Inter Press ServiceOpinion – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Fri, 23 Feb 2018 20:39:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.5 A Burger That Saves Emissions Taking 2 Million Cars off the Roadhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/burger-saves-emissions-taking-2-million-cars-off-road/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=burger-saves-emissions-taking-2-million-cars-off-road http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/burger-saves-emissions-taking-2-million-cars-off-road/#respond Fri, 23 Feb 2018 15:46:30 +0000 Richard Waite - Daniel Vennard and Gerard Pozzi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154467 Richard Waite, Daniel Vennard, & Gerard Pozzi, World Resources Institute

The post A Burger That Saves Emissions Taking 2 Million Cars off the Road appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Rushhour in Los Angeles. Credit: Bigstock

By Richard Waite, Daniel Vennard and Gerard Pozzi
WASHINGTON DC, Feb 23 2018 (IPS)

Burgers are possibly the most ubiquitous meal on Americans’ dinner plates, but they’re also among the most resource-intensive: beef accounts for nearly half of the land use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the food Americans eat.

Although there’s growing interest in plant-based burgers and other alternatives, for the millions of people who still want to order beef, there’s a better burger out there: a beef-mushroom blend that maintains, or even enhances, that meaty flavor with significantly less environmental impact.

Americans eat approximately 10 billion burgers each year. Replacing 30 percent of the beef in those burgers with mushrooms would:
• Reduce agricultural production-related greenhouse gas emissions by 10.5 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year, equivalent to taking 2.3 million cars (and their annual tailpipe emissions) off the road. That’s like the entire county of San Diego going carless;
• Reduce irrigation water demand by 83 billion gallons per year, an amount equal to 2.6 million Americans’ annual home water use; and
• Reduce global agricultural land demand by more than 14,000 square miles, an area larger than the state of Maryland.

Tastes Great, Less Impact

The Culinary Institute of America and others recommend blending plant-based foods into meat-based dishes as one way to shift mainstream consumers’ diets without requiring lifestyle changes. Mushrooms have a meat-like texture, moisture retention properties, and an umami taste that can enhance the burger’s flavor while enabling chefs to also cut back on salt content.

Beef-mushroom burgers can also be lower in calories and saturated fat than all-beef burgers, making them a healthier choice. Across a variety of important consumer attributes—including flavor, texture, appearance and the ability to make a consumer feel full at the end of the meal—the beef-mushroom blended burger stacks up favorably to a conventional all-beef burger.

Good for Business

Blended burgers represent an exciting sustainability opportunity for restaurants and food service operators, as beef accounts for a sizable portion of these companies’ greenhouse gas emissions. McDonald’s, for example, estimates that 28 percent of its corporate carbon footprint—an amount similar in size to the footprint of its energy use across all of the company’s restaurants and offices—results from beef production.

Similarly, agricultural supply chains tend to account for 90 percent or more of a food company’s total water footprint—and beef production is a particularly thirsty user of water, requiring more irrigation water per pound of product than any other animal-based food. With companies increasingly setting science-based greenhouse gas emissions reduction and water stewardship targets, the blended burger is a sustainability strategy that could sit alongside renewable energy, energy efficiency, water efficiency, and waste reduction measures to make progress toward ambitious environmental goals.

Encouragingly, the beef-mushroom blended burger also appears to not increase costs for food service operators. Effects on costs and profitability will depend on the relative prices of beef and mushrooms, the effects on meal preparation time, necessity for additional chef training and kitchen equipment, and the listed price of the blended burger on menus.

A 2014-15 trial in a Baltimore public school suggested that the blended burger could be at least cost-neutral compared to traditional beef burgers. Over time, if meat producers and distributors sell pre-prepared blended burgers, economies of scale could make the blended burger an even more attractive business proposition to food service.

The blended burger is already starting to gain traction across the United States. Last month, Better Buying Lab member Sodexo introduced “The Natural,” a beef-mushroom blend aimed at meeting increasing consumer demand for sustainable foods with a lighter footprint. It will be used to create full-flavored dishes like burgers, lasagna, and chili in workplaces, universities, and other settings across the country.

Another Lab member, Stanford University’s Residential & Dining Enterprises, has been exclusively offering blended burgers in their operations for several years. And in mid-2017, Sonic became the first national burger chain to join the trend, trialing Sonic Slingers—their “juiciest burger ever”—at locations across the country.

We at WRI’s Better Buying Lab are working with member companies and partners in the culinary world to refine and scale this remixed burger across the market. This includes researching and testing improved names that could further drive demand for blended burgers.

The potential is so great that the Lab is pursuing the blended burger as one its three core Power Dishes, which are more sustainable menu items with the kind of appeal and familiarity to go mainstream.

A Simple Shift to More Sustainable Eating

Shifting to healthier and more sustainable diets does not always need to mean overhauling people’s lifestyles. The blended burger is a nice example of a potential “multiple win”—better for the environment, better for health and enjoyed by consumers.

Blending plants into burgers is only a start. Consider that only about one-third of ground beef is consumed in the form of burgers in the United States. If plants were mixed into all ground beef dishes—tacos, chili, lasagna, meatballs, pasta sauces, and so on—the total potential environmental benefits could be much higher.

Meat producers and distributors, restauranteurs, chefs, food service operators and retailers all have a role to play in serving up this delicious strategy for change.

The post A Burger That Saves Emissions Taking 2 Million Cars off the Road appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Richard Waite, Daniel Vennard, & Gerard Pozzi, World Resources Institute

The post A Burger That Saves Emissions Taking 2 Million Cars off the Road appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/burger-saves-emissions-taking-2-million-cars-off-road/feed/ 0
A New Dawn for South Africahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/new-dawn-south-africa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-dawn-south-africa http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/new-dawn-south-africa/#respond Thu, 22 Feb 2018 19:08:30 +0000 Mia Swart http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154456 Mia Swart is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center*

The post A New Dawn for South Africa appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Mia Swart is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center*

By Mia Swart
DOHA, Qatar, Feb 22 2018 (IPS)

In the post-Apartheid era, it is safe to say that Jacob Zuma has become the most reviled public figure in South Africa. Zuma was essentially discredited even before he became president in 2009 by his two essential weaknesses: his relationship with money and his lack of personal integrity.

Mia Swart

The 2006 rape trial tainted him irrevocably as a man who was insensitive to the values the new South Africa was founded on. I remember South Africans commenting upon his election as president that he might be president but that “he will not be MY president.”

Zuma’s inability to manage his finances has also characterized his relationship with public money. Under Zuma, corruption became endemic and deeply tainted the African National Congress (ANC), a once illustrious organization that is turning 106 this year.

It is in this deeply troubled political context that Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his maiden State of the Nation (SONA) address last week. He opened his speech with the words, “It’s a new dawn.” Interestingly, Jacob Zuma similarly proclaimed, “It’s a new dawn” during his own first State of the Nation address in 2009.

Although there was a measure of disillusionment with outgoing President Thabo Mbeki at the time, Zuma’s reference to a new dawn was not as timely as Ramaphosa’s use of the expression. This time around, the words fell on more receptive ears. The disillusionment with government now is almost complete. If Ramaphosa fails to offer something new, he is dead in the water.

African politicians are not typically as prone to political clichés as their counterparts in the Western world. But the idea of a new dawn has been repeatedly used, most recently by those commenting on the change in leadership in Ethiopia. The rhetoric of “a new dawn,” then, is not new and does not in itself bring anything new.

In order to bring real change, Ramaphosa needs to do three things—all of which are essentially about money.

First, he needs to take prompt and concrete action to prosecute Zuma for corruption as well as each person that assisted Zuma in creating a corrupt state. Similarly, Zuma should not receive a presidential pardon if he does get convicted for corruption. The prosecution should extend not only beyond Zuma and beyond the Gupta brothers who facilitated the “state capture.”

As was pointed out by political commentators this week, some of those in the ANC who were cheering most loudly for Zuma during the Ramaphosa’s SONA were also those who facilitated the corruption, derived great personal benefit from it, and actively perpetuated the corrupt system by resisting efforts to remove Zuma. It was with the support of these ANC members that Zuma survived eight motions of no confidence. Their actions cannot and should not be overlooked.

Second, Ramaphosa needs to revive the ANC as an organization, starting by rooting out corruption by promptly removing and prosecuting corrupt party members. Ramaphosa should not hesitate to remove members of the top brass that occupy a position on the National Executive Committee of the ANC, such as the corrupt Secretary-General of the ANC Ace Magashule.

Ramaphosa’s credibility will depend on a consistent and fearless approach to achieving the accountability he spoke of during his State of the Nation address. The loud jeering during the last part of his speech indicates the absolute urgency of prosecuting corrupt officials. It is in the best interest of South Africa to re-examine the tendency of ANC leaders to place the party before the country.

It is telling that Zuma, in his resignation speech, emphasized that he does not want to divide the ANC. This, it seemed, was more important to him that uniting the country.

A third, urgent way in which Ramaphosa can bring renewal is by urgently probing the role of neo-capitalism in the perpetuation of severe poverty in South Africa. Without sincere and critical self-reflection on the foundations of his own wealth and the economics that have allowed too many ANC members to enrich themselves, it is unlikely that he will bring the economic change to which he devoted so much of his first SONA. He should not prioritize the wishes of the wealthy over the needs of the majority of South Africans who live in abject poverty.

Enough talk. It is time for swift and decisive action. If not, the new dawn will be nothing more than an all-too-familiar duskland.

*Mia Swart is also the Research Director at Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). Views in this piece belong to the author and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the HSRC.

The post A New Dawn for South Africa appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Mia Swart is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center*

The post A New Dawn for South Africa appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/new-dawn-south-africa/feed/ 0
Demonizing OXFAM – Fair or Foul?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/demonizing-oxfam-fair-foul/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=demonizing-oxfam-fair-foul http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/demonizing-oxfam-fair-foul/#respond Thu, 22 Feb 2018 16:47:22 +0000 Kul Chandra Gautam http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154452 Kul Chandra Gautam is a former UN Assistant Secretary-General & Deputy Executive Director of the UN children’s agency, UNICEF

The post Demonizing OXFAM – Fair or Foul? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Internally Displaced Persons in South Sudan at the UN House/IDP compound. Credit: Oxfam

By Kul Chandra Gautam
KATHMANDU, Nepal, Feb 22 2018 (IPS)

As a member of OXFAM GB’s Council of Trustees since 2014, I have received many queries about the recent scandal concerning sexual misconduct committed by some OXFAM staff in Haiti in 2011 and elsewhere. I appreciate the concerns expressed as well as many messages of solidarity and support for OXFAM in the face of the relentless onslaught of criticism – both fair and foul.

OXGAM GB’s current Council Chair Caroline Thomson, CEO Mark Goldring and OXFAM International CEO Winnie Byanyima have given many interviews and testimonials to the media and the British Government authorities, including the Charity Commission, in the past week responding to the queries and concerns.

Although most of today’s Trustees and senior management were not there in 2010-12, I can assure you that all current Trustees and senior management of Oxfam are taking the matter extremely seriously and sincerely.

OXFAM leadership has publicly apologized for the serious lapses in its handling of the reported misconduct cases and taken many proactive steps to rectify the situation. The Deputy CEO of Oxfam GB who was International Program Director at the time of the Haiti scandal – a very decent person and competent professional – has resigned taking responsibility for lapses in her watchdog functions at the time.

