Policy Forum https://www.policyforum.net The APPS Policy Forum a public policy website devoted to Asia and the Pacific. Fri, 13 Sep 2019 05:52:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.11 https://www.policyforum.net/wp-content/uploads/cache/2017/01/favicon/2924535576.png Policy Forum https://www.policyforum.net 32 32 Podcast: Richard Baldwin – The Globotics Upheaval https://www.policyforum.net/podcast-richard-baldwin-the-globotics-upheaval/ https://www.policyforum.net/podcast-richard-baldwin-the-globotics-upheaval/#respond Fri, 13 Sep 2019 01:03:14 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=35976 This week on Policy Forum Pod we look at how globalisation, robotics, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are changing the world of work and how we can reap the benefits of this transformation, and we hear from one of the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence 2019 – Professor Sharon Bessell. Around the world, people’s […]

The post Podcast: Richard Baldwin – The Globotics Upheaval appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
This week on Policy Forum Pod we look at how globalisation, robotics, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are changing the world of work and how we can reap the benefits of this transformation, and we hear from one of the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence 2019 – Professor Sharon Bessell.

Around the world, people’s work and workplaces are being transformed by globalisation and the rise of automation, robotics, and AI. That transformation brings significant challenges to policymakers, and to people who see their lives and livelihoods transformed, often in negative ways. So how can we make sure this dramatic transformation benefits humankind? On this week’s special episode of Policy Forum Pod, we hear from Richard Baldwin about his book The Globotics Upheaval: Robotics, Globalisation and the Future of Work and how policymakers can ensure society benefits from this transformation. We also talk to Professor Sharon Bessell about being listed as one the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence 2019 and hear about her research on poverty. Listen here: https://bit.ly/2lRg0Ju

Pod presenter Martyn Pearce also discusses some of your comments and suggestions and looks at a sudden surge in demand for Policy Forum Pod mugs.

Richard Baldwin is Professor of International Economics at the Graduate Institute, Geneva. He advises governments and international organisations around the world and is the author of numerous books and articles on international trade, globalisation, regionalism, and European integration.

Sharon Bessell is a Professor at Crawford School of Public Policy, where she is co-leader of the ANU Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM) team. The IDM is a new, gender-sensitive and multidimensional measure of poverty.

Martyn Pearce is a presenter for Policy Forum Pod and the Editor of Policy Forum.

Julia Ahrens is a presenter on Policy Forum Pod.

Policy Forum Pod is available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherSubscribe on Android or wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to podcast@policyforum.net. You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or join us on the Facebook group.

The post Podcast: Richard Baldwin – The Globotics Upheaval appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/podcast-richard-baldwin-the-globotics-upheaval/feed/ 0
Chinese investment – risky business? https://www.policyforum.net/chinese-investment-risky-business/ https://www.policyforum.net/chinese-investment-risky-business/#respond Wed, 11 Sep 2019 23:18:57 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=35915 Chinese direct investment can save and build communities, but governments must do what they can to minimise risks to their national security, Bonnie Mitchell writes. President Obama characterised the message in American Factory, a new documentary produced by his company Higher Ground Productions, as a way to find common ground and move forward together. American […]

The post Chinese investment – risky business? appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
Chinese direct investment can save and build communities, but governments must do what they can to minimise risks to their national security, Bonnie Mitchell writes.

President Obama characterised the message in American Factory, a new documentary produced by his company Higher Ground Productions, as a way to find common ground and move forward together.

American Factory chronicles the purchase of a closed GM plant in Dayton, Ohio by a Chinese billionaire who reopens the factory and employs two thousand Americans in the process. It has been broadly well received. One film critic concluded that the ‘film is a reminder that capitalism is always double-edged.’

However, the film carries another, more subtle double-edged message – national security. This example can spark discussion about the risk that foreign investment from China potentially poses.

Despite the American example, this risk is not limited to the US, which has engaged international partners, including Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, to cooperate on Chinese influence operations and investments.

More on this: What's China up to?

Most foreign direct investment is legitimate and good for the economy. Indeed, Fuyao’s automotive glass factory, featured in American Factory, has been clearly beneficial in revitalising Dayton’s industrial sector.

Despite the clear benefits, however, the facts show that policymakers must approach any economic engagement well-informed and clear-eyed.

Intelligence and law enforcement leaders cite China as a significant national security threat – FBI Director Wray of the US has claimed that China poses a more serious counter-intelligence threat than any other country, including Russia.

Wray is not alone on this. John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Department of Justice called China’s espionage campaign, “persistent, sophisticated, well-resourced, patient, and broad in scope” and former CIA Director and retired General David Petraeus said experts assess the top security threat facing the US, as “all China, all the time.

