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Making Peace with Nature: A Scientific Blueprint to tackle the Climate, Biodiversity and Pollution Emergencies (Executive Summary)

United Nations Environmental Program, February 2021

34 pages

Making Peace with Nature is the defining task of the 21st century. UNEP’s new report offers a blueprint for the sustainable world we need, with practical recommendations on how to tackle the three planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

The report communicates how we can tackle jointly these major issues within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals. . .It first provides an Earth diagnosis of current and projected human-induced environmental change, by putting facts and interlinkages in perspective, including by using smart infographics. In building on this diagnosis, the report identifies the shifts needed to close gaps between current actions and those needed to achieve sustainable development. The analysis is anchored in current economic, social and ecological reality and framed by economics and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. By synthesizing the latest scientific findings from the global environmental assessments, the report communicates the current status of the world’s urgent issues and opportunities to solve them.

Message from António Guterres

Secretary-General of the United Nations, February 2021

Making peace with nature is the defining task of the coming decades. We must seize the opportunity presented by the COVID-19 crisis to accelerate change. . .Our central objective is to build a global coalition for carbon neutrality. If adopted by every country, city, financial institution and company around the world, the drive to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 can still avert the worst impacts of climate change. Similar urgency and ambition are needed to transform other systems, including how we produce our food and manage our water, land and oceans. Developing countries need more assistance to redress environmental decline. Only then can we get back on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

This report shows that we have the ability to transform our impact on the world. . .An inclusive world at peace with nature can ensure that people enjoy better health and the full respect of their human rights so they can live with dignity on a healthy planet.



Toxic Politics: China’s Environmental Health Crisis and its Challenge to the Chinese State

By Yanzhong Huang

Cambridge University Press, December 2020

284 pages

Environmental degradation in China has not only brought a wider range of diseases and other health consequences than previously understood, it has also taken a heavy toll on Chinese society, the economy, and the legitimacy of the party-state. In Toxic Politics, Yanzhong Huang presents new evidence of China’s deepening health crisis and challenges the widespread view that China is winning the war on pollution. . . Huang connects this failure to pathologies inherent in the institutional structure of the Chinese party-state, which embeds conflicting incentives for officials and limits the capacity of the state to deliver public goods. Toxic Politics reveals a political system that is remarkably resilient but fundamentally flawed. Huang examines the implications for China’s future, both domestically and internationally.


‘Dr Huang . . . elegantly combines environmental science, public health, political science, organizational behavior and his own family and hometown experiences. . . The subject and analysis elucidate the conditions that at least 1.4 billion Chinese citizens face every day. The spill-over effects of the problem-set that he so eloquently unpacks here will have obvious global consequence. . .

– Craig Allen, President, US Ambassador (ret), US-China Business Council

Toxic Politics is a fascinating, lively, and authoritative account of the successes and failures of China’s environmental authoritarianism particularly under Xi Jinping. Essential reading for anyone worried about pollution and health in China. I can’t think of a better book for teaching political science students about Chinese politics and policy making.”

– Susan L. Shirk, Research Professor and Chair, 21st Century China Center, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego

‘This book addresses a key question as to how a major environmental health crisis may influence China’s rise. The book systematically reviews the fundamental economic, sociopolitical, foreign policy and health implications of the crisis and its policy response. The book also offers an intriguing assessment of the evolvement and implementation of environmental health policies in China. It is a must-read for those who are interested in global environmental health and policy issues.’

– Xi Chen, Associate Professor at Yale University; President, China Health Policy and Management Society

‘. . .While environmental health and governance may be the focus of this meticulously researched work, Yanzhong Huang offers much more. As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a host of other pressing global problems, Toxic Politics is full of valuable insights into how the Chinese government responds to crises that will matter to us all.’

– Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Medicine and former FDA Commissioner



Yanzhong Huang is a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he directs the Global Health Governance roundtable series. He is also a professor and director of global health studies at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, where he developed the first academic concentration among U.S. professional international affairs schools that explicitly addresses the security and foreign policy aspects of health issues. He is the founding editor of Global Health Governance: The Scholarly Journal for the New Health Security Paradigm.


