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Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (BECCS): The Distracting Injustice of an Infeasible and Unlikely Technofix

DEVELOPMENT - 26. September 2019 - 0:00

In their constant attempt to avoid responsibility, polluters promote technological innovation as the ‘true’ solution to global warming. This article, through the case of BECCS, illustrates all that is faulty with such reasoning, and how indulging such diversion from addressing the environmental crisis with science-backed solutions violates human rights and the SDGs, and evidently, deepens the crisis and postpones the responsibility of making inconvenient changes to future generations.

Another view of the Climate Action Summit

Global Policy Watch - 25. September 2019 - 22:19

The so-called ‘Climate Action Summit’ was an odd affair. It began with a youth dialogue, including a speech from Greta Thunberg, who called out the audience of heads of state and CEOs of some of the companies known for their inaction in the face of the climate emergency.

“How dare you say it is business as usual”, “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth, how dare you”, she said. This public telling off was greeted with tumultuous applause – perhaps showing that it was going to be business as usual after all.

Continuing the business of the day: the aim of the Summit was to “boost ambition and rapidly accelerate action to implement the Paris Agreement”, something some of the richest countries on earth have resolutely chosen to ignore or to obstruct.

Countries show off their achievements

The day was arranged into a series of sessions, during which we heard from a number of countries of the plans they had put, or were putting in place, with some positive results.

The Colombian speaker described how a coalition of eight Latin American countries, including Colombia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Haiti were working together so that by 2030, 70% of regional energy will come from renewable sources.

The Chinese state counsellor said that the country was mobilising stakeholders and resources to scale up pre 2020 actions, while its neighbour India is devising low carbon pathways for industry.

Germany plans to phase out coal by 2038.

The New Zealand Prime Minister recounted how on a visit to Tokelau she learnt that the sea is invading the seaside burial grounds, so there will be a zero carbon bill in Parliament to ensure the country keeps to its 1.5 degree limit.

Perhaps the most moving presentation – apart from Thunberg – was that by the Marshall Islands, one of the countries most likely to suffer from the climate emergency, who’s President described it as “representative of the most climate-vulnerable people on earth.

Business – turns from bad to good fairy

This time around business is showing that it is a full-time actor – and perhaps will make a full-time take-over of the UN. Each of the sessions – except the last one on Small Island Developing States – had a presentation from a business CEO, financial institution, or philantrocapitalist (billionaires who have turned over a new leaf).

It was edifying to see how positive they all were about the changes they were planning to bring about. Almost as if, having finally made it to ‘the good side’, they wanted to prove how well they were behaving and collect their gold stars.

Willis Towers Watson CEO and Board Director, John Haley talked about investment to low and middle income countries to build infrastructure to withstand climatic risks. The Chairman of Danone spoke on working to build a 1% coalition of food and agri-based businesses around the world, which are committed to putting nature-based solutions at the heart of their businesses.

Bill Gates, who is now co-chair of the Global Commission of Adaptation described how the Commission will focus on scaling up support to farmers, with services such as digital advisory services, farmer finance, and implementing policies that incentivise resilience. Strangely there was an emphasis on how big the returns could be on investment – almost as if this were a company presentation.

All in all, another day at the new-style UN.

By Daphne Davies.

The post Another view of the Climate Action Summit appeared first on Global Policy Watch.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Iraqi President highlights key role of sustainable development in country’s future

UN ECOSOC - 25. September 2019 - 22:00
Ensuring good governance, tackling corruption and creating job opportunities for youth are top priorities for Iraq as the country continues to emerge from war and terrorism, President Barham Salih said on Wednesday. 
Kategorien: english

Syrian displacement poses ‘serious threat’ to Lebanon’s development goals, President tells UN Assembly

UN ECOSOC - 25. September 2019 - 19:58
While the “heated” wars in the Middle East over the last decade have recessed, the President of Lebanon told the United Nations General Assembly’s annual general debate on Wednesday that Syria’s displacement crisis has had repercussions on his country’s “security, political, social, economic and environmental spheres”.
Kategorien: english

Helping the climate: joining forces for sustainable rice

GIZ Germany - 25. September 2019 - 19:09
: Mon, 23 Sep 2019 HH:mm:ss
Joining forces can stem climate change in agriculture. An alliance for sustainable rice shows how this can work – and farmers benefit too.
Kategorien: english

Creating arable land behind weirs in Ethiopia

GIZ Germany - 25. September 2019 - 19:09
: Mon, 16 Sep 2019 HH:mm:ss
Climate change, droughts and floods make arable farming virtually impossible in the Ethiopian lowlands. Weirs are used to collect the precious water and store it in the soil.
Kategorien: english

Gender Equality: a thread running through the Sustainable Development Goals

Global Policy Watch - 25. September 2019 - 18:49

UN SDG Summit: 24-25 September

The need for gender equality is being referred to throughout discussions on the SDGs as an important prerequisite to achieving the goals

25 September New York: “There is simply no way we can achieve the 17 SDGs without achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls”. Who said this? A feminist polemicist? No, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointing out that gender equality is the thread running through the 2030 Agenda.

