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Climate Change, Migration, and Conflict - Addressing Complex Crisis Scenarios in the 21st Century

by Michael Werz, Laura Conley

The costs and consequences of climate change on our world will define the 21st century. Even if nations across our planet were to take immediate steps to rein in carbon emissions—an unlikely prospect—a warmer climate is inevitable. As the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, noted in 2007, human-created “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level.”

As these ill effects progress they will have serious implications for U.S. national security interests as well as global stability—extending from the sustainability of coastal military installations to the stability of nations that lack the resources, good governance, and resiliency needed to respond to the many adverse consequences of climate change. And as these effects accelerate, the stress will impact human migration and conflict around the world.

It is difficult to fully understand the detailed causes of migration and economic and political instability, but the growing evidence of links between climate change, migration, and conflict raise plenty of reasons for concern. This is why it’s time to start thinking about new and comprehensive answers to multifaceted crisis scenarios brought on or worsened by global climate change. As Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, argues, “The question we must continuously ask ourselves in the face of scientific complexity and uncertainty, but also growing evidence of climate change, is at what point precaution, common sense or prudent risk management demands action.”

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The Arab Spring, One Year On

by Christine Lagarde

Rejecting the Past, Defining the Future

Let me start with the context. As we all know, almost one year ago, everything changed for the people of the Middle East. The region embarked upon a historic transformation. But at the time, few realized where this journey would lead. When Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire last year, who could have predicted that his tragic death would herald a whole new Middle East?

Who would have foreseen that this act of desperation against a violation of human dignity would ignite a flame that would eventually illuminate the entire region, toppling governments and leading to mass awakening of social consciousness?

This much is clear: The Arab Spring embodies the hopes, the dreams and aspirations of a people yearning for a better way of life. Yearning for greater freedom, for greater dignity, and for a more widespread and fairer distribution of economic opportunities and resources. Basic human yearnings.

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Gender and Climate Change: Durban Explores the Intersection

by Rebecca Lefton

Most people do not think of climate change as a gender issue. But experts at the COP 17 climate conference in Durban, South Africa are trying to raise awareness of the disproportionate impact that a changing climate has on women. Women are responsible for collecting water that is becoming increasingly scarce, and they are needing to travel farther distances to reach clean water supplies. Women are primarily responsible for putting food on the table, but food prices are rising and as climate change worsens agricultural productivity. And women are often the most vulnerable in war and regional conflicts, which will be exacerbated by resource scarcity.

A discussion held  in Durban focused on these impacts. The panel featured the Honorable Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In addressing climate resilience, Robinson stressed the importance of focusing on health and burden impacts of climate change. One of the keys is access to reproductive health for women.

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Politics and parenthood

by Damien Hickman

My 11 week old daughter likes to sleep while going for a 'walk' in her pram. Recently as I we walked along, left to my thoughts, I realised that politics is a lot like parenthood. Both are journeys of unexpected twists and turns, highs and lows, sheer exhilaration and utter desperation. Former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson is famously quoted as saying: 'A week is a long time in politics'. He must have been a parent. With sleepless nights, never ending feeds and nappy changes, plus the repetitive 'walks' around the block trying to get the little one to sleep, he could have easily said: 'A week is a long time in parenthood'.

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What 21st Century Democracy Looks Like

by Alan Jenkins

Those who say they don’t know what the Occupy Wall Street protestors want fail to understand the nature of this quintessential 21st century movement. It is true that they have no manifesto or declaration. They have not released a singular list of demands, although they have a process in place to do so. But when you listen to the participants tell their stories, when you read their signs and hear their songs, their shared desires for our nation clearly emerge.

Their most fervent demand, not surprisingly, is for honest work that pays a decent, living wage, not only for themselves, but for their 14 million fellow unemployed Americans. But taken together, there is much more.

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Australia’s creeping inertia

by Ken Boundy

There are many things that fill me with pride as an Australian. There are others about which I am increasingly embarrassed. We will all have long lists on both sides of that ledger. The one which disturbs me most, and which can most impact our long term prosperity, is inertia.

I’ve been in the UAE, China and Singapore recently and returned wondering why we’re being beaten hands down in development of convention centres, bullet trains, sustainability programs, new hotels, freeways, and even knowledge economies.

The world is moving at an incredible pace. In many areas, we seem to lag, even behind the developing world. Why?

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Senator X – a rolling stone gathers no policies

by Malcolm King

There is no doubt that Senator Xenophon has the South Australia public and media in his pocket.  More than 150,000 voters and 50 journalists whose contact books automatically open to the letter X can't be wrong, can they?

"My political philosophy is summed up by the myth of Sisyphus, the story of this poor bastard that was condemned by the gods to roll a boulder up a hill. And I feel like I'm rolling that boulder up to the top of the hill, never getting to the crest. But I'll still keep going," he said recently in the media.

Unfortunately Senator Xenophon will have to keep rolling that stone a little longer as the Greens have taken the balance of power in the Senate. It's a kick in the guts for South Australians who placed so much faith in the Anti-Pokies campaigner.

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Modernising Micro-Financing to develop Entrepreneurship in Western Sydney and Rural NSW

by Hugh McDermott

As a progressive social democratic party, NSW Labor needs to find innovative ways to assist the urban and rural poor to make the break from long term and inter-generational poverty.  Effective and well designed micro-financing projects have successfully enabled impoverished people to engage in self-employment projects that allow them to generate an income and, in many cases, begin to build wealth and exit poverty. A modernised model of micro-financing will assist the poor in urban and rural NSW break the poverty cycle.

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Why Parties need to become Movements again

by Marcus Roberts and Daniel Elton

Winning progressive parties in the 1990s were those that had learnt the lessons of the 1980s: that division, disorganisation and an obsession with a core left vote was no way to win. As a consequence from Blair and New Labour to Schroeder and the SPD’s Neue Mitte, progressive parties in the ‘90s embraced change through discipline, professionalism, tight message control and a focus on the political centre ground. Such an approach made sense at the time both as a response to the defeats of the previous decade and as a positive appeal to the moderate-minded electorates of the affluent 1990s

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It's reform or dire electoral straits for the centre-left

Social democrats must cast aside conservative impulses in order to survive. Passing the torch of modernisation and reform to the centre-right would be both self-defeating and detrimental to society at large.

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