This is not unfounded. Economic espionage, in particular, has a high cost. It costs the American economy, for instance, billions of dollars annually. Other critical intelligence threats cut across influence operations, critical infrastructure, supply chain, and traditional espionage.

More on this: Chinese loans stoke competition

China is accelerating these espionage efforts, targeting businesses and industry, an effort which has been described as a key part of the nation’s growing power.

In addition to technological and cyber espionage, China’s security services still rely on traditional human intelligence operations and forging interpersonal connections. Anyone in any industry is a potential recruitment target.

Indeed, Director Wray has told the US Senate that the FBI has over 1000 cases involving economic espionage and attempted intellectual property theft, nearly all with ties to China.

All countries must be aware of this threat. But as American Factory shows, honest and mutually beneficial foreign investment is of crucial interest. So what are governments doing to ensure risk is low, and what options does it have?

There are structures in place in some countries to minimise risk, such as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews transactions to prevent control of a US business by a foreign person.

CFIUS’s efforts are having some impact. New investments from China in 2018 reportedly fell 95 per cent, primarily in the technology sector, as compared to 2016, in part due to enhanced scrutiny of these transactions.

Programs such as the US’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center’s Know the Risk, Raise Your Shield provide resources to the private sector, including tips to help better understand threats and how to protect their businesses. Programs like this should be expanded across industry as a routine part of all businesses engagement with foreign entities.

More on this: Colonialism with Chinese characteristics

State and local governments also have a key role in ensuring foreign investment does not pose a risk to national security. Developing processes at the local level and scrutinising investments in regional economies through a process similar to the CFIUS could be a valuable option.

More generally, policymakers and businesses must examine investment through a national security lens, and every investment should be properly scrutinised.

Along with these examples, Australia’s new national security laws banning foreign interference are also instructive for governments in the Asia-Pacific region. In fact, other countries are taking note of Australia’s “new transparency scheme.”

This may become even more relevant as China shifts investment to Asia as a result of the US-China trade war.

American Factory shows that the benefits of these projects can be valuable for communities, but only with this kind of scrutiny can governments accept Chinese direct investment and be sure they are not risking their security. A transparent and fair scrutiny process will allow states to comfortably accept Chinese investment while ensuring it is truly to the benefit of all.

The post Chinese investment – risky business? appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/chinese-investment-risky-business/feed/ 0
Talking with policymakers about science https://www.policyforum.net/talking-with-policymakers-about-science/ https://www.policyforum.net/talking-with-policymakers-about-science/#respond Tue, 10 Sep 2019 23:22:51 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=35844 We have the knowledge to solve many of society’s most pressing challenges including climate change, but many of these issues persist – good science communication can be part of the solution, Ruth O’Connor writes. Some common narratives exist around the apparent gap between knowledge and action. The first narrative – and myth – is that […]

The post Talking with policymakers about science appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
We have the knowledge to solve many of society’s most pressing challenges including climate change, but many of these issues persist – good science communication can be part of the solution, Ruth O’Connor writes.

Some common narratives exist around the apparent gap between knowledge and action. The first narrative – and myth – is that if only we effectively communicated the scientific facts to policymakers they would ‘see the light’ and quickly incorporate the latest research in their strategies and plans.

This idea of a ‘knowledge deficit’ that science communication can fill has been widely debunked by science communication scholars. Understanding the available evidence does not necessarily lead to changed policy or behaviour. I’m reminded of this every time I have another glass of red wine.

More on this: Cultivating research expertise for complex policy problems

This leads to the second narrative around a crisis in trust and de-valuing of science and experts. Such views are reinforced by political leaders – like British MP Michael Gove, who infamously claimed ‘people in this country have had enough of experts’.

But is there empirical evidence of widespread mistrust and de-valuing of science? Well, no. While the anti-expert rhetoric gets a lot of limelight, public surveys consistently show high levels of trust and interest in science both in Australia and overseas.

My research – which focused on environmental managers – suggests that they too both value and trust science. Australian and South African environmental managers commonly saw science as ‘fundamental’ and ‘critical’ to their work. “How do you work without science?” mused one interviewee.

So if re-stating ‘the facts’ to decision-makers more slowly and loudly is not the answer, and decision-makers – at least some of them – value science, what are the causes of the knowledge-action gap and its solutions?

An important step is recognising that science on its own isn’t enough to develop policy solutions for our gnarly issues. Decision-makers have important knowledge to contribute.

More on this: Science fiction as a potent policy tool

In my research, the knowledge of regional decision-makers was critical in applying science to climate change adaptation in Australia. This knowledge went beyond so-called bureaucratic knowledge of political and administrative procedures. It also included practical knowledge of local ecosystems and stakeholders.

