The thoughts that count - the best of global thought leadership (July 2023)

Public services, public policy & government reform

Revamping government reform – Institute for Government (UK)

The Government has published a refresh of its civil service reform programme, with five ‘reform missions’ published on GOV.UK, these being: capability, or a skilled civil service able to adapt to the public’s needs; place, a civil service representative of the communities we serve; delivery, a collaborative bureaucracy routinely working across barriers and with a culture of excellence in service delivery; digital and data, a government able to harness the power of digital and data to make better decisions, improve service delivery and enhance user experience; and innovation, a civil service which rewards and encourages our staff to find innovative solutions to problems and deliver better outcomes for citizens. In this insight paper, the IfG sets out its view on the changes.

Breaking down the barriers: why Whitehall is so hard to reform – Reform (UK)

Based on conversations with 27 senior leaders, including former ministers, cabinet secretaries, permanent secretaries and other senior civil servants, Reform identifies exactly why the UK Civil Service is so difficult to change. Weaknesses include: a lack of clarity about who is responsible for instigating change; lack of ministerial interest; a poorly defined, weak executive centre; departmental fiefdoms; a leadership cadre with little external experience and a bias towards the status quo; and a bias for policy and ministerial handling skills over organisational capabilities in promotion.

What is a government shutdown? And why are we likely to have another one? – Brookings Institution (USA)

Congress is now in recess, but looks unlikely to be able to pass the 12 appropriations bills that fund government operations before the new fiscal year begins on October 1 – this drastically elevates the odds of a new government shutdown. Brookings outlines in this explainer what government shutdowns are and why they happen, what happens during shutdowns, and the state of play currently in the US.

Resolving the EU’s industrial policy trilemma – European Policy Centre (Europe)

“The EU is confronted with a conundrum: the industrial policy trilemma. European policy cannot achieve all goals at the same time: achieving the quadruple transition, maintaining the Single Market as well as national financing and control of industrial policy. Any two of these three elements can be combined but not all three. The EU will have to choose what must give in the end.”

Will Michael Gove’s speech solve the housing crisis? – Centre for Cities (UK)

Centre for Cities welcomes UK Housing Secretary Michael Gove’s speech setting out the Government’s programme for housing and planning reform, and lauds the clear influence of urban economics on Mr. Gove’s thinking. The think tank urges the Government to go further, to develop an urban growth plan for other candidate cities such as Oxford, give London greater help to grow outward, and refining its proposals for regeneration zones similar to King’s Cross.

Building borders for business, trading for growth – Reform (UK)

Britain’s borders are crucial to national security, but also play a key role in facilitating imports and exports, and therefore in boosting growth. This paper is a write-up of an event hosted by Reform on how UK policymakers can build borders to set Britain up for success in business and in growth, covering areas such as: ecosystem of trust; supporting SMEs; data-sharing; a proactive approach; and the relationship between imports and exports.

Innovative Answers for Britain's Barriers – Adam Smith Institute (UK)

This discussion paper proposes 10 solutions to some of the UK’s most intractable problems. Suggestions include: giving all UK citizens a Health Guarantee card to ensure they have access to free, state-funded treatment, which also can be used to access private sector treatment in the event of delays; following Finland’s successful Housing First model to combat homelessness; and abolishing the interest surcharge on student loan repayments in order to reduce defaults.

The Gulf’s twin failings: Innovation and private sector employment for nationals – Middle East Institute

The Middle East Institute examines why, despite broader economic successes, the Gulf states have not effectively addressed weaknesses of stoking innovation and creating private sector employment opportunities for their nationals.

Economy, business & fiscal policy

Peaked Interest? – Resolution Foundation (UK)

This report examines the impact of high inflation and rising interest rates on households’ saving behaviour; while wealth owned by British households has risen from around three-times the UK’s GDP in the mid-1980s to nearly eight times, the cost of living crisis has ended this trend of ever-rising household wealth. The wealth-to-GDP ratio had, as of early 2023, fallen around 650%, the biggest fall on record as a proportion of GDP and equating to the loss of £2.1tn household net worth in cash terms.