“We need to understand that gender equality does not depend only on national efforts to implement the SDGs – it requires new international governance arrangements” says Cecilia Alemany from DAWN, a contributor to Spotlight 2019*, a Civil Society Reflection Group publication that analyses annual progress on the 17 SDGs.

A central plank of achieving women’s human rights is the recognition and validation of unpaid care work, and the rights of informal sector workers including in global production chains where women predominate. None of this can be adequately addressed at the national level alone.

The feminization of poverty is a continuing global challenge and, at the same time as fighting structural inequalities, women play a central role in reducing poverty and hunger (SDG1), achieving food security and sustainable agriculture (SDG2) and eliminating violence and conflict (SDG16).

Women’s position – a barometer of achieving the SDGs

A country cannot be said to have achieved equal access to quality education (SDG4) if girls don’t go to secondary school or if those who have reached high levels of education continue to work in the low productive sectors. A population isn’t healthy (SDG3) if women continue to die in childbirth, or gender violence is considered as a normal practice against teenage girls and women. Decent work and social protection (SDG8) aren’t achieved until women’s unpaid work and their lack of social protection is addressed.

Providing public services is a state obligation, a human right and a policy tool to fight women’s inequality. “The SDGs aren’t going to be achieved if social services are cut to reduce deficits and women are forced to take over state responsibilities in the face of budget cuts”, says Gita Sen from DAWN.

It is important to fight to prevent increased privatisation of public services, as there is clear evidence that free access to public services reduces poverty – in OECD countries this has reduced poverty by 20%. Current decisions on what appear to be very attractive public-private partnerships will impact future policy space and states’ capacity to decide and own their social services provision.

More power-sharing in supra-national organisations

Without a change “at the top” in international governance, women’s concerns will never be addressed. ”Power is still very masculine everywhere, and it is hard to find women’s rights activists in international financial institutions”, says Alemany. If discussions for achieving SDGs at the SDG Summit are going to lead anywhere, among the measures needed for women’s equality are:

  • Avoid the increasing reductionist vision that gender equality is a smart investment. This ignores how macroeconomic policies, global value chains and reduced policy space for developing countries harm women;
  • strengthen human rights, including women’s rights in existing policy and funding initiatives and implement all SDGs nationally and internationally;
  • ensure gender parity in international organisations and national governments;
  • secure direct participation by women’s rights and feminist organizations in governance fora and bodies. Enable women from the global South, rather than northern female philanthropists or entrepreneurs, to make their views known;
  • promote gender equality and real partnerships with local feminist and women’s rights organisations to support their work, influence and advocacy;
  • recognise that violence against women, and femicide, particularly in the global South, is an emergency that can only be stopped through budget allocation and policy efforts.
  • Secure full funding for the UN human rights’ treaties system and ensure that their sessions are implemented; and that they incorporate women’s organizations’ voices and recommendations, as has not always been the practice.

To find out more, please contact: Daphne Davies: Tel/WhatsApp:US: +1 917 291 3560; UK: +447770230251,

* To see Spotlight 2019 report on all 17 SDG:

The post Gender Equality: a thread running through the Sustainable Development Goals appeared first on Global Policy Watch.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Earth’s oceans and frozen spaces paying price for ‘taking the heat of global warming’

UN #SDG News - 25. September 2019 - 16:38
Our oceans and frozen spaces have been “taking the heat” for global warming for decades, climate experts said on Wednesday, warning that without a radical change in human behaviour, hundreds of millions of people could suffer from rising sea levels, frequent natural disasters and food shortages.
Kategorien: english

Self-declared "patriot" wants "globalist" help

D+C - 25. September 2019 - 16:15
The absurdity of what Trump just said at the UN needs to be pointed out

“The future does not belong to the globalists. The future belongs to patriots,” Trump said in regard to trade policy according to the FT (paywall). He also criticised China for relying on market barriers, state subsidies, product dumping, the theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfer. The obvious irony is that these things are not objectionable in themselves and may well serve patriotic interests, but they do indeed breach the principles of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Trump’s criticism is based on paradigms of an institution the supports of which he likes to denounce as "globalists". No, intellectual coherence is not his strong point.

He also lambasted Iran and pledged to ramp up sanctions. The plain truth is that the crisis that Trump triggered by quitting the nuclear deal is spinning out of his control. He had thought the US was strong enough to intimidate Iran's Shia dictatorship and would get concessions by threatening military action. It turns out, however, that he is more afraid of going to war than the mullahs are.

Things have actually been playing out pretty much along the lines that I predicted in a blog post in late July. It is an open secret that Trump now hopes that the USA's European allies like France, Germany and Britain will somehow help him out of this mess so he will neither lose face nor have to go to war. It is worth reiterating: Trump needlessly canceled the nuclear deal that his predecessor Barack Obama had concluded with Iran in close cooperation with the governments of not only France, Germany and Britain but also Russia and China. Multilateral action had worked, but his unilateral pressure is not working.

As far as I can tell, Trump attended parts of the special summit on climate action simply because he hoped to get the attention of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and perhaps French President Emanuel Macron, knowing that he needs their support in regard to Iran. I cannot think of another reason why he would have gone there, given that he is a stubborn denier of climate change. It fits the picture that his tweet regarding Greta Thunberg, the teenage Swedish climate activist, was comparatively mild-mannered: "She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!"

