wilson Center event honoring the 30th anniversary of the Safe Motherhood Initiative. Malata—a midwife and the former vice president of the International Confederation of Midwives—told the heart-wrenching story of a pregnant woman who, like so many others, died waiting for transportation. “[Her mother] asked me…‘why was it that we waited for two days before my daughter was transferred to a decent hospital, but it only took a short time to take my daughter back home, and this time she was dead?’” said Malata. “My life has never been the same.”Malawi’s government has started to build new maternity waiting homes, develop community-based interventions, and provide family planning, as well as other programs intended to improve health outcomes for women and mothers. “At the end of the day,” Malata said, “the question is: Is this good enough progress?”Malawi still struggles with retaining an adequate health workforce, especially when it comes to midwives. Malawi needs to increase not only the quantity of midwives that stay in the country, but also the quality of their training and working conditions. “Do they have adequate time to practice when they are going through a midwifery program?” Malata asked. “As an advocate for midwifery, I would like to start protecting the profession,” she said. “There is so much money going to maternal health…but why are women still dying?” she asked, “We are not addressing the core issues that can change women’s lives.” By holding leaders accountable for fulfilling the needs of people on the ground, Malawi can address issues of quality, equity, and dignity for mothers. “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.” Malata’s dream—that no woman dies while giving life—is big. “It is scary,” she said, “but it can be done.”
1/11/201822 minutes, 53 seconds
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Peter Yeboah on Faith-Based Approaches to Global Health

Peter Yeboah, Executive Director, Christian Health Association of Ghana, offers his perspective on faith-based approaches to global health
12/14/201713 minutes, 46 seconds
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Tonny Tumwesigy on Faith-Based Approaches to Global Health

Dr. Tonny Tumwesigye, Executive Director, Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau, gives his remarks on faith-based approaches to global health.
12/14/201712 minutes, 2 seconds
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An Unlikely Ambassador: Ghana Gurung on Snow Leopards and Community Resilience

As a child growing up in Nepal’s mountainous Upper Mustang region, Ghana Gurung understood that his survival depended on the mountains and his community. Today, as senior conservation program director at World Wildlife Fund-Nepal, he works to protect the endangered and elusive snow leopard by improving local communities’ livelihoods and the mountains’ ecosystem.“Survival of the snow leopard is…important for our own survival,” Gurung says in a podcast of his remarks at a recent panel discussion, “Securing the Third Pole: Science, Conservation, and Community Resilience in Asia’s High Mountains,” at the Wilson Center. He didn’t always believe this. As he herded his families’ goats, Gurung knew that in the harsh mountain climate, livestock is livelihood. When a snow leopard attacked and ate his goats, he was angry: “A loss of one animal is a loss of your economy, cash in the bank,” he says. But through his Buddhist faith and his ecological education, he came to see the important role played by snow leopards; as an umbrella species, the leopards are a top predator and indicate the overall health of the ecosystem. Climate change also threatens the snow leopard and its habitat, says Gurung. The tall grasses of his youth are now degraded, as are the habitats that support wild blue sheep, the snow leopards’ primary prey. “It’s not only wildlife and ecosystem that suffers; it’s people [that] suffer a lot,” says Gurung. To adapt to the changing climate, people are resettling alongside riverbeds that are vulnerable to flooding. And more catastrophically, water from melting glaciers could potentially impact billions of people downstream. Just a few months ago, one day of rain flooded 300,000 households. Climate change knows no political borders, and neither do snow leopards. They can travels more than 2,000 kilometers between countries, said Gurung. Twelve countries have joined together to create the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program, a global forum that brings together “countries that don’t normally sit side-by-side to talk too much in political terms,” says Gurung. But the snow leopard—acting as an “ambassador”—brings them together, he says. “You can call it adaptation, or you can call it mere survival strategies,” Gurung says of community-based efforts to protect snow leopards. For example, citizen scientists from local Sherpa communities set up camera traps, collect scat for DNA analysis, and help put radio collars on the the cats. “It’s not all about ecology of conservation for snow leopards, it’s about community,” he says. “The community holds the key to the survival of the species.”
11/22/201714 minutes, 43 seconds
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As Fiji Leads COP-23, Camari Koto Reflects on Climate Resilience in the South Pacific Islands

