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EU among group pushing for relaxation of debt relief rules - 26. Juni 2020 - 15:59
The EU, along with a group of countries, is pushing for a relaxation in how debt relief is defined in the latest round of talks at the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) on Thursday (25 June), EURACTIV understands.
Kategorien: english

Nothing is true

D+C - 26. Juni 2020 - 15:22
Why populists depend on systematical disinformation

As Peter Pomerantsev has argued about Russian President Vladimir Putin, populist leaders want people to feel that “nothing is true and everything is possible” (see Hans Dembowski in Tribune section of D+C/E+Z e-paper 2018/06). President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil similarly depends on disinformation. Depressingly, top leaders of many countries do so, including, for example, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Narendra Modi in India, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Boris Johnson in Britain, Donald Trump in the USA and Iván Duque Márquez in Colombia. Other governments also cheat occasionally, but politicians with authoritarian leanings and a tendency to focus on a vague idea of national greatness need to lie systematically. They thrive on hounding scapegoats – communists, immigrants and minorities but also “the elite” or independent media. Leaders like Bolsonaro pretend to be fighting for “the” people, which they suggest is a homogenous entity.

In reality, they serve powerful special interests. In contrast to what the president says, Brazil’s forest fires do not help indigenous communities. They please the lobbies of ranchers and plantation owners. The president’s aggressive rhetoric against supposed enemies serves to distract from actual policy impacts.

Like other populists, Bolsonaro and his team want to destroy or at least discredit fact-based truth. He casts doubt on both independent science and independent journalism, pretending that they only provide a selection of many different alternative perceptions of reality, and that they are at odds with “the” people’s “real” interests. To reinforce that message, automated computer programmes and paid people keep reiterating the same untruths on social media. They follow the example of Joseph Goebbels, who was Nazi Germany’s propaganda minister. He declared that “a lie repeated a thousand times becomes true”.

Bolsonaro’s vicious propaganda is two-pronged. It tirelessly repeats the lies that it wants to be believed and it fiercely attacks the reputation of anyone who dares prove those lies wrong.

Kategorien: english

Lying about Brazil’s forests

D+C - 26. Juni 2020 - 15:07
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro falsely says deforestation is not a problem

In October last year, devastating fires turned several parts of Brazil’s Amazonian forests into ashes. Indigenous people and other marginalised communities suffered in particular, and the entire river basin’s ecology is increasingly at risk (see Carmen Josse in Tribune section of D+C/E+Z e-paper 2019/10). Nonetheless, Bolsonaro addressed an audience of investors in Saudi Arabia and told them that the fires did not worry him. He declared them to be a “typical practice of local and indigenous people in an attempt to transform extractivism into agriculture”.

Experts were shocked, and so was the general public. French President Emmanuel Macron even spoke of a disaster and pointed out that Brazil had to take urgent action. Unless environmental standards are observed, European environmentalists do not want a trade deal between the EU and Mercosur to be ratified. Brazil belongs to the regional organisation Mercosur.

Bolsonaro dismisses any criticism. In autumn, he said: “A few weeks ago, Brazil was severely attacked by a European head of state on the Amazon issue.” He insisted that indigenous people burn down the forest for survival and claimed that this was one of the reasons why he “did not identify with previous policies regarding the Amazon”. Under his predecessors, land was reserved for conservation managed by indigenous communities. Rules of that kind limited how far agribusiness companies could expand operations. They want more land and benefit from the fires that, under Bolsonaro, are clearing forests.

In late 2019, international observers wondered why a head of state would deny science, use false pre3mises and lie about policies that were actually quite successful. Brazilians watching him closely had no doubt. It was an attempt to confuse the public and make the fires seem like something natural.

Systematic obfuscation

Governments run by right-wing populists like Bolsonaro have a strong tendency to obfuscate and mislead (see box). The reason is that empirical facts clash with populist propaganda. Bolsonaro does not want the public to believe what the providers of unbiased, scientific information say, so he does what he can to undermine their credibility.

Accordingly, Bolsonaro turned against the National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais – INPE) in August last year. INPE is a government agency that uses satellite images to monitor Brazil. Among other things, it documents the state of Brazilian forests. Its Deter system documents logging in real time. INPE’s methodology is endorsed by NASA, the US space agency. Ricardo Salles, the environment minister supported Bolsonaro’s attack on INPE. Both politicians stated they needed better and more accurate data. They fired Ricardo Galvão, the physicist who was leading the institute.

International observers were shocked. “Jair Bolsonaro and his anti-environment minister, Ricardo Salles, made a bold attempt to lower the iron curtain on Amazon deforestation data – live and before the eyes of the entire world,” stated a comment in El País, the leading Spanish newspaper. “The government’s undisguised intention is to censor INPE and create a monitoring system in tune with the fictional world of Bolsonarism.”

The government has recently been sued for failing to protect the Amazon forest. Cases have been filed by an organisation of environment-ministry staff members, opposition parties and the NGOs Greenpeace and Instituto Socioambiental. Deutsche Welle reported that they argue Bolsonaro’s government acted wrongly by weakening inspections related to timber exports and by cutting climate-protecting funding.