The State of Peacebuilding in Africa: Lessons Learned for Policymakers and Practitioners

Edited by Terence McNamee and Monde Muyangwa

Palgrave MacMillan, November 2020

450 pages

This open access book on the state of peace building in Africa brings together the work of distinguished scholars, practitioners, and decision makers to reflect on key experiences and lessons learned in peace building in Africa over the past half century. The core themes addressed by the contributors include conflict prevention, mediation, and management; post-conflict reconstruction, justice and disarmament demobilization and reintegration; the role of women, religion, humanitarianism, grassroots organizations, and early warning systems; and the impact of global, regional, and continental bodies. The book’s thematic chapters are complemented by six country/region case studies: The Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan/South Sudan, Mozambique and the Sahel/Mali. Each chapter concludes with a set of key lessons learned that could be used to inform the building of a more sustainable peace in Africa.


“Very few books provide as broad and deep a set of reflections and considerations regarding peacebuilding in Africa, as this volume. The issues and case studies covered here offer much for the future of policymaking in this area. “

– David J. Hornsby, Associate Vice President of Teaching and Learning and Professor, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Canada


Terence McNamee is Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center Scholars, based in South Africa. Educated in his native Canada and the UK, he has written and worked on development, governance and security issues for more than two decades, mainly in Africa.

Monde Muyangwa is Director of the Africa Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She previously served as Academic Dean of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, and as Director of Research and Policy at the National Summit on Africa, all in the USA.


World in Danger: Germany and Europe in an Uncertain Time

By Wolfgang Ischinger

Brookings Institution Press, November 2020

280 pages

The world appears to be at another major turning point. Tensions between the United States and China threaten a resumption of great power conflict. Global institutions are being tested as never before, and hard-edged nationalism has resurfaced as a major force in both democracies and authoritarian states.

But a pivot point also offers Europe an opportunity to grow stronger. In World in Danger, Wolfgang Ischinger offers a vision of a European future of peace and stability. Ischinger examines the root causes of the current conflicts and suggests how Europe can successfully address the most urgent challenges facing the continent. The European Union, he suggests, is poised to become a more powerful actor on the world stage, able to shape global politics while defending the interests of its 500 million citizens. This important book offers a practical vision of a Europe fully capable of navigating these turbulent times.


“As a leading diplomat and strategist, Wolfgang Ischinger has worked to elevate Germany’s position within Europe while bolstering Europe’s influence in the world. In World in Danger, Ischinger makes a compelling case for the role that a stronger Europe and a rejuvenated transatlantic alliance can play in resolving the key security challenges of the twenty-first century. This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Germany and Europe’s increasingly critical role in international affairs.”

– Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright

“Wolfgang Ischinger, one of the world’s most gifted diplomats, has written a compelling book arguing that global security, stability, prosperity, and peace require Germany to assume greater responsibility for Europe’s future, for Europe to assume greater leadership in the world, and for Europe and the United States to revitalize the transatlantic link. He is right on all points. The book is a must-read.”

– Stephen J. Hadley, national security advisor under President George W. Bush


A German career diplomat, Wolfgang Ischinger was State Secretary (Deputy Foreign Minister) from 1998 to 2001. From 2001 to 2006, he was the Federal Republic of Germany’s Ambassador to the U.S., and from 2006 to 2008, to the Court of St James.

He is a Senior Professor at the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, and serves on the boards of companies as well as non-profit-institutions, including Atlantik-Brücke/Berlin, the American Academy/Berlin, and the Atlantic Council of the United States/Washington D.C.