Climate change poses an undeniable threat to small island states, but many islanders do not even know what climate change is, says Camari Koto, an indigenous Fijian academic and educator at the University of the South Pacific and member of the Resilience Academy, in our latest podcast. “They know it’s happening, they are unconsciously [taking] adaptive responses,” and certainly feel the brunt of its effects, she says. “But they don’t see climate change as an immediate threat.” As Fiji presides over the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP-23), perspectives in the South Pacific are beginning to shift. The first island nation to host the conference, Fiji is showcasing its leadership on climate change issues for both the global community and Fijians themselves, Koto says. “Our government was able to engage right [at] the grassroots level in creating awareness” within Fijian communities, says Koto, an advocate for building sustainable livelihoods and community resilience. It is especially important for the younger generation to be sensitized to climate risks “to start thinking about the threats that we have now,” she says, “and about ways in which they can help to make things better.” We must “prompt them to think about ways forward.”“It’s the community working together, collaborating, and valuing their relationship” to one another that is at the core of livelihood resilience, says Koto. Community is “the platform of our forefathers.”
11/18/20178 minutes, 54 seconds
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Can We Fall in Love With the Problem? Monica Kerrigan on Innovations in Maternal Health

“Innovation happens when there are pioneers that stick with it,” says Monica Kerrigan, vice president of innovations at Jhpiego in a podcast from the Wilson Center’s Maternal Health Initiative. At a recent panel discussion on “Reaching the Farthest Behind: Facility-Level Innovations in Maternal Health,” Kerrigan shone a light on some of the challenges facing innovators trying to change the way we care for mothers and their children.According to Kerrigan, one of the key components of delivering truly innovative solutions is partnership. “We need to use our partnerships to bend the curve,” Kerrigan says. “We at Jhpiego are good at things; other people are better at other things.” Effective partners harness one another’s comparative advantages to plan for scalability and adaptability. “When we think about scaling up,” she says, “we have to think about it now, in the design process.” Even as these developments are being rolled out, Kerrigan warns against “falling in love with the solution”—investing time, energy, and money into just one idea. Instead, she urges innovators to “fall in love with the problem” first. After years of work in maternal health innovations, Kerrigan admits that one of her biggest challenges is learning to more effectively use data to change plans.Innovations are not always shiny and new products; they may be restructured business models or processes. For example, the Low Dose High Frequency model, developed by Jhpiego, incorporates “targeted spurts of training that would allow people to learn faster, better, more affordably, and sustainably,” she says, preventing the loss of productivity often caused by removing healthcare personnel from their positions to train in classrooms. “[Change] is part of prototyping and adapting, and willingness to look at what you are doing well and continue to do it,” says Kerrigan. “Let’s deliver on our promises to mothers and newborns.”
10/20/201718 minutes, 32 seconds
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Backdraft #9: Joshua Busby on Mapping Hotspots of Climate and Security Vulnerability

Maps help us to grasp complex ideas, such as patterns of risk and vulnerability, but the stories they tell can have significant implications. “It’s very difficult to validate that what you’re capturing in the maps is representative of real-world phenomenon,” says Joshua Busby in this week’s “Backdraft” episode, describing his efforts to map climate and security hotspots in Africa and Asia. “You have to be modest in what you think the maps can tell policymakers, but also realize there is some seductive power in the way maps simplify complex reality.”The maps produced by Busby’s Climate Change and African Political Stability and Complex Emergencies and Political Stability projects are designed to help planners, donors, and national governments “shore up resilience on the ground.” “The real question that we have to ask and answer all the time is, ‘Do the maps have any basis in reality? Are they useful?’ ” says Busby, associate professor from the LBJ School at the University of Texas, Austin. When Busby and his team traveled to East Africa, they found that some of the challenges associated with chronic water scarcity were missing from their work, so they incorporated new indicators and updated the maps to more accurately represent the current situation. Without this “groundtruthing,” the maps could be misinterpreted and used to support interventions and other policy actions that could produce negative results, such as conflict.Building Consensus on Climate ActionWith proper groundtruthing, maps can be useful tools for reaching new audiences—and for reaching across the aisle. To build political consensus on climate change in the United States, Busby suggests focusing on related challenges, like water’s connection to security. “Because of its centrality to human wellbeing, [water] creates a reservoir of political goodwill that goes across political ideologies, and that’s why we’ve had great success in the U.S. government in creating a groundswell of sustained support for water and sanitation projects.”However, a focus on water is not a silver bullet, especially if that focus is primarily on providing infrastructure, or “taps and toilets,” without supporting the governance mechanisms needed to manage resources sustainably. “What’s been lost in this wider discussion are concerns about water and security and the institutions both at the national and international [level] that can shore up the ability of countries to manage water resources on their own,” says Busby.Donors should support efforts to build the capacity of countries to sustainably manage their water resources, particularly resources that are shared with other countries. As climate change increases both floods and droughts, poorly managed water resources could spur political instability both within and between countries.
9/29/201717 minutes, 16 seconds
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Doris Chou on Measuring Maternal Health in the SDG Era