Here is a summary of key actions taken by Oxfam’s leadership in response to the current crisis to bring about the necessary changes to its policy, practice and culture to stamp out exploitation, abuse and harassment from all parts of the organization, and to protect those it works with and ensure justice for survivors of abuse. These actions seek to:

• Demonstrate a meaningful commitment to transparency and accountability, including through the establishment of an independent commission to review its past and current work – the findings of which will be made public, and the recommendations will guide further action by Oxfam

• Change policies, practices and culture within Oxfam, including significantly increasing its investment in safeguarding and in gender training and support

• Work with other organizations across the humanitarian and development sector to prevent such abuses from happening again, including efforts to reform recruitment and vetting processes to prevent offenders from moving between organisations.

With the above objective OXFAM has already initiated a robust 10-point action plan:

• Appointment of an Independent High-Level Commission on Sexual Misconduct, Accountability and Culture Change
• Reiterated commitment across Oxfam to collaborate with all relevant authorities
• Re-examining past cases, and encouraging witnesses or survivors to come forward
• Increasing investment in safeguarding with immediate effect
• Strengthening internal HR and whistle-blower processes
• Re-enforcing a culture of zero tolerance towards harassment, abuse or exploitation
• Working with its peer organizations across the sector to tackle physical, sexual and emotional abuse
• Active engagement with partners and allies, especially women’s rights organizations
• Listening to the public
• Recommitting and strengthening its focus on gender justice as central to OXFAM’s mission and action

OXFAM has made these commitments to the Charity Commission, to the British Government and to its supporters and critics, including the media. It has received many expressions of support and solidarity from its partners and the general public.

According to a recent Tufts University two-year study on sexual harassment and assault by humanitarian and development aid workers carried out by Dyan Mazurana and Phoebe Donnelly (see: http://sites.tufts.edu/reinventingpeace/2018/02/20/is-oxfam-the-worst-or-the-best/), the sexual abuse allegations against Oxfam staff came to light partly because Oxfam has one of the best reporting systems in the aid industry:

“Today, Oxfam is the target of universal condemnation for having, allegedly, hired staff who were sexually abusive, and then covered up these wrongdoings. But the reality is that, far from being the worst, Oxfam is today one of the best international aid agencies in terms of reporting, investigating and addressing sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse of its staff”.

“There’s a simple reason why aid agencies—like companies, or governments—that have the best reporting procedures for sexual offenses have the highest reported rates of these crimes. If a victim of a crime has no confidence that her report will be taken seriously, discussed sensitively and in confidence, and acted upon, she will simply remain quiet. That’s why (for example) Sweden and Canada have higher rates of recorded sexual violence than South Sudan or Libya”.

“Oxfam may momentarily appear the worst—but that’s partly because it has been the best in addressing the challenge of sexual exploitation and abuse”.

As mentioned earlier, and reported to the British authorities, OXFAM has taken additional steps to further strengthen its safeguard policies on sexual abuse and other misconduct. However, obviously these policies and practices are not foolproof and warrant constant vigilance.

Unfortunately, the media attention has continued to focus on the negative and sensational stories rather than putting OXFAM’s long and illustrious record of humanitarian and development work and its sincere commitment for corrective action in a balanced perspective.

I am personally convinced that OXFAM is being highly responsible, humble and sincere in its response to the current crisis. Outside the glare of sensational media, the overwhelming majority of messages that I and other Trustees have received have been those of strong solidarity and support for OXFAM and anguish about how it is being unfairly attacked in a sensational manner despite its public apology and profound corrective actions.

Here are some recent articles that I believe put the matter in more balanced perspective:

https://newint.org/blog/2018/02/15/trashing-of-oxfam

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/feb/17/oxfam-scandal-does-not-justify-demonising-entire-aid-sector

We all welcome the heightened sensitivity and increased vigilance against sexual abuse and other unethical practices in international development cooperation, as in national and local institutions.

But in the case of the UK at present, some right-wing media tabloids and officials seem to be using the scandal to undermine UK’s commitment to international development and support for NGOs, charities and the UN system in general and its commitment to allocating 0.7 percent of GNI as ODA. This is very unfortunate and insincere.

Given the recent rise of anti-immigrant, anti-charity, anti-multilateralist trends in the US, UK and several other European countries, it behooves those committed to progressive development agenda to be watchful that the legitimate concerns about unethical conduct and corruption in the development aid and charity sector are not used as an excuse for rolling back and recoiling from our commitment and activism in support of global solidarity for humanitarian and sustainable development agenda.

It is my humble opinion that OXFAM deserves solidarity and support in this hour of great distress as it is striving to further strengthen its safeguarding policies and practices that I believe can be an example for others.

The post Demonizing OXFAM – Fair or Foul? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Kul Chandra Gautam is a former UN Assistant Secretary-General & Deputy Executive Director of the UN children’s agency, UNICEF

The post Demonizing OXFAM – Fair or Foul? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/demonizing-oxfam-fair-foul/feed/ 0
Migration Should Not be Politicized, Warns General Assembly Presidenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/migration-not-politicized-warns-general-assembly-president/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migration-not-politicized-warns-general-assembly-president http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/migration-not-politicized-warns-general-assembly-president/#respond Wed, 21 Feb 2018 22:42:08 +0000 Miroslav Lajcak http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154426 Miroslav Lajčák, is President of the UN General Assembly

The post Migration Should Not be Politicized, Warns General Assembly President appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

African migrants in Libya. Credit: Karlos Zurutuza / IPS

By Miroslav Lajčák
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 21 2018 (IPS)

This week, we began intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact on Migration. Therefore, it has never been more important to have a fact-based discussion on this issue.

To start us off, I want to make main three points. First, I want to stress that migration is a fact. It is not an idea. It is not a theory. It is not a trend. It is a fact.

This was the case for generations before us. And it will be the case for generations to come.

And we need to respond accordingly. Not with ideas or theories. But with facts. Data. Information. And evidence.

These are the tools we need. They allow us to better understand migration. They tell us how and where, and why, it happens. They help to flag both the opportunities and the risks it creates. And they enable us to develop effective, targeted policies in response.

That is why, during the Global Compact’s consultation phase, we heard repeated calls for more disaggregated data on migration. And that is why I am so glad that we are meeting here, to discuss this vital issue.

But, we cannot just look at the benefits of a fact-based approach. We must also be aware of how dangerous the alternative is. And that is the second point I want to make today.

When facts and information are absent, a vacuum develops in their place. But it does not stay around for long. Because there are too many actors, waiting on the side lines, ready to step in. And, the vacuum can quickly be filled by emotional rhetoric, politicized messaging, or even hate speech.

This can stoke tensions. It can encourage racial discrimination or xenophobia. And it can open, or widen, fault lines within and between societies.

And so, the risks that come from neglecting an evidence-based approach are grave.

However, let us be clear. This does not mean that the facts and data on migration will always be positive. Nor does it mean that an evidence-based approach will put us all on the same page.

Migration is a complex issue. Every person has a different experience with it. And so, every person has a different position on it. An evidence-based discussion will not change that. Legitimate concerns will remain. Legitimate differences will remain. But as long as they are based on real facts and real information, they can lead us to real dialogue. And, they can form the basis of effective partnerships.

And, as my third point, I will focus on this question of partnerships.

It is not up to one person, or one entity, to promote an evidence-based approach. We all have a responsibility.

Governments, in particular, must play a major role. They have the power to make decisions and form policies. And, they have the responsibility to do so based on the latest, and most concrete, analysis and information.

And we must focus on the roles for the private sector, civil society, regional organisations and, indeed, the United Nations. All of these stakeholders can act as crucial sources of data and facts. And they can be drivers and promoters of an evidence-based discussion.

Furthermore, an objective media is key. Because, it can distil sometimes technical, or complex, data down to information products, which are accessible to wider audiences.

We must do more to build partnerships between all these key players. We need to establish closer links between those who collect data, and those who distribute and analyse it. We need to design platforms for information-sharing.

We need to cooperate to ensure that data collection and disaggregation receives proper funding and support. And, we need to open channels of dialogue and experience-sharing between global, regional and national levels.

And, here, I want to give special thanks to the partners who worked so hard to fuel process so far with facts and information. In particular, I want to acknowledge the International Organization for Migration, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the UN entities in the Global Migration Group – though there are many others which played a key role.

As I said, we are discussing a crucial topic. And, we are doing so at a crucial time.

Yesterday, I opened the intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact on Migration. In doing so, I told all Member States in the room that the process now lies entirely in their hands.

And, the same is true, here, today. You may represent different entities, with different perspectives. But the power to ensure that we take an evidence-based approach lies in all of your hands.

You can be the sources. You can be the promoters. And you can be the champions.

You can do all of this individually. But, you will be more effective together. And, the United Nations is here to support you along the way.

The post Migration Should Not be Politicized, Warns General Assembly President appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Miroslav Lajčák, is President of the UN General Assembly

The post Migration Should Not be Politicized, Warns General Assembly President appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/migration-not-politicized-warns-general-assembly-president/feed/ 0
African Brain Drain: Is There an Alternative?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/african-brain-drain-alternative/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=african-brain-drain-alternative http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/african-brain-drain-alternative/#respond Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:35:14 +0000 Luc Ngwe http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154405 Luc Ngwé, a Cameroonian researcher and freelance consultant, is the author of a series of studies on higher education and has taught at the University of Douala (Cameroon), and at universities in Nanterre and Avignon (France).

The post African Brain Drain: Is There an Alternative? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

In October 2016, a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast that “migrants [from sub-Saharan Africa] in OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries could increase from about 7 million in 2013 to about 34 million by 2050,” adding that “the migration of young and educated workers takes a large toll on a region whose human capital is already scarce.”
 
This decades-long haemorrhaging of the continent cannot suddenly be stopped. African universities have to include time spent studying abroad as an integral part of their courses, while encouraging short-term migration that allows these well-educated citizens to return to their home countries.

By Luc Ngwé
DOUALA, Cameroon, Feb 20 2018 (IPS)

“Brain drain is particularly acute in sub-Saharan Africa,” says the World Economic Outlook (October 2016), a report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “The migration of young and educated workers takes a large toll on a region whose human capital is already scarce. The concentration of migrants among those who are educated is higher than in other developing economies.

The migration of highly-skilled workers entails a high social cost, as is evidenced by the departure of doctors and nurses from Malawi and Zimbabwe, which may mean welfare losses beyond those that are purely economic.” This situation is not new. The African brain drain had already started in the 1980s.

Temporary migration in the 1960s

In the 1960s, the higher education policies of newly independent African states reflected a need for them to train their own elites. For some, students would be trained abroad, mostly in the former colonizing countries and the Soviet Union. They received state scholarships and were expected to return home to contribute to their country’s development.

Cameroon, for example, required that all students with scholarships sign a ten-year pledge. Meanwhile, countries in the former Soviet bloc demanded that African students leave as soon as they had finished their studies. They were also encouraged to leave the host countries due to other factors – such as difficulties in finding employment, jobs reserved for nationals, discrimination or downgraded appointments.

At the same time, newly independent states offered attractive job prospects for their graduates – reviving their enthusiasm for independence and using laudatory slogans like “Your Country Needs You!” to make them feel wanted.

In the two decades after independence, the African brain drain followed the logic of a wider migration movement. Its main feature was that it was temporary – at least in its intention.

In the 1980s, this post-independence euphoria gave way to disenchantment in most African countries. Promises of an escape from poverty were not kept. In a series of successive self-imposed “slimming diets”, the state apparatus drastically cut back on public-sector recruitment. The ideal of a project for the common good began to fade, and a feeling of futility set in.

