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Global Focus

Welcome to Global Focus, a website feature that spotlights our breaking news.

Become a Global Change Maker

UBC’s two-year professional Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPPGA) program equips students with a broad policy foundation of strong multidisciplinary policy analysis and design skills as well as subject-specific expertise in development, sustainability and global governance. Visit for more details.

Yale-UBC Fox International Fellowship Program 

The Yale-UBC Fox International Fellowship Program is now inviting applications. The Fox International Fellows Program is designed to enhance mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries by promoting international scholarly exchanges and collaborations among the next generation of leaders. The application deadline has now passed.

Become a Global Change Maker

UBC’s professional Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPPGA) program equips students with a broad policy foundation of strong multidisciplinary policy analysis and design skills as well as subject-specific expertise in development, sustainability and global governance. The application deadline for Fall 2016 has now passed.

Paris Knowledge Bridge: Unpacking International Climate Governance

In December, countries are expected to adopt a new agreement on climate change that will ultimately replace the Kyoto Protocol. To learn more, watch these Paris Knowledge Bridge: Unpacking Climate Governance videos produced by Jennifer Allan, UBC PhD Student and the IISD and derived from 60 interviews with heads of UN agencies, negotiators and civil society. Watch the videos on the IISD website.

Canada Research Chair in Sustainability and Policy for Resources and Development, Liu Institute for Global Issues and the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering (UBC - Vancouver)

The Liu Institute for Global Issues and the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering have now closed applications for a jointly appointed Canada Research Chair (CRC) Tier 2 at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor in Sustainability and Policy for Resources and Development (a tenure-track appointment). Details about the CRC program are available on the CRC website. 

Please be prepared to upload the following items as one document (in the order listed): a recent CV, description of research interests, evidence of teaching effectiveness, three important publications, and examples of policy-related experience. Applicants are asked to send three suggested names of referees to Lindsay Marsh Review of completed applications is expected to begin September 15, 2015 and will continue until the position is filled.

Wade Davis on the Wonder of Culture in a Time of Enormous Change

Dr. Wade Davis discusses what can be done to preserve cultures at risk as part of the national Research2Reality initiative. Wade Davis is Professor of Anthropology, Faculty Associate at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at UBC. Claiming that humanity is at a literal cusp of history, Davis explores the potential for humans to become facilitators of cultural survival during a time of rapid social and spiritual change. Davis discourages thinking in dichotomous terms of traditional vs. modern and emphasizes the agency of humanity to choose the components of their lives and ask ourselves what kind of world we want to move into in the future.

View the video on UBC’s Research + International website.

UBC's new Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs program is open for applications 

The University of British Columbia’s newly launched two-year, professional Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPPGA) program will equip students with a broad policy foundation of strong analytical and technical skills – plus knowledge in development and social change, sustainability, and global governance.

The MPPGA program will graduate policy professionals prepared to create boundary-crossing solutions to address urgent issues facing the world in the 21st century. The MPPGA program is seeking ambitious, creative, and globally-minded students preparing for leadership positions, ready to navigate complex policy problems while driving positive global change. Apply by March 1st, 2015.

UBC Professor Hisham Zerriffi contributed to the development of new Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for Household Fuel Combustion

Professor Hisham Zerriffi was co-lead on the Financing review that contributed to the development of new indoor air quality guidelines for household fuel combustion. These guidelines aim to help public health policy-makers, as well as specialists working on energy, environmental and other issues understand best approaches to reducing household air pollution, the greatest environmental health risk in the world today. Read more.

UBC Professor Wade Davis recognized as top influential Thought Leader

Wade Davis, UBC Professor, best-selling author, speaker, and named by the National Geographic Society as one of the Explorers for the Millennium, has recently been recognized for
his contributions to ethnobotany by the Swiss Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI) as #16 in their list, Thought Leaders 2014: the most influential thinkers. GDI, Switzerland's historically first thinktank, worked with an MIT researcher to rank the top 100 Thought Leaders in the world. They identify the top 100 thinkers from every discipline and using a specially designed software, they measure not only how well a leader or idea comes across via a specific medium, such as Twitter or Youtube, but also how well they are networked. Please find the article here.