“How do we present things in a responsible way?” asks Dr. Doris Chou of the World Health Organization (WHO) during a Wilson Center panel discussion on “Maternal and Women’s Health, Two Years In: Measuring Progress Towards Meeting the SDGs.” “My job is to make sure things don’t get misinterpreted,” says Chou. WHO’s Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) strategy, which was published in 2015, informed the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) indicator index for maternal health. Chou explains that the EPMM’s themes “speak to empowering women and girls, ensuring country engagement and leadership, and…improving metrics and measurement.” To ensure accuracy, we need to use have clear shared definitions of maternal health terminology. “What do we mean by maternal death?” Chou asks. “There is a definition, but the interpretation of that definition, we found in the MDG monitoring, varied widely.” Miscommunication and misunderstanding between English and Spanish definitions of the term led to “three years of political discussion—on one word,” she explains.Accuracy also requires seeking input from the most important people: the women and adolescents who are at the center of the data. “Can we make sure that everybody who needs to be at the table is at the table to think this through? For instance…when we talk about measuring essential adolescent services, what is essential? ‘Essential’ to you and me might be very different than ‘essential’ to the adolescent that we are trying to reach,” says Chou.“We have to take stock of the old, while we are moving forward and trying to look really far in the future so that we can really always make sure that things are harmonized,” Chou explains, but sometimes it is necessary to stop and understand why we are doing what we are doing.“We are really in a fantastic time that we can really think about this and make a change,” says Chou. “Everyone, everywhere, has something to do.”
8/17/201722 minutes, 48 seconds
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Simon Nicholson on Climate Engineering Technologies

In this podcast postscript, Simon Nicholson goes into detail about the array of climate engineering technologies being researched.
7/20/20179 minutes, 15 seconds
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Backdraft #8: Simon Nicholson on Climate Engineering

When the Paris Agreement set an ambitious goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the negotiators put climate engineering on the table, says Simon Nicholson, professor at American University in this week’s episode of Backdraft. Once the purview of science fiction, a majority of the models run by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) required large-scale use of climate engineering technologies to keep additional warming below 2 degrees. “Nobody who was arguing for that 1.5 degree target at Paris was thinking in their heads we should start shooting sulfate particles into the atmosphere,” says Nicholson. They were looking at the science and recognizing that without aggressive action a lot of people will suffer. But, says Nicholson, it’s not clear that the target is attainable through traditional mitigation alone. “The entire conversation is in some ways an unintended consequence of not doing enough. Very few people want to talk about doing climate engineering. The reason you get a growing number of scientists and policymakers [discussing climate engineering], is because the situation is getting pretty desperate.”There are two types of climate engineering technologies – solar radiation management and carbon dioxide removal. While carbon dioxide removal tends to be slow-acting and expensive, solar radiation management is fast-acting and seemingly cheap. “One thing to really pay attention to is that each of the technologies has its own risk profile,” says Nicholson, the co-founder of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment. “We have to parse them out and discuss them one by one.”Both technologies have significant environmental, political and social, and existential implications. For example, bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), a carbon dioxide removal technology used in the IPCC modeling, would require an immense industrial infrastructure to capture carbon and move it to storage. There would be massive changes in land use, which could generate political and social conflicts. Determining who gets a voice in the decision-making process will be extremely complicated and could increase the vulnerability of already vulnerable communities, says Nicholson. While faster-acting and less expensive than carbon removal technologies like BECCS, solar radiation management technologies, like stratospheric aerosol injection, could have devastating environmental consequences. “Even if we get it right, there is potential for downsides,” says Nicholson. “The biggest problem is the social and political transformation that’s needed so that long-term human beings and the way that we live are compatible with ecological realities,” says Nicholson. “Solar radiation is not a fix… And yet, one could imagine politicians and other actors try to sell it as a fix.”Currently, there is no formal governance system overseeing climate engineering, and Nicholson suggests that this may be an even bigger hurdle than even the environmental impacts. A successful climate intervention would require at least a couple hundred years to achieve a significant decrease in temperature, and stopping an intervention prematurely could lead to a spike in warming. “How do you build a system of governance that lasts across multiple centuries?” he asks. “It might not be the technological challenges that sink something like stratospheric aerosol injection; it may be that the political conversation is just too tough. We just can’t find a way to put together a governance arrangement that’s robust enough that the world community buys it.” “Although negotiators didn’t intend for this to be the case, now we’re kind of locked into a conversation where climate engineering is on the table,” says Nicholson. “If these [technologies] do start to come onto the table, then they can’t be used as cover for inaction. And that is perhaps the biggest political challenge in this space.”
7/20/201723 minutes, 43 seconds
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Michael Kugelman on Pakistan’s “Nightmare” Water Scenario