Getting a diploma no longer had the same meaning, while “employability” became the watchword for educational policy, in Africa and elsewhere. Students increasingly turned towards courses that enabled them to acquire skills that were “saleable” in the world job market.

“African students in Europe find it hard to return to their home country once they have finished their studies,” says Loveline Nguetsa. But not her. She wants to go back to Cameroon when she has her degree in electronics and a Master’s in automation.

Migration for life

Countries in the North were not unhappy about the migration of skills out of countries in the South, though. They competed for new talent while facing problems in renewing their own workforces. Forecasts of an ageing population and certain policies limiting the number of student places, like the numerus clausus for medical students in France, forced these countries to increasingly turn to foreign labour.

They adopted selective immigration policies in an effort to match the skill sets of migrants to the needs of their economies. Faced with a dearth of doctors, France welcomed those from abroad, while Germany attracted foreigners with the skills their industries needed.

The health professions, computing, finance and technology, in particular, led the way for greater international mobility. In this sense, globalization gradually opened up national job markets, while encouraging greater standardization in curricula and diplomas worldwide.

But, while African countries entered this globalization through the backdoor, in that they did not always have a say in it, the same was not true for individuals. They sometimes benefited through personal educational projects, professional prospects and other possibilities (consumption, travel, etc.) on offer to them.

However, while these opportunities may have matched personal development goals, they did not necessarily correspond to the development goals, orientations and priorities of some African countries.

Be that as it may, the internal policies of African countries are among the factors that – alongside the demographic trends of countries of the North, and globalization – transformed African migration from being temporary to being permanent.

This was migration with no real prospect or intention of returning, and which was not due, as we have just seen, to economic factors alone (jobs, salaries, working conditions) or policies (persecution, insecurity). It was migration as a prospect for life.

Brain power in the diaspora

Today, African countries seem to find it impossible to stop the brain drain. Repatriation strategies at any price are proving to be ineffective, so long as governments do not attack the root causes of emigration. And that priority is not given to retaining brains that are fleeing.

One alternative – if not a solution – would be to use the brain power in the diaspora to teach courses in African universities. Such a circulation of skills would open new prospects for African countries at a time of inescapable globalization.

For several years now, university and scientific networks have been set up between home countries and countries with an African diaspora. There is, for example, the University of the Mountains in Cameroon, which has formed an alliance with the Dijon University Hospital and the Paris 13 University in France – and with the University of Udine and the Centro Cardiologico Monzino in Milan, both in Italy.

Morocco is involving its diaspora through national programmes such as the International Forum of Moroccan Competencies Abroad, which supports national research and technology initiatives. In 2009, the National Centre for Scientific and Technical Research (CNRST) in Rabat signed memoranda of understanding with a number of bodies abroad, notably the Association of Moroccan Computer Scientists in France (AIMAF) and the Moroccan-German Skills Network (DMK) in Germany.

Health is an area that would benefit from this kind of cooperation. Cameroonian pharmacists who have settled in Belgium have joined forces with the University of Douala to offer introductory courses in pharmacy. Since 2010, the Association of Cameroonian Physicians in Belgium (MedCamBell) has been organizing professional conferences and public information, prevention and awareness-raising campaigns for Cameroonians.

Circular migration – a new trend

In parallel, certain countries in the North are encouraging “circular mobility”, or short-term migration, which enables foreigners to work and to specialize in their vocations for a few years, before returning to their country of origin. This circular migration is supported by the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), under its Triple Win programme, and Germany’s Federal Employment Agency.

Circular migration benefits both the country of origin as well as the host country, through the transfer of skills and knowledge. And we shouldn’t forget the subjects of all of these initiatives – who are learning by working, who form professional links that might prove useful, and who can earn a better living during their stay abroad, which they can then invest in the economy of their countries of origin someday.

Similar mutually beneficial practices between host country and country of origin operate in the academic world, especially in the United States and Canada, and to a lesser extent, in the United Kingdom and France. African universities with links to higher education and research institutions in these countries are piloting a programme of cooperation with their country of origin, supported by these overseas institutions.

In 2010, Mahmood Mamdani, who was director of the Institute for African Studies at Columbia University, New York (from 1999 to 2004), created the Makerere Institute of Social Research at the Makerere University in Uganda. In 2016, Ousmane Kane, who holds the Chair of Contemporary Islamic Religion and Society at the Harvard Divinity School in the US, started an academic exchange programme for students from Senegal, his country of birth.

There is a long list of African researchers and academics who are helping to regenerate higher education and research in their countries of origin, through teaching and research programmes and co-publication projects.

The integration of the African diaspora in the global skills market offers them some assurance that they will remain competitive, instead of experiencing the sclerosis they suffer if they stay in their country of origin – because of the poor working conditions and an environment that does not favour professional success.

This is particularly the case for lecturers, researchers, health personnel, and more recently, the so-called cutting-edge professions like Information Technology (IT), telecommunications, finance and biotechnology.

As the IMF report points out, African diaspora networks “can also provide rigorous professional development and leadership training programmes. Combining their skills, contacts, and know-how with their insight into global opportunities and local customs, diaspora networks of emigrants may help strengthen the home-country business environment, raise efficiency, and expand into new markets.”

When we make the effort to transform the brain drain into brain circulation, it can pave the way for new forms of cooperation, new modes of development for African countries and new forms of influence that can draw strength from international socialization.

The post African Brain Drain: Is There an Alternative? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Luc Ngwé, a Cameroonian researcher and freelance consultant, is the author of a series of studies on higher education and has taught at the University of Douala (Cameroon), and at universities in Nanterre and Avignon (France).

The post African Brain Drain: Is There an Alternative? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/african-brain-drain-alternative/feed/ 0
The United States: Innovation and Immobilityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/united-states-innovation-immobility/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=united-states-innovation-immobility http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/united-states-innovation-immobility/#comments Tue, 20 Feb 2018 11:08:09 +0000 Joaquin Roy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154397 Joaquín Roy is Jean Monnet Professor and Director of the European Union Center at the University of Miami.

The post The United States: Innovation and Immobility appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Joaquín Roy is Jean Monnet Professor and Director of the European Union Center at the University of Miami.

By Joaquín Roy
MIAMI, Feb 20 2018 (IPS)

It is the country of paradox, based on the double column of creativity and tradition. Americans are unable to escape the twin submission to the adamnism of being the first and the last to accept that the rest of the planet can be more original and may outrank them in any field.

Expelled, transferred, fled from Europe, they refuse to admit that the reconstructed European civilization, which they have neglected since 1776, can be superior to them. Sometimes, as Trump came up with, they would willingly admit Norwegians, especially if this option would prevent the arrival of citizens from the shithole dumps of the galaxy. It is a useless alternative.

Joaquín Roy

Joaquín Roy

The United States is in danger if it strives stubbornly to maintain myths that slow its progress. Its idyllic interpretation of its foundational moments prevents Americans from accepting how much the world has changed by technology, social habits and laws, aspects among many others to which the genuine Mayflower and Ellis Island civilization has contributed in an impressive way. But the United States insists on believing that change, especially if it implies the admission of a subtle inferiority with respect to Europe, is detrimental to the survival of its identity.

The new massacre at another school (could have been in a mall, it does not matter) reminds us that the leaders of the United States and millions of citizens injure themselves with permanent damage. They erroneously interpret certain pioneering premises of their fundamental laws to their detriment. They confuse epochs and concepts sheltered under a security blanket that is shown as brutally perforated.

The so-called “right to bear arms” (what does not mean to use them at will), enthroned in the Second Amendment, has its origin in the era when there were neither federal armed forces nor the original states had the resources to maintain security. There were no structures that guaranteed the monopoly of the exercise of force (and protective violence, if appropriate) that is the hallmark of the Nation-State that inherited the authority of the old kingdoms and empires.

The new massacre at another school (could have been in a mall, it does not matter) reminds us that the leaders of the United States and millions of citizens injure themselves with permanent damage. They erroneously interpret certain pioneering premises of their fundamental laws to their detriment. They confuse epochs and concepts sheltered under a security blanket that is shown as brutally perforated.


The perverse belief that individuals are policemen and drivers of tanks in defense of their families and heritage, beyond the living room of their homes, can contribute to a comfort in which the individual is sacred. Society is secondary. The American “exceptionalism” prevents accepting that in other countries the forging of private armies and the collection of lethal weapons is not allowed, beyond the museum pieces. The opposite would be to admit the superiority of a Europe that had to be rescued from its own sins on two occasions. Europeans are masters in stumbling over the same stone, but after WWI they have learnt.

In this new massacre, more young people and children are victims of a system with atrocious deficiencies of mental health, education, and (why not?) well understood discipline. The key to these extremely serious incidents lies in the shortcomings of health plans that are gripped by the same myth of superiority and animosity towards what is interpreted (horror!) as “socialism”. The “system” (to call it somehow that) of health of the United States is a disaster of colossal proportions. But nobody seems capable of correcting it, innovating it or changing it. It is another result of the survival of foundational myths.

The beneficiaries of this health chaos are diverse. Of particular note are the private insurance companies that offer coverage to privileged users, who can afford to pay the fees and co-pay. They are followed by the manufacturers of medicines that claim the need to recover the costs of research (often developed with public funds). Then there are the doctors who must pay the debts incurred in obtaining their licenses in private universities. And finally, there are the politicians who play on the side of opposition to medicine and public health, universal and free, under the claim that this modality is a variant of “socialism”, a word pronounced with a “communist” accent

The losers are the millions of disinherited citizens who do not have access to jobs with mandatory coverage and shared financing. The worst affected are the unemployed who must be temporarily admitted to public hospitals or covered by charities. But there are those who recklessly go free until surgery leaves them without a home and inheritance. And when someone, like Obama, tries to change this chaos, he is crucified and his project becomes a primary target of annihilation.

When one asks why millions of Europeans are willing to accept these “socialist” solutions, in many of the capitalist countries with the highest rates of development, equality, education, low crime, reasonable birth rates and life expectancy, the answer is simple: because they accept to pay high taxes. Americans themselves pay the same high contributions, and swear without questioning that primary and secondary education remains public, universal. They accept this “socialist” modality.

But Americans and the politicians who stubbornly oppose  a reform are not willing to do the same with health, a fundamental right as life, freedom and … the pursuit of happiness, as the jeffersonian motto says. And they allow this unjust madness until the next group murder, committed by a madman, lacking basic health coverage, armed to the teeth, protected by the constitutional amendment that allows him to “have and bear arms.”

Joaquín Roy is Jean Monnet Professor and Director of the European Union Center at the University of Miami.
jroy@miami.edu

 

The post The United States: Innovation and Immobility appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Joaquín Roy is Jean Monnet Professor and Director of the European Union Center at the University of Miami.

The post The United States: Innovation and Immobility appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/united-states-innovation-immobility/feed/ 1
Robots, Unemployment … and Immigrantshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/robots-unemployment-immigrants/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=robots-unemployment-immigrants http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/robots-unemployment-immigrants/#respond Mon, 19 Feb 2018 08:28:26 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154381 Roberto Savio is founder of IPS Inter Press Service and President Emeritus

The post Robots, Unemployment … and Immigrants appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

For every industrial robot introduced into the workforce, six jobs are eliminated.

By Roberto Savio
ROME, Feb 19 2018 (IPS)

Amazon has recently introduced Amazon Go, a shop where the customer enters, chooses a product from the shelves, charges the price on a magnetic card and swipes it on the way out, transferring the charge to the customer’s bank account . No queues, no cashiers, fast and easy, and the first shop in Seattle has been a roaring success.