These results also suggest we need to think about science communication in public policy in a more sophisticated way.

Information dissemination has its place in addressing complex issues like climate change and biodiversity loss. However, dialogue and deliberation involving scientists and decision-makers can facilitate the application of research through the development of mutual understanding and trust.

The value and function of interactive dialogue between scientists and decision-makers is twofold. Firstly, it is about producing and negotiating meaning. Secondly, dialogue performs the social function of building professional relationships.

A key barrier to this kind of dialogue is a lack of time on all sides. Effective facilitators or ‘boundary spanners’ with knowledge of both the academic and policy realms can minimise this hurdle by planning interactive sessions at key decision points in a process.

More on this: How we discovered the climate problem

Short-termism is another barrier. In Australia, three or four-year projects had no follow-up to build upon goodwill and knowledge. This is compounded by high levels of staff churn in government agencies.

This need not be the case. The South African river managers I interviewed had been involved in a series of collaborative projects with scientists spanning more than 10 years.

As a result, they had excellent communities of practice that effectively applied both years of decision-maker experience and cutting-edge science to river management.

Finally, political factors will always be in play in the public policy space, as will balancing competing priorities.

Ultimately, science communication that doesn’t consider its policy audience is unlikely to address the knowledge action gap.

On the flipside, dialogue between scientists and decision-makers that acknowledges the valuable knowledge of all can help build respectful relationships. Then science communication can move from trying to sell science to enabling our best minds to work together to find solutions to society’s challenges.

The post Talking with policymakers about science appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/talking-with-policymakers-about-science/feed/ 0
Metro Manila’s endless water woes https://www.policyforum.net/metro-manilas-endless-water-woes/ https://www.policyforum.net/metro-manilas-endless-water-woes/#respond Mon, 09 Sep 2019 22:32:15 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=35875 With its water policy failing to sustain its population growth, Metro Manila finds itself in need of definitive action from policymakers, Sahara Piang Brahim writes. With a population of almost 13 million, Metro Manila is one of the largest urban areas in the world. The region as a whole is experiencing constant growth in its […]

The post Metro Manila’s endless water woes appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
With its water policy failing to sustain its population growth, Metro Manila finds itself in need of definitive action from policymakers, Sahara Piang Brahim writes.

With a population of almost 13 million, Metro Manila is one of the largest urban areas in the world. The region as a whole is experiencing constant growth in its population and population density.

The most recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority shows that Metro Manila’s average annual population growth increased by 1.58 per cent between 2010 and 2015. Some estimates show that, by 2050, there will be 23.5 million living in the area.

This increase, which can be partly attributed to migration from other parts of the country, is not surprising given that Metro Manila is the country’s dominant political and economic centre.

It benefits from better and more opportunities – real or perceived – in terms of employment, education, security, and wellbeing. This increase in population obviously has implications for water demand and water availability.

More on this: Podcast: Water justice

Around 97 per cent of Metro Manila’s water needs are met by the Angat Dam and Reservoir. Maynilad Water Services and Manila Water are in charge of distributing and supplying water to residents.

Some 4,000 million litres per day (MLD) are drawn from the dam and distributed to both concessionaires. While the former is allocated 2,400 MLD for its customers in the west zone, the latter is allocated 1,600 MLD for those in the east zone.

Although water services have improved over the years, recent events have called water availability in Metro Manila into question. Water supply interruptions suddenly hit the eastern part of Metro Manila in March this year. These led to low water pressure, a reduced number of hours of access to water, and a complete loss of access to water supply, which were expected to last for three months.

Prior to this, there was little action being taken. Pictures of people queuing up for water were all over the news. When news broke out and people started complaining on social media, Manila Water stated it was unable to cope with the demand, which increased to 1,740 MLD, initially pointing its finger at a weak El Niño.

The west zone, on the other hand, had not been experiencing any water supply issues at the time. This caught the attention of the country’s lawmakers and paved the way for investigations and congressional and senate hearings into the water shortages. Manila Water’s CEO later took responsibility for the service interruptions.

More on this: Singapore and Malaysia's troubled waters

While investigations into water shortages are certainly welcome, they are yet to facilitate meaningful changes in the management, distribution, and sustainability of water services.

This is especially concerning as residents in the west of Metro Manila, like those in the east, have more recently been having to deal with water interruptions as well. Many have had no water supply for weeks – some even months.

These ongoing issues suggest that water endowment does not automatically lead to water security. Although availability varies by region, overall, the Philippines has relatively abundant resources owing to its topographical characteristics.