The science is clear: the global climate is changing, and forests are dwindling in many countries. The two trends are mutually reinforcing. In order to protect humankind from ever worsening disasters, they must be stopped. Brazil’s forests are probably the world’s most important – because of their sheer size and their great biodiversity. Making matters more worrisome, deforestation in Brazil may be close to a tipping point after which the forests may be unable to regrow as they did in the past.

Faster deforestation

Bolsonaro won the presidential elections in 2018 and took office on 1 January 2019. His campaign promised to:

  • discontinue environmental assessments,
  • end the protection of specific forest areas and
  • erase demarcations that define indigenous land.

That agenda obviously adds up to faster deforestation. According to Imazon, an independent think tank, 1,722 square kilometres were cleared in the months January to May 2020. That was 39 % more forest area than in the same period a year earlier when Bolsonaro had just taken office.

Brazil’s federal government is taking an anti-science approach not only in regard to forest issues. Its response to the global Covid-19 pandemic has been equally problematic right from the start (see Gilberto Scofield Jr. in Covid-19 diary in D+C/E+Z e-paper 2020/06). Even though the deadly disease is now spreading fast in Brazil (see Thuany Rodrigues in Covid-19 diary in D+C/E+Z e-paper 2020/06), Bolsonaro has not changed his stance. On 7 June, his government stopped publishing total numbers of infections and deaths. According to the website, however, the country had counted almost 690,000 infections by 8 June, more than any other country apart from the USA, and the disease had killed more than 37,000 Brazilians. Many of them, however, belong to black and indigenous communities who, in the right-wing populists’ eyes, do not count as real citizens. In view of all the untruths, many people hope that the truth will soon catch up with Bolsonaro. He is suspected of corruption and obstruction of justice. The Supreme Court authorised investigations in late April. Democracy depends on checks and balances, and Bolsonaro has done his best to blunt them since taking power. The good news is that he has not managed to subvert all state institutions. A leaked video that showed him and his cabinet denigrating the judiciary, moreover, has hurt his own credibility.

His supporters, however, still hope that he will somehow manage to make his make-belief promises come true. That will never happen. Brazil cannot be a homogenous nation that excludes anyone who is somehow different and thrives on destroying the environment. Brazil is a diverse nation – and no society will last if it destroys the foundations on which it depends.

Jorge Soares is the pseudonym of a Brazilian Journalist who wrote this story before being told by his employer that, in these politically troubled times, he may no longer publish opinion pieces.

Kategorien: english

COVID-19 has threatened medical equipment supply chains: it is in developing countries’ interest to rebuild them better

OECD - 26. Juni 2020 - 11:53
By Piergiuseppe Fortunato, Economic Affairs Officer, UNCTAD and Annalisa Primi, Head, Structural Policies and Innovation Unit, OECD Development Centre This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide. Supply chain breakdowns and … Continue reading COVID-19 has threatened medical equipment supply chains: it is in developing countries’ interest to rebuild them better
Kategorien: english

Why we need global cooperation

D+C - 26. Juni 2020 - 11:11
Hans Dembowski spells out some thoughts on global governance ahead of Shattuck Center panel discussion on Friday 3 July

A system that destroys its environment ultimately destroys itself. The reason is that systems are components of the environments in which they exist and on which they depend. That is a very basic tenet of systems theory.

It makes sense to see our species as a single biological system – and obviously, humankind is destroying the natural environment we all depend on. Frightening trends include climate change, the dwindling of biodiversity, the depletion of ocean resources, desertification, deforestation, pollution with long-lasting plastic and more. If these trends are not stopped and reversed, disasters lie ahead. No country will be safe. Without some kind of global governance were all nations have a say, humanity will pay an enormous price.

In a similar way, our species as a whole is exposed to Covid-19. We can only protect our own individual nations if we manage to protect all other nations as well. As long as the pandemic is spreading in some parts of the world, getting a grip on it at the national level is only of limited use. Infections are likely to flare up again elsewhere, and keeping borders closed is not an attractive solution, even though narrow-minded nationalists may like the idea.

They neglect the harm and the pain closed borders cause. Frustration about not being able to travel was an important reason for the collapse of communist rule in East Germany.

It is worth bearing in mind, moreover, that individual nations’ economies are ultimately subsystems of the global economy. Closed borders hurt exporters as well as importers. They reduce opportunity. The bigger markets are, the more opportunities they offer, which is why many emerging markets have benefited from WTO membership. China is the most striking example, but not the only one.

By contrast, there is no example of a developing country that prospered thanks to isolationism and autarky.

As I have argued before, Covid-19 is a double challenge:

  • First of all, health-care systems around the world must cope with the pandemic. Humankind has a common interest in things not spinning out of control anywhere. Nurses and doctors need protective gear everywhere. As research advances and it becomes clearer which therapies work and which don’t, the relevant resources must be made available everywhere. Once there is a vaccine, it must be used to maximum impact. Immunising one nation entirely makes much less sense than to start immunising health-care staff everywhere. The point is that no one is really protected until everyone is.
  • Second, the global economy has taken a hit. Aggregate demand has been radically reduced by lockdowns, and on the supply side, production has stalled in many industries too. There is a need for stimulus spending everywhere. Even more urgent, social protection must be beefed up for those who have lost their normal incomes. Since national economies are interdependent, global cooperation will prove useful.

