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Weltgesundheitsversammlung## Medikamente müssen für alle Menschen zugänglich sein

epo.de - 18. Mai 2020 - 11:06

Berlin. - Die Bewältigung der COVID-19-Pandemie steht im Fokus der derzeit tagenden Weltgesundheitsversammlung, dem höchsten Entscheidungsgremium der Weltgesundheitsorganisation (WHO). Aus Sicht des Verbandes entwicklungspolitischer und humanitärer Nichtregierungsorganisationen (VENRO) muss ein zentrales Ergebnis der Konferenz ein garantierter Zugang zu Medikamenten und Impfstoffen für alle Menschen sein – unabhängig davon, in welchem Land sie leben, ob wohlhabend oder in Armut.

Die Natur kann uns nicht retten, wenn wir ihr weiter Schaden zufügen

GDI Briefing - 18. Mai 2020 - 10:52

Der 22. Mai ist der Internationale Tag der biologischen Vielfalt. Das diesjährige Motto lautet: „Unsere Lösungen liegen in der Natur“. Es soll die Bedeutung der Biodiversität im Vorfeld der Verhandlungen über einen neuen strategischen Rahmen für globale und nationale Maßnahmen zum Schutz der Biodiversität für den Zeitraum bis 2050 (Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework) unterstreichen. Das Motto suggeriert, dass die Natur und die so genannten naturbasierten Lösungen (englisch: nature-based solutions, NbS) in den Bemühungen um den Erhalt der biologischen Vielfalt eine Schlüsselrolle spielen, um soziale und ökologische Herausforderungen wie Ernährungssicherheit, Klimawandel, Wassersicherheit, menschliche Gesundheit oder Katastrophenrisiken anzugehen. NbS können jedoch nur einen Teil der Lösung für diese Probleme darstellen.

Wir stehen kurz vor dem sechsten Massensterben. Es ist durch eine globale Aussterberate gekennzeichnet, die den Durchschnitt der letzten 10 Millionen Jahre um mehr als das Hundertfache übersteigt. Die jüngste globale Bewertung des Weltbiodiversitätsrats (Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES) zählt viele besorgniserregende Konsequenzen auf: Über 40 Prozent der globalen Landfläche wird heute landwirtschaftlich oder als urbaner Raum genutzt, was einer drastischen Verdrängung von Lebensräumen mit biologischer Vielfalt gleichkommt. Der Verlust der biologischen Vielfalt hat erhebliche negative Auswirkungen auf die Erfüllung menschlicher Bedürfnisse. So verringert zum Beispiel in einigen Regionen das Aussterben bestäubender Insekten schon jetzt die natürliche Verfügbarkeit pflanzlicher Nahrungsmittel. Die Entwaldung führt dazu, dass für viele Menschen im globalen Süden wichtige Quellen für Nahrungsmittel, Brennstoffe und natürliche Heilmittel immer weiter versiegen. Die Coronavirus-Pandemie ist auch eine Folge der Zerstörung von Lebensräumen und des Handels mit Wildtieren, die  die Wahrscheinlichkeit von Virusausbrüchen deutlich erhöhen.

Als Antwort auf diese Herausforderungen gewinnen NbS bei Umweltorganisationen und Entwicklungsagenturen an Popularität. NbS ist ein Oberbegriff für konkrete, handhabbare Maßnahmen, die sich statt technischer Lösungen natürlicher Prozesse bedienen, um Nutzen für die Umwelt und das menschliche Wohlergehen zu erzielen. So würde das NbS-Konzept zum Beispiel vielfach der Pflanzung von Mangrovenwäldern als Hochwasserschutz den Vorrang gegenüber dem Bau künstlicher Deiche geben. Weitere NbS sind beispielsweise der Schutz der Wälder als Kohlenstoffsenken, die Förderung städtischer Grünflächen zur Verringerung von Hitzestress oder die Schaffung oder Ausweitung von marinen oder terrestrischen Naturschutzgebieten.

Das Problem an einer starken Fokussierung auf NbS ist jedoch, dass sie die zugrundliegenden direkten und indirekten Ursachen für den Verlust der biologischen Vielfalt außer Acht lassen. Direkte Ursachen üben unmittelbar Druck auf die Umwelt aus. Dazu gehören die Zerstörung von Lebensräumen, der Klimawandel, die Umweltverschmutzung, die Übernutzung und die Einschleppung invasiver Arten. Dieser direkte Druck wird verstärkt durch indirekte Faktoren, die die Nachfrage nach natürlichen Ressourcen bestimmen, wie demographische Trends, Produktions- und Konsummuster oder internationaler Handel. Angesichts der Größenordnungen dieser sozialen und ökologischen Herausforderungen können NbS mit ihrem Schwerpunkt auf projektartigen Interventionen ihrem Lösungsanspruch nur teilweise gerecht werden. So können Schutzgebiete zwar den Verlust von Lebensräumen verlangsamen, doch setzt sich jenseits ihrer Grenzen die Zerstörung der Biodiversität fort, vor allem in landwirtschaftlichen Monokulturen, Waldplantagen und Bergbaugebieten. Aufforstung kann die biologische Vielfalt nicht vollständig schützen, wenn wir weiterhin fossile Brennstoffe fördern und verbrennen, die den Planeten immer mehr erhitzen und dadurch empfindliche Arten gefährden. NbS können sogar „Greenwashing“ unterstützen, wenn Investitionen in NbS es großen Ölgesellschaften ermöglichen, sich als kohlenstoffneutral zu bezeichnen, obwohl sie durch die Förderung fossiler Brennstoffe weiterhin den Klimawandel verschärfen.

Obwohl also das Motto „unsere Lösungen liegen in der Natur“ in Zeiten durchaus attraktiv klingt, in denen den Menschen ihre Abhängigkeit von der Natur immer stärker bewusst wird, können wir nicht die Natur allein für die Lösung unserer drängenden Probleme verantwortlich machen. Vielmehr müssen wir der Natur helfen, uns zu helfen, indem wir uns ein neues wirtschaftliches Paradigma aneignen – eines das anerkennt, dass der Kapitalismus nicht nachhaltig ist, denn ein unendliches Wirtschaftswachstum ist auf einer Erde mit begrenzten (biologischen) Ressourcen nicht möglich. Dringende erste Maßnahmen beinhalten etwa, fossile Brennstoffe im Boden zu belassen, um die Dekarbonisierung der Wirtschaft zu beschleunigen, und eine stärker diversifizierte und nachhaltigere Land-, Fischerei- und Forstwirtschaft zu fördern.