Partisan House Appropriations Bills Underfund Non-Defense Priorities and Are a Sharp Break From the Bipartisan Debt Ceiling Agreement – Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (USA)

The House Appropriations Committee has approved ten of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2024 – each of these votes has been along party lines. The bills would impose spending cuts in non-defence appropriations far deeper than the levels agreed to in the debt ceiling deal in June, and would rescind large swathes of Inflation Reduction Act funding (particularly funding intended for climate change programmes). This stands in sharp contrast to the bipartisan approach of the Senate Appropriations Committee, whose approved bills are much more closely aligned with the bipartisan deb ceiling agreement. CBPP sets out some of what the House bills would do if passed by both chambers of Congress.

More Help to Grow – Policy Exchange (UK)

Introduced by Rishi Sunak while he was Chancellor, the Government’s ‘Help to Grow: Management Scheme’ programme is designed to upskill business leaders in the SME sector and equip them with the tools they need to expand and improve their companies, and has received strong positive feedback from the businesses who have taken part. However, just 2% of eligible mid-size firms are taking part in the scheme – this is a missed opportunity for the British economy. The report sets out recommendations for ministers to address this issue and tackle medium-size businesses.

Time for a new approach to Foreign Direct Investment – The New Zealand Initiative (New Zealand)

This article slams New Zealand’s approach to attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), calling it a ‘short-sighted version of self-harm’. It advocates the adoption of a much more competitive offering, more in line with the less protectionist regulations of countries such as Ireland and Singapore, and starting with the repeal of the Overseas Investment Act.

The global trade recession may have already started – Chatham House (UK)

With economists worried over whether the world is facing a big or small recession, Chatham House warns that the global trade recession may already be here: the annual growth rate of global import volumes turned negative in late 2022 and remained negative in early 2023. There is little reason to believe this trend will be reversed anytime soon – global demand looks as though it will stay weak in the foreseeable future, and in any case the world is past ‘peak globalisation’ (with world exports having accounted for 20% of global GDP in 2020, down from 25% around the time of the 2008 crash and compared to 15% in the early 1980s).  A global trade slowdown will disproportionately impact open, trade-dependent economies, particularly those in the developing world.

What is Behind Canada’s Growth Crisis? – Fraser Institute (Canada)

Canada has been plagued for a decade by weak growth, having expanded significantly more slowly than the US. This sluggish growth is attributable to falling business investment and exports; these economic sectors embed innovative technologies and reflect the competitiveness of Canadian business. This report examines the reasons for the Canadian economy’s loss of dynamism, among them the focus of Canadian governments on income distribution rather than wealth creation. The Fraser Institute warns that, unless growth is revived, Canada may face the long-term stagnation seen in Japan and much of western Europe.

Family-Friendly Taxation – The Centre for Policy Studies (UK)

This CPS report warns that the UK tax system is increasingly unfair towards families; couples with the same overall income can end up paying dramatically different amounts of tax depending on how earnings are distributed between them. The paper calls for the Government to turn, where possible, the marriage allowance into a fully transferrable personal allowance, which would cost £6.1bn and reduce poverty by 4.3%, with poorer families seeing the greatest benefits.

Micro but Mighty: Magnifying Microbusiness in Australia – The McKell Institute (Australia)

Australia’s microbusiness sector is the fastest-growing in the small business community and employs 2.9 million people – much of this growth has been digital. This report examines the profile of microbusiness in Australia, finding that many microbusinesses are run by women with additional caring responsibilities and facing unique structural barriers in the labour market.

Tracking the Recovery From the Pandemic Recession – Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (USA)

This chart books tracks the US recovery from the recession during the Covid-19 pandemic, finding that the policy response was strong and promoted a rapid economic recovery. The American economy has largely healed, and the groups which experienced the largest losses during the Covid recession have mostly recouped a considerable share of those losses.