Trump obviously had nothing substantial to say in response to Thunberg's UN address in which she told policymakers that her generation would never forgive them if they fail to respond to the climate crisis effectively. Her speech was actually quite impressive and is worth reading.

The science is unequivocal. We are heading for climate disaster. Unless action is taken fast, today's world leaders will be considered failures not only by Thunberg's generation but those that will follow as well. Science denying populists like Trump may imagine themselves to be patriots like Roosevelt, Churchill or de Gaulle, but in retrospect they will look more like Hitler or Mussolini in view of the devastation they are failing to prevent. Just to make sure that I will not be misunderstood: I am not likening Trump to Hitler, I am likening the damage climate change is set to cause to the devastation of World War II. I don't think that this is an exaggeration, especially if humanity fails to avoid dangerous tipping points such as the melting of Greenland's ice shield or the slowing of the Gulf stream.

In a similar way, science acknowledging leaders such as Merkel and Macron, who see the dangers ahead but are so far failing to respond wholeheartedly, risk going down in history as the equivalents of the halfhearted Germany policymakers who were unable to stop the rise of the Nazis or their international counterparts who failed to challenge them appropriately when there was still time for doing so. Do they really want to look like Chancellor Heinrich Brüning or Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain? I know that the politics of tackling climate change are tricky, but incrementalism is simply not enough. At this point, the global community needs determined leaders who are willing to move ahead of the crowd.

Impeachment inquiry

Of course, Trump's domestic problems are mounting too. An impeachment inquiry  has been formally announced. The reason is that the president is suspected of having tried to make Ukraine's government help him to win reelection next year. It is a complicated story. The rough outlines are that Trump:

  • apparently demanded that Ukraine start investigating the son of former Vice President Joe Biden who wants to run against Trump next year, and
  • withheld hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to Ukraine even though it had been approved by Congress.

Trump has basically admitted that both has happened, but he claims that there was no link. He pretends that he wanted to fight corruption. So far, there is no evidence of Biden's son having done anything wrong, however, while Trump's children are well known to be using their father's position for commercial gain. Even worse, it is generally assumed that foreign governments like to rent rooms in Trump hotels because they hope to score points with the president that way. The Trump family, so far, has denied the public information on how much money the Trump Organization raked in that way.

Trump claims to be a patriot. An increasing number of Americans see him in a very different light. Don't take my word for it, check out what David Leonhardt wrote about Trump in the New York Times (paywall): “He is the president of the United States, and he is a threat to virtually everything that the United States should stand for.”   According to Paul Krugman, who writes a column for the same newspaper, Republican politicians in general only “pretend to be patriots”.

Self-declared patriots like Trump have been gaining ground in many countries in recent years. Their populist stance is certainly self-serving, and citizens of all countries concerned should pay close attention to whose interest these politicians are really promoting. After all, they have a tendency of following Trump’s example.

Kategorien: english

Tinged with racism

D+C - 25. September 2019 - 15:48
The brother of Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s former president, wants to be elected head of state and is wooing a radicalised Buddhist base

The Easter Sunday bombings of three churches and three hotels ripped Sri Lanka out of a ten-year period of relative peace. Some 260 people were killed. The country had felt comparatively quiet since the end of the civil war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and government forces. But the old tensions continued to simmer under the surface, and new ones have emerged.

April’s suicide attacks were carried out by Islamist extremists belonging to the organisation National Thowheed Jamaat. They targeted Sri Lanka’s Christian minority. But Buddhists instantly grasped the opportunity to express anti-Muslim resentment and launch campaigns accordingly. Right-wing nationalist organisations like the “Buddhist fighting force” Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), an organisation founded by Buddhist monks that has long warned against Islamist extremism, have been gaining momentum.

The ethnic and religious tensions in Sri Lanka’s complex society can be traced back to before the colonial era. They have repeatedly led to violence. Events that have gone down in history include the Kotahena riots of 1883, a series of bloody clashes between Buddhists and Catholics, and the Sinhalese-Muslim riots of 1915, in which Buddhists fought against Muslims.

However, the ethnic and religious causes of these conflicts cannot be teased apart: these affiliations overlap in Sri Lanka, and religious identity to a certain extent forms the basis of ethnic identity. That is how “ethno-religious” groups emerged.

The largest population group are the Sinhalese, who are overwhelmingly Buddhist. The second-largest group are the Tamils, most of whom are Hindus. There are also Muslims and Christians, the latter being found among both the Sinhalese and the Tamils, as well as a few other small religious communities.

The Buddhist Sinhalese have always seen Sri Lanka as their homeland. They believe that they have an uninterrupted history as a Buddhist-Sinhalese nation and claim to always have lived here. By contrast, the Hindu-Tamil minority has always lived with a feeling of insecurity. Some were brought to the island by the British colonial power in order to work on plantations. However, the larger number who live in the north and east have a distinct culture. Their feelings of exclusion worsened when the Sinhalese came to power after independence and soon curtailed the special rights ethnic minorities had enjoyed, for instance in regard to education, trade and political representation.