Paper co-authored by Professor Ramankutty on direct human influence on atmospheric C02 seasonality published in Nature


Navin Ramankutty, Professor, Global Food Security and Sustainability with the Liu Institute and IRES, is co-author on a paper published in top scientific journal, Nature. The paper is titled "Direct human influence on atmospheric CO2 seasonality from increased cropland productivity." Please find the article here.


Without national strategy, local food producers struggle to stem Canada's growing hunger problem

“We are not paying the cost to future generations of climate change, we are not paying an appropriate value to ensure animals are cared for and husbanded in way that is appropriate, we are not paying the cost of water pollution or soil degradation," says Evan Fraser, Liu Visiting Professor and a Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security at the University of Guelph, in a Globe and Mail article that launched a 9-part weekly series on food security in Canada.

Can we feed everyone? Evan Fraser thinks so in this article featured on CNN. He also explores the contradictions of the world food system and a manifesto for solving the global food crisis in these recent news articles related to World Food Day on Oct. 16th.

Press Release Features Important Findings of a Study Co-Authored by Professor Navin Ramankutty

Globalization threatens benefits of an African ‘green revolution’, says Navin Ramankutty, Professor, Global Food Security and Sustainability, Liu Institute for Global Issues and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. Navin co-authored an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that argued that a prospective “green revolution” in Africa could boost land use and carbon emissions globally.  Past green revolutions in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East have spared land and carbon dioxide emissions. However, in an increasingly globalized economy, an African green revolution could lead to opposite outcomes, finds the study. Read more in UBC’s Press Release.

New UBC Partnership, OceanCanada, Launched 

OceanCanada is a research collaboration between 15 Canadian universities, non-governmental organizations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and others and is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grants program. Partners from across Canada will gather together to holistically study the challenges and opportunities facing Canada's oceans and coastal communities.

Watch Rashid Sumaila, research director of OceanCanada, a professor in the UBC Fisheries Centre, and a Liu Faculty Associate speak about the importance of the ocean in this video.


Dr. Justin Yifu Lin, Panel Presentation "Demystifying the Chinese Economic Miracle"

May 26th, 2014 - UBC
Featured Speaker:
Dr. Justin Yifu Lin received his PhD in economics (University of Chicago, 1986) and served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank between 2008 and 2012. Before joining the Bank, Dr. Lin acted as the Founding Director and professor of the China Centre for Economic Research (CCER) at Peking University. Dr. Lin is known for his knowledge and experience in development economics, agricultural economics and economic reforms in China.

Chair: Dean Robert Helsley, Sauder School of Business
Celestin Monga, Senior Advisor to the Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, The World Bank
Wei Shao, Partner, Dentons Canada LLP
Yves Tiberghien, Executive Director, UBC China Council and Director
, Institute of Asian Research
Hao Li, Professor, Vancouver School of Economics


Leading economist Justin Yifu Lin explained China’s economic miracle in a panel presentation to a packed room of UBC faculty and students at the Liu Institute for Global Issues on May 26, 2014. Please find a link to the video and photos here. The presentation followed Dr. Lin’s Honorary Degree ceremony, which can be viewed online. The talk was sponsored by The Vancouver School of Economics and the UBC China Council.

Dr. Lin is China’s most prominent economist and a provocative thinker on why some countries develop more successfully than others and on his own country’s remarkable path to economic superpower. The widely published author and former Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank has pushed the frontiers of global thinking on economic development and the role of government in promoting economic growth. His predictions on China’s economy have repeatedly been proven correct. He is one of his government’s most influential advisers on economic policy and reform.

Dr. Lin shared with us that the Chinese economy grew at 9.8 per cent over the past 35 years. He described how China performed well once reforms were implemented, compared to other developing countries. However, China paid a price for its high economic growth rate: income disparity and corruption. Dr. Lin spoke of China's advantage in capital-intensive industries, such as automobile and equipment manufacturing, and its potential to have another 20 years of sustained high growth of 8 per cent per year, with structural reforms. "Of course, continuing to invest in infrastructure is key,” says Dr. Lin on increasing liveability as well as economic and social return in China.