Pay growth for London’s top earners has driven up geographical inequality in mean earnings – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

The IFS finds that strong pay growth in finance and business services has resulted in earnings growth among top earners in London. Middle earners in the British capital, however, have seen little benefit from this, and geographical inequalities have been exacerbated by the rise in earnings for high-income Londoners.

Inflation & living standards

Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2023 – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

This paper examines how living standards have changed for different groups in the UK, particularly focusing on cost of living payments and housing. It finds that: median disposable household income (before accounting for housing costs) rose 0.5% in 2021-22, still 1.2% lower than before Covid; income growth was stronger among poorer households; individuals aged 50-70 who moved from employment into economic activity in 2020-21 were more likely to end up in poverty than in previous years; and the decline in living standards and in wellbeing challenges the notion that the rise in inactivity during the pandemic was driven by wealthy individuals seeking early retirement.

Inflation: there will be no soft landing – Institute of Economic Affairs (UK)

The IEA warns that the current cost of living crisis is likely to lead to a cost of credit crisis, as the interest rate hikes take effect and carry over into the real economy. This is likely to be felt, for instance, in the form of ever-increasing mortgage payments (set to jump by £500 by the end of 2026). The resulting deterioration of disposable incomes will mean Britons will have a smaller safety net and so be more exposed and vulnerable to economic shocks.

The public sector needs a real pay rise – IPPR (UK)

This IPPR report argues that public sector workers’ demands for higher pay settlements are justified – even if the average public sector worker were to receive a 6% pay rise, they would still be £1,400 worse off this year than before the pandemic, and public sector pay has continued to decline in real terms since August 2021 even as inflation reduces households’ real disposable incomes. A stronger pay settlement would, the IPPR contends, address four problems: declining living standards; a workforce crisis; declining quality of services; and the reality that public sector pay in the UK lags behind comparator countries.

Employment, pay & labour force

Labour market loosens gradually as inactivity falls, but pay growth remains high – Resolution Foundation (UK)

The British labour market has loosened – the workforce is expanding as previously inactive people are either returning to work or to looking for it. Inactivity has fallen 0.4 percentage points, largely driven by men – this has been accompanied by a fall in vacancies, meaning the UK labour market is now looser than that of the eurozone. However, while nominal pay is still growing fast, real pay continues to fall. The Resolution Foundation suggests breaking the link between pay growth and inflation by: improving worker productivity; having firms reduce other variable costs or charge overseas consumers more; and firms paying workers a bigger share of their value added.

The UK’s worsening public health is hurting the labour market – Centre for Progressive Policy (UK)

Recently released labour market statistics indicate the UK’s inactivity rate stands now at 20.8%, still 0.6 points higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic. This is, in part, due to an increase in ill health which began in 2019 and has been worsened by the pandemic; just over 2.5 million people are currently out of work for this reason, and the long-term sick now constitute the largest group of economically inactive people. Addressing vacancy rates and encouraging many of these workers back into the labour force will form a key part of having the UK economy fire on all cylinders, and as such CPP argues strongly for better investment in public health to drive down long-term illness as a cause of economic inactivity.

Moving Apart: How Non-College Workers Fare in Urban and Rural America – Third Way (USA)

Whether or not American workers go to college (or university) impacts them differently depending on where in the country they live. Third Way finds that gap between urban workers’ higher wages and rural workers’ typically lower wages is growing for college-educated workers and shrinking for non-college-educated workers. Meanwhile, low wages and high costs are pushing workers without college degrees out of cities and urban areas, where typically they would make half the wages of their counterparts who do possess college degrees.

Government publishes new evidence on impacts of income and job protection schemes during the pandemic – Institute for Fiscal Studies (UK)

The IFS discusses the main takeaways from the Government’s evaluations of the impact of the Covid-era job support schemes (the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or the furlough scheme, and the equivalent Self-Employment Income Support Scheme for the self-employed). The article concludes that, without the £100bn cash injection into the economy, Britain would likely have seen a far higher spike in unemployment, and doing nothing would undoubtedly have been the worse option.

