On 9 December 2021, US President Joe Biden will hold the ‘Summit for Democracy’, where he will likely repeat his emphasis on a battle between democracies and autocracies in the 21st century. Biden’s aim to promote democratic renewal around the world is admirable, and China needs to tame its authoritarian tendencies. But framing US–China strategic competition in terms of democracy versus autocracy is a poor strategy.
The use of coal needs to be cut back as quickly as possible. Activists in developed countries are calling for new regulatory controls over global finance to curb investments in coal. They have pointed to recent announcements by China promising to end the financing of foreign coal-fired power plants as a clear sign that coal is on the way out in Asia.
As the world’s largest democracy, with 1.4 billion people, India is an indispensable actor for democratic cooperation, especially beyond the West. For the Indian government, the future of democracy is being played out in Asia and Africa, where states are experimenting with competing governance models amidst China’s growing autocratic influence. More than a moral issue, India sees democracy as a factor that can facilitate convergence with fellow democracies towards a free and open Indo-Pacific.
In 2018, the state of New York committed an unprecedented investment—$65 million—to a new place-based initiative to revitalize Buffalo’s East Side. There is perhaps no place in the region where wealth generation is more important: People of color make up 80% of the East Side’s population, and decades of disinvestment have left residents with limited opportunities for economic mobility.
Mireya Solís, director of the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings, joins David Dollar for a conversation on reforming and modernizing the World Trade Organization so that it can meet today’s challenges, which include response to the pandemic, shoring up global supply chains, increasing living standards, and environmental sustainability. Solís highlights erosion in the WTO’s three central functions and asks whether its members can prevent it from becoming irrelevant.
President Joe Biden has set the table for the world’s first-ever summit devoted to building both national and international political will for democratic renewal. Given backsliding in democratic governance, human rights, and rule of law around the world, and the rising threat posed by authoritarian leaders in China and Russia, the timing is propitious, if not overdue.
The eighth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) ministerial meeting that took place in Dakar, Senegal, concluded just last week. Like previous FOCAC meetings, China presented its vision for China-Africa relations for the next three years, this time under the theme “Deepen China-Africa Partnership and Promote Sustainable Development to Build a China-Africa Community with a Shared Future in the New Era.” A review of the content, however, illustrates significant shifts in China’s priorities, emphasis, and approaches from its earlier patterns. In fact, the Financial Times has lamented the quantitative reduction of China’s financial commitments from $60 billion in 2018 to $40 billion this year. However, it is the qualitative changes that raise bigger questions as to whether China is leaving Africa after two decades of robust and ever-growing engagement. Some of the shifts could be temporary and tactical. However, the impact of the others could be far-reaching and long-term.
The ongoing policy discussions about climate change resilience and the role of prevention and insurance, including the recent blog by Matthew Kahn and Somik Lall, reminded me of the 1985 science fiction movie “Back to the Future,” where a teenager is accidentally sent three decades back in a time-traveling automobile built by his eccentric scientist friend “Doc” Brown. It may be indeed worthwhile to go back to the future and return to the foundations of the economics of risk and insurance because some fundamental concepts developed more than half a century ago may be still very relevant to inform policy actions on climate change resilience.
This special edition of our Democracy Playbook updates our 2019 compendium of evidence-based democracy best practices with the research and developments of the eventful past two years. Most importantly, we here extract from that rich body of knowledge ten proposed pro-democracy commitments for consideration by participants in the upcoming first Summit for Democracy on December 9-10, 2021, and the subsequent year of action. We break down each of the ten commitments into a series of specific and measurable steps that all stakeholders can undertake to renew and strengthen democracy, fight democratic backsliding, and usher in an era of improved governance. After the Summit, we will update the Playbook again with the best of the learnings from that gathering for use as we build towards the 2022 follow-up event a year from now.