Language plays an important role. Before the country became independent from Britain in 1948, English was the official language and the language of education. Then an argument erupted concerning whether Sinhalese and Tamil should serve those functions. Some stated that only the language of the majority should be used. Following an election that was largely focused on this issue, a national coalition came to power in 1956 that pushed Sinhalese through as the sole official language.

Buddhists against Hindus

That event was one of the primary reasons why the Tamils began, in the 1960s and 70s, to fight for their linguistic and political rights. When their demands were rejected, they called for the creation of an independent state in the areas where they made up the majority of the people. That effort failed as well, and various groups took up arms. The result was three decades of civil war.

The conflict is often presented as an ethnic conflict between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. But rhetoric and mobilisation often depicted it as struggle between Buddhists and Hindus. When the nationalist government of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former president, militarily beat them, it acted as though its victory was the triumph of Sri Lankan Buddhism over all other religions.

Even after 2009, however, ethnic and religious tensions did not subside completely. All subsequent governments have manipulated the tensions, and no administration has attempted to uproot radical priests and intolerance. Policymakers fear to offend those leaders’ constituents. Christians, particularly Evangelicals, are threatened and intimidated. In recent years, Muslims have also increasingly become the target of attacks and hate speech. Nationalist Buddhist groups like the BBS are particularly aggressive. Over time, the BBS has become a broad-based movement that has ramifications throughout the country. It could also count on the silent support of Rajapaksa, who was in office until 2015.

At a large rally in February 2013, the BBS published a ten-point resolution. Among other things, it demanded that food should no longer be certified as halal, that women should no longer be allowed to work in the Middle East and that no more mosques should be built with funding from Arabic countries. The BBS propagated the idea that Muslims would destroy Buddhist heritage and that Muslim business owners would force their Sinhalese employees to convert to Islam.

This BBS campaign came to a head in the June 2014 riots that cost four people their lives. Around 80 others were wounded and thousands were displaced. The leaders of the BBS and other radical groups escaped unscathed.

There was another wave of violence against Muslims in February 2018. This time, it was primarily perpetrated by the group Mahason Balakaya. In Sri Lanka’s central province, numerous Muslim-owned businesses were destroyed after a group of Muslim youth had killed a Sinhalese in a fight. A visually-impaired Muslim died in a burning house. The leaders of the extremist organisations that was responsible for the aggressions were arrested and charged, but they were later released on bail.

The Easter Sunday bombings led to the latest flare-up of anti-Muslim violence. Some three weeks later, Muslim businesses were attacked in multiple cities in the northwest and west. According to the Muslim activist Hilmy Ahamed, most of these incidents were inspired by rivalries between shop owners. In his eyes, the problem is that “racism mobilises the mob”. A full-blown campaign is going on against Muslim women. Many Sinhalese have decorated their shops with stickers that read “Api Sinhala” (“We are Sinhalese”).

A disconcerting pardon

Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, the general secretary of the BBS, is a Buddhist monk. He was sentenced to prison last year for threatening witnesses and lawyers in court. Shortly after the Easter Sunday attacks, he was pardoned by President Maithripala Sirisena. He had not even served a single year of his six-year sentence. The head of state was apparently eager to secure the support of Buddhist-Sinhalese hardliners.

The current government had never criticised the radical monk in the past, even though it came to power primarily on the votes of Hindus, Christians and Muslims. The pardon disconcerted human-rights activists in Sri Lanka. It is now being contested in court. The BBS, meanwhile, is enjoying the public’s full attention, staging huge rallies and dominating TV news.

The ethnic tensions are playing into the hands of the nationalist Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP), which is now fielding Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former president’s brother as its presidential candidate. The party wants to come back into power in the upcoming elections and is trying to secure the support of Sinhalese voters with racist statements. At a demonstration in the city of Kandy, Gnanasara went so far as to say that he wants a parliament that is only made up of Buddhist-Sinhalese representatives. “We cannot have any minorities in parliament because that would give them the power to make decisions about the government.”

Hopefully the upcoming election campaign will spark a public debate about what kind of country Sri Lankans want to live in. We will know in January whether a Buddhist-Sinhalese theocracy will prevail or a multi-cultural vision that has the courage to treat all religions and ethnicities equally. The great irony is that Sri Lanka has a long history of religious communities living peacefully side by side. Such peace cannot be taken for granted however, because identity politics offers reckless leaders routes to power.

Anupama Ranawana-Collie is a theologian, writer and researcher and presently a visiting researcher at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Twitter: @ARanawana25

Arjuna Ranawana is editor of

Kategorien: english

Suicide on the rise

D+C - 25. September 2019 - 15:34
People who suffer from depression need better care in Malawi

The police in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe has recorded 128 cases of suicide between September 2018 and June 2019. Moreover, there were five cases of attempted suicide. Out of the 133 people who killed themselves or tried to do that, only five were women.

“Men are more likely to kill themselves because of our culture,” explains Chaweza Bandawe, a psychologist at the College of Medicine in Blantyre. Women can express their emotions, including grief and anger, openly, he says – but men cannot.