Why the U.S. needs at least a $17 minimum wage: How the Raise the Wage Act would benefit U.S. workers, their families, and entire communities – Economic Policy Institute (USA)

Congress has not raised the federal minimum hourly wage since 2009 – it currently stands at $7.25. The Economic Policy Institute calls on Congress to pass the Raise the Wage Act of 2023, which would increase the federal minimum hourly wage to $9.50 this year and increase it in increments until it reaches $17 by 2028.

Health & social care

Healthcare and prosperity: The NHS at 75 – IPPR (UK)

Over the 75 years since the NHS was founded, we have made significant strides in the field of healthcare, but new maladies have arisen even as infectious diseases have grown less prominent. With healthcare increasingly a central determinant of our life chances, poor healthcare increasingly costs people their livelihoods and wider wellbeing. This report finds that many people are struggling to access the NHS healthcare they need, and that struggling to access healthcare in good time often has social or economic consequences, particularly for those living with a life-limiting condition.

NHS at 75: A Reality Check and New Priorities – Social Market Foundation (UK)

The SMF identifies Brexit, Covid-19, austerity and reorganisations as, together, posing an existential threat to the NHS; public satisfaction with the health service is at an all-time low, at 29% (falling to 14% with social care). If the health service is to survive, policymakers must radically reform the NHS to meet the UK’s changing expectations and demographics, in addition to addressing the damage that has been done over the past decade or so.

Reconsidering Medicaid Privatization: Weighing the Evidence and the Alternatives – Roosevelt Institute (USA)

Starting in the 1990s, almost every US state and territory hired private insurance companies to run their Medicaid programmes. Today, Medicaid provides health coverage to one in five Americans, with nearly 70% of these receiving coverage through a private insurance company. The move to private insurers was made to reduce costs and stabilise budgets, and on the understanding that quality would not suffer and could even improve. The Roosevelt Institute finds these arguments do not withstand closer scrutiny – savings in programme costs have not passed through to state governments, for instance.

Train, retain, reform: does the NHS Long Term Plan provide a coherent map for the future? – The King's Fund (UK)

The King’s Fund analyses the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, saying it could mark ‘the point at which the NHS starts to overcome the repeated workforce crises’. The plan has set out forecasts for future supply and demand for staff in a way other workforce strategies have not, and encompasses actions for everyone working in health, including those in government. All in all, the plan is an ‘enormous work programme’ containing challenges, such as developing and growing new workforce roles in the healthcare system which will entail work for policymakers, the professions and their leaders, and regulators.

Fit for the Future: A Modern and Sustainable NHS Providing Accessible and Personalised Care for All – Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (UK)

The Tony Blair Institute argues that, without embracing the technological revolution and other fundamental reforms, the NHS has no future – as it is, the health service is already falling further behind other healthcare systems. If the NHS is to survive and its founding principle of healthcare based on need and not on a patient’s ability to pay, a number of radical changes are needed, including an embrace of digital technology and data storage through the NHS App; more freedom to Integrated Care Systems; active encouragement of new providers; and overhauling the NHS workforce.

Cross-government co-ordination to improve health and reduce inequalities – Institute for Government (UK)

Improving population health will require policy action across a wide range of government departments, encompassing everything from housing to jobs, access to education, and nutrition. This paper sums up a roundtable discussion jointly organised by the IfG and the Health Foundation, on how to address barriers to effective cross-government coordination in population health policy and opportunities for the centre of government and for individual departments in taking an ambitious whole-government approach to health and reducing inequalities.

The Price of Public Health Care Insurance, 2023 – Fraser Institute (Canada)

The Fraser Institute estimates average payment for public health insurance ranges from $5,373 to $17,039 for six common types of Canadian family, and that public health insurance costs have since 1997 increased 4.7 times as fast as the cost of clothing, 1.8 times as the cost of shelter, and 1.7 times as fast as the average income.