“Water scarcity is a nightmare scenario that is all too real and all but inevitable in Pakistan,” says Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Wilson Center’s Asia Program, in this week’s podcast. Pakistan faces the intersecting challenges of population growth, inefficient infrastructure and policies, deep societal inequality, and climate change, leading to a situation where the country is “voraciously consuming water even as water tables are plummeting precipitously,” says Kugelman. Not only are water problems exacerbating internal tensions, they’re complicating relations with fellow riparian and upstream rival, India.The degree of Pakistan’s dilemma is profound. A 2015 International Monetary Fund report found that Pakistan’s water consumption is the fourth highest in the world and its water intensity rate (the amount of water needed for every unit of GDP) is also among the highest. Groundwater reserves, the “last resort of water security,” says Kugelman, is a “safety net that is fraying.” He cites a NASA study that found the Indus Basin aquifer, shared between India and Pakistan, is the second most overdrawn in the world.High levels of consumption are driven by the “robust demand of a rapidly growing population, which now numbers close to 200 million people,” says Kugelman. The annual growth rate is around 1.8 percent, and is projected to stay above 1 percent until at least 2030. Poor infrastructure and policy also contribute to the dilemma. “Pakistan is unfortunately rather notorious for its leaky, dilapidated pipes, canals, and dams,” says Kugelman, which in turn supply a huge agricultural sector that guzzles water at an enormous rate. The government subsidizes water-intensive crops, like sugar, while encouraging inefficient irrigation methods, like flood irrigation. Overall, agriculture may account for 90 percent of Pakistan’s water usage, says Kugelman. In “feudal-like conditions” of deep inequality, tenants struggle to access water on land controlled by elites, who face little scrutiny in how they use it. “It’s been said that land ownership is as a proxy for water rights,” says Kugelman. “If you don’t own land, your right to water is highly tenuous.” While these factors drive up demand, climate change is imperiling supply. The glaciers of the Western Himalayas, the headwaters of the Indus River and its tributaries, have been melting rapidly. “The government in Pakistan has claimed that glacial melt on Pakistan’s mountains has increased by nearly 25 percent in recent years,” says Kugelman. “The once mighty Indus River has slowed to essentially a trickle in parts of the southern province of Sindh.” Many in Pakistan, including anti-India terror groups, see these problems and accuse India of hoarding water and depleting rivers that flow across the border. Some believe the only solution is to “liberate” the disputed border areas of Jammu and Kashmir. But Kugelman says there is no evidence to support this accusation and that India is “more of a convenient scapegoat than a genuine explanation.” India has mostly built “run of the river” dams that do not store appreciable amounts of water and thus do not keep water from flowing across the border, he says. The Indus Waters Treaty also gives Pakistan the rights to the three largest rivers of the basin, amounting to 80 percent of flows, says Kugelman. “The broader reality is that there has actually been a fair level of cooperation between these two enemies in managing transboundary water resources in the Indus Basin.” Climate change and rapid population growth are changing conditions significantly and there have been calls on both sides for the treaty to be renegotiated, but Kugelman believes there is not enough trust between the two for a renegotiation to be productive at the moment. “It is 100 percent wrong to claim that water is a soft issue, that the two sides can use water as a confidence building measure,” he asserts. Resolution of Pakistan’s water problems will require mainly domestic changes, but in the public eye are more connected with cross-border, nationalist contentions, a dynamic that only entrenches problems. “You cannot separate transboundary water management from the ugly, complex, political disputes in India-Pakistan relations,” he says. “There is really nothing apolitical about transboundary water management on the Indian Subcontinent.”Michael Kugelman spoke at the Wilson Center on May 9, 2017.Friday Podcasts are also available for download on iTunes and Google Play.
5/25/201713 minutes, 34 seconds
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Christophe Angely on Overcoming Pessimism for the Sahel

