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  • April 24, 2019
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Weekly Briefing: Nudges fight fake news; gender quotas save trees

Our weekly rundown of global policy

Top Stories

Nudging for good: Can government beat the screens? With the growing threat of trolls and fake news, the internet has more potential to do harm than ever before. From ensuring T&Cs are intelligible to making it easy to unsubscribe, here’s how behavioural insights can prevent people from getting hurt.. (Elisabeth Costa & David Halpern, The Behavioural Insights Team)

Our relationship to nicotine is changing. Are vaping fears just hot hair? In the US — where e-cigarette use among teens skyrocketed by 78% over 2017-2018 — government calls vaping an epidemic. The UK, meanwhile, has encouraged it as a tool to quit smoking. Who’s in the right? (Apolitical)

Colombia is using social innovation to build peace. Trust in government is low in the country: citizens are tired of top-down decision-making, done behind closed doors. Here’s how one agency is using innovation to restore credibility and peace in rural areas. (Apolitical)

Social impact bonds: How to overcome three common challenges. SIBs have helped governments address society’s most complex challenges — but their technical aspects can be daunting. Here’s how to develop an intervention, get buy-in from your agency and balance stakeholders’ needs. (Rachel Wooldridge, Ecorys UK)

Could gender quotas save the world’s forests? Gender-equal policymaking is often overlooked as a solution to climate change. New research finds that when there’s the same number of men and women on local governing bodies, villages harvest 51% fewer trees. (Apolitical)


Apolitical has launched a new newsletter, the Explainer: a bi-monthly deep dive into a sweeping policy issue. With in-depth analysis, statistics and Q&A, this email will help you better understand modern policymaking tools and trends. Subscribe now.

Technology Frontiers

A London hospital is using AI to predict which patients will skip appointments. The algorithm uses records from 22,000 appointments, allowing it to identify 90% of no-shows and target them with phone calls. The tool could save the national health service millions. (The Guardian)

Energy, Environment and Economic Opportunity

Puerto Rico will stop burning coal by 2020. It will shut down all coal power plants, which generate 17% of the island’s electricity. The island only gets about 2% of its energy from renewables — which means this transition will likely be the quickest shift to clean energy on the planet. (Futurism)

Emissions fell drastically after Madrid made part of its city centre off-limits to cars. In November, the city banned high-polluting vehicles from 472 hectares of downtown Madrid, with the goal of cutting nitrogen dioxide levels by 23% by 2020. They’re already down 38%. (El Pais)

In 1995, South Korea recycled 2% of its food waste. Today, it recycles 95%. The dramatic change is a result of two key laws. In 2005, dumping food in landfills was banned. And in 2013, the government made it compulsory for citizens to recycle food waste using biodegradable bags. (World Economic Forum)


“Most of us will spend a large chunk of our free time over the next year looking at screens. But how much of that activity will we have ‘chosen’? And what will those endless hours mean for what we buy, who and what we know and how we spend the rest of our time offline?” — Elisabeth Costa & David Halpern, The Behavioural Insights Team

Health and Ageing

In Accra, Ghana, ambulances can track patients’ precise location. They use six-digital location codes to find the injured with a degree of accuracy of 10 inches — technology that has proved indispensable in a city with a notoriously inexact postal address system. (Ozy)

Gender Equality

Chile will ban street harassment. The sweeping law will institute fines and jail time for lewd comments, groping and stalking. Three out of four Chilean women have experienced sexual harassment on the street in the past year, officials say, but getting victims to speak up will be a challenge. (Thomson Reuters)

And finally

A US presidential candidate plans to campaign via hologram. Andrew Yang, one of 20 Democratic hopefuls angling for the party’s nomination, said the technology would allow him to be in multiple key battleground states at once and interact with people in real time. (The Hill)

(Picture credit: Unsplash)


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