More on this: The slow drip of poor water policy

Given that, however, the demand for water in Metro Manila has not been consistently met, and given that its population is projected to increase in the coming years, future water availability and demand will undoubtedly change.

Climate change resulting in drier summers and wetter rainy seasons will also have an impact on dam operation, water allocation, and streamflow.

Several proposed projects looking into other potential water sources – including the Kaliwa, Wawa, and Bayabas Dams – are being considered. Whether these projects will materialise and meet current and future water requirements, however, remains to be seen.

Supply, however, is just one side of the equation. Increased water use and consumption due to rising living standards also matter when developing strategies and implementing measures to address Metro Manila’s water issues.

This piece is published in partnership with The Monsoon Project – the student-run academic blog at The Australian National University looking at issues affecting Australia, Asia, and the Pacific.

The post Metro Manila’s endless water woes appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/metro-manilas-endless-water-woes/feed/ 0
Democracy Sausage podcast: Voter volatility, economic evidence, and discordant democracy https://www.policyforum.net/democracy-sausage-podcast-voter-volatility-economic-evidence-and-discordant-democracy/ https://www.policyforum.net/democracy-sausage-podcast-voter-volatility-economic-evidence-and-discordant-democracy/#respond Mon, 09 Sep 2019 05:56:06 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=35873 On this week’s Democracy Sausage podcast we take a look at the new ANU poll on Australia’s election, ask who is benefiting from the country’s productivity gains, and discuss where next for Boris Johnson after parliament rebelled against him. On this Democracy Sausage, we find out what the recent ANU poll tells us about why Australia voted for the […]

The post Democracy Sausage podcast: Voter volatility, economic evidence, and discordant democracy appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
On this week’s Democracy Sausage podcast we take a look at the new ANU poll on Australia’s election, ask who is benefiting from the country’s productivity gains, and discuss where next for Boris Johnson after parliament rebelled against him.

On this Democracy Sausage, we find out what the recent ANU poll tells us about why Australia voted for the Coalition’s solo act over Labor’s symphony of policies, run the numbers on the Australian economy, and ask whether Boris Johnson has any Brexit bite to go with the bluster. Mark Kenny and our panel – Nicholas Biddle, Quentin Grafton, and Julia Ahrens – also take a look at the rise of the right in Germany, answer some of your questions and comments, and Mark shares his tweet of the week. Listen here: https://bit.ly/2kz0tgZ

Mark Kenny is a Senior Fellow in the ANU Australian Studies Institute. He came to the university after a high-profile journalistic career including six years as chief political correspondent and national affairs editor for The Sydney Morning HeraldThe Age, and The Canberra Times.

Nicholas Biddle is an Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Centre for Social Research at ANU. He previously held a Senior Research Officer and Assistant Director position in the Methodology Division of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Quentin Grafton is Professor of Economics at Crawford School, an ANU Public Policy Fellow, and Director of the Centre for Water Economics, Environment and Policy. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Policy Forum.

Julia Ahrens is a presenter on Policy Forum Pod.

Democracy Sausage with Mark Kenny is available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to podcast@policyforum.net. You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or join us on the Facebook group.

This podcast is produced in partnership with The Australian National University.

The post Democracy Sausage podcast: Voter volatility, economic evidence, and discordant democracy appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/democracy-sausage-podcast-voter-volatility-economic-evidence-and-discordant-democracy/feed/ 0
Breaking barriers for women in STEM https://www.policyforum.net/breaking-barriers-for-women-in-stem/ https://www.policyforum.net/breaking-barriers-for-women-in-stem/#respond Fri, 06 Sep 2019 02:26:06 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=35782 Gender equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is not an issue that needs solving for the future. Women working in these fields face myriad challenges right now, Francesca Maclean writes. Gender inequity in STEM – or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – is often analogised to a ‘pipeline’ problem. We often forget, though, that […]

The post Breaking barriers for women in STEM appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
Gender equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is not an issue that needs solving for the future. Women working in these fields face myriad challenges right now, Francesca Maclean writes.

Gender inequity in STEM – or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – is often analogised to a ‘pipeline’ problem. We often forget, though, that there are women already in STEM who need better workplace cultures and systems in which they can thrive.

They aren’t the girls who are yet to choose their Year 12 subjects, and they aren’t the women who have been pushed out of the industry – yet. These are your early-career women in STEM, and I am one of them.

I grew up with the notion that gender equality was a battle already won: my mum worked throughout my childhood and I was told I could be and do anything. I had parents who steered me into STEM, and I ended up being one of less than 1,000 women who graduated with a professional engineering degree in 2013 in Australia.

I continued to do a PhD and soon after found myself at a top-tier engineering firm. I’ve experienced STEM as a woman both in academia and industry, and I can assure you, gender equality is not a battle already won.