Driving better health outcomes through integrated care systems – The King's Fund (UK)

District councils oversee areas containing 40% of England’s population, and have statutory powers over areas of public services such as planning, housing, benefits, and leisure and green spaces – many of the most significant determinants of health are affected by these. District councils play a valuable role in integrated care systems (ICSs) because they influence health’s wider determinants, can react and act in fast and agile ways, and have strong connections with local communities. This report, based on interviews with district council officers and integrated care board (ICB) staff in four sites across England, calls on district councils to actively promote the contribution they can make, identify areas of shared priority with other councils, and build relationships across the ICS.

Getting the fundamentals right: how to better prepare for discharge pressures next winter – Nuffield Trust (UK)

Last winter, delayed discharges, where patients are medically fit to leave hospital but are not discharged, were a particular problem in England; in December 2022, one in six patients in England were waiting in hospital to be discharged to care homes, their own home, or short-term intermediate care. This long-read sets out some solutions to prepare health and care services for discharge pressures in the coming winter, focusing especially on the role of social care.

Vacancies are falling but social care still needs a long-term workforce plan – The King's Fund (UK)

Vacancies in adult social care have fallen from a record 164,000 in 2021/22 to 152,000 in 2022/23, thanks in large part to an influx of overseas staff resulting in a ‘small but significant release of pressure on the social care sector’. However, the new overseas workers, drawn in after the Government in December 2021 lowered barriers for social care workers to be allowed to work in the UK, are not in and of themselves the solution to the long-term workforce crisis in the British social care sector. The King’s Fund argues that Britain still needs a long-term social care plan if it is to recruit the 480,000 additional staff that will be needed by 2035.

Defence & national security

Ukraine Has Not Transformed EU Foreign Policy – Carnegie Europe (Europe)

This article notes that the EU remains woefully incapable of dealing with conflicts. The author takes the view that European assessments of the bloc’s soft power are overexaggerated (any stability in the Western Balkans is owed to NATO and the US) – moreover, its mutual defence clause is ‘toothless’, its defence structures fragmented. In essence, the war in Ukraine has not prompted the EU to meaningfully think defence, or enhanced EU foreign policy. And with the EU having ‘wasted’ the opportunity to act strategically during the Trump administration (and with another Republican presidency a possibility after the 2024 election), it is difficult to see how this situation will be resolved, although the author notes the war in Ukraine ‘should and could have changed’ it.

A War of Attrition – Center for Strategic & International Studies (USA)

This CSIS report evaluates how Russia’s growing shortages of military equipment and ammunitions are affecting Moscow’s ability to make war on Ukraine and carry out operations in other theatres such as Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and the Caucasus.

NATO's Vilnius Summit Holds the Key for Ukraine's Reconstruction – RAND Corporation (USA)

Published before the NATO summit in Vilnius, RAND argues that longer-term security decisions made by NATO leaders will be just as vital to Ukraine’s post-war future as the multi-year assistance package and upgraded ties planned at the summit. In particular, the Vilnius summit should build on the Ukraine Recovery Conference, clarify security arrangements, secure donors and investments for the reconstruction of Ukraine, and give post-war security assurances to Kyiv.

Divisions remain, but NATO is expanding. This will not sit comfortably in Moscow. – Chatham House (UK)

Despite the disagreements in the lead-up to the NATO summit over Ukrainian membership and the US’ decision to provide cluster munitions to Kyiv, Chatham House points out that progress has been made on a number of issues: Sweden is now on a path to membership, and NATO’s importance and support for Ukraine has been affirmed. All in all, the summit has helped strengthen the alliance’s ability to provide security to the one billion citizens who live in its member states – NATO’s capacity for deterrence and defence has been improved, and Moscow and others should take note.

Inflection Point: How to Reverse the Erosion of U.S. and Allied Military Power and Influence – RAND Corporation (USA)

The threats facing the US are growing more complex, and Washington’s present defence strategy is no longer adequate to meet these effectively, having been based on an assumption of US military superiority that is no longer accurate. However, the US and its allies do not need superiority to defeat aggression from hostile powers, and should instead work in concert to restore postures of deterrence against Russian and Chinese aggression. RAND makes a number of recommendations for the US and for partners such as Taiwan and NATO.