Global cooperation is required on many other issues, of course. Fighting organised crime, ensuring financial stability and maintaining peace are among the challenges that no national government can rise to successfully on its own.

Digitalisation, moreover, is changing societies everywhere. Global rules concerning data privacy or the deliberate spread of disinformation would be helpful. We do not have them. Even worse, the hugely profitable multinational corporations that dominate the internet hardly pay taxes. Their business practices are disruptive. The global community basically allows them to rake in the benefits, but does not make them contribute to repairing the damage.

In view of all the issues that require global governance, it is bizarre that populist leaders have successfully agitated against multilateralism. It is even more bizarre that media pundits started to theorise that the era of globalists was over and nationalists were now resurgent. What they failed to do was to explain how any kind of “my nation first” approach could ever successfully tackle the big global challenges. Nor could they explain how many leaders who all put their narrowly understood national interest first can ever forge lasting alliances with one another.

It is interesting to note in this context, that Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Jair Bolsonaro, three of the world's most important populist leaders, appear to be having a particularly bad Covid-19 pandemic. In the USA, Britain and Brazil, infection rates are awful, and the death toll terrible. Their governments’ responses to this crisis were guided by wishful thinking, but not well considered.

This is most certain linked to the fact that all three of them have so far thrived politically on aggressive rhetoric. What they never offered is detailed policies designed to solve complex problems. They claim to be making their nation great again. But they do not define greatness in any meaningful way. They show no interest in social inclusion. They do not seem to care about equal opportunities. They promise some kind of world leadership - which is odd, because they do not make any proposals on how to solve humankind's pressing problems.

The international community deserves better. We need prudent global governance – and it can only result from sensible cooperation.

Kategorien: english

SEEG: Addressing COVID-19 with Berlin’s Charité hospital

GIZ Germany - 26. Juni 2020 - 7:35
: Tue, 23 Jun 2020 HH:mm:ss
Experts from Berlin’s Charité hospital and SEEG are supporting Latin American countries in tackling the coronavirus. Their assistance is in higher demand than ever.
Kategorien: english

COVID-19 in refugee camps: overcoming the crisis through self-help

GIZ Germany - 26. Juni 2020 - 7:35
: Fri, 19 Jun 2020 HH:mm:ss
Refugees are suffering particularly badly under the pandemic. In Kenya, their skills are helping to alleviate its effects.
Kategorien: english

Idea from a project lab: Zambians can pay their taxes by mobile phone in future

GIZ Germany - 26. Juni 2020 - 7:35
: Thu, 27 Feb 2020 HH:mm:ss
Every year, valuable tax revenue is lost in Zambia because many smaller companies do not pay taxes. A mobile solution now offers a simple way of submitting tax returns.
Kategorien: english

A Brief History of the UN Charter

UN Dispatch - 26. Juni 2020 - 7:07

On June 26, 1945, after months of negotiations in the city of San Francisco, representatives from 50 countries signed the Charter of the United Nations. In October that year, after the requisite number of countries ratified the charter, the United Nations was born. 

The UN Charter is the founding treaty of the United Nations.  The document itself spells out the rules and procedures of today’s UN. But it stands for much more. The charter brought to life a longstanding idea that collective security and international cooperation can be sought through an international organization that represented all humanity.   

To mark the 75th anniversary of the signing of treaty that created the United Nations — UN Charter Day —  I am re-leasing a conversation I had with author Stephen Schlesinger who wrote the definitive book about the 1945 San Francisco Conference, Act of Creation

Stephen Schlesinger and I recorded this conversation exactly five years ago, when the UN turned 70. We discuss the unique history of the UN Charter, some of the key players that drove diplomacy in San Francisco in 1945 and the post-war diplomatic intrigue that lead to its signing. 


Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

Here is the preamble to the Charter, which reflects the determination of the international community, in the wake of World War Two, to build a better world and design the future they wanted.

WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to regain faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

AND FOR THESE ENDS…to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,

HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS…Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.

75 years on, the United Nations is still trying to achieve the ideals reflected in this pre-amble.  To that end, the UN has launched a massive survey available in nearly every language, asking “we the peoples” to help determine the future of the UN. You can find that here.

The post A Brief History of the UN Charter appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

$1.8 billion pledged to assist Sudan’s people on the road to peace and democracy

UN ECOSOC - 25. Juni 2020 - 22:49
A High-Level Sudan Partnership Conference took place on Thursday gathering some 50 countries and international organizations together in Berlin, generating pledges to bolster the African nation’s economic and political transformation to the tune of $1.8 billion, and discuss the challenges that lie ahead.
Kategorien: english

#102: racism and tax justice

Tax Justice Network - 25. Juni 2020 - 22:26

This month we look at the United States and how tax justice can help address systemic racism. Plus: did you know Britain's slave owners compensation loan was only settled by the government in 2015 on behalf of taxpayers? As Faulkner wrote: "The past is never dead. It's not even past." As we discuss, the legacy of centuries of institutionalised racism is that a wealth chasm has been created between black and white communities. We also know that the City of London in Britain itself built its wealth from slavery and empire. Still today major finance sectors have extractive business models, that impoverish some of the world's poorest nations. And financial secrecy is another form of empire. So how can we think about combining tax justice and reparations? Keval Bharadia's work on a super tax on the $8 trillion a day financial markets could help show the way. And financial institutions must have independent slavery money audits.