The Sahel region of Africa is a wide band that marks the transition from the Sahara Desert in the north to the wetter, sub-tropical regions in the south. The Sahelian countries have some of the most rapidly growing populations in the world and have faced significant environmental change over the past century. In recent years, insurgencies have surged in several countries, new terrorist groups have become active, there have been several droughts, and migration has increased.“We firmly believe that without development, the security situation in the Sahel will worsen, generating enormous human and financial costs for countries in and around the region as well as in Europe,” says Christophe Angely of the France-based Foundation for International Development Study and Research (FERDI) in this week’s podcast.FERDI recently completed a two-year transdisciplinary research project of the region, pulling information from researchers on the ground and from France’s military intervention in Mali. “We got a very alarming message about what was happening,” Angely says – and about people’s outlook.There are major demographic, economic, social, environmental, and institutional challenges, but they are not insurmountable, he says. “Our plea seeks to overcome the prevailing pessimism about the Sahel’s economic potential, which leads some to believe…that the only solution for people is to migrate outside the Sahel zone.”Angely’s first proposal? Reinvest in education. The international community has dramatically reduced aid for education in the Sahel since 2009, says Angely. In 2014, France allocated just 13 percent of its programmable aid to the education sector, and the United States and other multilateral donors allocated only 2 percent. Combined with rapid growth in school enrollment, thanks to youthful and growing populations, this has left Sahelian states unable to fund education alone.Sustainable Development Goal 4, to ensure inclusive, equitable, and quality education for all, “demands…a rethink of the funding strategies of education, given that national government, private funders, and international donors are increasingly difficult to coordinate,” Angely explains. He calls for not only more schools, but better training for teachers and supervision that can protect girls from the kind of violence that has played out in northern Nigeria and discourages many from attending.FERDI also recommends a new approach to agriculture. Instead of sticking with historic patterns of expanding surface area to increase production, Angely argues that policymakers should encourage farmers to improve yields on existing plots. He also calls for selecting more diverse crops, encouraging young people to get involved in the industry, smoothing price variability for exporters, and promoting better coordination in the sector generally.These solutions not only promote food security, they provide benefits to local economies. “Small-scale processing food or agriculture is probably where you get the most reserve of jobs,” Angely says.Angely’s final recommendation is to strengthen national administration capacities. The Sahel countries need better democratic models, he says; in many, democracies are “more formal than real.” Elected officials tend to focus on reelection and capitalizing on differences between groups instead of responding to the needs of all citizens. Donors should work to create long-term programs that not only support key ministries such as education, but are also able to manage pressures such as food insecurity without creating conflict or triggering violence, he says. “People need to rediscover their face in progress and feel more confident about the rule of their states. This is why it must be the objectives of all actions in the region to favor a balance between quick impact activities and actions that are effective over the long term.”Christophe Angely spoke at the Wilson Center on April 25. Download his slides to follow along.Friday Podcasts are also available for download on iTunes.
5/18/201714 minutes, 4 seconds
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A Little Respect: Saraswathi Vedam on Reducing Over-Intervention in Maternal Care Through More Autonomy

Governments and health organizations have made remarkable gains in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity rates around the world. Much of those gains have been driven by increasing capacity, directing more women to hospitals and clinics to ensure they get modern medical care. Increasingly, however, experts are realizing that this push has brought challenges of its own.“We have these huge numbers of women going into hospitals with three to a bed and overcrowded hospitals and terrible conditions, and we have not improved the outcomes,” says Saraswathi Vedam, an associate professor and lead investigator at the University of British Columbia’s Birth Place Lab, in this week’s podcast. “Institutional birth has not been shown to be the answer,” she says. Instead, “it’s about skilled attendants and respectful care.”Under crowded and hectic conditions, many women feel pressure to undergo unnecessary obstetric interventions that are both expensive and dangerous, including Caesarean sections (C-sections) and episiotomies, a phenomenon The Lancet refers to as “too much, too soon.” “When we talk about interventions and too much too soon,” Vedam says, “we need to understand who’s making the decisions, what’s driving the decisions.” The Birth Place Lab created the Mother’s Autonomy in Decision Making (MADM) scale and the Mothers on Respect (MOR) index to help quantify the experiences of expecting women and families and record their perceptions of respect and agency throughout the process. Among the nearly 3,400 women from various backgrounds who took part in the Changing Childbirth in British Columbia study, for example, 95 percent said it was “very important” or “important” that they lead the decisions about their own pregnancy, birth, and baby care.Yet, the bulk of the decisions are being driven by providers. Among respondents in three recent maternal care studies, “two in five women felt pressured to have a C-section,” Vedam says. “It wasn’t whether they had the intervention [that affected their perception of care], it was whether or not they felt involved in decision-making.” Women consistently responded to more personalized and higher quality care. Midwifery clients reported more respectful treatment wherever they delivered, Vedam says, as well as higher autonomy scores. “We think that it has something to do with time,” she says. When women have enough time to consider their options and make more informed choices, maternal care is more collaborative, and costly and risky over-interventions are avoided.Saraswathi Vedam spoke at the Wilson Center on April 24, 2017.Friday Podcasts are also available for download on iTunes and Google Play.
5/11/201719 minutes, 35 seconds
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Backdraft #7: Janani Vivekananda on What Renewable Energy Projects Can Learn From Oil and Future-Proofing Humanitarian Responses