There are three main barriers that aspiring, early-career women in STEM face.

More on this: Avoiding a STEM funding failure

Toxically masculine competition culture is the first of these. No matter how far we have come with our paid parental leave or flexible work policies when workplaces were designed in the literal absence of women, it is no surprise that they have a legacy of toxically masculine competition culture.

When you are working – trying to survive – within a system that was never designed for you, it can take an emotional, mental, and physical toll that is not worth the 23.78 per cent pay gap.

Secondly, a lack of critical mass and senior female role models hinders early-career women from reaching their full potential in STEM. While representation varies across disciplines, those that have traditionally been male-dominated remain so.

Women currently make up 12 per cent of Australia’s engineering workforce. These women lack a critical mass across their organisations, and even more so in leadership. Professional, scientific, and technical services organisations report having 25.7 per cent women in key management roles and even fewer as heads of businesses.

When you’re often the only woman in the room, being heard, receiving credit for your own ideas and work, as well as not being interrupted, all pose an additional challenge on top of just doing the job.

For the few women who have made it to the senior ranks, they are expected to fly the flag for every diversity-related event and issue, and they can easily become overloaded with these undervalued ‘service’ activities in both industry and academia.

Third, gender is still seen as a women’s issue: women are expected to fight the gender fight, both in the community and in the workplace. This is an outdated and yet sadly common approach to gender equality.

In STEM organisations, both in academia and industry, women often take on the unpaid work to champion gender equality – and let’s not forget the emotional labour that comes along with it.

More on this: Tackling gender equity in science

Are all women gender experts? No. Do men have a gender, and are they affected by gender inequity? Yes. Yet we encourage women, almost exclusively, to champion gender equity while doing their day job.

Further, we then evaluate them against men who are only responsible for doing their day job and are not weighed down by these extra responsibilities, when it comes to promotion time.

These barriers manifest in workplace cultures, which makes them incredibly complex to address. But we have to do something, otherwise, we will continue to have technology designed for only half the population.

Several policy levers could be used to mitigate these barriers.

A good place to start would be to evaluate women’s lived experiences. Australia uses the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) to report on the metrics, policies, and processes.

What’s missing is an understanding of the personal experience of women in STEM. Yes, numbers can give you some indication, but not all women can talk with their feet and leave an organisation if it is a toxic or inequitable workplace.

The government could mandate that organisations incorporate anonymous internal cultural audits that would add to the richness of data. This could authentically assess an organisation’s performance on gender equity and provide early-career women with another data point on which they can evaluate prospective employers.

More on this: Policy Forum Podcast: Women in politics and policy

Additionally, STEM re-traineeships for women 35 years and older to move laterally into the sector from un- or under-employment – or other careers such as education, business, or law –  would improve the number of women and address the lack of senior women in STEM organisations.

Not all management and leadership roles in STEM need 20 or more years of experience in the same discipline. Through a collaborative approach between government, academia, and industry, we could significantly widen the talent pool and improve the diversity of thought, skills, and role models needed in STEM.

Lastly, better gender education could help address the issues in the sector. There is a severe lack of understanding and knowledge across institutions about gender equity, which is why it is often misinterpreted as a women’s issue.

We’ve done this before. Workplace health and safety was not always a thread of our organisations, but now it is highly regulated through the likes of Safe Work Australia and Worksafe.

Initially, it’s a scary thought – inclusion is not a compliance issue. However, safety in the workplace was a huge culture change that needed to happen, and it did.

If all institutions treated gender equity and diversity and inclusion that seriously, we might achieve gender equity a little sooner than in the year 2187.

The post Breaking barriers for women in STEM appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/breaking-barriers-for-women-in-stem/feed/ 0
Podcast: Language barriers https://www.policyforum.net/podcast-language-barriers/ https://www.policyforum.net/podcast-language-barriers/#respond Thu, 05 Sep 2019 23:23:07 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=35821 This week on Policy Forum Pod we take a look at Australian education language policy and ask whether we’re doing enough to give young people the language skills they need. Language is a powerful tool in increasing engagement, communication, and cross-cultural understanding, and could play a vital role in fostering relations between Australia and the […]

The post Podcast: Language barriers appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
This week on Policy Forum Pod we take a look at Australian education language policy and ask whether we’re doing enough to give young people the language skills they need.