They Call It Diplomacy: Forty Years of Representing Britain Abroad

By Peter Westmacott

Apollo, March 2021

368 pages

As well as offering an engaging and insightful account of a forty-year career spent in the upper echelons of the diplomatic and political worlds (and which included four years in pre-revolutionary Iran in addition to his fourteen years in Turkey, France, and the USA), They Call It Diplomacy sets out to explain what diplomats actually do; mounts a vigorous defence of the continuing relevance of the diplomat in an age of instant communication, social media, and special envoys; and details what Westmacott sees as some of the successes of recent British diplomacy. A committed Internationalist, Westmacott offers trenchantly Europhile views on the Brexit referendum and its aftermath, and voices his concerns about Britain’s ability to continue to bring its influence to bear on the wider world now that it has left the European Union.


Sir Peter John Westmacott is a senior British diplomat who was British Ambassador to Turkey, then Ambassador to France, and finally Ambassador to the United States from January 2012 to January 2016, during Obama’s presidency.


Complex Effects of International Relations: Intended and Unintended Consequences of Human Actions in Middle East Conflicts

By Ofer Israeli

SUNY Press, November 2020

In this comprehensive and unique theory-practice study, Ofer Israeli examines complex effects of international relations relating to various indirect—intended and unintended—consequences of intentional human action. These effects may be desirable or undesirable, overt or covert, anticipated or surprising, foreseeable but unanticipated, and anticipated but simultaneously neglected or discounted. Israeli focuses on six case studies from the Middle East, analyzing the unexpected and accidental results of interventions in this region by the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western powers during the Cold War. From this research, he develops a complex-causal mechanism or practical tool that countries may use to implement foreign policy, with the goal of reducing the number of conflicts and wars globally, especially in the Middle East.


“An international relations theory stunner. Relying on key concepts of complexity theory and based on penetrating and comprehensive case studies focusing on the international politics of the Middle East, this exceptionally conceived and researched book is one of the most ambitious studies of dynamic complex international systems since Robert Jervis’s System Effects.”

– Emanuel Adler, author of World Ordering: A Social Theory of Cognitive Evolution

“Statesmen make critical decisions amid intense pressure and daunting uncertainties. They almost always do so with incomplete information and uncertainty of outcomes. With these contingencies in mind, Ofer Israeli’s new book offers a welcome and provocative treatment of the intended and unintended consequences of human actions in Middle East conflicts.”

– Robert J. Lieber, author of Retreat and Its Consequences: American Foreign Policy and the Problem of World Order.


Ofer Israeli is a Lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and a Senior Lecturer at Ashkelon Academic College. He also teaches at the Israel Defense Forces Academy for Strategic Commanders, the Israeli Air Force Academy, and the Israeli Naval Academy. His books include International Relations Theory of War.


This is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race

By Nicole Perlroth

Bloomsbury Publishing, February 2021

491 pages

The untold story of the cyberweapons market–the most secretive, invisible, government-backed market on earth–and a terrifying first look at a new kind of global warfare.

Zero day: a software bug that allows a hacker to break into your devices and move around undetected. One of the most coveted tools in a spy’s arsenal, a zero day has the power to silently spy on your iPhone, dismantle the safety controls at a chemical plant, alter an election, and shut down the electric grid.

For decades, under cover of classification levels and non-disclosure agreements, the United States government became the world’s dominant hoarder of zero days. U.S. government agents paid top dollar–first thousands, and later millions of dollars to hackers willing to sell their lock-picking code and their silence.

Then the United States lost control of its hoard and the market.

Now those zero days are in the hands of hostile nations and mercenaries who do not care if your vote goes missing, your clean water is contaminated, or our nuclear plants melt down.

Filled with spies, hackers, arms dealers, and a few unsung heroes, written like a thriller and a reference, This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends is an astonishing feat of journalism. Based on years of reporting and hundreds of interviews, The New York Times reporter Nicole Perlroth lifts the curtain on a market in shadow, revealing the urgent threat faced by us all if we cannot bring the global cyber arms race to heel.


“An intricately detailed, deeply sourced and reported history of the origins and growth of the [cyberweapons] market and the global cyberweapons arms race it has sparked . . . Perlroth’s book sets out from the start to scare us out of our complacency.”

–  Jonathan Tepperman, The New York Times

“A vivid and provocative chronicle of Perlroth’s travels through the netherworld of the global cyberweapons arms trade.”