Putting products back on the shelves will soon be fully automated, with robots doing the work previously done by humans. Floor cleaning is already done by a robot, and the aim is to have a fully automated shop, where no human can make mistakes, fall ill, go on strike, take holidays or bring their personal problems to work.

The US petrol industry calculates that the staff required at each well will be reduced from 20 to five within three years. Also within three years it is expected that small hotels will have a fully automated reception – guests arrive, swipe their credit card and a machine supplies the room.

Roberto Savio

Roberto Savio

We are already accustomed to automated telephone for bookings and reservations, and we ourselves now do tasks at an airport which were previously done by clerks, such as checking in.

Contrary to what many think, self-drive vehicles are just around the corner, and car makers think they will be on the market by 2021.

In the United States, according to the ABI Research company, the number of industrial robots will jump nearly 300 percent in less than a decade. The National Economic Research Bureau has reported that for every industrial robot introduced into the workforce, six jobs are eliminated.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has released a “policy brief” indicating what this robotic revolution would mean in Africa, Asia and Latin America. “If robots are considered a form of capital that is a close substitute for low-skilled jobs, then their growing use reduces the share of human labour in production costs. Adverse effects for developing countries may be significant.”

In May 2016, the World Bank’s Digital Dividend Report, calculated that replacing low-skilled workers with robots in developing countries would affect two-thirds of jobs.

China is destined to become the biggest user of robots. China is aiming to become the global leader in high-tech. To take just one example, Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, reduced its workforce last year from 110,000 to 50,000 in Kunshan, thanks to the introduction of robots. The time of cheap imitations is gone, with China now registering more patents than the United States.

Economists call this wave of automation the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The first started, at the end of the 18th century, with the introduction of machines to do handicraft work, such as in textiles. Its impact become visible in 1811, when the followers of a fictional Ned Ludd started to destroy textile equipment because it left thousands of weavers jobless.

The second industrial revolution occurred in the middle of the same century, when science was applied to production, introducing engines and other inventions, creating the real Industrial Revolution. That meant rural populations migrating to towns to work in the factories. The third revolution in the middle of the last century is considered to be the introduction of the Internet, which once again changed forms of production. Gone were the jobs of secretaries in companies, lino typist in newspapers, accounting, documentation, libraries, archives and other hundreds of professions made obsolete by the ‘net’.

We see the Fourth Industrial Revolution in our daily life. But it is like climate change – we all know it exists, it is before our eyes. We have all the data showing an increase in hurricanes, disappearing glaciers, extreme weather conditions, hotter summers than have been recorded since we began measuring temperatures.

Yet, the outcome of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference means that the world is now geared to producing an increase of three degrees centigrade, while scientists unanimously agree that exceeding 1.5 degrees centigrade would be extremely dangerous.

We even have a president of the United States who withdrew from a non-binding Paris Agreement, declaring that climate change is a “Chinese hoax”. Then his appointment of Scott Pruitt – a person who says that global warming is “positive” – as Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).is like putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank.

The political approach to automation is similar. The 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos was dedicated to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The founder and director of the Forum, economist Klaus Schwab, even went to to the effort of writing a book on the subject for the meeting: it is a book in which he expresses his concern.

Previous industrial revolutions had liberated humankind from animal power, made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people. This Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, fundamentally different. It is characterised by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, affecting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.

We need to take a concerted global approach in the world, to make the positive override the negative impacts. The theme was practically ignored at Davos 2016, because politicians now only discuss themes in the short term: what has to be dealt with during their period in office.

At Davos in 2016, Schwab called for leaders and citizens to “together shape a future that works for all by putting people first, empowering them and constantly reminding ourselves that all of these new technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people.”

Clearly, that goes against the tide of nationalism, the new vision for the United States, India, Japan, China, Philippines, Hungary, Poland, Great Britain, Turkey and so on.

Well, like it or not, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is here. Today automation already accounts already for 17 percent of production and services. It will account for 40 percent within 15 years, according to World Bank projections.

But we should also take into account the surprising seeds of development of artificial intelligence (AI) – also known as machine intelligence (MI) – which is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans and other animals.

We already have robots which can be reprogrammed and their functions changed. Without going into the vitally important relationship between AI and societies, it is important to note the most vibrant debate today concerns how our economy is mutating into an economy of algorithms and data and how this is impacting on politics.

Austrian economist and thinker Karl Polany saw this coming when he made a simple observation: capitalism, without controls and regulations, does not create a market economy but a market society where whatever is necessary for survival has a price, and that is submitted to the laws of the market.

In that kind of society, the state has no alternative but to sustain the system with laws, courts and police to protect private property and to secure good functioning of the market.

The explosion of social injustice, privatisation of common goods and fiscal support for the richest are all consequences of Polany’s analysis. Add to this monopolisation of data by a few giant companies, like Facebook or Amazon, and their impact in the social, cultural and economic sphere, and you can see where we are going. We have become data ourselves, and we are on the market.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will further reduce the centrality of the human being, who has already been replaced by the market ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall…

All this opens up another crucial issue. Labour was once considered an important cost factor in production, and it was the extent to which workers had rights to the resulting benefits that sparked the creation of trade unions, the modern Left and the adoption of universal values such as social justice, transparency and participation, which were the basis of modern international relations.

The relationship between machines and distribution of the benefits of production has inspired several thinkers, philosophers and economists over the last centuries. It was generally assumed that a time would come in which machines would eventually do all production and humankind would be free of work, maintained from the profits generated by machines.

This was, of course, more a dream than a political theory. Yet today, all managers of artificial intelligence and robotic production argue that the superior productivity of robots will reduce costs, thereby enabling greater consumption of goods and services, and this will generate new jobs, easily absorbing those displaced by machines.

The data we have do not show that at all. According to the Economic Report of the President of the United States, there is an 83 percent chance that those who earn 20 dollars an hour could have their job replaced by robots. This proportion rises to 31 percent for those who earn 40 dollars per hour.

Given that the new economy is an intelligence economy based on technical knowledge, people have a future if they are able to adapt to that kind of society, and the new generations are much more attuned to this. But what will a taxi driver who has had no technical education do to recycle himself?

The statistics show that today, when people lose their jobs at a certain age, any new job they may find will almost always be for a lower remuneration. So robotisation will affect the lower middle class above all, and a new generational divide will be created.

Over the years, a number of economists and influential people have expressed the idea of a universal basic income (UBI), arguing that there is a need to cushion society from tensions, instability and unemployment by giving all citizens a fixed income in order that they would be able to have a dignified life. In addition, by spending their UBI, they would generate wealth and increase demand, which would therefore stimulate growth and make for a just and stable society.

Martin Luther King was an early proponent, like neoliberal economist Milton Friedman. Now the billionaires of Silicon Valley like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, venture capitalist Mark Andreessen and Democratic Party senator Bernie Sanders have all expressed support for the UBI idea.

Meanwhile, Andrew Yang, an American entrepreneur and founder of Venture for America, is a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate running on a UBI platform. Yang notes that in the 2016 presidential elections, Donald Trump did particularly well in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states which have lost four million jobs because of automation: “The higher the concentration of robots, the higher the number of disgruntled people who vote for Trump.”

Yang plans to cover the two trillion dollars that UBI would cost (half of the US budget) with a new VAT tax and taxation on the companies who profit from automation. Of course, in the United States the idea that people who do not work should receive public money is the closest thing to communism, and UBI faces formidable cultural obstacles. But Yang says that otherwise in a few years there will be “riots in the streets: just think of the one million truck drivers, who are 94 percent male with an average high school education, suddenly all jobless.”

The above leads to a few considerations and a concrete proposal.

The first consideration is that Trump and all the other politicians who want to restore a past glorious future totally ignore this debate (unfortunately, it is not part of any political debate). Calling for restoring jobs in mines and fossil fuels, for example, fails to recognise that technological developments have already led to the loss of many jobs, and will continue to do so. So, the rallying of disgruntled people, as was the case in Britain with Brexit, is a consequence of the poverty of the political debate, where traditional political parties (especially on the Left), instead of explaining clearly the world in which we now are, and the one in which we are heading, are trying to piggyback on the feelings of the victims of neoliberal globalisation, often taking up the banners of nationalists.

The second political consideration is that migration has become a major theme in elections. Trump was elected on a strong anti-immigrant platform, which continues in his administration. Governments in Hungary, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia are based on refusal of immigrants. All over Europe, from the Nordic countries to France, Netherlands and Germany, anti-immigrant feelings are conditioning governments.

In order to take votes away from the xenophobic Matteo Salvini (leader of the right-wing Lega Nord) in the Italian elections (scheduled for March 2018), the old fox of Silvio Berlusconi (former Italian prime minister) has promised that he will expel 600.000 immigrants if he wins the election.

The fear is that immigrants are stealing jobs and resources from citizens in the countries in which they live. However, statistics from the European Union tell us otherwise. The number of non-EU citizens living in Europe (some for a long time) is now 35 million, of whom about eight million are Africans, and seven million Arabs out of a total of 400 million. Those figures also include illegal immigrants.

All statistics show that more than 97 percent of immigrants are totally integrated, that they pay on average more taxes than locals (of course, they worry about their future) and to date those who do not have a job are about 2.3 million people who are still awaiting a decision on their juridical status.

There is not a single study claiming that immigrants have taken the jobs of Europeans in any significant way. It was the same story with the entry of woman into the labour market. An increasing proportion of women have joined the labour force over the last 30 years, but these increases have not coincided with falling employment rates for men. A study on Brexit demonstrated that immigrants had helped to increase GDP, and that the increase in productivity meant a global increase in employment. But we have reached a point where nobody listens any longer to facts, unless they are convenient…

And now the concrete proposal. It is clear that the real threat to employment for the large majority of citizens comes from robotisation, not immigration. No employed person has been fired to be replaced by an immigrant, unless we talk of non-qualified jobs that Europeans do not want in any case.

Truck drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers and school drivers, to take some examples, do not fear for their jobs because of immigration. Within a very few years, their jobs will become obsolete in any case, and there will be no plans or preparations for that. When the problem explodes, politics might start looking at it.

Perhaps the more responsible thing to do – rather than stoking fear with populism and xenophobia – is that we start to come to terms with the real problem that our society is facing: automation.

And here is a simple proposal: somebody who takes a robot is making money because of its superior productivity, and he is firing somebody. After having paid the robot during usually a couple of years, he might be imagined to have a 100 percent benefit from the firing of a human being. Well, he will not have 100 percent but 60 percent because he will continue to pay the social costs of the human being fired: pension, taxes and health insurance.

That is not as costly as UBI, it is easy to organise and administer, and it will be a way to realise in part the old utopian dream that machines will work for humankind. Can a political debate be started?

The post Robots, Unemployment … and Immigrants appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Roberto Savio is founder of IPS Inter Press Service and President Emeritus

The post Robots, Unemployment … and Immigrants appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/robots-unemployment-immigrants/feed/ 0
A Restructured African Development Bank Plans to Meet Economic Challenges Facing Continenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/restructured-african-development-bank-plans-meet-economic-challenges-facing-continent/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=restructured-african-development-bank-plans-meet-economic-challenges-facing-continent http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/restructured-african-development-bank-plans-meet-economic-challenges-facing-continent/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:52:16 +0000 Akinwumi A. Adesina http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154367 Akinwumi A. Adesina is President of the African Development Bank

The post A Restructured African Development Bank Plans to Meet Economic Challenges Facing Continent appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Akinwumi A. Adesina is President of the African Development Bank

By Akinwumi A. Adesina
ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire, Feb 16 2018 (IPS)

Over the past few years, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has confirmed its position as Africa’s premier development finance institution, generating significant impact on the continent’s economic and social development.