Is the US Preparing for the Defense of Taiwan? – Hudson Institute (USA)

This Hudson analysis concludes that, despite Taiwan’s remoteness from the US, Washington will come to Taipei’s aid should the island democracy come under attack from China. If the US and its allies, including Japan, the Philippines and Australia, can deploy missiles and other forms of deterrence along Taiwan’s Pacific coast, ‘China’s intimidation will fail’.

National Security Implications of Unsustainable Spending and Debt – Cato Institute (USA)

Cato raises the alarm over congressional gridlock on spending debates – with the parties growing further apart on appropriations issues and without reforms to healthcare and retirement benefits, other spending priorities, including defence, will suffer. Moreover, Congress only debates 28% of federal spending, with all entitlement spending going out without congressional debate. Cato calls for a new mechanism to reform entitlement spending and avert a future fiscal crisis.

After the NATO Summit: Are We Already at War with Russia? – Royal United Services Institute (UK)

RUSI observes that there are many things the West does not know about Russian decision-making on warfare, and whether Moscow already considers itself at war with the West – and the implications for what this could mean, all the way to nuclear catastrophe. The author expresses disappointment in the recent NATO summit’s relative lack of attention to the threat from Russia, or how Western states should engage with Russia going forward.

The Road to Vilnius: Canada at the NATO Summit – Macdonald-Laurier Institute (Canada)

Published ahead of the 2023 NATO summit in Vilnius, this article takes the strong position that Canada can and must champion Ukrainian accession to the alliance at the summit. The author furthermore outlines a number of recommendations for Ottawa, including advocating for a robust NATO-Ukraine Council, for the termination of the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997, and for clear security commitments to Ukraine until it can be made a full NATO member once the war is over.

A Deterrence Response Monitoring Capability for the US Department of Defense – Hudson Institute (USA)

Deterring Beijing from initiating war is a necessary but insufficient condition for preventing war. This article argues that developing a deterrence response monitoring (DRM) capability out of readily available and rapidly advancing commercial technologies should be a key focus for the Department of Defense, and would be consistent with the Pentagon’s prioritisation of experimentation with emerging technologies and with its evolving technology bureaucracy.


Small-Boats Emergency – Policy Exchange (UK)

Policy Exchange warns that the small boats crisis in the English Channel poses mounting costs to British taxpayers; hotel accommodation for asylum seekers, estimated at £2.2bn, is expected to surpass government funding allocated for round 2 for the Levelling Up Fund and is three and a half times the £630m investment to tackle homelessness in the UK. The report recommends introducing an annual cap on refugees set by the UK Parliament, a policy which gives priority to women and children coming from conflict zones, and the curbing of foreign and domestic judicial interventions frustrating the Government’s efforts to tackle crossings.

The sound of silence: Rethinking asylum seekers' right to work in the UK – Social Market Foundation (UK)

With the debate on asylum seekers’ right to work in the UK at an impasse, this report makes the case for a new, centrist approach towards asylum policy, one which addresses practical challenges many such asylum seekers face in working, better protects asylum seekers from labour exploitation, and does not undermine public trust in Britain’s international refugee regime. Moreover, policymakers should aim to maximise the numbers of working asylum seekers who are subsequently determined to be refugees with a right to stay, by targeting the right to work at asylum seekers coming from ‘green’ list countries who are most likely to refugees, and not at those asylum seekers most likely found not to be refugees.

Crime & justice

School absence risks tidal wave of youth crime, CSJ analysis reveals – The Centre for Social Justice (UK)

New analysis by the CSJ shows that school absence rates have soared since schools were first shut down in 2020: one in three Year 11 pupils now miss more than 10% of school time. Left unchecked, the CSJ warns present rates of school absence could lead to 9,000 additional young offenders by 2027, including an additional 2,000 young violent criminals.