Language is a powerful tool in increasing engagement, communication, and cross-cultural understanding, and could play a vital role in fostering relations between Australia and the Asia-Pacific. So how can we make sure we’re giving students the language skills and experience they need? On this week’s Policy Forum Pod an expert panel – Associate Professor Angela Scarino, Grazia Scotellaro, and Luke Courtois – discuss policy to encourage the study of Asian languages and whether it’s doing enough in the Asian Century. Listen here: https://bit.ly/2km8ANZ

Our presenters – Professor Quentin Grafton, and Lydia Kim – also discuss what the latest twists and turns in the Brexit saga tell us about the state of democracy in the UK, tackle some of your questions and comments, and welcome some new members of our Facebook group.

Angela Scarino is an Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics in the School of Communication, International Studies and Languages at the University of South Australia and is the Director of the Research Centre for Languages and Cultures. She was visiting ANU to take part in the Innovative Language Education Symposium, organised by the School of Culture, History, and Language.

Grazia Scotellaro is the Digital Learning Advisor for the College of Asia and the Pacific at The Australian National University and has a background in Technology Enhanced Language Learning.

Luke Courtois recently graduated from The Australian National University with a Bachelor of International Security Studies completing a double major in International Security/Thai language.

Quentin Grafton is Professor of Economics at Crawford School, an ANU Public Policy Fellow, and Director of the Centre for Water Economics, Environment and Policy. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Policy Forum.

Lydia Kim is a presenter for Policy Forum Pod.

Policy Forum Pod is available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherSubscribe on Android or wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to podcast@policyforum.net. You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or join us on the Facebook group.

This episode of Policy Forum Pod was produced by Lydia Kim, written by Lilliana Cazabon-Mitchell, and edited by Branko Cvetojevic, with executive production by Martyn Pearce. Special thanks to Gouri Banerji at the ANU School of Culture, History, and Language, and Angus Blackman in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

The post Podcast: Language barriers appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/podcast-language-barriers/feed/ 0
Maximising public benefit from science https://www.policyforum.net/maximising-public-benefit-from-science/ https://www.policyforum.net/maximising-public-benefit-from-science/#respond Wed, 04 Sep 2019 23:50:54 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=35789 Rather than simply investing in research for short-term return, Australia should more carefully consider the potential benefits of its scientific pursuits, Wendy Russell writes. Many see the primary focus of science policy as the funding of science. Others focus on the place of science in informing policy, but in democratic societies, the ultimate goal of […]

The post Maximising public benefit from science appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
Rather than simply investing in research for short-term return, Australia should more carefully consider the potential benefits of its scientific pursuits, Wendy Russell writes.

Many see the primary focus of science policy as the funding of science. Others focus on the place of science in informing policy, but in democratic societies, the ultimate goal of science policy is to maximise public benefit.

The key, many argue, to increasing public benefit from science is more funding. With less than 2 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product spent on research and development – putting it significantly behind many OECD countries – it’s hard to argue against the need for more investment in science.

However, a focus on budgets and funding can create a policy approach that regards science purely in terms of its return on investment. Science delivers far more than this, and some public benefits from science are in tension with economic goals.

For example, the most lucrative medical research is focused on creating new drugs. Delivering these requires international venture capital, partnership with pharmaceutical companies, and engagement with global markets. How much economic and social benefit Australia sees from this research depends on the drug, what it treats, and how it does this, as well as what returns researchers can secure from powerful international actors.

More on this: Cultivating research expertise for complex policy problems

In the meantime, this research competes with public health research, which provides knowledge for preventative health which, while it brings no immediate return, can provide long-term social and economic benefits.

Simply increasing funding to science provides no guarantee of maximising public benefit, particularly in the absence of a thorough evaluation of how science provides that benefit. Further, Australia needs a collective agreement on what these benefits should be. Science policy needs to be more outcome-oriented.

For this, policymakers and scientists need tools to understand the outcomes that derive from scientific work, in all its variety and those necessary for dialogue and engagement with the wider community to evaluate these outcomes.

Recent changes to research incentives, notably the Research Engagement and Impact agenda, potentially contribute to the evaluation of the outcomes of science in conversation with the public and end-users. The policy places the onus for this engagement and impact assessment with researchers and research organisations, thereby accommodating the enormous variety of scientific work and its outcomes.

More on this: From 'publish or perish' to 'collaborate or crumble'

Whether this variety is valued is another thing, and one of the problems with the policy is that it tends to either conflate economic and social benefit or to position them as separate and distinct. In fact, the relationship between economic and social benefit from most science and innovation is complex and highly varied.

Science and innovation underpin and are central to ‘the structure of society and the fabric of daily life’. As such, the impacts of science are diverse and unpredictable.

Science and technology contribute to a range of benefits, but also to a range of negative impacts, but it’s not as simple as ‘good’ science and ‘bad’ science. Innovation gives rise to both positive and negative outcomes or benefits some groups but not others.