Kategorien: english

Empowering youth through sport and promoting resilience during COVID-19

UNSDN - 25. Juni 2020 - 22:11

The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis that the world has not faced in 100 years. It has impacted the global community. The measures taken to contain the spread of the virus have put most socio-economic sectors of life under tremendous strain, including suspension of sport initiatives. People have been asked to stay at home as much as possible and children could not attend school or recreational activities. However, despite the ongoing pandemic people of all ages and abilities have found ways to keep physically fit and have fun during this period. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered every aspect of child, adolescent, and youth life from health and work to education and exercise. Over the long term, the negative mental health effects of the coronavirus could be serious and long-lasting.

Yet, we are not powerless. A “simple” ball can do wonders in keeping us mentally and physically fit, boost our immune system and mood, and have a positive impact on our behavior. In times of physical distancing, what sports can be played? And how can children stay active in times of isolation? Inter Campus sets an example of good practices for children, adolescents and youth on the right to play, at all times. It is a non-profit social project founded and run by the professional Italian Football Club Inter Milan, with activities in 30 countries around the world.

Since 1997 Inter Campus gives back the “Right to Play“ to thousands of children from vulnerable groups of society, using the values of sport and the game of soccer (also called football) as an educational tool. Its philosophy is to contribute to the development of local communities, and to support educational, social and sanitary protection programs carried out by local partners. Moreover, Inter Campus promotes social integration among differing ethnic groups and cultures.  This is very much aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind and its preamble that recognizes that sport is an enabler of development and peace.

In my conversation with managers of Inter Campus on how they respond to the present pandemic and promote resilience in children and contribute to happy families, Inter Campus explained that they are promoting a basic educational program through virtual proximity by increasing contacts with local mentors and coaches – key figures of the project in the area – who in turn can encourage virtual meetings with families and children. They then share videos of exercises with local referents and coaches, created by Inter Campus technical staff, to be replicated at home using a mobile phone and simple everyday objects that replace the sports material normally available on the pitches. A way to make children feel part of the Inter Campus team and family is giving them alternative solutions and once found, even if physically distant, it is possible to play together.

Inter Campus is also leading social research with the goal of measuring the impact of soccer activities on children’s development, including reducing vulnerabilities and enhancing resilience. An example of how this works is the empowering story of a child in Mexico who lives in an unsafe neighborhood, Ecatepec de Morelos[1], where children are exposed to many risks to their development. Here a child called Inaki, 6 years old, is part of the project and diagnosed with ADHD and depressive tendencies. During this pandemic his father fell ill with COVID 19, exposing the child to a high level of stress. Inaki is following a psychological therapy also supported by Inter Campus staff (Italian and Mexican) that constantly keeps in touch with him and his family, helping them through physical, psychological and social virtual activities. These coping strategies are giving much relief to the child and his family.

Moreover, Inter Campus staff, in accordance with educational guidelines, aims to enhance children’s self-efficacy and self-esteem, culminating in enhancing the overall resiliency in children and adolescents. Resiliency is generally defined as the way one reacts to their environment; specifically, in the face of adverse circumstances. So, this non-profit social project, through its virtual activities, aims to develop Sense of Mastery, Sense of Relatedness and Emotional Reactivity as a fundamental pillar of resiliency in children and adolescents.[2]

Inter Campus opened its first program office in the United States in Queens, one of the most diverse boroughs of New York City, in partnership with a school this year. Many children in that school have lost their parents or their parents have lost their jobs, did not have computers for e-learning, and presently have been deprived from the mental and physical benefits, fun and joy, and pride of being in the soccer team of Inter Campus. Many American parents experience higher level of stress due to the disruptions of their children and teens’ lives under the age of 18 in Queens neighborhood, caused by COVID-19. More than 7 in 10 say managing distance/online learning for their children is a significant source of stress (71%).[3]

The average reported stress level for U.S. adults and children related to the coronavirus pandemic is 5.9. This is significantly higher than the average stress level reported in the 2019 Annual Stress in AmericaTM1 survey, which was 4.9, and marks the first significant increase in average reported stress since the survey began in 2007. This means children and their families are exposed to great psychological problems like anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, as well as social problems due to the lack of relationship with their peers and friends. Hispanics (most of Inter Campus NYC children are of Hispanic Latin origin) are also most likely to say they constantly or often feel stress as a result of the pandemic (37%), as compared with white (32%), black (32%), Native American (31%), and Asian (28%) adults and children.

Management of Inter Campus believes that the future ahead is complex but: “we will not lose hope of being able to help these children and their families with remote support and as soon as possible with the restoration of Inter Campus activities on the soccer pitch”. An example of what is being done to support pupils, where possible, is to organize video calls between Italian project managers, coaches, local coaches and mentors involving children who have technological tools that allow them to actively participate in games (including physical ones) and quizzes. Thus, making children, at least the older and more competent ones, “autonomous” to experience a moment of leisure and sport offers the possibility also for the parents to have a moment of “relief”. This last is of particular importance especially during the currently difficult times parents are experiencing in which they are subjected to stress, fatigue, and worry. Thus, this is another example of how the professional Inter Milan Football Club contributes with its non-profit social project in creating moments of “relief” for the well-being of the whole family.