As more and more development and humanitarian programs contend with climate-related problems, there are important lessons learned from past experience that should not be forgotten, says Janani Vivekananda, formerly of International Alert and now with adelphi, in this week’s episode of “Backdraft.”In her work with International Alert, Vivekananda found there was often a misconception that all renewable energy projects are an “unalloyed good.” But renewable energy efforts still require access to resources, like land and water, which can be highly contested (listen to Stacy VanDeveer in Backdraft #2 for more on this). Traditional extractive industries like oil and gas have grappled with conflict risks in the communities they work for decades, to greater and lesser degrees of success, but little of that experience has transferred over to the renewable sector, she says. Vivekananda says that development actors looking to encourage renewable energy projects should strive to understand local power dynamics as much as possible – who controls assets, and is it through formal or informal agreements, treaties, etc. “Then understand how your intervention is going to affect and change this and who the winners and losers are going to be.” There can be significant financial and social costs when conflict-sensitivity is not built into program design. Vivekananda gives the example of a wind farm in northwest Kenya proposed by a large international bank. The consultation process focused on elites at the district level, but did not include local non-elites who would be directly affected by the project. Consequently, the project broke down as the project organizers realized too late that the land required was already highly contested. “These local contextual conflict dynamics were not fed into program design,” says Vivekananda, “and it was a very expensive way to learn about the need to ensure that an intervention was conflict-sensitive.”Humanitarian interventions are another response that by their very nature – immediate, short-term, and urgent – often do not plan for longer-term impacts. As groups rush to fill the burgeoning global need, “we’re seeing then that humanitarian interventions are climate blind and conflict blind,” says Vivekananda. Refugee camps, like Zaatari in Jordan which houses nearly 80,000 refugees, are often built without sustainable water or energy use plans. Groundwater extraction in Zaatari has inflated the local water market making it difficult for surrounding communities to afford water, thereby increasing tensions, says Vivekananda. To address gaps in planning, Vivekananda says a shift in mindset is needed not only at the practitioner level, but at the political level. By incorporating a sustainable development and conflict-sensitive lens at the outset, interventions can not only help avoid conflict but actively increase cohesion and trust. In Kibera, a large informal settlement in Nairobi, Vivekananda and her colleagues saw firsthand the peace dividends that can come from a forward-looking, participatory planning approach. They found that the projects most likely to increase community resilience – to both conflict and climate risks like flooding – were the ones that “through their process involve people in decisions and planning and are participatory by nature and therefore build trust between the communities affected and the government.” Interventions with a single sector approach – e.g., moving people from informal shacks to more sturdy structures – sometimes inadvertently undermined social networks and ultimately had a negative impact on community resilience. “That social cohesion is critical and if you’re intervening in a way that dislocates that, undermines that, it’s unlikely to take hold,” says Vivekananda.The “Backdraft” podcast series is hosted and co-produced by Lauren Herzer Risi and Sean Peoples, a freelance multimedia producer based in Washington, DC.Friday Podcasts are also available for download on iTunes and Google Play.
4/13/201716 minutes, 10 seconds
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Backdraft #6: Jesse Ribot on Why It’s So Important for Climate Interventions to Work Through Local Democracy

In a research project spanning more than two dozen case studies on environmental governance in 13 sub-Saharan African countries, Jesse Ribot, professor at the University of Illinois, and colleagues found that while many forest management projects claimed to be working with communities, they were in fact undermining local democracy in various ways.For example, Ribot says in this week’s episode of “Backdraft” that REDD, REDD-readiness, and other forest governance projects often circumvented locally elected officials for the sake of convenience and in response to pressure for quantifiable results. The workarounds were done “almost systematically, and not in ways that were subtle.”Why does this matter? Local democratic processes are “the nursery of democracy,” says Ribot. “People learn democratic process in local democracy and they go other places within their country and up the hierarchy.” When you have a system of decision-making that is accountable to the people, you have greater equity and stronger outcomes for the population.“Legitimacy follows power,” says Ribot, “and if you’re a project and you recognize a local actor as your interlocutor, your local representative, you’re empowering them, and that legitimates them.” Similarly, when development interventions ignore locally elected leaders, they delegitimize them.Where communities had more than one authority with overlapping responsibilities – e.g., elected local government, customary chiefs, and administrators from central government – development practitioners often chose to work with one of the traditional or centralized authorities over the democratically elected local government. One reason for this was that practitioners operated on the assumption that the customary chief spoke for the people. Digging deeper, Ribot and his colleagues found that while the customary chief often did speak for the people, their opinions were rarely accurately represented. The democratically elected local government was able to more effectively reflect the interests of the people.Ultimately, regardless of the pressure to produce results that may follow climate mitigation and adaptation programs, Ribot says the process matters.Rather than the climate event itself, it’s the vulnerability of a community that causes a catastrophe, says Ribot. Often people are not vulnerable to climate events because they lack adaptive capacity, but because of overwhelmed, poor, or exploitive governance. Undermining what democratic governance there is, therefore, is unlikely to produce positive results.The “Backdraft” podcast series is hosted and co-produced by Lauren Herzer Risi and Sean Peoples, a freelance multimedia producer based in Washington, DC.Friday Podcasts are also available for download on iTunes and Google Play.
4/6/201720 minutes, 34 seconds
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Samara Ferrara on How Midwifery Can Reduce Unnecessary Surgeries and Save Lives in Mexico