Rebuilding Trust and Delivering Safer Communities: New Polling Shows the Public Want to See Meaningful Police Reform – Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (UK)

British policing faces a make-or-break moment: crime is becoming increasingly challenging to address, with fewer crimes being solved and fewer offenders being brought to justice; at the same time, public confidence in the police is at a historic low, with the very principle of policing by consent at risk. TBI polling shows that the British public are deeply concerned about crime and policing, but also where they believe progress can be made, through areas such as the use of digital identification to reduce online fraud.

Has the Government Forgotten about Serious and Organised Crime? – Royal United Services Institute (UK)

Five years on from the UK Government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy, RUSI argues it is not entirely clear what the Strategy has achieved. The think tank calls on ministers to update the document in response to the growing sophistication, global reach and digitally enabled activity of offenders, by reinforcing its focus on disrupting and dismantling the highest-harm criminals’ business models, orienting itself towards the international component of the most serious and organised crime threats to Britain, and centre on the ongoing shift towards online crime.


Losing altitude – New Economics Foundation (UK)

Despite the aviation sector having no short-term technological solution to bringing down its greenhouse gas emissions, the Government continues to provide conditional support to air capacity growth on the basis that the economic advantages provided by such support outweigh the negative consequences. This analysis is dated, argues NEF, and trends in the British air transport sector have changed greatly since the Government’s last comprehensive review in 2012.

Fuel Efficiency in Saudi Arabia’s Aviation Sector: Progress and Future Implications – KAPSARC (Saudi Arabia)

“Despite the fast global expansion of the aviation industry, due to its sustainability issues, the industry’s concerns about energy efficiency and emissions are still very important. Studying the changing energy consumption patterns in Saudi Arabia is crucial, as the country is expected to see significant changes in the coming years with new infrastructure, an increase in tourism, and new airlines.”

Moving with the Times: Financial Incentives for Sustainable Travel – Centre for London (UK)

“This report explores policy ideas to change the cost of transport and encourage more Londoners to walk, cycle, use public transport or use shared modes of transport.”

Tech, digital & AI

Improving workforce development and STEM education to preserve America’s innovation edge – Brookings Institution (USA)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming ubiquitous in every sector, and the speed of its adoption is outpacing workers’ current skillsets. 45% of STEM employees in the US with a doctoral degree are foreign-born, and the backlash against immigration may impede the US’ ability to draw from a global talent pool in future. As such, the US should prioritise implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act, boost domestic manufacturing capabilities, and invest in workforce development and STEM education, lifelong learning, reasonable immigration policies, and management of geopolitical tensions.

Ten Actions Countries Should Take to Create a Digital-Identity Ecosystem – Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (UK)

A digital ID system can enable citizens to participate in the digital economy and access public and private sector services remotely, and would give people greater control over their data. The Tony Blair Institute sets out ten steps for all governments in developing a widely used digital identity ecosystem. These include: making digital identity a top-level priority and creating a delivery roadmap; assessing existing identification systems; strengthening national digital infrastructure; issuing verifiable digital identity; and more.

AI and Gray-Zone Aggression: Risks and Opportunities – American Enterprise Institute (USA)

The AEI warns that generative AI poses a significant threat to societal discourse in the form of weaponised disinformation spread by hostile foreign powers – this prompted the EU in June 2023 to pass the world’s first legislation limiting generative AI’s harm. At the same time, the technology is useful in detecting grey-zone aggression, which is difficult to identify at the moment as it predominantly involves human monitoring.

Adapting the European Union AI Act to deal with generative artificial intelligence – Bruegel (Europe)

This article argues that the EU draft AI Act, while very promising, needs to be updated to rise to the challenge of regulating generative AI. Indeed, when the European Union began drafting the landmark AI Act, generative AI models were not in the public domain yet. As the meteoric rise of ChatGPT has demonstrated, both the positive potential and serious risks of generative AI are significant: technically pertinent regulation must follow.

Tackling the Existential Threats from Artificial Intelligence – RAND Corporation (USA)

“Addressing potential risks posed by artificial intelligence (AI) could begin with simple steps like finding appropriate risk-management approaches, conducting research to determine how AI can better meet designers' intent, and devising responses to issues related to racism, sexism, and other biases within AI systems.”

