Tune in to our podcast to hear expert speakers on the links between global environmental change, security, development, and health. The Environmental Change and Security Program is a 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 www.wilsoncenter.org/ecsp and www.newsecuritybeat.org.This podcast was formerly titled "Friday Podcasts From ECSP and MHI," and included contributions from the Wilson Center's Maternal Health Initiative (MHI).
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.
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(conti
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.”
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.
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.
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?’”
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