Kategorien: english

Die Natur kann uns nicht retten, wenn wir ihr weiter Schaden zufügen

DIE - 18. Mai 2020 - 10:52

Der 22. Mai ist der Internationale Tag der biologischen Vielfalt. Das diesjährige Motto lautet: „Unsere Lösungen liegen in der Natur“. Es soll die Bedeutung der Biodiversität im Vorfeld der Verhandlungen über einen neuen strategischen Rahmen für globale und nationale Maßnahmen zum Schutz der Biodiversität für den Zeitraum bis 2050 (Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework) unterstreichen. Das Motto suggeriert, dass die Natur und die so genannten naturbasierten Lösungen (englisch: nature-based solutions, NbS) in den Bemühungen um den Erhalt der biologischen Vielfalt eine Schlüsselrolle spielen, um soziale und ökologische Herausforderungen wie Ernährungssicherheit, Klimawandel, Wassersicherheit, menschliche Gesundheit oder Katastrophenrisiken anzugehen. NbS können jedoch nur einen Teil der Lösung für diese Probleme darstellen.

Wir stehen kurz vor dem sechsten Massensterben. Es ist durch eine globale Aussterberate gekennzeichnet, die den Durchschnitt der letzten 10 Millionen Jahre um mehr als das Hundertfache übersteigt. Die jüngste globale Bewertung des Weltbiodiversitätsrats (Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES) zählt viele besorgniserregende Konsequenzen auf: Über 40 Prozent der globalen Landfläche wird heute landwirtschaftlich oder als urbaner Raum genutzt, was einer drastischen Verdrängung von Lebensräumen mit biologischer Vielfalt gleichkommt. Der Verlust der biologischen Vielfalt hat erhebliche negative Auswirkungen auf die Erfüllung menschlicher Bedürfnisse. So verringert zum Beispiel in einigen Regionen das Aussterben bestäubender Insekten schon jetzt die natürliche Verfügbarkeit pflanzlicher Nahrungsmittel. Die Entwaldung führt dazu, dass für viele Menschen im globalen Süden wichtige Quellen für Nahrungsmittel, Brennstoffe und natürliche Heilmittel immer weiter versiegen. Die Coronavirus-Pandemie ist auch eine Folge der Zerstörung von Lebensräumen und des Handels mit Wildtieren, die  die Wahrscheinlichkeit von Virusausbrüchen deutlich erhöhen.

Als Antwort auf diese Herausforderungen gewinnen NbS bei Umweltorganisationen und Entwicklungsagenturen an Popularität. NbS ist ein Oberbegriff für konkrete, handhabbare Maßnahmen, die sich statt technischer Lösungen natürlicher Prozesse bedienen, um Nutzen für die Umwelt und das menschliche Wohlergehen zu erzielen. So würde das NbS-Konzept zum Beispiel vielfach der Pflanzung von Mangrovenwäldern als Hochwasserschutz den Vorrang gegenüber dem Bau künstlicher Deiche geben. Weitere NbS sind beispielsweise der Schutz der Wälder als Kohlenstoffsenken, die Förderung städtischer Grünflächen zur Verringerung von Hitzestress oder die Schaffung oder Ausweitung von marinen oder terrestrischen Naturschutzgebieten.

Das Problem an einer starken Fokussierung auf NbS ist jedoch, dass sie die zugrundliegenden direkten und indirekten Ursachen für den Verlust der biologischen Vielfalt außer Acht lassen. Direkte Ursachen üben unmittelbar Druck auf die Umwelt aus. Dazu gehören die Zerstörung von Lebensräumen, der Klimawandel, die Umweltverschmutzung, die Übernutzung und die Einschleppung invasiver Arten. Dieser direkte Druck wird verstärkt durch indirekte Faktoren, die die Nachfrage nach natürlichen Ressourcen bestimmen, wie demographische Trends, Produktions- und Konsummuster oder internationaler Handel. Angesichts der Größenordnungen dieser sozialen und ökologischen Herausforderungen können NbS mit ihrem Schwerpunkt auf projektartigen Interventionen ihrem Lösungsanspruch nur teilweise gerecht werden. So können Schutzgebiete zwar den Verlust von Lebensräumen verlangsamen, doch setzt sich jenseits ihrer Grenzen die Zerstörung der Biodiversität fort, vor allem in landwirtschaftlichen Monokulturen, Waldplantagen und Bergbaugebieten. Aufforstung kann die biologische Vielfalt nicht vollständig schützen, wenn wir weiterhin fossile Brennstoffe fördern und verbrennen, die den Planeten immer mehr erhitzen und dadurch empfindliche Arten gefährden. NbS können sogar „Greenwashing“ unterstützen, wenn Investitionen in NbS es großen Ölgesellschaften ermöglichen, sich als kohlenstoffneutral zu bezeichnen, obwohl sie durch die Förderung fossiler Brennstoffe weiterhin den Klimawandel verschärfen.

Obwohl also das Motto „unsere Lösungen liegen in der Natur“ in Zeiten durchaus attraktiv klingt, in denen den Menschen ihre Abhängigkeit von der Natur immer stärker bewusst wird, können wir nicht die Natur allein für die Lösung unserer drängenden Probleme verantwortlich machen. Vielmehr müssen wir der Natur helfen, uns zu helfen, indem wir uns ein neues wirtschaftliches Paradigma aneignen – eines das anerkennt, dass der Kapitalismus nicht nachhaltig ist, denn ein unendliches Wirtschaftswachstum ist auf einer Erde mit begrenzten (biologischen) Ressourcen nicht möglich. Dringende erste Maßnahmen beinhalten etwa, fossile Brennstoffe im Boden zu belassen, um die Dekarbonisierung der Wirtschaft zu beschleunigen, und eine stärker diversifizierte und nachhaltigere Land-, Fischerei- und Forstwirtschaft zu fördern.

Kategorien: Ticker

Acting Programme Officer for Women's Funds

AWID - 18. Mai 2020 - 10:51
The Programme Officer for Women’s Funds carries out the grantmaking policy within a flagship programme area at Mama Cash. The Programme Officer for Women’s Funds reviews, manages, and prioritises requests from women’s funds seeking funding from Mama Cash.

Technical Advisor for Women's Protection and Empowerment

AWID - 18. Mai 2020 - 10:44
This is a limited term position for 1 year. The WPE Technical Advisor (TA) will spend at least 80% of his/her time delivering technical assistance in-person and remotely to country program colleagues in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and North East and North West Syris. The remaining time is spent on influence, advocacy, research and internal initiatives, as required by the team’s overall strategy.

Hilfsorganisationen fordern garantierte Corona-Impfstoffe für alle

welt-sichten - 18. Mai 2020 - 10:43
Zum Auftakt der Weltgesundheitsversammlung der WHO fordert der entwicklungspolitische Dachverband Venro, Corona-Medikamente und Impfstoffe für alle sicherzustellen.

Social Media Manager (Voluntary)

AWID - 18. Mai 2020 - 10:41
The ideal candidate will have a creative eye with experience in producing engaging and aspirational content with an analytical mind to report on metrics to help shape the social media strategy.

