Photo: World Leaders at the 2016 APEC Summit, 20 November 2016.  APEC Peru 2016, license: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

If the Chinese get one thing right, it is timing. Shortly after the US elections, Beijing made public its strategy for engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean, intended to send the world a reassuring signal in times of turmoil. This was in November 2008, amidst the fallout from the global financial crisis and just days prior to the APEC summit in Lima that year.

Beijing’s recent...

July 27, 2016

Photo: Tarawa, Kiribati; original by Government of Kiribati, retrieved through Wikimedia, licensed through CC by 3.0.

Climate change is a complex problem that is likely to pose significant challenges to human populations in the next decades. With rising seas anticipated in the near future, people will be forcibly displaced, posing existential challenges to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. Though the international community has thus far found it difficult to find meaningful soluti...

July 20, 2016

Image: Keeling Curve showing change in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over time.. Please refer to article for link to curve showing latest measurements.  This image by Narayanese, Semhur, and NOAA, retrieved from Wikimedia, licensed through CC BY-SA 3.0.


While climate change is an urgent problem with global repercussions, efforts to address this challenge have been complicated, in part, by its complexity and uncertainty. Climate change complexity arises from the interconnected...

The World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risks report produced a risk interconnection map that charts out an increasingly integrated and hyper-connected set of problems across multiple dimensions. Risks traditionally categorized as environmental risks can act as both a trigger and recipient to other risks including those that are economic, geopolitical, societal, and technological.


The end of the Cold War brought a new dimension to the study of international security. The Cold War framed inter...

April 19, 2016

The SAIS Foreign Policy Institute presents a discussion with Deputy Assistant Secretary Daniel A. Reifsnyder, led by Dr. Lynn Wagner (’91, PhD ’98) on Challenges in Environmental Diplomacy.

What are the challenges in conducting environmental diplomacy? How does it differ from the usual practice of US diplomacy? How are historic agreements, such as the recent Paris agreement, negotiated?

Dr. Reifsnyder has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment in the State De...

November 5, 2015

This article originally appeared in the Geopolitical Monitor on October 25, 2015. View it here.

Academics, marine biologists, retired military personnel, senior State Department officials, and NGOs continue to add their voices to a growing Washington chorus on the complex and challenging South China Sea (SCS) territorial disputes. At a recent Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies Program, “Promoting Sustainable Usage of the Oceans–Security, Collaboration and Develop...

October 20, 2015

This day-long conference is the second in a series on the Blue Economy related events at SAIS.  The agenda for the day included the following -

Keynote:    Promoting Sustainable Ocean Development

Panel 1:     Promoting Global Collaboration for Sustainable Oceans Development

Panel 2:     Security and Development in the South China Sea

Panel 3:     Promoting Sustainable Ocean & Water Development in the Middle East

Panel 4:     Sustainable Ocean Development in Latin America


This is a repost from Young China Watchers.

In November 2014, President Xi Jinping and President Obama signed a “historic agreement” between China and the United States to take action on climate change. The agreement, announced at a joint press conference in Beijing, commits the United States to double the speed of its current greenhouse gas emissions reduction trajectory, aiming for 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. It also marks the first time China has agreed to cap its own emissions, whic...

Many saw Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision to skip the upcoming “Climate Summit 2014” in New York as a blow to hopes that the UN-organized meeting would “galvanize and catalyze climate action.” China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter.

Expectations for Xi’s participation had been high; in 2009, Hu Jintao, Xi’s predecessor, used a similar UN climate change summit in 2009 to unveil China’s goal to cut the country’s carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020, compared with 2005.

Xi might not...

June 19, 2014

Appealing to hearts and minds in Africa on his recent visit (May 2014), Chinese premier Li Keqiang pledged that his country would boost living standards in Africa with announcements of $12 billion for the region,[1] and help Africa to realize the dream of connecting all of its national capitals by rail.

While Li’s announcements grabbed the media headlines, students of foreign policy and global governance would have noticed that other important changes in China’s approach to Africa were signalled...

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