Akinwumi A. Adesina

To keep this positive momentum going, the Bank has recently re-designed its organizational structure as well as its development and business delivery model in order to become more effective and responsive to Africa’s economic challenges.

A more effective Bank will help African countries address many long-standing challenges, namely the immense electricity and power deficit, food insecurity, poverty, poor job creation, low levels of regional integration and industrialization, gender inequality, low levels of financial inclusion, particularly for women, and the rise in terrorism.

Overall, the new structure will expand the Bank’s business by moving it closer to its clients, improve the way it delivers services, and ensure that it can provide meaningful and effective development impact for its regional member countries.

A more effective execution of the Bank’s High 5 strategy will accelerate the continent’s economic transformation since, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the High 5s will allow Africa to achieve 90 percent of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063. The High 5s are therefore the accelerators of Africa’s development.

The High 5s are backed by exceptionally strong investment programs, such as the New Deal on Energy for Africa with investments of $12 billion, the leveraging of an additional $45 billion to $50 billion into the power sector by 2020, as well as the delivery of 130 million new grid connections, 75 million off-grid connections, and secure access to clean cooking energy for 130 million households by 2025.

In agriculture and food, the Bank is investing a total of $24 billion over the next 10 years to help African countries achieve food security and make Africa a net food exporter. In terms of industrial policy, the Bank will make investments of up to $40 billion over the next 10 years under various flagship programs to raise Africa’s industrial outputs.

Finally, the Bank is determined to raise the quality of life of all Africans and, among other programs, create at least 25 million jobs for African youth over a 10-year period, turning Africa’s demographic assets into an economic dividend, accelerating the industrialization process of the continent, and tackling economic fragmentation across African countries.

In a nutshell, a more effective African Development Bank means a better developed Africa.

The post A Restructured African Development Bank Plans to Meet Economic Challenges Facing Continent appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Akinwumi A. Adesina is President of the African Development Bank

The post A Restructured African Development Bank Plans to Meet Economic Challenges Facing Continent appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/restructured-african-development-bank-plans-meet-economic-challenges-facing-continent/feed/ 0
Oxfam’s Sexual Abuse Episode Must Inspire a Culture Shifthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/oxfams-sexual-abuse-episode-must-inspire-culture-shift/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=oxfams-sexual-abuse-episode-must-inspire-culture-shift http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/oxfams-sexual-abuse-episode-must-inspire-culture-shift/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:44:53 +0000 Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154353 Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

The post Oxfam’s Sexual Abuse Episode Must Inspire a Culture Shift appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
A UN peacekeeper holds a child as her mother is helped down from a relocation truck in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Credit: UN Photo/Logan Abassi. The Oxfam scandal is an unfortunate blight. Organisations in similar circumstances must be transparent about how they punish culprits and what remedial and preventive actions they have taken. Justice must be unrelenting and exemplary, in pursuit of individuals who commit such acts, regardless of their rank or station. The guilty must go to jail in the country they commit such an offence.

A UN peacekeeper holds a child as her mother is helped down from a relocation truck in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Credit: UN Photo/Logan Abassi

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 2018 (IPS)

Sexual abuse allegations against Oxfam staff, and failings in the charity’s response to them, delivered a body blow to an organisation renowned for years of humanitarian and development work. At the very least the accusations will leave a stain on the reputation of a charity that works in some of the toughest environments in the world, and has made a positive difference in the lives of the most vulnerable.

The Oxfam reports come in the wake of a wave of revelations of sexual misconduct that spans churches to faith based organizations to children being abused in orphanages and schools in some of the most developed countries in the world.

What started as a Weinstein story in Hollywood, has spread to become an almost-daily parade of politicians, CEOs and celebrities facing allegations, sexual and gender-based exploitation, harassment and violence is a global issue. It is a crisis on an epic scale.

Under the hashtag #MeToo, thousands of women who had long bottled-up their pain have come forward with their stories, lifting the lid on decades of simmering frustration and repression.

But there is nothing new about the sexual abuse and exploitation of women.

The Oxfam scandal is an unfortunate blight. Organisations in similar circumstances must be transparent about how they punish culprits and what remedial and preventive actions they have taken. Justice must be unrelenting and exemplary, in pursuit of individuals who commit such acts, regardless of their rank or station. The guilty must go to jail in the country they commit such an offence.

Sadly, throughout history women have been raped or sexually exploited by armed combatants. But even where force is not used, women in conflict or post-conflict environments often live in poverty, and the power imbalance between them and humanitarian workers or peacekeepers has often led to ugly sexual transactions in return for basic necessities.

When the United Nations (UN) faced similar scandals, the organization quickly resorted to policies and procedures around sexual harassment. The UN Secretary-General is obliged to regularly report to the UN Security Council on the issue of women and peace and security. Another resolution reinforced the Secretary-General’s authority to repatriate and replace peacekeepers accused of sexual exploitation. Last year, 600 peacekeepers from the Republic of Congo were repatriated from CAR as a consequence.

While calling for solidarity in condemnation of sexual exploitation and abuse, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said that the UN will not “let anyone cover up these crimes with the UN flag. … Let us make zero tolerance a reality”.

But it is time to look beyond policies and procedures. It is time for a candid look in the mirror and for society to make an overdue cultural shift on what has often been considered normal. The fact is that perpetrators are aware of the line between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, but in most cases they just do not think it is as ‘a big deal’. After all, while much of gender inequality is institutionalised in social, economic and political structures, it is individual men and boys who exploit, intimidate, harass and assault women and girls.

Deeply embedded cultures have continued to revere men in power and to protect them from facing consequences of their actions, even when they know that those actions cross the boundaries of decent behaviour. We have let authority, money and influence bestow on men the right to treat women as lesser beings.

Evidence abounds that misogyny and society’s structure continue to give men carte blanche to diminish women. Power and masculinity are tightly knit and sexualized, and find expression in sexual impunity or entitlement.

A comprehensive cultural shift must go beyond sexual abuse, and upend other expressions of patriarchy such as early marriage, female genital mutilation, and denial of sexual and reproductive healthcare. It is time to create gender parity in management positions to halt the patriarchal notion that power is generally a masculine characteristic.

The Oxfam scandal is an unfortunate blight. Organisations in similar circumstances must be transparent about how they punish culprits and what remedial and preventive actions they have taken.

Justice must be unrelenting and exemplary, in pursuit of individuals who commit such acts, regardless of their rank or station. The guilty must go to jail in the country they commit such an offence.

This must be seen as an opportunity to enforce zero tolerance to sexual harassment and to create a culture in which women are no longer seen as the sexually available yet socially invisible half of humanity.

The post Oxfam’s Sexual Abuse Episode Must Inspire a Culture Shift appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

The post Oxfam’s Sexual Abuse Episode Must Inspire a Culture Shift appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/oxfams-sexual-abuse-episode-must-inspire-culture-shift/feed/ 0
UN Seeks Private Sector Leadership to End Violence Against Childrenhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/un-seeks-private-sector-leadership-end-violence-children/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-seeks-private-sector-leadership-end-violence-children http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/un-seeks-private-sector-leadership-end-violence-children/#comments Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:24:10 +0000 Amina Mohammed http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154346 Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, in an address to a private sector roundtable at the Solutions Summit to end Violence Against Children

The post UN Seeks Private Sector Leadership to End Violence Against Children appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Children sit in a UNICEF-supported centre for vulnerable children, in the conflict-affected Hajjah Governorate, Yemen. Credit UNICEF /Brent Stirton

By Amina J. Mohammed
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Feb 15 2018 (IPS)

It may seem as if achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, and its target of ending all violence against children, depends mostly on action from governments and civil society. But we also need leadership from the business community to achieve a world where every child is free from violence, abuse, trafficking and torture.

Companies in all sectors, and of all sizes, have a powerful impact on children. Respect for the dignity of every person is at the core of sustainable development. It is also one of the keys to ensuring a socially sustainable globalization, from which business stands to be a major beneficiary.

As a starting point, any company serious about addressing violence against children should adopt a ‘respect and support’ approach, as prescribed by the Children’s Rights and Business Principles.

Developed by UNICEF, the UN Global Compact, and Save the Children, these Principles call on companies to prevent harm against children and to pro-actively safeguard children’s interests. They build on existing international standards for responsible business, such as the UN Global Compact Ten Principles and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

By integrating respect and support for children’s rights into their core strategies and operations, a company can strengthen its reputation, improve risk management and secure its social license to operate. Creating a safer world for children also helps build strong, well-educated communities — a vital precondition for long-term, stable and sustainable business environments.

Without a principled approach to these issues, companies risk advancing one objective while undermining progress in other related areas. Looking more specifically at ending violence against children, allow me to outline some key areas where the principles and frameworks I have just mentioned can help companies have an enormous impact:

The first is child labour. Companies that contribute to ending child labour — in all their business activities and along all their supply chains — will go a long way to rooting out the circumstances that enable violence against children to persist.

Companies should also take steps to prevent, identify and mitigate harm to young workers. They must be protected from hazardous work, and companies must do all they can to prevent all forms of workplace violence – including physical and mental punishment, bullying and sexual abuse.

Beyond child labour, a zero tolerance policy for violence, exploitation and abuse should apply across all business activities – even those conducted away from business facilities.

Companies should take particular care in respecting children’s rights in emergency settings, where the risks of violence against children are even more acute.

Children are among the most vulnerable in times of humanitarian crises, especially children with disabilities, displaced or migrant children, children who are separated from family and unaccompanied, and indigenous children.

Girls often face uniquely daunting challenges reflecting the pervasive gender inequalities the SDGs are also designed to tackle.

There is a strong business case for taking great care to respect and support childrens’ rights in emergency settings. Among the many possible dividends, companies that respect and support the rights of children in emergencies can reduce operational risks, alleviate human suffering, develop tomorrow’s talent pool, invest in a more sustainable future, and identify new market opportunities and innovations.

Across all these areas, business action should involve implementing due diligence tools, including risk identification, impact assessments, management measures, reporting mechanisms, grievance procedures and other stakeholder engagement processes.

Taking action to end violence against children is simply the right thing to do. But respecting and supporting the rights of children can also create tremendous opportunities for innovative businesses.

The annual Global Opportunities Report created by DNV and the UN Global Compact noted this year that there are significant untapped business potential relating to reducing global inequalities.

In short, a solid foundation exists today for us to come together and take action to make the world a safe place for all children, everywhere, by 2030. Companies who take this seriously can have a tremendous impact while also achieving great business success. I look forward to hearing more from you about the ways you are making a difference in your own companies.

The post UN Seeks Private Sector Leadership to End Violence Against Children appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, in an address to a private sector roundtable at the Solutions Summit to end Violence Against Children

The post UN Seeks Private Sector Leadership to End Violence Against Children appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/un-seeks-private-sector-leadership-end-violence-children/feed/ 1
Till Her Last Breath- Remembering Asma Jahangirhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/till-last-breath-remembering-asma-jahangir/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=till-last-breath-remembering-asma-jahangir http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/till-last-breath-remembering-asma-jahangir/#respond Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:22:40 +0000 Rangita de Silva de Alwis http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154343 Rangita de Silva de Alwis is Associate Dean of International Affairs, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Global Adviser, UN SDG Fund

 

“No amount of pressure will deter me from representing women in distress. It has been my life’s mission. Till the last breath, I will stand by them.” -- Asma Jahangir ( 1952- 2018)

 

“We have lost a human rights giant”—UN Secretary-General António Guterres

 

The post Till Her Last Breath- Remembering Asma Jahangir appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Rangita de Silva de Alwis is Associate Dean of International Affairs, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Global Adviser, UN SDG Fund
 
“No amount of pressure will deter me from representing women in distress. It has been my life’s mission. Till the last breath, I will stand by them.” -- Asma Jahangir ( 1952- 2018)
 
“We have lost a human rights giant”—UN Secretary-General António Guterres

 

By Rangita de Silva de Alwis
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 15 2018 (IPS)

I first met Asma Jahangir, the champion of human rights in Pakistan, who died Sunday, as a teenager in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s. In a friendship that spanned political upheavals and turbulent transitions in Pakistan and in Sri Lanka, to the War on Terror in the US, Asma remained my mentor and muse.