Verbesserung der EU-Klimaziele: Schlüsselministerien der Bundesregierung signalisieren Unterstützung für minus 50 - 55 %

Germanwatch - 18. Mai 2020 - 10:40
Verbesserung der EU-Klimaziele: Schlüsselministerien der Bundesregierung signalisieren Unterstützung für minus 50 - 55 % Stefan Küper 18.05.2020 | 10:40 Uhr Deutsch-französische interministerielle Erklärung: Germanwatch begrüßt Rückendeckung für Klimaziel-Vorschlag der EU-Kommission und Fortschritte zur klimafreundlichen Umleitung von Finanzströmen, kritisiert aber mangelnde Initiative für nachhaltige EU-Agrarpolitik

Berlin/Bonn (18. Mai 2020). Die Umwelt- und Entwicklungsorganisation Germanwatch begrüßt die heutige Erklärung der Deutsch-Französischen Arbeitsgruppe im Bereich Klimazusammenarbeit ("Meseberger AG"), fordert aber weitere konkrete Fortschritte. "Wir freuen uns, dass sich Schlüsselministerien der Bundesregierung nun hinter die Position der Kanzlerin stellen und den Kommissionsvorschlag zur Anhebung des EU-Klimaziels für 2030 auf minus 50 bis 55 Prozent  unterstützen. Vor dem Beginn der deutschen EU-Ratspräsidentschaft ist das ein wichtiges Signal, dass Deutschland hier den Fuß ein Stück weit von der Bremse genommen hat", sagt Christoph Bals, Politischer Geschäftsführer von Germanwatch.

Positiv bewertet Germanwatch zudem die Unterstützung der beiden Staaten für die sogenannte Taxonomie. Dieses Instrument, das Kriterien für klimaverträgliche Investitionen festlegt, könne zu einem wichtigen Kompass für die Umleitung der Finanzströme werden, damit der zukunftsfähige Umbau der Wirtschaft vorankommt.

Bals weiter: "Zur Umsetzung der Pariser Klimaziele reichen die Fortschritte allerdings noch nicht. Frankreichs Regierung ist immerhin weiter. Anders als die Bundesregierung spricht sie sich klar für das obere Ende des Korridors aus, also minus 55 Prozent." Aus klimawissenschaftlicher Sicht wäre für die Umsetzung der Pariser Klimaziele sogar ein Ziel von über 60 Prozent bis 2030 notwendig.

Kritisch sieht Germanwatch, dass sich die Regierungen Frankreichs und Deutschlands immer noch nicht auf Grundzüge für eine an den Klimazielen orientierte Reform der EU-Agrarpolitik einigen konnten. „Der noch von der Vorgängerkommission der EU stammende Vorschlag für die Gemeinsame Agrarpolitik passt hinten und vorne nicht zu den Klima- und Nachhaltigkeitszielen des neuen Europäischen Green Deal", erklärt Christoph Bals. „Die Landwirte brauchen endlich mehr EU-Unterstützung für nachhaltiges und klimafreundliches Wirtschaften.“

In der Meseberger AG verhandeln Vertreterinnen und Vertreter aus den deutschen und französischen Ministerien für Umwelt, Finanzen, Bau, Außenbeziehungen, Wirtschaft und Energie, Landwirtschaft, Verkehr, Forschung und Entwicklung.

Themen Klima Deutsche und Europäische Klimapolitik Europäische Klimapolitik AnsprechpartnerInnen Echter NameChristoph Bals Politischer Geschäftsführer +49 (0)228 / 60 492-34 bals@germanwatch.org Echter NameAudrey Mathieu Kommissarische Teamleiterin Deutsche und Europäische Klimapolitik +49 (0)30 / 28 88 356-63 mathieu@germanwatch.org Echter NameOldag Caspar Teamleiter Deutsche und Europäische Klimapolitik +49 (0)30 / 28 88 356-85 caspar@germanwatch.org Echter NameStefan Küper Pressesprecher +49 (0)228 / 60 492-23, +49 (0)151 / 252 110 72 presse@germanwatch.org

Content Manager (Voluntary)

AWID - 18. Mai 2020 - 10:38
The primary responsibility of the Content Manager is to create, edit, produce and manage all WIAN’s original content and resources.

Communications Associate

AWID - 18. Mai 2020 - 10:36
The Associate will be expected to undertake a variety of communications-related tasks including daily management of social media channels, collaboration with media and establishing contacts internally and externally, website design, dissemination of resources, organizing digital campaigns and events, etc.

Deputy Regional Director - Researcher

AWID - 18. Mai 2020 - 10:33
You will contribute to the development, management and implementation of the research strategy and overall operational plans of the East and South East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office. You will manage research staff and will oversee the effective management of budgetary resources, working closely with the rest of the management team.

Grants Writer (2 days a week/part time)

AWID - 18. Mai 2020 - 10:30
The Grants Writer will be responsible for researching, collating information and writing grant applications.

18. Mai 2020

ONE - 18. Mai 2020 - 10:12

1. BMZ 2030 unter der Lupe
Sowohl die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) als auch die Frankfurter Rundschau (FR) thematisieren die Reform des Entwicklungsministeriums (BMZ), die bereits Anfang Mai unter dem Titel „BMZ 2030“ vorgestellt wurde. Mit 24 der bisher 85 Partner-Länder solle die bilaterale Zusammenarbeit eingestellt werden. Zudem soll sich die künftige Kooperation an vier Kriterien orientieren: Mehr Eigenleistung der Partnerländer, gute Regierungsführung, Korruptionsbekämpfung sowie Wahrung der Menschenrechte. Thematisch wolle sich das BMZ insbesondere auf „Ernährungssicherung, Gesundheit und Familienplanung, Ausbildung sowie Energie und Klima“ konzentrieren. In der FAZ beobachtet Manfred Schäfers, dass einige Länder in Anbetracht der erhaltenen Zuwendungen „erstaunlich wenig Fortschritte“ gemacht haben. Während die Verbrechen an den Rohingya ein Grund für Entwicklungsminister Gerd Müller gewesen seien, die Zusammenarbeit mit Myanmar einzustellen, werde die Kooperation mit Ägypten trotz der dortigen Repressalien fortgesetzt. Insgesamt sei es gut, die Zusammenarbeit zu konzentrieren statt „überall ein bisschen“ aktiv zu sein. Vor allem in Staaten, die Rechtsstaatlichkeit achten und in Bildung und ihre Infrastruktur investieren, seien deutsche Investitionen unterstützenswert, so Schäfers. Auch Tobias Schwab urteilt in der FR, es sei längst „überfällig“, dass Deutschland seine Entwicklungszusammenarbeit einer Revision unterzieht. Die Programm- und Förderlandschaft des BMZs sei unübersichtlich gewesen. Allerdings kritisiert auch er, dass korrupte Staaten wie Ägypten oder Afghanistan wegen ihrer strategischen Bedeutung auf der Liste bleiben, während armen Ländern wie Sierra Leone oder Liberia „der Geldhahn zugedreht“ werde. Die Neuausrichtung folge in erster Linie migrations- und wirtschaftspolitischen Interessen, so Schwab. Während der deutschen EU-Ratspräsidenschaft plane Minister Müller zudem, die europäische Entwicklungszusammenarbeit zu harmonisieren. In einem Gastbeitrag in der Welt am Sonntag fordert Gerd Müller, dass die internationale Staatengemeinschaft mehr tun muss, um sowohl die UN-Nachhaltigkeitsziele als auch das Pariser Klimabkommen umzusetzen.