We really need to move away from the trend of thinking that to criticise an area of science is to be ‘anti-science’.

Think about policy – if someone criticises a particular policy, are they ‘anti-policy’? Such criticism is an important aspect of accountability in our political system. Science would benefit from more such accountability, particularly from a robust discussion that moves beyond polarisation.

In this context, it is important to build much better capacity to assess scientific research directions and innovation pathways in terms of their likely – rather than just potential – societal benefits, how these are distributed, and with what outcomes.

This requires better understandings of innovation landscapes and the multiple factors that shape paths and influence science decisions and the ways that science leads to outcomes.

We also need better ways to assess ‘grand challenges’ and to look for solutions that draw from the whole science and innovation system and beyond, rather than simply picking winners. Some trans-disciplinary inquiry that operates within and extends beyond science could achieve this.

So, how can Australia build this engagement and assessment capacity?

The nation needs a culture of responsible innovation and tools to assist scientists to act responsibly. These must be based on a better understanding of the innovation ‘landscapes’ they’re working in.

More on this: Ideas boom to innovation bust?

There must be support from research organisations and funding bodies for outcome-oriented approaches to research decisions. This would include reform of academic incentives.

Investment in new expertise and institutions to assess and understand the innovation system in its complexity and heterogeneity is crucial too and will provide insights and information to scientists and government to inform their decision making.

Australian science also needs greater transparency, accountability, and future vision for science. This can be achieved through two-way engagement with stakeholders and the public and democratic consideration of science and innovation directions.

If society is to reap the public benefits of science and innovation, it can’t take those benefits for granted. Benefits are not delivered through a pipeline but emerge from a complex landscape. Australia needs the capacity to assess and evaluate this landscape and its outcomes, in a robust way.

This demands an ongoing conversation about what the public benefits should be and what kinds of future are desirable as a democratic society.

An ongoing conversation about the public benefits of science, as they affect everyone in the long-term, is what science policy should be built on.

The post Maximising public benefit from science appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/maximising-public-benefit-from-science/feed/ 0
National Security Podcast: The geopolitics of crypto-currencies https://www.policyforum.net/national-security-podcast-the-geopolitics-of-crypto-currencies/ https://www.policyforum.net/national-security-podcast-the-geopolitics-of-crypto-currencies/#respond Wed, 04 Sep 2019 04:09:58 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=35688 In this National Security Podcast, leading Australian journalist Chris Zappone and cybersecurity researcher Elise Thomas join Katherine Mansted to talk about the fintech revolution and its impact on national security.  As Facebook advances its plan for a new cryptocurrency – Libra – we ask what the fintech revolution means for national security. Will a major […]

The post National Security Podcast: The geopolitics of crypto-currencies appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
In this National Security Podcast, leading Australian journalist Chris Zappone and cybersecurity researcher Elise Thomas join Katherine Mansted to talk about the fintech revolution and its impact on national security. 

As Facebook advances its plan for a new cryptocurrency – Libra – we ask what the fintech revolution means for national security. Will a major player like Facebook take crypto mainstream, and if so, how could that reshape global financial flows and economic power? In this National Security Podcast, Katherine Mansted explores what is shaping the cryptocurrency landscape – from the invisible creators of Bitcoin to nation-states with a penchant for fintech innovation. We discuss the opportunities and pitfalls of Facebook’s proposed new cryptocurrency, Libra, as well as the other crypto actors on the scene. Listen here: https://bit.ly/2lXiUMH

Chris Zappone is Digital Foreign Editor at The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, where his writing focuses on the interplay between technology, politics, economics, and the future.

Elise Thomas is a Researcher working with ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre. She has previously worked as a freelance journalist, including writing for WiredGuardian AustraliaSBSCrikey and The Interpreter.

Katherine Mansted is a senior adviser at the National Security College and non-resident fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to podcast@policyforum.net. You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or find us on Facebook. The National Security Podcast and Policy Forum Pod are available on SpotifyiTunesStitcher, and wherever you get your podcasts. 

The post National Security Podcast: The geopolitics of crypto-currencies appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/national-security-podcast-the-geopolitics-of-crypto-currencies/feed/ 0
How not to design energy feed-in tariffs https://www.policyforum.net/how-not-to-design-energy-feed-in-tariffs/ https://www.policyforum.net/how-not-to-design-energy-feed-in-tariffs/#respond Wed, 04 Sep 2019 00:07:32 +0000 https://www.policyforum.net/?p=35746 Despite both countries using the same feed-in tariffs, Indonesia has much to learn from the Philippines and its renewable energy sector, James Guild writes. According to the International Energy Agency, Indonesia has the potential to develop 75,000 megawatts (MW) of hydropower, 32,000 MW of biomass, 28,000 MW of geothermal and 4.8 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day […]

The post How not to design energy feed-in tariffs appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
Despite both countries using the same feed-in tariffs, Indonesia has much to learn from the Philippines and its renewable energy sector, James Guild writes.