According to Franklin Kilembe, who runs a private clinic in Lilongwe where he counsels people with mental-health problems, men mostly commit suicide because of economic hardship. “In our cultural setup, a man is supposed to be the breadwinner of the family. When the man loses his job, his economic lifeline is cut, and he becomes depressed. As a result, he thinks of hanging himself,” says Kilembe. Because of Malawi’s bad economy, more companies are expected to lay off workers, which probably means more suicides, he warns.

Job problems are not the only reason for someone wanting to end his life, of course. Kilembe also mentions family problems, for instance if a spouse is unfaithful. He calls for better care for people who suffer from depression in order to avoid suicides (in regard to psychiatric problems in Africa, also see Samir Abi in D+C/E+Z e-Paper 2019/06, Focus section).

Mzimba district in the northern region of Malawi has one of the highest suicide rates. Chief Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa V blames the rise on increasing gender-based violence, among other reasons. He says domestic violence affects men and women alike. However: “Men suffer in silence and do not want to complain,” he says. Suicide might then seem the only solution. Malawi’s Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare concedes that despite all the efforts by the government and other stakeholders to fight gender-based violence, no progress has been achieved so far.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that close to 800,000 people commit suicide every year. That is one person every 40 seconds. It further notes that there are indications that for each adult who dies by suicide, there may be more than 20 others attempting suicide. According to the WHO, “effective and evidence-based interventions can be implemented at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts.” Such interventions are urgently needed in Malawi.

Raphael Mweninguwe is a freelance journalist based in Malawi.


World Health Organization: Suicide data.


Kategorien: english

A day at the Global Climate Strike

SCP-Centre - 25. September 2019 - 12:20

We need to be a part of the conversation about climate change now, as so many world leaders are making key decisions that pave the way forward to meet or not meet our climate targets. The CSCP team took the day off to join the Global Climate Strike demonstrations in the cities of Wuppertal, Cologne, Berlin, Essen, Düsseldorf and Heidelberg to demonstrate for climate action and support the Fridays for Future movement.

Over the course of a year, Greta Turnberg’s #FridaysforFuture has slowly become a global movement with the youth stepping in to demonstrate and raise awareness on the topic of climate change. This is an important topic for the CSCP, as it aligns with our vision of a good life for all and our work towards that of mainstreaming sustainable consumption and production.

Some with colourful handmade banners, the team members of the CSCP along with their colleagues, children, spouses, and friends joined the demonstrations in different German cities. This is a cause that is not only important for us as an organisation but essential for the future of our lives and the lives of the next generations.

5000 people in the street in Wuppertal! I cannot recall any previous protest of this size. However, positive mood and good weather did not hide the concern and seriousness of many, especially young, participants.’’ Stephan Schallar, Senior Consultant shared from Wuppertal where other colleagues were gathered as well, like Mariana Nicolau, Project Manager “The atmosphere in streets of Wuppertal was amazing! Full of people from different backgrounds and ages gathered around a common purpose.”

Michael Kuhndt, Executive Director of the CSCP was busy supporting the path of the demonstration over the B7 in Wuppertal as well as meeting up with our local community of partners and friends.The CSCP team joined the climate strike in different cities — and the fight for climate and environmental justice — for a better future for the generations to come. I am looking forward to collaborating with others on the front line fighting against climate change. We need to engage policy makers, business and communities further in order to accelerate the required changes in consumption and production patterns.’’

Marius Mertens, Consultant reported from Cologne: ‘’The Global Climate Strike organised by #FridaysforFuture created a wonderful atmosphere in the streets of Cologne. There were about 70.000 people from all generations. The strike showed, that climate change has already arrived and is in the center of the German society. It was beautiful to see, what this young generation is capable of. Eva Rudolf, Creative Designer also joined in Cologne: ‘’I went with the elementary-school of my son (7) to the strike in Cologne. We were about 150 kids plus teachers and parents. I think it was a very valuable experience for everyone – to learn that everyone can stand up for a good future for all of us.’’

Nikola Berger, Head of Design and Comunication at the CSCP went to the strike in Berlin on her day off with the Kindergarten of her daughter. ‘The atmosphere in Berlin was peaceful and positive. It was a great day for us to take the chance to speak to our small children about the reasons for the strike. We also met a lot of teenagers who were thrilled that the next generation is joining in the movement that they have started.”

While the images display the joy we all felt to come together for a common purpose, we want to continue the conversation that so many people have started on that day with their banners and posters, conveying wishes, demands, fears and hopes. To add to Michael’s statement from above — our team is looking forward to collaborate with you on all we can do to fight climate change and support a good life for all!

Der Beitrag A day at the Global Climate Strike erschien zuerst auf CSCP gGmbH.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Playing with religious identity

D+C - 25. September 2019 - 10:21
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro won the election thanks to the votes of conservative Christians

During the presidential election last year, Bolsonaro’s approval ratings were much higher among members of Brazil’s free and Pentecostal churches than among the general population. Catholics were also drawn to the right-wing populist, though to a far lesser degree. Bolsonaro won the second-round vote with a good 55 % against Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party.

Bolsonaro was raised a Catholic, and is registered as such with the Superior Electoral Court, but he later had himself baptised by a Pentecostal church whose services he also regularly attends. His wife and children are Evangelicals too.