2. Finanzier des Genozids von Ruanda gefasst
Am Wochenende meldeten unter anderem Spiegel, Tagesschau.de, die Süddeutsche Zeitung, die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung und der Tagesspiegel, dass der ruandische Unternehmer Félicien Kabuga bei Paris gefasst wurde. Kabuga soll den Genozid in Ruanda 1994 maßgeblich finanziert haben. Er habe der Justiz unter anderem daher so lange entkommen können, da er unter falschen Namen gelebt habe. Ihm werde nicht nur Beteiligung am Völkermord vorgeworfen, sondern auch Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit. Mit seiner Hilfe sei die berüchtigte Interahamwe-Miliz aufgebaut worden, die einen Großteil der Morde an mehr als 800.000 Tutsi und gemäßigten Hutu verantworte.

3. Fördert EU Zwangsarbeit in Eritrea?
Eine Gruppe Exil-Eritreer geht gerichtlich gegen die Europäische Union vor, wie Johannes Dieterich in der Frankfurter Rundschau meldet. Der EU werde vorgeworfen, den Einsatz von Zwangsarbeit bei einem eritreischen Straßenbauprojekt zu unterstützen. Konkret handele es sich um Strafgefangene sowie Menschen, die sich in der zeitlich unbegrenzen Wehrpflicht in Eritrea befinden. Mit dem Infrastruktuprojekt wolle die EU die Verkehrsverbindung zwischen dem „Binnenland Äthiopien“ Eritreas Hafenstadt Massawa verbessern, wovon nicht nur beide Seiten profitieren sollen sondern auch die EU. Die EU habe ein Interesse daran, Eritrea zu stabilisieren, um den Migrationsdruck in die EU zu mindern. Da bei dem Projekt Zwangsarbeit vollzogen werde, fordert die ‚Stiftung Menschenrechte für Eritreer‘ (FHRE), dass die EU das Projekt umgehend einstellt.

The post 18. Mai 2020 appeared first on ONE.

Kategorien: Ticker

Infrastruktur ausgebaut: Vodafone bringt LTE nach Obernheim

Presseportal Afrika - 18. Mai 2020 - 9:30
Vodafone GmbH [Newsroom]

PDF Download - Neue LTE-Station: Mobiles Internet für weitere 5.000 Einwohner und Gäste im Landkreis Zollernalbkreis - In der nächsten Ausbaustufe sind fünf weitere LTE-Bauvorhaben im Landkreis geplant - Ziel: Funklöcher schließen und Netzkapazität ... Lesen Sie hier weiter...
Überregionale Stories und News? Gibt es hier!

Infrastruktur ausgebaut: Vodafone bringt LTE nach Hausen bei Würzburg

Presseportal Afrika - 18. Mai 2020 - 9:30
Vodafone GmbH [Newsroom]

PDF Download - Neue LTE-Station: Mobiles Internet für weitere 5.000 Einwohner und Gäste im Landkreis Würzburg - In der nächsten Ausbaustufe sind zwei weitere LTE-Bauvorhaben im Landkreis geplant - Ziel: Funklöcher schließen und Netzkapazität steigern ... Lesen Sie hier weiter...
Überregionale Stories und News? Gibt es hier!

The conversation we need to have about the recovery from COVID: what’s easy, quick and cheap?

Simon Maxwell - 18. Mai 2020 - 8:35

The conversation we need to have about the recovery from COVID: what’s easy, quick and cheap?

 

 

This is the third piece I have written on COVID-19. The first, ‘Loaded after COVID: priming policy for after the pandemic’ was written at the end of March, and focused on what the world might be like after the virus. The second, ‘Virus Vision and Virus Realism. In Reverse Order’, was written at the end of April, and emphasised the difficulty of recovery. This third contribution attempts to move onto more propositional terrain.

 

 (In case the Figures are hard to read, i have posted a pdf of this piece, here)

Time to be propositional

There has been a lot of focus on managing the COVID crisis, but it is also important to be propositional about the recovery phase. The Christmas tree is groaning under the weight of proposals for recovery after the virus. But fiscal space is likely to be limited in many poor countries, unless large amounts of new aid are provided. Furthermore, some proposals are administratively complex and will tax weak administrations. And some are slow-burn in terms of their impact. So what is needed is a package which is effective, green, supportive of livelihoods, socially inclusive, and so on - but also, as preconditions, easy, quick, and cheap. The analysis needs to be country-specific, but a traffic light system is proposed as a way to provide an initial gateway to more thorough analysis.

On the range of options, the recent Oxford study is very useful. It started with 700 fiscal stimulus policies, simplified down into 25 ‘policy archetypes’, of which 19 were classed as recovery options. Note these were fiscal responses only, not monetary or in the realm of the incentive and regulatory framework. The full list of 25 archetypes is shown in Figure 1. The recovery options are in Figure 2.

Figure 1

Source: https://www.smithschool.ox.ac.uk/publications/wpapers/workingpaper20-02.pdf

Figure 2

Source: adapted from https://www.smithschool.ox.ac.uk/publications/wpapers/workingpaper20-02.pdf

It should be noted that the recovery options presented in Figure 2, at least as synthesised by the authors from the original longlist, focus mainly on green investments, with only some picking up wider issues, like investment in education (L) and healthcare (M), ‘rural support policies’ (P) and general R and D spending (X). This is not a complete ‘New Deal’ package, for example including enhanced social protection – although, as I have argued elsewhere, the terms ‘New Deal’ or ‘Green New Deal’ are being used to cover a wide and divergent range of environmental, economic and social proposals, depending on the authorship. Thus, the US version of the Green New Deal, promoted by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, differs significantly from that promoted by the British Labour Party. The Oxford list does not include popular Green New Deal elements like a housing programme, or measures to reduce inequality, or universal access to social services. Nor, by design, does it cover non-fiscal elements of a Green New Deal, like trade union rights, or, in the case of the UK Labour Party version, nationalisation of key industries. Trade policy and migration are not covered.

But, anyway, this is not about the comprehensiveness or otherwise of the Oxford list, but rather about the wide range of options on the agenda for recovery. As I noted back in April, the visions on offer amount to ‘a reaffirmation of both the idealistic underpinning and practical target-setting of the Sustainable Development Goals’. And the key point is this: the interventions proposed vary greatly in speed, scale and administrative complexity.

There is a further point, that the transition from ‘rescue’ to ‘recovery’ will inevitably be messy. The so-called ‘scarring’ will be more evident in some sectors than others, and some countries than others, but in some cases very serious. For example, it is hard to imagine countries dependent on long-haul tourism being dormant one minute and wide-awake the next. Similarly, the clothing sector is likely to take a long time to recover. There will be a lot of pressure to help re-establish the status quo ante, rather than try new things.