According to the International Energy Agency, Indonesia has the potential to develop 75,000 megawatts (MW) of hydropower, 32,000 MW of biomass, 28,000 MW of geothermal and 4.8 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day of solar power. Despite being endowed with a wealth of potential renewable energy sources, the country has struggled to accelerate growth in the sector.

In 2012, the total installed capacity of grid-connected solar, wind, and biomass energy was 31 MW. By 2017, it had grown to only 68 MW.

The neighbouring Philippines, by contrast, has seen rapid growth in its renewable energy sector over the same time period, with installed capacity of solar, wind, and biomass energy increasing from 153 MW to 1,537 MW.

Both countries used feed-in tariffs – a policy tool whereby the buyer agrees to purchase renewable energy for a period of 20 to 30 years, typically at above market rates – to promote investment in the sector. But only in the Philippines did this lead to accelerated growth.

More on this: A chance for liftoff: Indonesia's solar sector

The gap between the two countries can be explained by several factors. The Philippines has a friendlier regulatory environment for private capital, whereas foreign firms seeking to develop renewable energy projects in Indonesia often struggle in navigating a cumbersome bureaucracy.

The policy-making process has also been much more consistent in the Philippines, where the framework for feed-in tariffs was developed and tendered in a methodical and consistent way.

In Indonesia, feed-in tariffs have changed often and suddenly, and a wave of overlapping and confusing regulations have been in an ad-hoc manner. This inconsistent policy-making has pushed down investor confidence.

There are also deeper structural forces at work. For one, Indonesia has large domestic coal reserves and a powerful extractive industry lobby, whereas the Philippines relies on imported coal. Indonesia, therefore, has access to ample cheap coal, the price of which can be kept artificially low for domestic power plants if need be.

The Philippines is at the mercy of global commodity prices. Developing a more diversified energy mix with a larger role for renewables, therefore, has more economic and strategic urgency in Manila.

The influence of the extractive industries lobby is also very significant in Indonesia and deeply intertwined with the apparatus of the state. If renewable energy were to pose a serious challenge to coal in the country’s energy mix, it would risk the dominance of some very well-connected and powerful companies.

Under the surface, I believe this has worked to stall the growth of solar, wind, and biomass energy.

All of these factors have conspired to slow the growth of renewable energy in Indonesia, while the Philippines has seen its sector grow rapidly by applying the same policy tools but in a more effective manner. This begs the question of whether the country, a major source of global carbon emissions, will ever get serious about renewable energy.

More on this: Indonesia's state-owned predicament

There are some encouraging signs. In 2017, Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy issued Regulation 50/2017 which benchmarks how much the state-owned utility company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) can pay to purchase renewable energy to national and regional costs of production.

What this means is that PLN will no longer pay more to buy renewable energy than it costs for the utility to generate power from plants that it owns and operates.

In places like Java and Sumatra, which have large grids served mainly by cheap coal-fired plants, solar and wind will struggle to be financially competitive.

However, this regulation actually opens the door for more investment in renewable energy in places where it will have the most impact: in more remote parts of Eastern Indonesia like Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and the Maluku Islands.

More on this: Asia-Pacific's energy change

Many of these areas have only moderate demand for electricity and are often served by expensive diesel generators.

A few hundred MW of wind or solar-generated capacity could have a significant impact, and because PLN’s costs of production are high, the new law allows them to pay up to 20 cents per kWh to purchase renewable energy in those parts of the archipelago. At those prices, renewable projects could be an attractive option for investors.

Indeed, in 2018 alone, two utility-scale wind farms totalling almost 150 MW went into operation in South Sulawesi. The Asian Development Bank is also expected to lend up to $3 billion to develop renewable projects in Eastern Indonesia between now and 2021.

While Indonesia’s recent experience with renewable energy has been disappointing, this new regulatory framework may create an opportunity for moderate but realistic capacity gains in the places that need it most.

Given the regulatory and political obstacles arrayed against renewable energy, this strikes me as a sensible and practical plan for the short- to middle-term.

 

This article is based on the author’s published in the Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies (APPS) journal. You can read the full paper, ‘Feed-in tariffs and the politics of renewable energy in Indonesia and the Philippines’, here.

This article is published in partnership with DevPolicy Blog.

The post How not to design energy feed-in tariffs appeared first on Policy Forum.

]]>
https://www.policyforum.net/how-not-to-design-energy-feed-in-tariffs/feed/ 0