De-risking authoritarian AI – Australian Strategic Policy Institute (Australia)

Many Western democracies have in recent weeks been seeking to address AI’s impact on individual rights and economic security, most evidently with the EU’s AI Act. The ASPI, however, warns that Western nations should be wary about AI-enabled products and services from authoritarian countries such as China, a tech superpower which is hostile to democracy and the rules-based order, and uses AI routinely to strengthen its own political and social stability.

Foreign Ministries and Cyber Power: Implications of Artificial Intelligence – Royal United Services Institute (UK)

In the present discourse on AI, relatively few people have been discussing the technology’s implications for foreign ministries. To mount adequate responses, foreign ministries must organise themselves, coordinate effectively with other domestic actors and with allies, and contribute to the process of understanding and shaping relevant developments in other states.

A quantum cyber security agenda for Europe – European Policy Centre (Europe)

In this paper, the authors put forward timely recommendations for how the European Union can meet the economic security threats inherent in cyber operations. Indeed, for EU cyber security to be effective, it must take into account advances in quantum computing which create a new set of challenges.

Digitisation in the public sector – Trades Union Congress (UK)

As public services and working in the public sector become increasingly digitised, the TUC presents recommendations for union action, relating to national policy, sectoral and workplace collective bargaining, and to training needs and structures for union officers and workplace representatives.

On digital competition, Britain could learn from its regulatory mistakes – Centre for European Reform (Europe)

The traditional British model of economic regulation has not always supported investment and innovation, the authors of this research report argue. The UK’s Digital Competition Bill could learn from these mistakes. This paper puts forward recommendation on how British regulators can move away from a “quick-win” mentality to embrace more effective regulation.

Energy & net zero

Powering the transition – CEDA (Australia)

Australia is committed to cutting emissions by 43% on 2005 levels by 2030, and reaching net zero emissions by 2050. This will require a significant change to the way energy is generated and used, and far-reaching implications for the skills and people needed in the labour market. However, certain categories of workers, in particular low- or medium-skilled workers in fossil fuel industries, may struggle to find jobs with similar wages, and certain regions are more likely to be vulnerable to negative impacts of the transition. CEDA makes a number of recommendations for the new Net Zero Authority to help smooth the transition for affected workers and regions.

Why clean energy, not new oil and gas, will deliver energy security, lower bills, and the jobs of the future – IPPR (UK)

The IPPR argues that the energy trilemma – balancing emissions reductions, energy security and affordability – is actually a false dichotomy. While detractors from the green agenda are keen to stress commitments such as Labour’s pledge to end all new oil and gas licences would threaten Britain’s energy security, increase energy bills, and lead to job losses, the think tank instead argues that ‘the best answer to every line of attack…is more ambitious climate policy, not less’. The fastest route to energy security, this article argues, is an accelerated rollout of renewable energy.

Power To The People: How To Unlock Energy Infrastructure By Securing Community Support – Onward (UK)

Britain’s transition to renewable energy has become all the more pressing given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the growing evidence of climate change’s devastating impacts, but local opposition often stands in the way of developing energy infrastructure. Onward calls on the Government to overturn the ban on onshore wind and mandate community benefits for all renewable energy projects and grid infrastructure as part of a Green Energy Covenant, providing support and guidance to communities.


Investors and the ESG blind spot – Chatham House (UK)

Chatham House warns that civic space has been shrinking in both democracies and autocracies for some time – this presents not only political but also legal, ethical, reputational and financial risks for investors, companies and civil society. The rule of law and strong civic institutions are crucial to stable and profitable business environments in which companies and economies can flourish. This research paper identifies the risks which shrinking civic space poses to investors and recommendations actions for investors, regulators and civil society organisations.

ESG Disclosures and the Decision to Go Public (ESG: Myths and Realities) – Fraser Institute (Canada)

This paper finds that mandatory ESG reporting (distinct from mandatory ESG practices) is likely to discourage some firms from going public and listing their shares on a stock exchange for the first time.

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