Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Sustainable Development Goals

Author: Danielle Renwick

The UN’s sweeping new development agenda aims to “provide the overarching narrative” of sustainable growth for the next fifteen years, yet critics say the Sustainable Development goals are broad, unfocused, and unrealistic. 

See more in Global; Global Governance; Development

The Rohingya Migrant Crisis

Author: Eleanor Albert

Tens of thousands of Rohingya are fleeing persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. This Backgrounder explores the plight of the Muslim ethnic minority group and the deepening migration crisis in Southeast Asia.

See more in Burma/Myanmar; Migration

Christianity in China

Author: Eleanor Albert

Tens of millions of Chinese now identify as Christians and the number has grown rapidly, posing challenges for a government that is officially atheist and wary of threats to its power.

See more in China; Religion

Nicaragua's Grand Canal

Author: Danielle Renwick

Nicaragua’s proposed Grand Canal would be one of the world’s largest engineering projects. Its proponents say it could transform the country’s economy, while critics say it could be an environmental catastrophe.

See more in Nicaragua; Infrastructure; Energy and Environment

Ebola Virus

Author: Danielle Renwick

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed thousands and spurred efforts to improve responses to pandemics, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in Africa (sub-Saharan); Health

The U.S. Child Migrant Influx

Author: Danielle Renwick

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, are arriving in the United States illegally, adding severe stress to an immigration system already in need of major overhaul.

See more in Americas; Immigration