Complex decision-making

The Oxford study recognised the complexity of decision-making. It noted that ‘several factors are relevant to the design of economic recovery packages: the long-run economic multiplier, contributions to the productive asset base and national wealth, speed of implementation, affordability, simplicity, impact on inequality, and various political considerations’. For purposes of analysis, however, the study focused on three criteria, viz (a) the long-run multiplier (effectively growth), (b) climate impact, and (c) speed. The packages were tested against these criteria via an expert survey, with the overall results given in Figure 3. None of the best options in the top right hand quadrant is fast, but R and D spending comes out well, as do investment in clean energy and connectivity, and health care investment. For low and middle income countries, the same priorities feature, but mostly with lower impact on both dimensions.

Figure 3

Source: https://www.smithschool.ox.ac.uk/publications/wpapers/workingpaper20-02.pdf

We can take the discussion further: first, by looking more carefully at criteria; and, secondly, by seeing what options, fiscal and non-fiscal, might fit the mould.

On the first, there is a large literature on multi-criteria decision-making. The field has expanded greatly since, inspired by Robert Chambers’ work on rural development, we used multi-criteria tables in food security planning.  This goes back to the 1980s, with the criteria being: scale; speed; cost-effectiveness; equity; consistency with Government policy; administrative feasibility; and sustainability. I have just checked. There are now over 250 million hits on Google for multi-criteria decision-making. There is even a Wikipedia entry, listing more than 40 different approaches, many supported by software. Lots of issues arise, including about scaling and weighting of different criteria. Some items can easily be quantified, but some cannot. Politics is often central.

Not to make things too complicated, however, let me focus on the ‘easy, quick and cheap’ in the title of this piece. Easy because administrative capacity is limited in many countries. Quick because the recovery needs to start as soon as possible. And cheap, because resources are always limited.

Fiscal space

‘Easy’ and ‘quick’ do not need much discussion at this stage of the pandemic, but ‘cheap’ needs a brief review. This is because fiscal space to implement recovery packages is likely to be a dominant theme in future decision-making. Fiscal space, remember, is defined by the IMF as ‘the room for undertaking discretionary fiscal policy relative to existing plans without endangering market access and debt sustainability’: so it not just about the investment and current spending, but also about domestic and foreign debt payments.

Personally, I remain of the view that fiscal space will be a major issue after COVID, even in rich countries. That is despite reading the many articles saying that interest rates will either be low naturally, or can be manipulated down, and that rich countries can live with much higher levels of debt than at present, and even constantly rising debt (see e.g. Paul Krugman, here). Maybe. But maybe not: see, for example, William Buiter, on why paying for the pandemic will be painful. And even if countries decide to carry on increasing debt, what are the realistic prospects for aid in the years ahead?

In any case, the argument may not apply to developing countries which are already heavily indebted and already have limited fiscal space. Some countries will be hit harder by the virus than others. The most vulnerable countries will be those which face a larger shock to GDP and simultaneously have less fiscal resilience. The fragility of the exchange rate will also be an issue if countries borrow in foreign exchange.

Thus, the IMF warned at the beginning of May 2020 that

‘Supporting the recovery with fiscal tools while managing higher government debt levels is a delicate balancing act. For advanced economies with ample room in the budget such as Germany and the Netherlands, spending more on public investment is worthwhile because the value of the resulting assets will likely exceed the liabilities incurred given how low interest rates are. . . . In emerging markets and developing economies such as Brazil and South Africa, high debt levels and rising interest payments call for financing development in a prudent and sustainable way. These countries should try to achieve more with less. Raising tax revenues over the long term would be crucial for low-income developing countries such as Nigeria.’

Similarly, and with specific reference to Africa, the World Bank Africa Pulse report of April 2020 devoted a chapter to ‘Finding the Fiscal Space to Fight COVID-19 Amid Heightened Public Debt Vulnerabilities’. It said that ‘the COVID-19 pandemic is putting unsustainable pressure on governments with large fiscal deficits, heightened debt vulnerabilities and weak health systems. The massive fiscal costs could lead several governments to default on their debt’. Specifically,

‘If the bulk of the policy responses to COVID-19 will be shouldered by African fiscal policy makers, it bears asking how countries in the region will find the space needed to finance these actions. Assuming that deficits in excess of 5 percent of GDP put macroeconomic stability in jeopardy, it can be broadly gauged how much African governments can expand their spending by comparing their 2019 fiscal balances with the threshold deficit mentioned above. In 2019, the majority of Sub-Saharan African countries (38 of 47) registered a fiscal deficit, and 13 countries had a fiscal deficit that exceeded 5 percent. The average fiscal expansion—as measured by the gap between the 2019 fiscal balance and the threshold of -5 percent of GDP—for countries in the region is about 2.6 percent. Countries with the smallest margin to expand fiscally (the bottom tercile) can spend, on average, 0.1 percent of GDP. In contrast, the countries with the largest margin of fiscal expansion (the top tercile) can deploy an average of 5.6 percent of GDP.  Some of the African countries in the bottom or top terciles are in risk of debt distress or already in debt distress. In this context, conducting countercyclical policies will come at the cost of rendering public debt unsustainable. Fighting COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa will require bold policy actions. It is likely that most of the countries in the region may be unable to finance these actions without jeopardizing macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability’.

These problems are not confined to Africa. For Bangladesh, for example, Debapriya Bhattacharya identifies the hunt for fiscal space as the ‘defining task’ of the budget process, even though the country has a relatively sustainable debt level.  Indian Government Departments have apparently been told to cut budgets in order to free spending to fight the virus, by up to 60%: that will undoubtedly cause longer-term scarring when it comes to the recovery,

Fiscal space is not set in stone. Externally, it can be increased by cash grants, debt relief or additional loans.  If the IMF decides to issue additional SDRs, that will be equivalent to a grant. Internally, countries can resort to higher taxes, additional lending, or, as Bhattacharya reports for Bangladesh, lower reserve ratios which allow banks to lend more. Sherillyn Raga at ODI maintains trackers of country and donor responses to the virus, and, with Dirk Willem te Velde, has reviewed the state of play with regard to donor allocations. Mark Miller at ODI tracks the debate about fiscal responses, and has proposed appropriate fiscal strategies.

Intervention options

Turning to intervention options, it is easy to identify measures which do not fit the criteria. A wealth tax, which would take years to design and implement . . . universal basic income, ditto, and expensive to boot . . . banning coal outright, which comes with huge transition costs . . . better social protection packages, unless the infrastructure is in place. Some of these might be long-term options, but will be problematic in the short run.

It is also not difficult to find discussion of measures which fit the criteria, but might also have perverse consequences. For example, the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has suspended labour laws, presumably reducing protection for the labour force. There are alarming lists circulating with examples of subsidies to dirty industries (for example delaying tax payments by the oil industry in Norway) or regulatory roll-back, especially environmental (examples include Indonesia, US).