In fact, soccer and sports in general are key in promoting the well-being of children and preparing them for the future that will likely be altered once the world recovers from the pandemic; a world that may be different from what children, adolescents, and youth have known as “reality” until a few months ago. Football and sport are games and fun tools that have the power to transmit important values. Inter Campus methodology is designed to achieve the entire development of the child and build their personality by paying attention to the physical, social, cognitive and emotional areas. There are exercises designed by coaches to strengthen weaknesses, to develop self-confidence and to build trust in others. Stronger and more aware children, with the help of the reference adults — on the pitch, at school, at home — are and will be more easily able to face difficulties and adapt to changes with a greater positive attitude.

In accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), Inter Campus has recorded a video that complements this article. It demonstrates in simple and pragmatic ways how to provide physical, psychological, and social health support to children and youth by setting good examples for all in mitigating the risks of physical and social inactivity during these months of pandemic and psychological vulnerability.

The video is a powerful message through self-explanatory universal images on how soccer, and in general sport and physical activities, empower children, adolescents and youth, and how children can be messengers for people of all ages on the right behavior to adopt until a treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19 is found.

Yes, this is what a “simple” ball can do!

[1] INEGI 2019
[2] Resiliency Scales for Children & Adolescents – RSCA – by Sandra Prince-Embury. It is a tool to profile personal strengths, as well as vulnerability in teens and children.
[3] American Psychological Association – APA

Source: Dominika Żak on behalf of Inter Campus

Kategorien: english

COVID-19 | A conversation with Prashant Yadav

Devex - 25. Juni 2020 - 18:31
Kategorien: english

2020 HLPF, one decade to go: tinkering or transformation?

Global Policy Watch - 25. Juni 2020 - 17:31

Download UN Monitor #17 (pdf version).

By Barbara Adams, Karen Judd and Elena Marmo

Preparations are underway for the 2020 High-level Political Forum (HLPF) and review of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Member States are engaged in negotiations to adopt by consensus a Political Declaration and 47 have undertaken Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) for presentation at the HLPF. The UN system has issued a number of reports containing analyses and assessments of progress towards the SDGs. In addition to contributing to these processes and reports, major groups have issued a range of analyses and demands.

Leadership across the UN has continued to position the 2030 Agenda and the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs as the major priority for and objective of the UN Development System. However, many questions remain concerning the depth and quality of implementation of the 2030 Agenda and whether the policy response is on track to deliver the transformation needed to achieve the 17 SDGs.

The COVID-19 crisis has heightened, not diminished the urgency for action on the SDGs. As stated by the President of ECOSOC: “Our development gains are at risk of being reversed in the very year when we launched a Decade of Action and Delivery to accelerate the implementation the Sustainable Development Goals.” In his 2020 SDG Progress Report, the Secretary-General noted:

“While this crisis is imperiling progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, it also makes their achievement all the more urgent and necessary. Moving forward, it is essential that recent gains are protected as much as possible and a truly transformative recovery from COVID19 is pursued, one that reduces risk to future crises and bring much closer the inclusive and sustainable development required to meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.”

Findings from UN reports – transformation sought, not found

A number of UN reports have been issued in the lead-up to the HLPF, many of which aim to identify action to bridge the gap from SDG implementation to transformation. The 2020 Report by the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) calls for the HLPF to “identify the rules that stand in the way of the Goals and the global response to inequality and climate change and establish road maps to address them”. It further acknowledges:

“While action by all stakeholders is needed at all levels, States have the responsibility to strategically deploy the full range of policy instruments to catalyse and redirect innovation and investments towards equitable and green development.…However, isolated interventions will not work. A transformation commensurate with the scale of the challenge presented by inequality and climate change requires public policies and investment to be realigned and streamlined.”

The CDP has analysed the 2018 and 2019 VNR contributions at the HLPF and will issue a 2020 analysis in early July. The 2020 Report addresses the imbalance in reporting on the SDGs, making note that:

“More attention should be paid to reporting on implementing Sustainable Development Goal 10 on reducing inequalities, a goal that is paid least attention in the voluntary national reviews analysed. To strengthen the high-level political forum process as a forum for exchange of experience in implementing the 2030 Agenda, the Committee calls for all voluntary national reviews to cover the contributions of non-State actors, and for broadening the space for civil society and regional dialogues.”

The Secretary-General released a report titled, “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of the action and delivery for sustainable development”. This report “identifies accelerators for building synergies across economic, social and environmental dimensions and offers recommendations to inform the discussions of the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council”. It reiterates the call to focus on inequality and CO2 emissions, emphasizing

“the critical role that reduced income inequality can play in amplifying the effects of economic growth in eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 and the high economic, social and environmental benefits of rapid and sustained reductions in CO2 emissions aligned with the 1.5C goal to limit the global temperature rise which would entail reaching carbon neutrality by 2050”.