“Midwives have the knowledge, midwives have the skills, and have the heart and compassion to serve mothers and babies in the most perfect way,” explains Samara Ferrara in this week’s podcast. But they often face demoralizing conditions, poor pay, and in some cases disdain from doctors.A new survey, Midwives' Voices, Midwives Realities, reports that “nearly 300,000 women and 2.7 million newborns die during the first 28 days of life, many from preventable causes.” Led by the World Health Organization, International Confederation of Midwives, and White Ribbon Alliance, this first-of-its kind survey highlights how midwives can buttress efforts to reduce maternal and newborn fatalities but also explores the everyday challenges they encounter around the world.As a young midwifery leader and board member of Mexico’s Midwife Association, Ferrara advocates for a greater role for her colleagues in Mexico’s efforts to make childbirth safer.“Twenty years ago, almost half the births were attended by midwives,” she says of Mexico. Now it is only two percent. “Ninety-five percent of births are attended by physicians, so births are over-medicalized,” she says. Mexico has among the highest rate of cesarean sections in the world.More midwives could help reduce unnecessary surgeries and the complications that come with them. But there are few opportunities for growth and recognition within the broader health system, Ferrara says, which discourages new midwives and professional advancement. As well, “the hospitals don’t accept home births easily,” making it difficult to register newborns and obtain a birth certificate for practicing midwives and their patients.“In total we only have 100 midwives in the whole country,” Ferrara says. In fact, there are only five midwifery schools Mexico’s 31 states. Of the recommendations in the report, Ferrara cited greater educational opportunities as a big first step to bridging the gap between private-practice midwives and the country’s health system. “We need to start by education in every level,” she says, in order “to have more professional ways to advance.” Additionally, Ferrara points out a public perception gap since “people don’t know what midwifery is about.” In order to raise awareness, she reiterates the important role midwives play in providing quality, safe childrearing expertise. “We know what women need,” says Ferrara, “we know what babies need, and we need to be there providing the highest standard of care.”Samara Ferrara spoke at the Wilson Center on February 27, 2017.Friday Podcasts are also available for download on iTunes and Google Play.
3/30/20179 minutes, 18 seconds
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Backdraft #5: Ken Conca on the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Water Conflict and Cooperation