So, what might be better, later this year or early next? There are many lists of options available, including from the Oxford study. See also the IMF IDEAS model (Invest for the future—in health systems, infrastructure, low carbon technologies, education, and research; adopt well-planned Discretionary policies that can be deployed quickly; and Enhance Automatic Stabilizers, which are built-in budgetary tax and spending measures that automatically stabilize incomes and consumption.). Many green groups have proposed environmental interventions. In the UK, The Committee on Climate Change has proposed six Principles for Recovery, as in Box 1.

Box 1

Principles for Recovery

Source: https://www.theccc.org.uk/2020/05/06/take-urgent-action-on-six-key-principles-for-a-resilient-recovery/

I find it helpful to think of positive and negative actions, in fiscal policy, monetary policy, and the incentive and regulatory framework. What can be dropped (apart from labour rights)? What can be introduced?

Some examples might be:

  • Increase the congestion charge in big cities which already have systems in place, to reduce traffic and improve air quality (but NB make sure to protect poor people who need access to the city’s roads) – London is doing this;
  • Reduce the regulatory cost of starting a business (but see above re labour rights);
  • Using existing aid money to make quick investments which reduce transactions costs e.g. in trade (Aid for Trade);

Other ideas are needed. It would be good to complete the traffic-light table below. The traffic lights could form the basis for a seal of approval, a gateway to more detailed analysis. In other words, these three conditions, easy quick and cheap, are preconditions for any measure to be included in a recovery package.

However, the analysis has to be context-specific, taking account of the impact of the virus in different places. As economic analysis has demonstrated, countries are affected in very different ways: commodity exporters, including oil exporters, suffering a drop in prices; textile or flower exporters, experiencing a fall in demand; tourist-destination countries with fewer or no visitors; and so on. The ODI country case studies provide excellent background material: there are now more than 30 of these for different countries in all regions of the developing world.

It would be useful to have some recovery case studies. How will the agonising choices and trade-offs be resolved?

And what's next?

And a final point. Once the immediate rescue and recovery plans are set, it may or may not be the case that ‘easy, quick and cheap’ delivers tangible progress towards the SDGs. My guess is mostly not. In that case, a further conversation looms. Not so much ‘what is easy, quick and cheap?’, but rather, ‘what will it now take to deliver the SDGs?’. That is for next time.

Image: 123RF: 34538586

Kategorien: english

Religionen und Coronavirus in Nigeria

Misereor - 18. Mai 2020 - 8:16
Golden glänzt das Runddach des Glory Dome bis in weite Ferne. Wer immer nach Abuja geflogen kommt, erblickt es aus der Luft oder spätestens nach der Landung: das neue Gospel Centre der Dunamis Kirche am Eingang zur Stadt ist ein echter Hingucker. Andere Megachurches stechen durch ihre überlebensgroßen Werbeplakate hervor, religious industrie prägt das Stadtbild. Und die Menge an Moscheen und Kirchen verweist landesweit auf die herausgehobene Rolle von Religion in Nigeria.

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Der Beitrag Religionen und Coronavirus in Nigeria erschien zuerst auf MISEREOR-BLOG.

Kategorien: Ticker

WeRobotics: Drohnentechnologie für mehr Empowerment

reset - 18. Mai 2020 - 7:31
Die gemeinnützige Organisation „WeRobotics“ setzt auf Technologietransfer, Wissensaustausch und lokale Expertise. Menschen im globalen Süden erfassen vor Ort mit Hilfe von Drohnen Daten, mit deren Hilfe sie ihr Leben besser gestalten können.
Kategorien: Ticker

Not at your home: The Artistic World of Betsabeé Romero in Mexico

Global #Geneva - 18. Mai 2020 - 5:09

Betsabeé Romero is now listening to the suddenly silent streets of Mexico City, North America’s largest city. From her little street house in the Villa de Cortés district, the artist is on the lookout for the sadness that invades the world faster than the disease. The absence of funerals, the hidden violence against the women and children in her country, and of course, her own personal fight fight for female artists. 

The following column is contributed by Jean-Christian Agid and is part of his regular ‘Not At Your Home’ cultural blog on his 37 Street media site. A reminder: we make our content free worldwide in the public interest. If you like what we do, then please contribute to our journalism.

Confined, she writes, draws, and reads, mostly philosophy, at the moment. She is thinking about art installations to illustrate the staggered mourning that many people will experience. Incidentally, she has been invited to create and speak on this topic at the Frieze in London this Fall, as well as in Sydney and Rome.

With Betsabeé Romero – Hasta el último aliento – Bellas Artes, Mexico City 2017 Jean-Christian Agid (J-CA): What does Mexico City look like?

Betsabée Romero (BR): Like a city that has never been able to stay in total confinement. Traffic has been cut in half, total silence during the night, unfortunately always interrupted by ambulance sirens. The ability to confine oneself to at home has been a luxury that only a part of the population can afford

We are listening to the birds; they are singing everywhere. Spring has burst forth with its jacarandas and bougainvillea, more colorful than ever. There are also those who walk door to door selling tamales, cookies, gas, water, fruit, flowers, each with their own sound signal, an urban symphony of street vendors who wake us up to life every morning to remind us that we are still in Mexico City.

J-CA: I miss this Mexico, at your home Betsabeé Romero, but without me, for too long a time already. If I were in your city, before coming for dinner, I would wander around the somewhat art deco district of La Condesa. I would stop at the counter of Elena Reygadas’ Lardo for some fried avocado fritters and lemon salsa, zucchini flowers filled with cheese, maybe black rice with a bit of squid and spicy ginger. For dessert, I would let them make one of those fragile red fruit mille-feuilles in front of me, with cardamom ice cream on the side and of course one or two glasses of Casa Dragones to go with it. I would then walk down Veracruz Avenue to the entrance of Parque España. There, I would once again admire this red-ocher vintage car parked around the corner of the Hotel Condesa df, a white lightning bolt on both sides of the chassis, and forever motionless, its driver in laminated metal, blue suit and white gloves, ready to leave. Betsabeé Romero during Miami Art Basel Week 2018 (Photo: JC Agid) One of your sculptures

The car is for people, an object of extreme consumption, the extension of the body in movement. Here, it is brought back to its toy state, but on a human scale. The interior is made of sheet metal, as are the seats and the driver. There’s a big key on the outside of the car. If you turn it around, everything lights up: the headlights, the vehicle cabin and the music too, a song by Agustín Lara, Veracruz, that this immense 20th century composer had written when La Condesa became a very modern district of Mexico City.

J-CA: The automobile is at the core of your artistic creation. Last year, at the invitation of Art Paris, you installed a Jaguar car carried by bicycles in front of the Grand Palais. Your work on mobility and tires, some of which have been visible for several months on New York Avenue in Washington DC are now leaving brake marks behind. It must be an eerie feeling in Mexico City, a city that usually experiences endless traffic jams.