The Secretary-General’s 2020 SDG Progress Report also discusses progress made in 2019 as well as the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 2030 Agenda. It points to areas where “progress had either stalled or been reversed: the number of people suffering from hunger was on the rise; climate change was occurring much faster than anticipated; and inequality continued to increase within and among countries”.

The 2020 Progress Report stresses the need for a "transformative recovery to reduce the risk of future crises and bring much closer the inclusive and sustainable development required to meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. This is the first task of the Decade of Action. It will require leadership, foresight, innovation, finance and collaboration among all governments and all stakeholders. And, as the United Nations marks its 75th anniversary, it will require a surge in international cooperation and multilateralism."

The report details the status of progress on each SDG as well as trends across the board related to financing, information and communications technology, trade, capacity-building, and data, monitoring and accountability. On the topic of trade, it notes:

“The share of LDC exports in global merchandise trade remained marginal at just above 1% in 2018. Growth in global exports of LDCs stagnated over the last decade, missing the target of doubling the share of global LDC exports by 2020 from 2011. In 2018, LDCs recorded significant year-on-year growth in services exports reaching a global share of 0.8%. Developing regions’ share of global services exports has flattened over the last years, with a share of 30% at the end of 2018.”

Further, on the topic of inequality, it notes:

“In 73 of the 90 countries with comparable data during the period 2012–2017, the bottom 40 per cent of the population saw its incomes grow.…Still, in all countries with data, the bottom 40 per cent of the population received less than 25 per cent of the overall income or consumption, while the top 10 per cent received at least 20 per cent of the income.”

Other UN reports demonstrate the centrality of the 2030 Agenda for the UN system. These include a Compilation of Main Messages from the 2020 VNRs, a Synthesis of voluntary submissions by ECOSOC functional commissions, and a report of the Secretary-General on long-term scenarios.

Measuring progress on SDGs

It is essential to explore how progress on achieving the SDGs is monitored and reported as the global community navigates what it means for action on SDGs to be “transformative”. Central to this activity has been a global indicator framework that has been adopted to measure progress against the specific targets. What is and is not measured, the way the data is collected, as well as whether by official or nonofficial sources all hold profound implications for policy solutions and priorities.

The Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA) published a special report on Covid-19 titled, “How Covid-19 is changing the world: a statistical perspective”. The report is compiled jointly by 36 international organizations including UN agencies, regional commissions, IFIs and Member State groups. It details the impact of COVID-19 on different sectors including labour markets, global banking, manufacturing and trade, as well poverty, migration and human rights. It also examines the challenges faced by the statistical community in measuring the implementation of the ambitious 2030 Agenda and of working with big data and open data. It notes:

“At a time when statistics are most needed, many statistical systems are struggling to compile basic statistics, highlighting once again the need to invest in data and statistics, and the importance of having modern national statistical systems and data infrastructure.”

“In recent years, statisticians, researchers, academics, and businesses have been exploring ways to make better use of big data and open data to compile official statistics. Much of this work has been experimental and it has been challenging to operationalize this work in such a way that it can be incorporated into the regular statistical system.”

“The COVID-19 crisis is serving to sharpen our thinking and alter our risk profile (which is generally very low for statisticians) when it comes to using big data, open data and citizen generated data to compile current economic indicators and official statistics. Several countries have launched open platforms for citizens to provide their governments and themselves an assessment of the health, social and economic impact of COVID-19.”

The Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDGs (IAEG-SDGs), tasked with updating and refining the global indicator framework held an open virtual meeting on COVID-19 impacts and responses on 2 June. This included updates on the work of the geospatial working group and the SDMX working group along with the National Multi-dimensional Poverty Index and an initiative on CSO involvement in SDG monitoring and preparation for the 2025 comprehensive review.

A report on a global NSO survey prepared by the World Bank, UN regional commissions and the UN Statistics Division indicated that as a result of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns, 65 percent of national statistical offices (NSOs) have closed either fully or partly and 90 percent of staff work from home. Importantly, 96 percent have stopped face to face data collection. As a result, 9 in 10 NSOs in low and lower middle income countries are unable to meet national reporting requirements.

If NSOs are not able to conduct in-person household and time-use surveys, what methods can they use to measure progress against many different indicators, notably those that rely on data from households and institutions?

Member State declaration for 2020 HLPF

The Ministerial Declaration to be adopted at the 2020 HLPF is being negotiated in a series of virtual meetings, led by the co-facilitators, the Permanent Representatives of Bulgaria and of Lebanon.

A zero-draft and later revised draft have been the basis for discussion at virtual informal negotiations on 8 June and 24 June under Chatham House Rules with one representative for each of the Major Groups and other Stakeholders (MGoS) invited to participate. MGoS have also submitted position papers to the HLPF, all of which have been compiled and summarized by the HLPF Secretariat, and issued as an official UN document (E/HLPF/2020/2): “Discussion papers on the theme of the high-level political forum on sustainable development, submitted by major groups and other stakeholders.”

The draft Ministerial Declaration covers an “assessment of the situation regarding the 2030 Agenda” and “actions to be taken for the way forward”. In its opening, the draft notes: “We acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic reinforces pre-existing obstacles, gaps and systemic challenges.”