'The Analysis of Absence: An Enquiry into Institutional Capacity to Respond to and Prevent Conflict-Related Sexual Violence against Men & Boys'

A workshop by Dr Chris Dolan, Director of the Refugee Law Project and (former) Liu Institute Visiting Fellow at Green College
Presenters: Dr Chris Dolan, Dr Erin Baines, Alicia Luedke, M.A. (Political Science) and Christopher Carter (Community and Regional Planning)
The Global Summit on The Prevention of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict held in June, 2014 provided a critical opportunity to push for the adoption of new and more inclusive global policies for addressing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)  
in war. Men and boys, as well as minorities such as LGBTI persons, are typically marginalised by legal and institutional frameworks that only recognize women and children.

The demand for evidence-based policy making poses a major challenge for academics and practitioners; statistics for survivors are generally not available. Dr. Dolan
hosted a workshop to discuss the reasons for the absence of evidence, the development of innovative methodologies that combine sociological enquiry with computer science, and preliminary findings with regard to legal frameworks and institutional framings of the problem of conflict-related sexual violence. The workshop brought together various stakeholders to discuss these findings and the methodology adopted.  

View a presentation given on March 5th, 2014 by Dr. Chris Dolan titled "Investigating Conflict-Related Sexual Violence against Men in the Great Lakes Region of Africa."


Not just about the money: corporatization is weakening activism and empowering big business

The corporatization of activist groups, including Greenpeace, is the focus of a new op-ed co-authored by Liu Institute Director, Peter Dauvergne, and former Postdoctoral Fellow, Genevieve LeBaron.

“Corporatized activism is shoring up big business, sustaining capitalist states, and building support for a lightly-reformed status-quo. It threatens no one in power,” wrote Dauvergne and LeBaron. “But it weakens grassroots activism and poses a major threat to those who are struggling to transform the world.” Read the op-ed here, and more on their book here.

Illegal Timber in Retail Supply Chain

Researchers from the Liu Institute and the Graduate School of Journalism will be working to answer important questions on illegal logging and the connection to global retail, thanks to a partnership development grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The project will use journalistic investigative techniques and video to reveal and communicate the connections and consequences between illegal logging and big retail. It builds on research on the
global political-economy of timber by Jane Lister and Peter Dauvergne of the Liu Institute, and on global illegal logging by the Investigative Reporting Program and the Centre for Digital Media. Initial project output from the Graduate School of Journalism includes Pirating Russia’s Hardwood, a video  featured on the New York Times on October 18, 2013.

Food Security in Asia and the Pacific

In Asia and the Pacific, despite rapid economic growth and ongoing structural transformations, providing enough safe and nutritious food remains a challenge. This report - “Food Security in Asia and the Pacific” - aims to investigate key policy options for dealing with the food security challenges in the region. Read more.

For a free download, or to purchase in hardcopy, please visit:

Video: Ashok Kotwal presents his research on Food Security and Safety Nets at the September 5th launch event.

Modern Warfare: Armed Groups, Private Militaries, Humanitarian Organizations, and the Law

To bridge the widening gap between the theory and practice of the law, Modern Warfare brings together both scholars and practitioners who offer unique, and often divergent, perspectives on four key challenges to the law's legitimacy: how to ensure compliance among non-state armed groups; the proliferation of private military and security companies and their use by humanitarian organizations; tensions between the idea of humanitarian space and counterinsurgency doctrines; and the phenomenon of urban violence.
Read more.

Modern Warfare is the outcome of "On the Edges of Conflict", a collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross. 
IDRN Development Challenge 

Spring 2012 marked the inaugural International Development Research Network (IDRN) Development Challenge, in which teams submitted detailed proposals outlining suggestions for addressing a specific development challenge affecting a less-developed region. Ten teams had to pass through two stages of competition in order to be eligible for the cash rewards that would allow them to begin implementation of their projects.

The competition concluded at a final event on May 22 at which teams presented their proposals to a panel of judges, and three finalists were selected to receive the prize money. Read more.

Eco-Business: A Big-Brand Takeover of Sustainability

Jane Lister speaks on CBC's Lang & O'Leary Exchange about Eco-Business: A Big-Brand Takeover of Sustainability, her new book co-authored with Peter Dauvergne. Watch the interview on [at 33:34 / 42:16 mins].