Bolsonaro’s victory cannot simply be explained by his religious affiliations. He was also elected by a large majority of people in the south and of the educated and higher-earning people. Even about 30 % of LGBTI people, who diverge from heterosexual norms, and almost half of Afro-Brazilians voted for Bolsonaro, even though he vilifies both sexual and ethnic minorities.

Moreover, an analysis of the distribution of votes must take into account the crisis that the country is experiencing. It has permeated society as a whole. The people attribute this crisis to corruption and previous administrations headed by the Workers’ Party. During the campaign, Bolsonaro managed to position himself as the antithesis to the “old politics”.

Nevertheless, the support of the Pentecostal churches is important (see my contribution in D+C/E+Z 2013/05), and Bolsonaro has always had them on his radar. In speeches, for example, he regularly quotes from the Bible. Three years ago, he and his three sons, Flavio, Carlos and Eduardo, had themselves baptised in the waters of the Jordan River in north-eastern Israel. The sons play important roles in politics.

For sociologist Christina Vital of the Fluminense Federal University (Universidade Federal Fluminense – UFF), this baptism was not simply an expression of Evangelical conversion. She recognises it as an attempt by the Bolsonaros to create an ambiguous religious identity for themselves. She says that the president presents “himself as a Catholic, but is married to an Evangelical and was baptised in the waters of the Jordan”. In Vital’s eyes, the head of state is claiming a “divine mission” because he was able to achieve such prominence despite his declared personal “insignificance”.

In a recently published study, Vital showed that, there was an increase of candidates who are officially Catholic but received major support from evangelicals in the latest elections. She calls these politicians “allies of Evangelicals” (Aliados dos Evangélicos – ADE). In addition to Bolsonaro, this group includes the governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel.

Experts estimate that Evangelicals now make up over 30 % of Brazil’s population. According to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, their share was a mere 6.6 % in 1980. It had grown to 15.4 % by 2000 and to 22.2 % by 2010. The next census is scheduled for 2020.

According to Vital, the steady growth of Evangelical churches is a phenomenon that extends beyond religion: “It is expanding simultaneously in society and in centres of power like the media and among politicians at the federal, state and municipal level.” The next step, she says, will be to reconfigure the judiciary to conform with Evangelical ideas. “That is not a vision for the future. It is happening now,” Vital argues.

In early July, Bolsonaro invited Evangelical senators and representatives, who form their own cross-party block in Parliament, to a breakfast at the Planalto Palace, his official workplace. The meeting took place on the day after the first vote on pension reform, during which these senators and representatives demonstrated their full support of the president. At the breakfast, Bolsonaro promised to nominate a “super Evangelical” justice to the Supreme Court.

Widespread conservatism

Around 166 million of Brazil’s 210 million people claim to be religious. “Whether they are Catholic or Protestant, most religious people in Brazil are conservative,” says Vital. Not all conservatives support authoritarianism, she explains, but many long for a return to social norms, the loss of which they blame on a leftist social agenda of protecting minorities and promoting diversity. According to Evangelicals, this agenda contradicts family values.

Conservatives see Bolsonaro as a defender of traditional norms. But whereas, for example, the influential Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus – Iurd), with its founder, Edir Macedo, the owner of a media empire, at the head, openly appealed for support of Bolsonaro, the Catholic Conference of Brazilian Bishops (Conferência Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil – CNBB) did not take a clear position. Its former president, Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha, said in early 2018 that Catholics should not support any candidate “who promotes violence and calls for solutions that could further exacerbate conflicts in Brazil”. However, shortly thereafter the bishops published a declaration that made clear that the CNBB would not take a position on the presidential candidates.

On the other hand, Orani Tempesta, the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, received Bolsonaro in October of last year ten days before the second-round vote. At that meeting, the presidential candidate promised “to defend the family, the innocence of the child in the classroom and religious freedom”. He said he would fight against abortion and the legalisation of drugs.

That message was well received by conservative Catholics. The fact that he ultimately won a particularly large share of votes from this camp highlights the divisions within the Brazilian Catholic Church. The journalist Mauro Lopes wrote in an essay that the CNBB is maintaining a precarious balance: “Even though its leadership is oriented towards Pope Francis, it avoids any confrontation with powerful fundamentalists.” The Pope, originally from Argentina, is a champion of the poor and social justice. He has also addressed the global climate emergency, which Bolsonaro denies.

Lopes also points out that former President Lula da Silva is Catholic. “But so far no bishop or CNBB delegation has visited him in Curitiba prison.” He is serving a sentence for corruption. At the end of May, Pope Francis sent Lula a letter in which he wrote that, thanks to “the triumph of Jesus over death”, people should believe that “in the end, good will overcome evil, truth will overcome lies and salvation will overcome condemnation”.

At the beginning of May, Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, the Archbishop of Belo Horizonte, was selected to be the new president of the Conference of Brazilian Bishops. His election is seen as a repudiation of the CNBB’s widely anticipated shift to the right: the 65-year-old cardinal is considered a moderate and agrees with Pope Francis on many points.