The commitments made in the zero draft include references to human rights, gender equality, climate change, financing and debt, and national statistical capacities and build on the Secretary-General’s 2020 SDG Progress Report, specifically in the sections on debt and national statistics.

The commitments include:

“We also commit to respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights for all, ending all forms of racism, discrimination, xenophobia, ensuring equal access to justice and achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”

“We will ensure that emergency social and economic schemes integrate a gender equality and child rights perspective…. We recommit to targeted and accelerated action to remove all legal, social and economic barriers to achieve gender equality, full, effective and meaningful participation in decision-making and the empowerment of all women and girls and their full and equal enjoyment of all human rights.”

“We will strengthen our global response to climate change by accelerating the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, inter alia, by updating our Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, accelerating the clean energy transition and ensuring access to affordable and clean energy for all. We reaffirm our commitments under the Paris Agreement and stress the importance of mobilizing means of implementation, including, adequate financial support, for climate change mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage, as well as strengthening resilience.”

“We are deeply concerned about the impact of high debt levels on countries’ ability to withstand the impact of the COVID-19 shock, and to invest in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. We commit to addressing the high debt levels of developing countries, and invite the international community and relevant stakeholders to urgently and properly address these challenges, and engage efforts towards a coordinated international debt relief effort for countries experiencing solvency problems, in close cooperation with International Financial Institutions.”

The draft does not address what “transformation” looks like in the context of the SDGs, despite the focus of the 2020 HLPF programme and recent system-wide emphasis on the need for “transformative” solutions including those on inequality and climate change. Rather, it offers rededications to existing commitments including the Paris Agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, Human Rights conventions and the UN Charter.

2020 HLPF Programme

The official programme of the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) is being convened under the theme of “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”. The nine-day programme includes a ministerial segment, VNRs and a number of thematic sessions. The thematic sessions explore the challenges for SDG progress as well as effects of the COVID-19 crisis with focus on the Decade of Action and the S-G’s calls to “build back better”.

The programme draws upon and builds on the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) that states: “The true transformative potential of the 2030 Agenda can be realized through a systemic approach that helps identify and manage trade-offs while maximizing co-benefits.” The report identifies six entry points and four levers to achieve needed transformation. A more detailed examination of the report can be found in GPW Briefing #31.

Building on calls for “transformation” across the UN System, the 2020 HLPF’s agenda presents an opportunity for Member States and civil society to explore policy solutions to pressing challenges and impediments to SDG progress. While various reports present areas for attention/focus, the onus of concrete policy solutions must fall on Member States and at present, the Ministerial Declaration and HLPF set-up appear to be limited in their analysis and scope.

The post 2020 HLPF, one decade to go: tinkering or transformation? appeared first on Global Policy Watch.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

COVID-19: super-accelerator or game-changer for international (development) co-operation?

OECD - 25. Juni 2020 - 17:30
By Stephan Klingebiel, Director of UNDP’s Global Policy Centre in Seoul, Republic of Korea and Artemy Izmestiev, Policy Specialist, UNDP’s Global Policy Centre in Seoul, Republic of Korea This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts … Continue reading COVID-19: super-accelerator or game-changer for international (development) co-operation?
Kategorien: english

A Dramatic Turn of Events in the Libya Conflict

UN Dispatch - 25. Juni 2020 - 17:26

The civil war in Libya is to a large extent a proxy war pitting some major global rivals against each other. On one side of the conflict is the UN-backed government in Tripoli, known as the Government of National Accord.  On the other side is a renegade general named Khalifa Haftar who leads a group called the Libyan National Army, or LNA.

In April 2019, Haftar’s forces, which controlled much territory in the east of Libya, mounted an attack on the UN-backed government in Tripoli. At the time Haftar had military backing from Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. France offered a degree of political support and the United States also appeared to give a green light to the assault.

But Haftar’s attack on Tripoli did not go as planned. His forces ended up in a long stalemate, unable to capture key parts of the city and unable to gain broader international support. In December, the tables seemed to turn when Russia began investing more heavily in the fight, sending in mercenaries and other military advisors. But in response, Turkey promised to more heavily support the Government of National Accord.

By the end of 2019, a proxy war was poised to escalate between Russia and Turkey, a NATO member.

That was the tense scene in Libya when I last spoke to Mary Fitzgerald, a longtime researcher. Libya was poised to be a major crisis as we entered 2020. And it had been a calamity — even as the world has been more focused on COVID-19 and global economic calamity.

In June the tide turned very sharply against Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army. Turkey’s intervention in the conflict proved to be decisive. Haftar’s forces lost a series battles around Tripoli and effectively ended their assault. These forces are now on the retreat and Haftar’s foreign support may be drying up.

This is a decisive moment for the crisis in Libya.

Mary Fitzgerald back on the Global Dispatches podcast to explain the current state of play of the conflict and offer insights into what next may unfold in this internationalized civil war.