Solving the Global Food Crisis

The Liu Institute's International Development Research Network (IDRN) recently interviewed Professor Navin Ramankutty (Tier II Canada Research Chair in Land Use and Global Environmental Change at McGill University) about his research. Watch the interview below, and visit the IDRN's blog for more information.


Food Security in Asia and the Pacific

The Liu Institute hosted a group of experts for a symposium on Food Security in Asia and the Pacific. Hosted in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), the Symposium brought together academics, policy makers, and private sector representatives to further understand key policy challenges and opportunities related to food security in Asia and the Pacific region. Read more

Researchers at the Institute are also working to answer important questions on food security in India, thanks to a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Read more on this project here.


Framework for Screening Human Health and Environmental Risks from Nanomaterials

On May 24th and 25th, 2012, the Liu Institute hosted a group of experts for a workshop on nanotoxicology, human exposure assessment, and environmental fate and transport. The workshop forms part of a project which aims to generate a more complete understanding of risks and uncertainties for emerging nanomaterials. The end goal? A tool that enables regulators and industry to identify hot spots and areas of concern, to compare and rank risks from various engineered nanomaterials and to identify opportunities for re-engineering materials and products to minimize risks. Read more


The Right to Food: Food Access, Food Subsidy, and Residue-Based Bioenergy Production in India

Liu Institute researchers will be working to answer important questions on food security in India, thanks to a $345,000 grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The project, titled “The Right to Food: Food Access, Food Subsidy, and Residue-Based Bioenergy Production in India” has two themes: access to food and food subsidy, and the relationship between biofuels, agricultural productivity and food security. Read more


Energy poverty creating a respiratory disease ‘epidemic’ for almost half the world’s population 

Limited access to clean sources of energy, known as energy poverty, makes nearly half the world’s population reliant on burning wood, animal waste, coal or charcoal to cook. This leads to severe respiratory diseases that kill roughly two million people worldwide each year - a problem Hisham Zerriffi (Liu Institute) and Michael Brauer (SPPH) are trying to solve. Read more


Liu Institute researchers provide recommendations for $100 billion in annual climate change aid

In advance of a major United Nations climate conference, Liu Institute researchers are providing recommendations for managing a $100 billion annual commitment made by the international community at last year's United Nations climate conference to help the developing world respond to climate change -- a funding promise almost equal to all existing official development aid from major donor countries today.

In today's issue of Science, Simon Donner, Milind Kandlikar and Hisham Zerriffi argue that the aid commitment made by developed nations is unprecedented and that the world must learn from the troubled history of international development to ensure that countries meet the commitment and provide real actions on the ground. Read more


India: Can solar power become a tool for pro-poor development?

Recipients of the Martha Piper Research fund, associate professor Milind Kandlikar and Sumeet Gulati want to find out if solar power can be a viable energy solution for the 100 million households in rural india who do not have access to electricity.

India is one of the most energy poor countries in the world. In rural India, about one in five villages are not connected to the electrical grid. Even in villages with grid connectivity, about 100 million households do not get power from the electrical grids due to a lack of last mile connectivity. Read more


Rural Electrification: Strategies for Distributed Generation  

For an estimated 1.6 billion people worldwide, the absence of electricity is their daily experience. An untold number of others live with electricity that is erratic and of poor quality. How can electric power be brought into their lives when the centralized utility models that have evolved in developed nations are not an economically viable option?

Small-scale Distributed Generation (DG), ranging from individual solar home systems to village level grids run off diesel generators, could provide the answer. In his new book, Professor Zerriffi compares 20 DG enterprises and projects in Brazil, Cambodia and China, and shows that privately run and localized solutions can be both self-sustaining and replicable. Read more  


Colombia: The Task of Reconstructing Historical Narratives when the Conflict is Ongoing

During Colombia’s ‘Week of Memory’ this week, the Commission of Historical Memory presents four major reports on emblematic episodes of the war in Colombia. As a researcher for the Commission, Prof. Pilar Riaño-Alcalá has been working to document the different narratives generated during the conflict. Pilar is the rapporteur of “The Massacre of Bahia Portete: Wayuu women in the crosshairs” and the co-rapporteur of “Bojaya. The war without limits”. Read more