–  The New York Review of Books

“A stemwinder of a tale of how frightening cyber weapons have been turned on their maker. Perlroth takes a complex subject that has been cloaked in techspeak and makes it dead real for the rest of us.” –  Kara Swisher, co-founder of Recode and host of the New York Times podcast “Sway”

“Part John Le Carré and more parts Michael Crichton . . . spellbinding.”

– The New Yorker

“Possibly the most important book of the year . . . Perlroth’s precise, lucid, and compelling presentation of mind-blowing disclosures about the underground arms race a must-read exposé.”

–  Booklist, starred review

“A powerful case for strong cybersecurity policy that reduces vulnerabilities while respecting civil rights.”

–  Kirkus Reviews

Nicole Perlroth is an award-winning cybersecurity journalist for The New York Times. She is the recipient of several journalism awards including best technology reporting by the Society of Business Editors and Writers. Her work has been optioned for both film and television. She is a regular lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a graduate of Princeton University and Stanford University.


Engaging the Evil Empire: Washington, Moscow, and the Beginning of the End of the Cold War

By Simon Miles

Cornell University Press, October 2020

248 pages

. . .Engaging the Evil Empire dramatically alters how we look at the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Tracking key events in US-Soviet relations across the years between 1980 and 1985, Simon Miles shows that covert engagement gave way to overt conversation as both superpowers determined that open diplomacy was the best means of furthering their own, primarily competitive, goals.

The received wisdom in diplomatic circles is that the beginning of the end of the Cold War came from changing policy preferences and that President Reagan in particular opted for a more conciliatory and less bellicose diplomatic approach. In reality, Miles clearly demonstrates, Reagan and ranking officials in the National Security Council had determined that the United States enjoyed a strategic margin of error that permitted it to engage Moscow overtly.

As US grand strategy developed, so did that of the Soviet Union. Engaging the Evil Empire covers five critical years of Cold War history when Soviet leaders tried to reduce tensions between the two nations in order to gain economic breathing room and, to ensure domestic political stability, prioritize expenditures on butter over those on guns. Miles’s bold narrative shifts the focus of Cold War historians away from exclusive attention on Washington by focusing on the years of back-channel communiqués and internal strategy debates in Moscow as well as Prague and East Berlin.


“At a time when tensions with Russia are rising precipitously, Simon Miles has provided a much-needed, well-documented account of how Washington and Moscow, ever partners and rivals, managed to master their differences in the past. These compelling insights from history deserve a wide audience today.”

– M. E. Sarotte, author of The Collapse

Engaging the Evil Empire is well researched and brings out the complexities of US foreign-policymaking in an era that has customarily been considered under such simplistic labels as the ‘Second Cold War’.”

– Jussi Hanhimäki, author of The Flawed Architect

“In 1980 it looked like the Soviet Union had the US on the run. Less than 6 years later, the tide had turned and the transformation later known as the end of the Cold War had begun. Yet those years are strangely neglected. Miles rectifies this deficiency in a deeply researched and well argued study of American and, especially, Soviet behavior that traces the developments of the early 1980s and allows us to see the succeeding and better-studied events in a new light.”

– Robert Jervis, author of How Statesmen Think

“Based on archives from both sides of the Iron Curtain, Simon Miles’s judiciously researched and admirably balanced  book uncovers the deep roots of the Cold War’s demise. Engaging the Evil Empire provides important insights for scholars, policymakers, and the public as they grapple with the emerging period of great power competition.”

– James Cameron, author of The Double Game


Simon Miles is Assistant Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.




Making Peace with Nature by United Nations Environmental Program
Toxic Politics by Yanzhong Huang
The State of Peacebuilding in Africa Edited by Terence McNamee and Monde Muyangwa
World in Danger by Wolfgang Ischinger
They Call It Diplomacy by Peter Westmacott
Complex Effects of International Relations by Ofer Israeli
This is How They Tell Me the World Ends by Nicole Perlroth
Engaging the Evil Empire by Simon Miles

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