Asma Jahangir. Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

At age 18, Asma had already become the stuff of legend in South Asia. She had burnished her name in Pakistan’s Supreme Court by challenging the house arrest of her father, Malik Ghulam Jilani, a well- known liberal politician, who had been placed under “preventive detention” during the military rule of General Yahya Khan in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In a landmark petition, Jahangir challenged the legitimacy not just of her father’s detention but of Khan’s rule as well. In a watershed moment for Pakistan and South Asia, the Supreme Court ruled that Khan was an “usurper.” Asma learned to fight tyranny both in court and on the street. As a student, she was suspended from her convent school for scaling the walls of the Governor of Punjab to hoist a black flag to protest authoritarianism.

When the principal of her law school told her that as a married woman she could register in law school but would not be able to attend classes, she interpreted that to mean that she could still take the law exams. She had her unmarried friend enroll in law school and take notes for her.

Flouting conventions of the time that forbade women to work, Asma founded the first ever woman’s legal aid office with her sister Hina and two women friends. Her office in Lahore was pock marked with bullets from those who threatened to kill Asma and Hina for defending women from so called “ honor crimes,” women trying to divorce violent husbands, women trying to escape forced marriage, bonded laborers seeking freedom from their abusive landlords, child laborers, religious minorities facing death sentences under the blasphemy laws, and relatives of the forcibly disappeared. When President Amy Gutmann, President of Penn invited Asma to receive a honorary doctorate in law, it was a way of celebrating Asma’s courage, but also a way of using the university’s significant soft power diplomacy and moral authority to signal a strong message against authoritarian regimes and political tyrants who seek to muffle a hero’s voice. When Asma spoke that enchanted early summer evening before commencement, in President Gutmann’s garden, she did not speak of the battles or the bullets, the politics or the power, but rather the sheer exhilarating spirit- soaring joy of her work in the frontlines of a women’s movement in an age of change.

Asma often spoke of Humaira Kakha and Samia Sarwar to show us that there was a human story behind the lawyering, a story of forced marriage and honor crimes, where women are sacrificed at the altar of their family’s so-called honor.

During General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s 11-year rule, which ended in 1988, Jahangir organized the first women’s movement in Pakistan– the Women’s Action Forum to challenge the military dictatorship and the Islamization of the law. The group protested in the streets against the Hudood Ordinance that saw women as second class citizens.

One of the first cases that Asma protested was that of Safia Bibi, a young blind woman who had been raped by her master’s son. Safia failed to fulfil the evidentiary requirements under the ordinance which called for four adult men of honorable character to serve as witnesses to the crime of Zina (rape ) in court.

Instead, Safia’s pregnancy due to the rape was considered proof of the crime of fornication under the Hudood Ordinance, and was sentenced to public lashing, imprisonment and fine.

Asma was not without critics, detractors and attackers. She faced death threats, assassination attempts, imprisonment, house arrest, police brutality and most of all ignorance, with stoic courage, puckish humor, and unflinching grace.

My students at Penn Law analyze an article from the Harvard Women’s Law Journal on the story of Muktharan Mai, the Pakistani woman who was gang raped as part of an honor crimes attack. In the article, the author quotes critics who liken Asma and her sister Hina to “Jeans wearing women” who are agents of the West.

Neither woman has ever worn a pair of jeans and both are critics of American exceptionalism and the sometimes perilous double standards of Western powers.

During the Mushraff years, Asma led women in a mixed gender marathon, jogging all the way in a salwar kameez.

The New York Times reported about the marathon in 2005: “The police beat the woman with batons in the full glare of the news media, tore her shirt off and, though they failed to take off her baggy trousers, certainly tried their best. The ritual public humiliation over, she and others – some bloodied – were dragged screaming and protesting to police vans and taken away to police stations. This didn’t happen to some unknown student or impoverished villager. This happened to Asma Jahangir, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion and head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the country’s largest such nongovernmental group. The setting: a glitzy thoroughfare in Lahore’s upmarket Gulberg neighborhood. The crime: attempting to organize a symbolic mixed-gender mini-marathon on May 14. The stated aim of the marathon was to highlight violence against women.”

When the Mullah’s criticized the TV coverage of the “unsightly spectacle” of women running a marathon, Asma promptly advised them to shut off their TVs.

In the mid-1990s, when no one else would, Asma took up the case of Salamat Masih, a Christian teenager sentenced to death for blasphemy for allegedly scribbling grafiitii on a mosque’s wall. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have become a trap for religious minorities. An accusation can be made on the basis of little or non-existent evidence.

Despite a campaign by extremist forces, Masih was ultimately acquitted on appeal. However, the decision ignited factional violence. Following the verdict, an armed gang charged into Asma’s brother’s house threatening the entire family. In 1997, two years after the acquittal, the judge was killed.

Much is written about Asma the lawyer, and international human rights defender, but Asma was first and foremost a friend, a friend of the powerless. In my visits to her elegant home in Lahore, my most vivid remembrance is of the throng of little children, the barefoot children of the small surrounding tenements, who would rush to her, hugging her, shyly murmuring words of endearment, hanging on to her with their tiny arms, and rubbing their dusty faces on her soft cotton shawl.

I worked with Asma in those liminal spaces between her endless missions at the highest levels of the United Nations, as the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial and Arbitrary Execution, Special Representative on Darfur, Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Religion, and her final UN assignment as the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, but Pakistan always was her constant passion and focus. A love so fierce for country and her people, I have yet to witness in another.

A few days before her death, she spoke at Oxford in honor of her friend Benazir Bhutto’s tenth death anniversary. She was a champion of Bhutto, but told me that she refused Bhutto’s offers of high political office in order to remain independent of government patronage, to retain the right to challenge the politics of her friend.

As her mentee, I often feared her criticism, even when it was softened with tenderness, because she always spoke the truth. “Those who pursue perfection never do anything brave,” she would tell me. Asma on the other hand, relished the tumult of her work, the political miasma of the fight for democracy, the brave battles against injustice and impunity, and most of all, the relentless pursuit of the truth, until her last breath.

The Atlantic wrote a few days after her death that “Presidents and prime ministers decorated her with their highest civilian honors” and that Asma “was awarded three honorary doctorates.” One of the doctorates was from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016.

When President Amy Gutmann, President of Penn invited Asma to receive a honorary doctorate in law, it was a way of celebrating Asma’s courage, but also a way of using the university’s significant soft power diplomacy and moral authority to signal a strong message against authoritarian regimes and political tyrants who seek to muffle a hero’s voice.

When Asma spoke that enchanted early summer evening before commencement, in President Gutmann’s garden, she did not speak of the battles or the bullets, the politics or the power, but rather the sheer exhilarating spirit- soaring joy of her work in the frontlines of a women’s movement in an age of change.

A senior US diplomat in Pakistan once told me, “I shudder to think what would happen to Pakistan if something were to happen to Asma and her sister, Hina.” I replied, “But what would the world look like?”

While I continue to cherish Hina, who taught last year at Penn Law, the outpouring of tributes show that Asma has inspired a new generation of lawyers, policymakers, journalists, activists and human rights defenders.
As a Penn Law student wrote to me on the evening of Asma’s death, “from Peshawar to Penn Law, women will fight to defend the marginalized because we were touched by Asma.”

The post Till Her Last Breath- Remembering Asma Jahangir appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Rangita de Silva de Alwis is Associate Dean of International Affairs, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Global Adviser, UN SDG Fund

 

“No amount of pressure will deter me from representing women in distress. It has been my life’s mission. Till the last breath, I will stand by them.” -- Asma Jahangir ( 1952- 2018)

 

“We have lost a human rights giant”—UN Secretary-General António Guterres

 

The post Till Her Last Breath- Remembering Asma Jahangir appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/till-last-breath-remembering-asma-jahangir/feed/ 0
African Migration to Europe, Not a Crisis but an Opportunityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/african-migration-europe-not-crisis-opportunity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=african-migration-europe-not-crisis-opportunity http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/african-migration-europe-not-crisis-opportunity/#respond Wed, 14 Feb 2018 17:25:24 +0000 Masood Ahmed and Kate Gough http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154329 Masood Ahmed and Kate Gough, Centre for Global Development

The post African Migration to Europe, Not a Crisis but an Opportunity appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Somali migrants receiving assistance from US sailors. Credit: US navy

By Masood Ahmed and Kate Gough
WASHINGTON DC, Feb 14 2018 (IPS)

An increasingly common justification for European development assistance to Africa is the notion that it will reduce migration from the South. While this sounds intuitive and makes for an appealing argument, the research shows that it is highly unlikely.

As communities become less poor, more people gain the abilities and wherewithal to undertake an expensive journey to a better life elsewhere. Development often increases migration—at least initially.

The combination of demographic and economic imbalances means that migration flows between Africa and Europe will almost certainly increase in the coming decades. By 2050, sub-Saharan Africa will have 800 million new work force participants.

This population boom will be full of young, energetic job seekers, and local markets will not be able to absorb and provide meaningful livelihood opportunities for all of them.

At the same time, Europe will continue aging, with labor demand exceeding supply in critical sectors such as nursing and healthcare. By 2050, more than 34 percent of Europe’s population is expected to be age 60 or older.

Alongside these demographic realities is the continuing imbalance in living standards. Even if African average per capita incomes were to double in each of the next three decades, by 2050 the income gap with Europe will still be large enough to make migration a promising alternative for many.

In addition to economics, many migrants will be driven by conflict or by the already-evident impact of climate change on their home countries. The bottom line is that over the next three decades, it is highly likely that tens of millions of new workers will come to Europe to run factories, provide healthcare and education, and deliver the services that make modern economies functional and comfortable for their residents.

The policy choice for Europe is not whether there will be large scale migration, but how to manage it in a way that is economically beneficial and socially sustainable. Three policy imperatives flow from these realities.

Implement policies that maximize migration’s mutual benefits.

Migration can have immense mutual benefits if it is well-governed. Host country policies governing migrants’ access to labor markets and their ease of integration into local communities will determine how quickly these positive migration impacts can be realized. There are many good ideas—and examples—that can be scaled up.

Australia and Germany have successfully tested programs to train migrants in needed skills before they arrive, part of a model that CGD has proposed called Global Skill Partnerships. Engaging the private sector from the start is critical to ensuring that such models are sustainable, meet local needs, and maximize migrant contributions to economies.

Germany and Canada can provide valuable lessons on supporting the integration of migrants into host communities. Making migration work also requires explicitly and proactively addressing the needs of host communities.

When governments fail to step up help for schools and health facilities strained by additional demands, it only aggravates tensions and resentment that can spill over in ugly ways. Migrants almost always generate net positive economic benefits to the host country at large, but these benefits need to flow quickly and visibly to the local communities most directly impacted by migration.