UBC researchers call for “social offset” to tackle neglected tropical diseases

Public health and international development experts at the Liu Institute are calling for a “social offset” mechanism to set aside a portion of research funding slated for neglected tropical diseases (NTD) to address broader social determinants of disease. Their comments are published today alongside other perspectives in the Debate section of the online journal PLoS Medicine. Read more


On the Edges of Conflict

Armed conflict in the early 21st century tends to be asymmetrical and protracted, fought by an array of armed groups on both physical and political battlefields, and causing disproportionate suffering and death to civilians. The Edges of Conflict Project is working to better understand the nature of such conflict and to improve respect for the rule of law in complex security environmentsRead more


A Daunting Nuclear Agenda for 2010

A year ago, President Obama took office with the stated goal of making the elimination of all nuclear weapons a central element of its nuclear policy. In a landmark speech delivered in Prague on April 5, 2009, he further detailed his vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and he outlined an ambitious arms control agenda for the next decade. The task of translating this vision into action is now upon him. In this op-ed, David Santoro looks at 2010, and the challenging task of driving that vision to completion. Read more


Former UN Special Rapporteur Calls for National Housing Program for Canada

In his recent lecture at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, Miloon Kothari, a former UN Special Rapporteur, explained that the right to housing is in fact included in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in numerous international covenants such as the Rights of the Child and the Status of Refugees. Mr Kothari is also the author of the 2007 UN Human Rights Council Report on Adequate Housing in Canada. Read more

Part 1 [9:48min]

Part 2 [8:36min]

Both videos are also available at the Liu Institute on iTunes U.


Her name is Beatrice, My Name is Lara 

"Her Name is Beatrice, My Name is Lara: Experiences in witnessing, internal displacement and conflict in Northern Uganda after 23 years of war" is a documentary project examining a documentary’s potentials and pitfalls in critical 'witnessing,' while exploring how voices from those living in the centre of conflict can challenge dominant media and humanitarian narratives. A photo- and video-based exhibition will be featured in the Liu Institute's lobby starting 14 January 2010. Read more


Global Climate Change: Reaching Agreement in Copenhagen

Leading up to the Copenhagen talks this month, the Liu Institute and its faculty members have been involved in a series of events aiming to inform, highlight, debate, and discuss the challenges and opportunities that world leaders face in the task of agreeing on an ambitious, global agreement that meets the challenge set by science. Read more


What should Canada be doing in Afghanistan post-2011?

To discuss this issue, the Liu Institute hosted a workshop on "Peacebuilding - Afghanistan after 2011", chaired by Taylor Owen and Emily Paddon, with support from Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Trudeau Foundation. Read More


From obscurity to action: Why Canada must tackle the security dimensions of climate change 

On October 29th, 2009, Margaret Purdy spoke to the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies (CASIS) International Conference, about the security implications of climate change for Canada. Margaret outlined why the climate change-security nexus is so critical for Canada and offered five recommendations for action. Read more 


Rape in the DR Congo: Canada, where are you?

On September 14, 2009, the Africa Canada Accountability Coalition, a student led initiative at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, spoke before the Canada Senate Committee for Human Rights about why and how Canada should address mass rape in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo; regions where mineral exploitation fuels a conflict that preys upon women and girls, and where Canada is the largest non-African investor in the mining industry. Read more


Hybrid vehicles produce scant environmental benefits, high cost

Despite major costs to taxpayers in the U.S. and Canada, government programs that offer rebates to hybrid vehicle buyers are failing to produce environmental benefits, a new UBC study says. The study finds that hybrid sales have come largely at the expense of small, relatively fuel-efficient, conventional cars, rather than large SUVs, trucks and vans, which produce substantially greater carbon emissions. Read more


Ending the Vacation of Canada’s Travelling Sex Offenders

A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) finds that Canada has fallen behind Australia and the United States in cracking down on its travelling child sex offenders, and calls on the RCMP to pro-actively enforce Canada’s so-called “child sex tourism” laws. The study is particularly timely with the recent extradition of an alleged Canadian child sex offender on child sex tourism charges in the U.S. Read more


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