BR: The very meaning of the vehicle has always worried me and seeing them without movement fascinates me. More than 500,000 cars are parked indefinitely in Mexico in front of houses and buildings. Their owners don’t want to get rid of them.

Not to mention the immobility of cars stuck in traffic. When you don’t move, you’re thinking, you’re with yourself, you’re going through a crisis of thought. All these daily journeys in large cities, all this time spent in a car in slow motion, often stopped, time wasted, between home and work, between work and where we go afterwards, are all moments of intimacy and introspection for drivers and passengers. 

J-CA:Your artistic work confronts the world of consumption, a world that is evaporating. What does the crisis we are going through evoke in you?


BR:
This world revolving around consumption has reached an incredible frontier. Health, instead of being a human right, has become part of this world. It has become a luxury for people who have enough money to pay insurers and go to hospitals, for a world of pharmaceutical laboratories that sell drugs as if they were commodities, with the reinforcement of advertising to convince us. Healthcare is part of this irrational world. Even though we knew this pandemic was coming, the system was not preparing for this crisis.

J-CA: Did we remain blind to the threat?


BR:
And to nature’s signals. The H1N1 flu, which passed through Mexico, marks the beginning of the current situation. We knew that the next war would be a fight against a global health or a digital virus.

J-CA: Is it the very idea of the individual, of his ability to decide for himself in a democratic space, that is being challenged by this fight against Covid19?


De-Confined | Illustration by Marion Naufal (c) |You were born with the silver moon (by Agustín Lara)


BR:
A French philosopher, André Comte-Sponville, wrote that people should be given the right to die as they wish. Totally isolating the elderly is worse. Physical health is becoming the most important human being value. But that is not true either, physical health is not what is keeping us alive. We are not just a machine with a functioning heart. If health becomes an excuse to monitor us “inside” as well as “outside,” we could be entering a new form of obscurantism. 

J-CA: In Mexico City, as almost everywhere else in the world, the Covid pandemic19 has monopolized all eyes and efforts, first and foremost in hospital services. You too were hospitalized during this containment, but not because of the coronavirus.

BR: I had confined myself in the middle of the countryside, far from the city. One Sunday morning, a few hours after a lively sports and dance session with my mother, sister, daughter and niece, I felt a big pain in my stomach. I consulted a doctor over the phone. The diagnosis was muscular, and he prescribed me anti-inflammatory drugs. When I woke up the next day, the pain was frightening. I called a friend this time, a gastroenterologist. He ordered me to rush to a hospital reserved for non-Covid19 care. When I arrived, everything was already prepared: the auscultation, the operating theater, a room too. I had a major attack of appendicitis and narrowly avoided peritonitis.

If health becomes an excuse to monitor us “inside” as well as “outside,” we could be entering a new form of obscurantism. 

J-CA: I wonder how many people have become ill or did not get proper treatment in the last few weeks. What will we find out when the wave of containment recedes? What happened to the sick, the depressions, the sadness? The media almost gives us the impression that the world next door is holding its breath, suspended.

BR: We die today without being able to say goodbye. We arrive at the hospital in a serious state, we can no longer see anyone, we die, there is no mourning. It’s all over now. Even science fiction films and novels never imagined the suspension of funeral services. We didn’t prepare to live without saying goodbye, without closing the circle. We are not even allowed to see the body of the deceased.

Canto al Agua – Zocalo Día de Muertos Exhibition – 2016 (Photo: Betsabeé Romero)

Once dead, here, the body is cremated. What’s happening right now will leave a lasting wound on Mexican society. 

J-CA: You express yourself by writing poems, painting, creating sculptures, extraordinary installations in the cities and the countryside. How are you going to integrate this period in your art?

BR: It is important to work on artistic projects to accompany the collective mourning that will remain in our society for a long time. This experience, I hope, will bring us closer together. I have even already proposed a great tribute to the doctors and nurses who died because of Covid19. They are like soldiers in combat during a war. In Mexico, they suffered a lot. 

The conquistadors did not need military force to defeat the natives. Diseases took care of it and killed 90 per cent of the population.

J-CA: Mexicans have a different relationship with death and the funeral rite than we know in the Western world. You celebrate the deceased and experience a festive intimacy with mourning.

BR: It is a private relationship that can be collective. It is important to know that we are accompanied, that we all live through the same predicament. 

“Por Ellas Une Vela, Una Flor y Un Pan” – Casa Azul (Photo: Betsabeé Romero) The famous Día de Muertos.


It is because of situations similar to this pandemic that funeral celebrations have become very important in our culture. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Spaniards brought along with them syphilis, measles, smallpox and the plague. The conquistadors did not need military force to defeat the natives. Diseases took care of it and killed 90 per cent of the population. The Indians fell like insects. The Catholic Church, established along with the Spanish conquest, had to do something to help the survivors overcome their pain, a deep and infinite pain. It needed to embrace the Indian rituals, this celebration of the dead that transcended the centuries.

The Mexican tradition is much more cathartic in this respect than that of the Catholic religion.

J-CA: The Spaniards therefore did not want to break with the pre-Colombian cultural rites and, among other things, this multi-day’s celebration and offerings to the dead?

BR: The Spaniards had to tolerate the Aztec heritage: the family gatherings to revive those they loved; sharing their favorite meals and drinks; and making offerings to them on an altar. The church had nothing better to offer to help the Indians transcend their sadness, a sadness that prevented them from working. The Mexican tradition is much more cathartic in this respect than that of the Catholic religion.

J-CA: This tradition has grown even more at the beginning of the 20th century in a country that was, in fact, largely dominated by Catholicism. And this, thanks to an artist.

BR: The Mexican revolution in 1910 killed two million people in one decade, more than 10 per cent of the total population. It was at that time that Jose Guadalupe Posada, an engraver, created the Calavera Catrina and thus revived the iconography of the pre-Hispanic period. 

J-CA: The Catrina—a skeleton of a woman dressed in a French hat—symbolizes the Mexican indigenous population aspiration to adopt the Spanish and European bourgeoisie.

BR: The Catrina became the modern figure of the Days of the Dead and helped renew Aztec traditions.

We honor the life of the missing person, not its death. It is a very active, generous celebration.

“Por Ellas Une Vela, Una Flor y Un Pan” – Casa Azul (Photo: Betsabeé Romero) J-CA: This tradition has become even more important since the annual re-enactment of days of the dead in the historic district of Mexico City—a James Bond Movie and a cartoon, Coco, featured these celebrations. Last year, parties multiplied even in New York City and competed with Halloween. In 2016, for the first Diá de los Muertos on Zocalo Square, you were invited to create a giant installation of 113 altars, based on a rendering of small flat-bottomed boats, the trajineras.

BR: These celebrations are particularly important, whenever there are too many deaths in a world that should be rational and safe. After a deadly earthquake, an ongoing war between drug traffickers, a series of inexplicable deaths, mostly that of migrants or feminicides.

J-CA: The Mexican writer Octavio Paz wrote, ‘A civilization that denies death ends denying life’. Have we reached a point of denial that we are living beings and therefore mortal?