The latter recently made himself unpopular among Bolsonaro supporters by convening a seminar to discuss the problems in the Amazon region. It is scheduled to take place from 6 to 27 October in Rome. According to a report by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the head of Brazil’s secret service (Agência Brasileira de Inteligência – Abin), General Augusto Heleno, described the Amazon synod as “an interference in the internal affairs of Brazil” and said that “some of the items on this agenda are matters of national security”. The government clearly feels that its national sovereignty in the region is under attack.

According to the same newspaper article, Heleno characterised the CNBB as a “potential opponent”. Members of the government believe that the Brazilian bishops who are planning to attend the meeting in the Vatican are left-wing. As early as 2018, Bolsonaro said that the CNBB belongs to the “rotten part of the Catholic Church”.

Carlos Albuquerque works for Deutsche Welle’s Brazilian programme and is based in Bonn.

Kategorien: english

Common ground

D+C - 25. September 2019 - 9:44
World religions share important principles, including peace, justice and charity

The first approach is dangerous and ultimately undemocratic, because it excludes anyone who does not belong to this particular faith. Moreover, it claims to be guided by something superior to democratic deliberation. The latter approach, by contrast, fits democratic principles. Its thrust is inclusive and typically prioritises the common good over special interests.

We are living in turbulent times. Right-wing populists have been gaining ground around the world. Often, though not always, they manipulate religious sentiments. Prominent examples include Narendra Modi in India and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. Claiming to have a divine mandate, of course, makes it easier to do away with constitutional rules and conventions. Even US President Donald Trump, who is not known to observe Christian values, cultivates his ties to his Evangelical base.

It is fascinating to contrast how the populists act with the attitude of Pope Francis. His demeanour is humble rather than overly assertive. His attitude is one of acceptance, not of division. His message is based on the Bible, but is argued in such a reasonable way that it makes sense to people even if they do not belong to his church.

Faith leaders of many denominations take similar approaches. Political leaders can do so too. In India’s independence struggle, Mahatma Gandhi, a devout Hindu, rallied people with an inclusive message of non-violent action. His less prominent ally was Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Pashtun Muslim. When the Camp David Peace Accords were signed in 1978, US President Jimmy Carter, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egypt’s President Anwar el-Sadat were all inspired by their respective faith. Carter is Protestant, Begin was Jew and Sadat Muslim. Indeed, all major faiths preach peace. They also foster ideas of justice and charity. Around the world, faith-based organisations are promoting literacy. Self-moderation is a common tenet, and yes, environmental sustainability requires us all to live within our means.

In past decades, international development agencies largely shied away from religion. To some extent, they cooperated with faith-based organisations, but they were basically guided by a misconception of secularism. The idea was that public agencies should stay completely clear of non-scientific belief systems. A healthier understanding is to keep an equidistance to belief systems. The point is that their ethical foundations have much in common. In attempts to bring about social change, it does not help to circumvent people’s worldviews.

Religion shapes lives, and that is particularly so in developing countries. All religions can be used for identity politics. On the other hand, it does not make anyone cooperative ot their faith rejected, whereas referring to a religion’s ethical  principles can be quite effecitve. It therefore makes sense for development agencies such as Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development to reach out systematically to faith-based organisations and emphasise shared values. 

We live on a small planet. If we want to live in peace, we must cooperate, and that includes faith communities. The motto of the Sustainable Development Goals resonates among them. It is to leave no one behind.

Hans Dembowski is editor in chief of D+C Development and Cooperation / E+Z Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit

Kategorien: english

Getting specific to leave no one behind

INCLUDE Platform - 25. September 2019 - 9:23

World leaders are gathering in New York this week to attend the first major stocktaking summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). When the SDGs were agreed by all countries in 2015, they were intended to help countries accelerate their transition to more sustainable paths by 2030, with sustainability understood to include economic, environmental, and social issues. As part of this, all countries committed to “leave no one behind” (LNOB), a broad promise to address the pervasive and damaging problems of inequality and exclusion. The 2015 SDG agreement even doubled down on this commitment through a pledge to “reach the furthest behind first.”

All good as words, but much harder to deliver in practice. In the sphere of global development cooperation and poverty reduction, governments and official agencies often deploy the rhetoric of LNOB but revert to traditional development strategies in their programming. To make LNOB into a practical agenda, this tendency must be confronted. This is why we, together with colleagues at the Japan International Cooperation Agency and other partners, collaborated on a new edited volume, Leave No One Behind: Time for Specifics on the Sustainable Development Goals. We thought it time to showcase ideas that could help shift LNOB from admirable slogan to practical approach.

Considerable progress has been made on raising average living standards for much of humanity, but tackling inequality and exclusion is no small task and there are fewer big success stories to draw upon. Inclusion requires addressing complex drivers of social outcomes. It demands attention on the underlying reasons why highly marginalized people are being left behind in the first place. It suggests a shift from big picture thinking about national or regional trends to much more precise thinking about the challenges faced by individual people in the communities where they live.

Simply put, an LNOB agenda is not necessarily synonymous with a national development agenda. To illustrate the point, consider the example of Canada. It is a country that has made huge achievements in its long-term national development, but still faces profound LNOB challenges, as one of us has shown elsewhere. Even if driven by overall good intentions, government systems may bolster average national progress while doing far too little for many groups and individuals.