Ultimately, the effect of migration is a policy decision, and policymakers need to implement legislation that allows robust migrant contributions to be realized, at the community level and beyond.

Support Africa’s development for the right reasons.

A vibrant, safe, and prosperous Africa is not just important to Europe but also to the world. And many countries in Africa are making admirable progress on economic and social development.

At the same time, the continent poses the central development challenge for the next generation—eradicating remaining extreme poverty; improving health and education outcomes; providing economic opportunities for the burgeoning young population; and dealing with conflicts, extremism, and failing states. Tackling these challenges will require leadership from the continent and sustained support from its partners.

For Europe, increasing support to economic and other development in Africa is imperative, not only as a neighbor, but also to equip Africa’s future workforce with the skills and education that will maximize their contributions at home and in Europe, should they choose to move.

That is why development engagement with Africa—through aid but equally through trade, investment, and other channels—remains an essential priority for European policymakers. But for this development assistance to be effective, it needs to focus on supporting broad-based development and not be distorted by ultimately futile programs linked to deterring migration.

There is some evidence that funding projects targeted to the supposed root causes of migration and tailoring development interventions too closely to those migration drivers may instead undermine development (and migration deterrence) “by neglecting the development needs of communities.”

Given demographic realities, large-scale migration will not significantly let up in the coming decades. In some circumstances, humanitarian or development assistance can relieve immediate pressures to leave a distressed environment, but deterrence efforts alone will not counter the multitude of factors driving these migrant flows.

Too narrow a focus on deterrence mechanisms also stacks the test of success for development assistance in a way that will come back to haunt us when we inevitably fail to meet it. Instead, states and international organizations must focus on partnerships and cooperation to shape how migrants will move and contribute.

Address the political discourse head-on and change the rhetoric around migration and development.

The politics around migration are as hard in Europe as they are everywhere. Dealing with the recent and rapid flows of refugees and migrants has brought out underlying tensions within societies and divisions among European states.

In this climate, it is expedient to focus on short-term goals rather than provoke a contentious debate about longer-term strategic choices. Expediency, however, can also become an excuse to postpone the necessary dialogue to prepare European societies for the choices they face and how best to manage them.

The future migration challenge Europe faces is an example of a so-called Gray Rhino—a highly probable, high-impact, yet neglected policy challenge. To neglect it may likely mean welcoming a cycle of migration “crises” reaching Europe’s borders for decades to come.

The responsibility for changing the discourse falls on more than political or public figures. In the development community, we also sometimes fall into the trap of referring to migration as a “problem” rather than acknowledging it as a potential opportunity.

With the right policies, migration offers huge improvements in human welfare, with significant contributions to host communities, migrants’ home communities, and migrants and their families. Let’s work together to put those policies in place so Europe and Africa will both be better for our children.

The post African Migration to Europe, Not a Crisis but an Opportunity appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Masood Ahmed and Kate Gough, Centre for Global Development

The post African Migration to Europe, Not a Crisis but an Opportunity appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/african-migration-europe-not-crisis-opportunity/feed/ 0
Development, Self-Interest & Countries Left Behindhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/development-self-interest-countries-left-behind/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=development-self-interest-countries-left-behind http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/development-self-interest-countries-left-behind/#respond Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:43:28 +0000 Sarah Bermeo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154300 Sarah Bermeo is Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Political Science; Faculty Affiliate, Duke Center for International Development at Duke University

The post Development, Self-Interest & Countries Left Behind appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Development, Self-Interest & Countries Left Behind - Open drainage ditch, Ankorondrano-Andranomahery, Madagascar. Credit: Lova Rabary-Rakontondravony/IPS

Open drainage ditch, Ankorondrano-Andranomahery, Madagascar. Credit: Lova Rabary-Rakontondravony/IPS

By Sarah Bermeo
DURHAM, North Carolina, Feb 14 2018 (IPS)

The world’s wealthiest countries today promote development abroad in a way that is relatively new. For centuries, some of these countries colonized the developing world. As former colonies gained independence they were caught in the international power struggle of the Cold War, often led by dictators who found it in their interest to serve as pawns in great power proxy conflicts.

Development, Self-Interest & Countries Left Behind

Sarah Bermeo

A serious attention to development occurred mainly after the end of the Cold War. The focus sharpened in the early 2000s, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 drove home the realization that state failure thousands of miles away can have serious repercussions at home. Promoting development became a matter of self-interest for wealthy states.

The self-interest of developed countries affected policy on foreign aid, trade agreements, and even climate finance, as I argue in my new book, Targeted Development. The focus on development as self-interest did not usher in, as Prime Minister Tony Blair would have us believe, an era of enlightened self-interest where “idealism becomes realpolitik.”

Instead, development is promoted disproportionately when and where it serves the interests of wealthy countries. This will likely aid development in targeted states, but a widening gap will emerge as those not targeted are left further behind.

 

FOREIGN AID AND DONOR SELF-INTEREST

The pattern of aid allocation across countries has changed significantly over time. During the Cold War, geopolitical concerns drove more foreign aid to countries that were militarily important or held key positions, such as membership on the United Nations Security Council.

In the post-2001 period, donors focus more on countries from which they expect the biggest spillovers from underdevelopment: those that are poor, proximate, and populous. They also favor countries that send them higher numbers of migrants and imports. The impact of geopolitical concerns has become less significant during this time.

This is consistent with an increased emphasis on development and with focusing efforts in countries where transmission mechanisms—whether due to proximity, movement of people, or movement of goods—are high. Donors also care more about effectiveness in recent years, conditioning the type of foreign aid on the quality of governance in recipient countries.

Targeting foreign aid to areas where potential spillovers to the donor are high is not only the practice of great powers. Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, and Switzerland have all favored more proximate countries in the post-2001 period—when you control for measures of need such as income, disasters, and civil war.

For Australia, Austria, Denmark, France, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden, aid is also associated with bilateral migrant flows. The more a donor imports from a developing country, the higher aid flows are to that country; this is especially true for Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Taken together, the evidence shows that developing countries already connected to aid donors through proximity, migrant networks, and access to markets also receive more foreign aid. Those less connected are not so lucky. Aggregate data for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development donors show declines in aid to the poorest countries even while overall aid levels increase. Aid givers do not seem to favor states where development prospects are especially bad.

 

FOREIGN AID IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG

This turn toward development promotion in countries of interest has gone beyond foreign aid. The number of preferential trade agreements between high-income and developing countries has increased markedly in recent decades, often tied explicitly to development promotion (Figure 1).

 

Figure 1: Trade agreements between industrialized and developing countries

 

A good example is the United States with Central America. The George W. Bush administration spent considerable political capital to bring about the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, which opened up trade for the U.S. with a market roughly the size of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The deal was rationalized in terms of self-interest: Helping Central America and the Caribbean develop would increase security and well-being in the U.S. Large amounts of additional foreign aid were funneled to the signatories to help them benefit from the agreement (Figure 2).

 

Figure 2: US development assistance to CAFTA-DR countries annual average for each period

 

This is not an exception. Generally, a high-income state is more likely to sign a trade agreement with more proximate developing countries and with those that already receive a higher percentage of its aid budget. States excluded from such agreements are doubly disadvantaged:

They do not receive preferential access to the most lucrative markets and must compete on unequal terms with countries that do receive such access. The rise in these preferential agreements is in sharp contrast to the failure of the Doha Round at the World Trade Organization, suggesting that wealthy states are more comfortable opening up trade with developing countries in a targeted—rather than universal—manner.

Patterns of giving to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts are also closely related to traditional foreign aid flows, instead of focusing on areas where climate-related aid might do the most good for mitigation or adaptation.

ANOTHER TRAP?

Poorer countries with connections to wealthier states are likely to benefit from the rising emphasis on development. They are more likely to sign trade agreements and receive additional foreign aid and assistance to tackle climate-related problems.

This is the good news—and it is good—because it is an improvement compared with the times where wealthy nations mainly engaged the developing world through colonialism and Cold War competition. For states not targeted, however, the picture is bleak.

Where migration—and hence remittances—is low, foreign aid will also be low. When foreign aid is low, the chances of being granted preferential access to wealthy country markets is lower too. Where geographic distance is great, economic engagement will lag behind.

The post Development, Self-Interest & Countries Left Behind appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Sarah Bermeo is Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Political Science; Faculty Affiliate, Duke Center for International Development at Duke University

The post Development, Self-Interest & Countries Left Behind appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/development-self-interest-countries-left-behind/feed/ 0
Intellectual Property Regime Undermines Equity, Progresshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/intellectual-property-regime-undermines-equity-progress/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=intellectual-property-regime-undermines-equity-progress http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/intellectual-property-regime-undermines-equity-progress/#comments Tue, 13 Feb 2018 15:04:30 +0000 Jomo Kwame Sundaram http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154288 Developing countries must reject the intellectual property rights regime imposed on them by powerful foreign monopolies in recent decades.

The post Intellectual Property Regime Undermines Equity, Progress appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Intellectual Property Regime Undermines Equity, Progress

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram
KUALA LUMPUR , Feb 13 2018 (IPS)

Over the last few decades, people in the developing world have been rejecting the intellectual property (IP) regime as it has been increasingly imposed on them following the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) including its trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPs) regime. IP rights (IPRs) have been further enforced through ostensible free trade agreements (FTAs) and investment treaties among two (bilateral) or more (plurilateral) partners.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram. Credit: FAO

Jomo Kwame Sundaram. Credit: FAO

Despite their ostensible rationale, the IP standards rich country governments insist on have never been intended to maximize scientific progress and technological innovation. Rather, the IPR regime serves to maximize the profits of influential pharmaceutical and other companies by conferring them with exclusive monopoly rights.

In the pushback, initially led by Nelson Mandela soon after he became South African President under the new dispensation in 1994, developing countries have targeted access to essential medicines. Thus, the 2005 Indian law to conform to the WTO’s TRIPs safeguarded access to generic equivalents, as allowed for by the public health exception to TRIPs.

However, the WTO rules disallow Indian generic manufacturers from exporting their medicines to Africa and other poor countries lacking the necessary pharmaceutical manufacturing capacities and capabilities. Even if the African countries could produce the drugs domestically, they would be more expensive as they would lack the economies of scale required to lower costs in their relatively small economies.

 

Privatizing knowledge

In Innovation, Intellectual Property and Development, Joseph Stiglitz, Dean Baker and Arjun Jayadev have shown that the economic institutions and laws protecting knowledge in OECD economies not only poorly govern economic activity, but are also especially ill-suited to developing countries’ needs, especially the global commitment to achieving universal health care of Agenda 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ironically, while the case for more openness in sharing knowledge is compelling, ‘neo-liberals’ -- who typically claim the moral high ground in opposing monopolies and related market distortions -- have effectively served to extend and strengthen property rights and attendant monopolies.
From an economic perspective, knowledge is considered a global public good, as the marginal cost of anyone using it is zero. Growth of knowledge can presumably improve wellbeing.

Despite lack of evidence, the IP advocacy argument has been that market forces ‘undersupply’ knowledge owing to the poor incentives for research and innovation. The usual claim is that this ‘market failure’ is best corrected by providing a private monopoly through property rights for new knowledge, e.g., through enforceable patent rights. Private IP protection is presumed to be the only one way to reward, and thus encourage research and innovation.

The trio argue that the IP regime has been much more problematic than expected, even in rich countries. They show how the 2013 US Supreme Court decision that naturally occurring genes cannot be patented has shown that the IP regime impedes, rather than stimulates research by limiting access to knowledge. Following the ruling, innovation accelerated, leading to better diagnostic tests (e.g., for genes related to breast cancer) at much lower cost.