BR: Día de Muertos is playful. It is a tradition that offers those who want to participate a way to remember the people we have loved by remembering the dishes we have shared together, the books we read, the music we played or listened to, anything that made that person alive. We honor the life of the missing person, not its death. It is a very active, generous celebration. My grandmother used to make mole, cut paper flowers, and while she was cooking, she would tell us about our dead grandfather, even the way he danced. My installations are contemporary interpretations of these rites. I involve the spectators in this creation. It helps. That was the concept of my work in the Zocalo Square in 2016.

Patio at the house of Betsabeé Romero (Photo: JC Agid) J-CA: You created a similar installation in Frida Kahlo’s beautiful Blue House, Casa Azul, last October.

BR: This work was done in a museum, not in a public place or a park where everyone can make an offering. The museum context therefore restricted the artistic process, but this creation in the house of an icon of feminism was necessary and symbolic. The increase in femicides in Mexico over the last four years is tragic.

J-CA: According to the American think tank, Center for Strategic & International Studies, the increase is 145 per cent. Mexico comes second after Brazil for the number of women murdered because of their gender: 809 murders between January and October 2019!

BR: This is terrible. I thought Frida Kahlo’s house was a perfect place to pay tribute to all those women who died from the inconceivable violence of a man.

J-CA: These feminicides took place at a time when we could move freely. That is no longer the case today…

BR: The danger is extreme. Femicides during the pandemic are very high. Institutions helping women at risk seeking refuge for themselves and their children are receiving an increasing number of calls. Women are trying to escape from their homes and survive an abusive husband. 

It is inadmissible that this violence against women is not officially recognized.

J-CA: Almost 1000 femicides and infanticides since the beginning of the year according to several non-for-profit organizations, 163 femicides since the confinement started according to Marea Verde. Crimes go unpunished in 90 per cent of cases.

BR: These are men who are completely sick. Fragile beings are a material against which they can actuate all the violence contained within them. It is women and children who receive the blows.

J-CA: A violence, moreover, that is not recognized by the Mexican President, who admits the existence of machismo, but insists on the idea of a “family brotherhood” specific to your country, the ideal bulwark against violence.

BR: It is inadmissible that this violence against women is not officially recognized. These crimes, this suffering, are on the increase throughout the world during this period of isolation. How can the Mexican government deny that? We’re talking about a 30 per cent increase of violence against women. I have just signed a petition so that the urgency of this reality is recognized as lethal as the pandemic itself. More services should be put in place to protect women at risk today.

“Por Ellas Une Vela, Una Flor y Un Pan” Casa Azul (Photo: Betsabeé Romero) J-CA: You work in a very male-dominated sector. Your second installation in Frida Kahlo’s house evoked the success of Frida as a “painter” rather than as a “celebrity” in a Paris she did not like very much.


BR:
It is a little-known episode in Mexico. The public recognition of the artist Frida Kahlo and of her artwork is the result of a trip to France. It was not her husband, the painter Diego Rivera, who gave her this fame. Frida was of course all over the news because of her life, her suffering, her exotic beauty, but not because of her work. She travelled to Paris for the first and last time in January 1939, just before the Second World War. An exhibition was to be organized there by André Breton, but when Frida arrives, the surrealist movement is in full decadence and divided on the position to take on Trotsky, then exiled in Mexico. The exhibition was cancelled. Frida’s paintings, stuck at customs, were also slow to arrive. It is at this time that artists, among them Marcel Duchamp and his companion Mary Reynolds, fly to Frida’s rescue. It is art that saves her. It is art that finally allows her to exhibit her works.

J-CA: And to obtain, alone, the long-awaited recognition for her work?


BR:
Other Mexican artists are included in this exhibition, and among them Diego Rivera and Alvarez Bravo. But Frida is the one who receives public acclaim and praise from the great artists of the time, including Picasso and Dora Maar. Kandinsky, Miró, Yves Tanguy, Duchamp of course, Breton and his wife Jacqueline Lamba all attend on the day of the opening. Above all, the French government decides then to buy one of her works, a self-portrait—Le Cadre—for the Louvre collection, a first for a Latin American painter.

J-CA: It was not, however, Frida Kahlo’s first major exhibition.


BR:
She had just had a successful exhibition in New York at Julian Levy’s gallery. She sold paintings there but without being celebrated, as in Paris, by important personalities such as Picasso.

J-CA: In New York, she made a first forename for herself; in Paris, a last name?

BR: This trip made her appear as an artist in her own right. She travelled alone. When she returns to Mexico City, the first thing Diego, very angrily, asks for is a divorce.

Art has to be tasty.

J-CA: You live in a small house, also a mirror of your art, your own mini Casa Azul!

BR: My house sits right next to my studio. I found it by chance while going every day to my studio and visiting my parents. It was a house that had been abandoned for over 15 years. I was married at that time. We thought that we could reinvent this place.

Dinner at Betsabeé Romero (Photo: JC Agid) J-CA: It looks like an artistic installation, a particular universe, mixing a traditional Mexican design and your contemporary vision of lights and objects.

BR: In the chaos of Mexico City, a city you know well, the home is an essential refuge. It is very important to be able to isolate yourself in big cities. So, I needed an interior patio, to let daylight in, to shelter plants. With an architect friend of mine, we opened windows and invented this little courtyard. We added a small outdoor dining room, to confine ourselves there, within the city.

J-CA: I like this outer space in your home, its big round table. It is in this open room that you invite your guests to gather around a glass of mezcal or tequila, a few olives, waiting to be seated to eat. In the main dining room—and in the adjacent two lounges—we are also in the middle surrounded by your art. But your habitat is not a museum, rather a living installation.


BR:
When you are an artist, you have to test your works to see if they can accompany people. The way to do that is to live with them. That takes time. 

J-CA: And then there is the kitchen, which is busy, multicolored, with multiple flavors. A friend recently reminded me that Jackson Pollock had been a fine cook, he also expressed himself by inventing dishes. In your house too, Betsabeé, a meal is a feast. You are an outstanding cook. Kitchen at Betsabeé Romero (Photo: JC Agid)


BR:
It is all about cooking. Art is also about cooking. You have ideas, you have to simmer them, for a long time, patiently, add spices, bring out the hidden senses. Art has to be tasty.

J-CA: I can’t wait to come back to this house, to sit at your table. Perhaps one of your guests will sing Agustín Lara’s Veracruz, and then we will all be so happy to see each other again. In the meantime, here is your favorite version, performed by Toña La Negra. As the lyrics say: You were born—Betsabeé—with the silver moon
You were born with the soul of a pirate
You were born rumbero and jarocho
A troubadour, really

Jean-Christian Agid is a former French journalist and foreign correspondent. He is founder of 37EASTPR, a media and business development agency based in New York with clients in France, Mexico, and the United States. He is also a trustee on the Advisory Board of the American Friends of the Paris Opera.

Jean-Christian Agid
Kategorien: Jobs

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