The LNOB challenge is particularly salient when thinking about global efforts for the SDGs because so much international cooperation has traditionally been channeled through governments and elite-dominated social structures. The powers that be, whether governments or economic elites, often have vested interests in system inertia, either through inadvertent neglect of the disadvantaged or by intentionally using their position to further their own interests. Public distrust of government varies tremendously around the world and is a problem in many countries, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, especially in places like South Africa, Spain, and Brazil. A recent Pew Research Center poll also found that the share of people responding that the U.S. government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves has risen from 29 percent in 1964 to 76 percent in 2018.

Our book highlights the scale of the challenge for no one to be left behind. It shows that on indicators related to life and death and personal well-being, where there is reasonably comprehensive global data, progress is still far too slow to meet the SDGs and the scale of interventions needs to be sharply accelerated. In fact, as we have highlighted elsewhere, some 44 million lives are at stake and there is little evidence as yet that the rate of progress on development indicators is changing fast enough. Worryingly, the evidence on some key inputs into development, like the volume and cross-country allocation of aid, is actually getting worse. The neediest countries are getting less international support.

The need for specific development goals

At the same time, the global development community must also target its interventions better and be more specific about what outcomes are to be expected from any given project or program. We argue that the best way to put teeth into the LNOB agenda, both domestically and internationally, is to reframe the relevant SDG targets more precisely—on specific people facing specific problems in specific places. Our book is not comprehensive but suggests a way of designing the questions to be more actionable. How do we achieve gender equality by 2030; how do we improve the lot of the ultra-poor; what works for small-holder farmers; how to resolve problems faced by refugees and migrants; what leapfrogging opportunities are available to deliver quality education; are options for universal health care realistic; how to make sure women participate in new technologies for accessing financial services; what are the trade-offs in using domestic taxes to finance pro-poor transfers; can we identify poverty hotspots and develop better place-based policies; how should we manage approaches to fragile contexts; can we bring city leadership on board; and what can be done to redistribute power.

The book is not intended as a complete review of all the people, problems and places that need to be addressed to fulfill the LNOB pledge. But it does draw attention to the need for specific strategies and actions. That said, many of the chapter authors recognize the interdependence between success in one area and success in another. They point to the tension between solving specific problems and getting trapped into faulty policy and program segmentation. They also point to the difficulties in getting to specifics because of the dearth of adequately disaggregated data. Building a sound empirical foundation is essential for LNOB success.

Is it overly optimistic to think, in today’s fraught global context, that countries might cooperate on LNOB? Public opinion in many countries still supports the idea of expanding international collective efforts to alleviate suffering. Even amid the intense domestic debates across the United States, recent polling by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes shows a strong foundation of global compassion. Americans do not look to foreign aid to help themselves—for example in jobs or improved national security—but to solve specific problems for others who are less fortunate. When a concrete issue is presented with a price tag showing how the burden can be shared with other countries, Americans are very willing to spend more, even if it means their taxes would go up.

The general point seems to be that clear, crisp goals with specific outcomes and strategies for collective contributions can elicit strong and widespread support. These are key ingredients for shifting the LNOB mantra from words to results. It’s time to focus on specific people, living in specific places, facing specific problems. We hope that the U.N. Summit, and efforts like our book, will help move the agenda this way.


This blog post is a Brookings original Future Development blog post. The Future Development blog was by the World Bank in an effort to hold governments more accountable to poor people and offer solutions to the most prominent development challenges. Please visit the original blog post via this link. Related publication Upcoming: Leave No One Behind

Edited by Homi KharasJohn W. McArthur, and Izumi Ohno (2019)

Het bericht Getting specific to leave no one behind verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Time to pay up: UN summit to push for development finance breakthrough

UN #SDG News - 25. September 2019 - 4:15
A sustainable global economy – one that preserves the planet and improves lives everywhere – is also a huge opportunity to create new jobs and market opportunities worth trillions of dollars, says the UN. But to make it happen, the international community needs to rapidly scale up investment.
Kategorien: english

Time to pay up: UN summit to push for development finance breakthrough

UN ECOSOC - 25. September 2019 - 4:15
A sustainable global economy – one that preserves the planet and improves lives everywhere – is also a huge opportunity to create new jobs and market opportunities worth trillions of dollars, says the UN. But to make it happen, the international community needs to rapidly scale up investment.
Kategorien: english

Global Goals offer ‘special opportunity’ to change course of development, Bosnian leader tells General Assembly

UN #SDG News - 25. September 2019 - 2:45
The world now has “a special opportunity to change the course of development”, the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina told the UN General Assembly’s annual general debate on Tuesday. 
Kategorien: english

Three things Development Finance Institutions can do to help reduce poverty

ODI - 25. September 2019 - 0:00
Development Finance Institutions can help to reduce poverty by focusing more on job quality, developing a clear theory of change and getting better data.
Kategorien: english

How to finance the end of extreme poverty

ODI - 25. September 2019 - 0:00
This animation explains how donors and countries can finance the end of extreme poverty.
Kategorien: english


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