In international development, conflict is often used as shorthand for violent conflict, and avoiding conflict is considered a priority. But “it’s important to recognize that conflict is not always bad and cooperation is not always good,” says Ken Conca in this week’s episode of “Backdraft.” New norms and ideas in international water law and governance, for example, like water as a human right and the importance of protecting the environment, have been spearheaded by activists, local communities, and networks of actors who were “outside of the system,” says Conca, professor of international relations at American University. Their ideas and priorities only became part of the conversation by confronting the powers that be. “People who hadn’t been part of participatory political process were sort of pushing their way in, creating conflict in the process, but doing it in a way that was actually quite productive in terms of better policies,” he says. If you’re interested in improving governance of a basin or equity, such “productive conflict” isn’t necessarily something to avoid and may be in fact be something to encourage.Likewise, not all cooperation is inherently good. Conca points to the World Bank requirement for a cooperative agreement to be in place between riparian nations in a shared basin before lending money. “That’s a good practice as far as it goes…but under those circumstances there’s a danger that cooperation starts to become the end in itself, rather than simply the means to an end… It’s important that we look at the content of that cooperation.” Collaboration at one level, like national governments deciding to modernize a basin, may impose costs at another level, threatening traditional livelihoods or even displacing people. “If one of our responses to living in a climate change word is going to be to rework our infrastructure around water, then we’re inherently going to be creating controversies, we’re going to inherently be in the space of conflict, we’re inherently going to be creating winners and losers,” says Conca. To minimize the chances of violent conflict and maximize the chances of sustainable, equitable development, Conca suggests a few guiding principles:1. Decentralize: Rather than focusing on one large project, governments should promote a “broader suite of responses” that can be more targeted and flexible. 2. Remember the end goal: Especially with large infrastructure projects, which pose significant technical and financial challenges, Conca warns that the project itself can become an end in and of itself. “It’s important to pull back and ask what are the water-energy needs of the basin and how do we achieve them in a low-cost and robust, flexible manner,” he says. “If we take that approach and start to pit the more familiar kinds of responses to the new kinds of alternatives – solar, wind, renewable, small-scale hydro – you start to see many more possibilities.”3. Be conflict-sensitive: Tools like USAID’s Water and Conflict Toolkit can help identify the winners and losers at the start of an intervention, allowing project designers and implementers to better manage conflict of all kinds, including productive and non-productive, and peacebuilding opportunities.As climate change interacts with natural, social, and political processes, the complexity of responding will only increase. “The central premise of Backdraft,” says Conca, “is there’s as much conflict potential in the policies you embrace and the adaptations and in the adjustments to the problem that you make as there is in the problem itself.” The “Backdraft” podcast series is hosted and co-produced by Lauren Herzer Risi and Sean Peoples, a freelance multimedia producer based in Washington, DC.Friday Podcasts are also available for download on iTunes and Google Play.
3/23/201725 minutes, 38 seconds
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Julia McQuaid on the Complex Link Between Water and Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa

Does global water stress matter for U.S. national security, and if so, how? That’s a major focus of the next CNA Military Advisory report, says Julia McQuaid of the CNA Corporation in this week's podcast. She talks about the preliminary findings of the report and how the national security community views water. Understandably, the primary focus of much of the U.S. national security apparatus has been terrorist organizations like ISIS and Al Qaeda. “Most of these groups and these threats are operating in areas where there is deep instability and/or are hot conflict zones,” says McQuaid. “Incidentally many of them are also experiencing the conditions of water stress.” The correlation has made water a natural point of interest. But while there is an implicit sense that water stress and conflict are connected, there is little comprehensive research that defines and articulates the link. Speculative work predicting “water wars” that do not come to pass has led many in the military to question, “when the rubber hits the road, how do these conditions lead to conflict?” says McQuaid, who has worked closely with Pentagon personnel in her time at CNA.She explained that the conflicts predominant in the Middle East and North Africa – insurgencies, civil wars, and terrorism – are always the result of multiple factors. “Many involve governments and non-state actors competing or vying for the support and acquiescence of population, and/or they’re trying to control physical territory. And in most cases, the entities opposing the groups are trying to overthrow the government and replace it ultimately. That’s the end goal.” No single factor can be isolated as the source of conflict in these cases, including water. Should water be considered among the most important factors, however? “The answer is a resounding, yes,” McQuaid says. “Our research shows that it is a factor, and that as water stress gets worse, as it’s projected to do, it will likely play an increasing role as a factor in instability and conflict.”“We know it’s not a straight line,” she says. “What water stress conditions can do and tend to do is to act as an additional stressor or multiplier on top of preexisting challenges that in many cases are also not being addressed.” She points to Northern Nigeria and Libya as regions where longstanding issues of corruption, lack of economic opportunity, and migration have combined with water problems in dangerous ways.Migration in particular has complex and compounding effects of its own. McQuaid explains that when people move, they usually move to areas already occupied, which can lead to economic stress and resource shortages if not well managed. “The migration in and of itself isn’t a problem, but it triggers the second and third order affects that can be and often are.”Good government can mitigate these stresses and help solve grievances before they become violent; overwhelmed or bad governments can make things worse. “It can be an issue of political will in areas that don’t matter to central governments…and also it can be a resource and capacity issue where they know it’s happening but they simply don’t have the tools, the technology, the know-how to respond.” Early warning systems and analytical tools could help to a certain degree, says McQuaid. The difficult question for the military though is what does a warfighting organization do about water stress? “Killing bad guys and working with partners to kill bad guys will only get us so far in this fight,” she tells the Wilson Center’s Sherri Goodman. “At some point we’re going to have to find effective measures to deal with these underlying things that are contributing to the types of environments that are allowing these types of groups to take hold.” Julia McQuaid spoke at the Wilson Center on March 1, 2017.Friday Podcasts are also available for download on iTunes and Google Play.
3/16/201715 minutes, 15 seconds