Get the podcast to listen later Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public

The post A Dramatic Turn of Events in the Libya Conflict appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

25.06.2020 Minister Müller: Germany commits 150 million euros for cooperation with Sudan’s reform-oriented government

German BMZ - 25. Juni 2020 - 15:00
Today the Sudan Partnership Conference is taking place, aimed at continuing support for the reforms the transitional government is pursuing. The virtual conference is being co-hosted by Germany, the United Nations, the EU and Sudan. Along with German Development Minister Müller, German Foreign Minister Maas and UN Secretary-General Guterres, World Bank President Malpass, IMF Managing Director Georgieva and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed are expected to attend. Development Minister ...
Kategorien: english

Estimating economic losses from perceived heat stress in urban Malaysia

GDI Briefing - 25. Juni 2020 - 14:51

Higher temperatures linked to climate change lead to people feeling increasingly heat stressed compromising their health and reducing economic activity. In this paper we assess the potential economic impact of heat stress on working people in urban Malaysia by analysing the loss in productivity that they associate with heat stress. We found that nearly every respondent (99%) from a sample of 514 drawn from an online survey sometimes feels heat stressed and also less productive as a result. The median number of days in a year on which people felt their productivity had been compromised because of heat stress was 29. On those days half of the respondents felt their work capacity had been at least halved. The estimated median annual loss from reduced productivity was 257 €, nearly 10% of respondents' median annual income. Respondents who work in mentally challenging jobs are more affected by heat than those in physically intense jobs. They also receive the highest incomes, so suffer the highest losses. Our research suggests that the real economic costs of heat has probably been underestimated because most research has so far focused on people working in physically intense outdoor jobs or those performed in very hot environments.

Kategorien: english

Human action

D+C - 25. Juni 2020 - 14:36
Deforestation continues on a global level although it is damaging to human interests in several ways

Three hundred years ago, deforestation and resource extraction had become so bad in Germany that the paradigm of sustainability was invented. It applied only to forestry initially. The idea was to keep forests stable by not cutting down more trees than regrow over a certain time span. Today, the international community demands sustainability in all industries. Short-term profiteering is often based on excessive resource extraction nonetheless.

Today, about one third of Germany has a forest cover once again. Internationally, however, deforestation keeps getting worse. In particular, the huge tropical forests, which are of great climate relevance, are being destroyed. The most prominent example is the world’s largest forest system in the Amazon basin. Deforestation rates there had actually declined for a while, but then started to increase again, with things getting especially bad after Jair Bolsonaro became president of Brazil.

Agriculture, the timber industry and mining are depleting forest areas elsewhere too – from Siberia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The damage is tremendous, especially where primary forests disappear. They are the habitats of most terrestrial animal and plant species. The erosion of biodiversity is depressing and not only for sentimental reasons. Food security and human health depend on biodiversity, and that is especially true in low-income countries.

Local communities are affected worst. They not only live in the forest, but their livelihoods depend on the forest. They use the resources sustainably, and many belong to indigenous peoples. However, their rights tend to be violated, their habitats eroded and their essential resources depleted.

Deforestation alters regional climates moreover. Patterns of rainfall change and desertification intensifies. Of course, deforestation also exacerbates global climate change. Dead trees release carbon, and storage capacity is lost.

In some countries, forest protection has improved, for example in Indonesia. The international donor community is making efforts to support such action by setting appropriate incentives and helping to implement programmes. It is also true, however, that the consumerism of high-income countries is a driver of deforestation. Environmental destruction is financially lucrative because of their demand for things like timber, soy and palm oil. Soybeans are needed for meat production, and palm oil is used as a fuel and as a component of food and cosmetic products.

In recent months, deforestation has made headlines as forest fires in Brazil and later bush fires in Australia attracted global attention. Disasters of that kind are shocking. Hopefully, they will eventually trigger preventive action. It actually does not make much difference whether forests are set ablaze intentionally or whether fires result from unusual heat and dryness. Either way, human behaviour is the root cause. To some extent, this is actually good news. It means that deforestation is not our fate. It is up to us to stop it.

Katja Dombrowski is a member of the editorial team of D+C Development and Cooperation / E+Z Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit.


Kategorien: english

Understanding the role of natural hazards in internal labour mobility in Australia

GDI Briefing - 25. Juni 2020 - 14:23

Australia is among the countries most exposed to natural hazards, particularly wildfire, cyclones, floods and heat waves. Natural disasters are expected to increase in frequency and severity as climate changes. For some people, the increase in risk from these disasters is a reason to move away from certain places or avoid others. Contemporary migration literature has largely ignored environmental factors for mobility, concentrating instead on economic and amenity or lifestyle factors. In this study we fill this gap by exploring the extent to which People in Australia consider natural hazards in their location choices and mobility decisions. Results from a survey using best-worst scaling showed that non-environmental factors prevail, with safety from crime the factor People consider most important when moving somewhere for a new job, followed by living costs and provision of adequate health care. Environmental factors were secondary in people’s migration decisions but more important than attractive scenery and educational opportunities. The reasons people in Australia are not particularly dissuaded from moving to places where the prospects of good employment opportunities are high even though they risk the effects of natural disasters, might be a belief in their ability to cope with the disasters should they occur (self-efficacy). Among the environmental factors, high wildfire risk was most important in people’s migration decisions, even though the survey was conducted before the devastating wildfires in 2019/20 which were unprecedented in their extent and severity. Wildfires might since have become more important in people’s migration decisions, leading to long-term demographic change if people start avoiding high fire risk regions.

Kategorien: english


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