 

Alternatives

Stiglitz, Baker and Jayadev focus on three alternatives to motivate and finance research in the US context. First, through centralized mechanisms to directly support research. Second, by decentralizing direct funding, e.g., via tax credits; government bodies or research foundations or institutions can reward successful innovations or findings.

The patent system rewards legal ownership of innovation, but effectively impedes the use of that knowledge by others, thus reducing its potential benefits. Having a creative commons, e.g., open-source software, would maximize the flow of knowledge.

The trio recommend that developing economies use all these approaches to promote learning and innovation. They view the gap between developing and developed countries as involving a gap in knowledge comparable to the gap in resources.

Hence, to improve economic welfare in the world, they urge diffusion of knowledge from developed to developing countries, as conventional social scientists have urged as part of modernization theory for more than half a century.

Often dense ‘patent thickets’, requiring many patents, are increasingly stifling innovation. Payments to lawyers and patent investigators typically exceed those to scientific researchers in such cases, with research often oriented to extend, broaden and leverage monopoly rights due to patents.

One perverse consequence has been patent ‘trolling’ by speculators who buy up patents which they think has a chance of being necessary for any product or process innovation. Thus becoming gatekeepers like the mythical trolls, they effectively block innovation unless their price is met.

 

Neo-liberal monopolies

Ironically, while the case for more openness in sharing knowledge is compelling, ‘neo-liberals’ — who typically claim the moral high ground in opposing monopolies and related market distortions — have effectively served to extend and strengthen property rights and attendant monopolies.

Powerful corporate and developed economy government lobbies have influenced the IP regime, e.g., by opposing competing rights associated with nature, biodiversity or even traditional knowledge.

Hence, recent ostensible FTAs have extended IPRs to cover ‘biologics’, i.e., naturally occurring substances, such as insulin for those suffering from diabetes, which is derived from mammals.

Thus, over the last few decades, the evolving IP regime has erected more and more barriers to widespread use of new knowledge. The current IP regime serves to maximize profits for a few monopolies, e.g., ‘Big Pharma’, rather than the progress and welfare of the many.

Widespread strictly enforced IP protection is historically new. IP protections came very late to the early industrializing economies, typically delayed to enable rapid ‘catch-up’ industrialization and technological change.

The ‘weightless economy’ of data, information and knowledge is accounting for a growing share of economic value in the world. Stiglitz, Baker and Jayadev argue that existing rules governing global knowledge serve as fetters that must be broken to reflect these realities.

The post Intellectual Property Regime Undermines Equity, Progress appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Developing countries must reject the intellectual property rights regime imposed on them by powerful foreign monopolies in recent decades.

The post Intellectual Property Regime Undermines Equity, Progress appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/intellectual-property-regime-undermines-equity-progress/feed/ 1
Combating Africa’s Inequalitieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/combating-africas-inequalities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=combating-africas-inequalities http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/combating-africas-inequalities/#respond Mon, 12 Feb 2018 17:14:53 +0000 Ernest Harsch http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154280 Nelson Mandela, shortly after becoming the first democratically elected president of South Africa, spoke to both his countrymen and women—indeed, for Africans everywhere—when he declared, “We must work together to ensure the equitable distribution of wealth, opportunity and power in our society.” As he spoke those words in 1996, South Africa was just emerging from […]

The post Combating Africa’s Inequalities appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

A Tanzanian woman walks to the market as a petrol lorry passes by. Credit: Alamy /Wietse Michiels Travel Stock

By Ernest Harsch, Africa Renewal
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 12 2018 (IPS)

Nelson Mandela, shortly after becoming the first democratically elected president of South Africa, spoke to both his countrymen and women—indeed, for Africans everywhere—when he declared, “We must work together to ensure the equitable distribution of wealth, opportunity and power in our society.”

As he spoke those words in 1996, South Africa was just emerging from a racist apartheid past in which non-whites, more than three-quarters of the population, were not only denied the vote but also denied land ownership, skilled jobs, and most basic services.

The country’s poverty rate, after a brief decline, has been on the rebound since 2015. While millions of South Africans have improved their educational and job prospects, overall income inequality in the country remains stubbornly entrenched.

According to a new study by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), South Africa has the highest recorded level of income inequality in the world. And in this, South Africa is not unusual among African nations. Of the 19 most unequal countries in the world, 10 are in Africa, according to the UNDP’s Income Inequality Trends in sub-Saharan Africa, a report released in New York during the opening week of the UN General Assembly this past September.

While many countries in the region, such as Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritius and Rwanda have registered remarkable economic performance over the past decade and a half, lifting millions out of extreme poverty and making schooling and health care available to larger shares of their populations, others have lagged.

One obstacle to higher incomes for all has been the region’s entrenched economic and social inequalities. The contrast between the visible wealth of elites and the daily misery of most ordinary people makes the disparities seem unjust, driving popular anger and contributing to protest and rebellion.

As President Hage Geingob of Namibia—a country that inherited the highest levels of income inequality in Africa when it gained independence from apartheid-era South Africa in 1990—told the UN General Assembly, “As long as the wealth of the country is disproportionately in the hands of a few, we cannot have lasting peace and stability.”

Radical shift

Until recently, income inequality received only sporadic attention from development practitioners and policy makers. Before the 1990s they focused mainly on stimulating economic growth. It eventually became clearer that growing markets alone does not necessarily benefit the poor and that excessive liberalization can in fact hurt them.

When the international community adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, their focus shifted more towards anti-poverty measures and improvements in social well-being.

Poverty subsequently fell in many African countries experiencing economic growth. Yet despite generally robust growth, nearly half the continent’s people still live on less than $1.25 a day.

Studies have shown that where there is less inequality, the benefits of growth reach wider sectors of the population. In more unequal nations, however, the rich garner the biggest share and the poor get little.

That realization underlay the 2015 negotiations over the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The global goals call not only for ending poverty, but also for reducing inequalities within and among nations. The UNDP terms this a “radical shift” intended to address the “last mile of exclusion” that prevents many people from improving their lives.

In analyzing income inequality in Africa, the UNDP report focuses on 29 sub-Saharan countries (which account for 80% of Africa’s population) for which there is adequate data on household consumption. It shows that between 1991 and 2011, 17 of those countries managed to reduce their degree of income inequality. But the remaining dozen registered an increase in income inequality over the same period.

That divergence reflects the historical, economic, social and political factors affecting income inequality in each country.

Countries with higher—and rising—income inequality are mainly in Southern and Central Africa; they have capital-intensive oil and mining sectors with limited employment or are former settler societies that still have large landholdings.

Countries with declining income inequality, most of which are in West Africa, generally started out with lower levels of inequality and have predominantly smallholder agricultural sectors in which many people stand to benefit from improvements in productivity.

Income inequalities in different countries differ by degree, but the more important distinction is the factors that shape them. The root causes of inequality are rarely the same from country to country and may include restricted access to land, capital and markets; inequitable tax systems; excessive vulnerability to unfavourable global markets; rampant corruption; and the patrimonial allocation of public resources.

Although gender inequalities exist in all countries and are particularly severe in Africa, they are generally underestimated in most standard measures, which rely on household income or consumption data. Such estimates tend to assume equal spending powers among all family members.

While some countries have seen efforts to reduce economic disparities, others have been marked by opposition to such efforts by “incumbent elites,” according to researchers cited in the report.

The marginalization of certain geographical regions or the social and political exclusion of minority ethnic and religious groups can bring especially explosive consequences, the new UNDP report says, contributing to unrest and even armed conflict.

No single solution

Because of the complex, multidimensional factors influencing inequality, “There is no one ‘silver bullet’ to address its challenge,” observes Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP’s assistant administrator and director of its Africa bureau. “Multiple responses are required.”

Africa Renewal, published by the UN’s Department of Information, examines many existing responses to income inequalities, including inequalities in education, those affecting a vulnerable group (albinos), those relating to business leadership, and those affecting Africa’s trade with other regions.

Whatever a country’s specific history and circumstances, a number of measures have proven especially fruitful in reducing inequalities across the region: increasing productivity among small-scale farmers, ensuring women’s access to land, reversing urban favouritism in services and economic opportunities, promoting labour-intensive industries, setting minimum wages, strengthening capacities to keep the wealthy from evading taxes, introducing strong social protection programmes and ending all forms of exclusion.

Ultimately, such efforts are intended to ensure that all Africans are able to live productive and fulfilling lives and to uphold the SDGs’ pledge to “leave no one behind.”

The post Combating Africa’s Inequalities appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/combating-africas-inequalities/feed/ 0
Stock Market Turmoil May Expose Flaws in Global Financehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/stock-market-turmoil-may-expose-flaws-global-finance/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=stock-market-turmoil-may-expose-flaws-global-finance http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/stock-market-turmoil-may-expose-flaws-global-finance/#comments Mon, 12 Feb 2018 14:35:48 +0000 Martin Khor http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154268 Martin Khor is Executive Director of the South Centre, a think tank for developing countries, based in Geneva

The post Stock Market Turmoil May Expose Flaws in Global Finance appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Stock market turmoil may expose flaws in global finance

By Martin Khor
PENANG, Malaysia, Feb 12 2018 (IPS)

Was last week’s global stock market sell-off only a “correction” or does it signify a new period of financial instability, caused by major flaws in the world financial system?

The stock market turmoil has sparked concerns that the relatively good economic times in the past couple of years, at least in the developed countries, could be ending.

It is too early yet to understand what has just taken place or predict what comes next.  It is widely agreed that a “correction” has taken place in the US stock market.   But whether this is just a blip, or will progress to a crash, remains to be seen.

Some analysts say there is nothing to worry about as such corrections to over-valued markets are normal and soon there will be business as usual. Others are more pessimistic, with a few even predicting it is the start of the worst bear market ever.

The immediate trigger was the positive news on US jobs, prompting fears of wage increases and higher inflation that would pressurise the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more rapidly.  Higher interest has a negative effect on stock markets as they give an incentive to investors to put their money in alternatives, especially bonds.

In good times, a lot of short-term speculative funds flow from the developed countries to the developing countries in search of higher yield. But in times of global uncertainty, or if interest rates rise in the US thus providing higher returns to investors, the funds can rapidly flow back, often causing significant damage or even devastation to the host developing economies.

But the larger reason for the sell-off is the jump in equity prices to record levels, caused by  speculative investments not backed by fundamentals, and fuelled by the easy money policy that the US government pursued in the hope of stimulating economic growth.  Some of the trillions of dollars pumped into the banking system by “quantitative easing” contributed to the stock market bubble.

Even though quantitative easing has ended and is being reversed, US stock prices continued to rise rapidly in January. It was a matter of time before a downturn occurred.

The stock market sell-off, if it continues, can have large repercussions on developing countries.

There is the domestic effect. Affected investors feeling they have less wealth will decrease their spending, affecting demand for goods and reducing GDP growth. Those that borrowed to speculate in the stock market may have debt-repayment problems.  Companies may see their market capitalisation and asset values reduced as the prices of their shares go down.  If the sell-off becomes more prolonged, banks start worrying about non-performing loans.

Then there is a complex of issues related to the interaction between developing economies with the global financial markets.  The stock-market turbulence could affect global investor confidence in emerging economies, which are seen as riskier than the US.

In good times, a lot of short-term speculative funds flow from the developed countries to the developing countries in search of higher yield.  But in times of global uncertainty, or if interest rates rise in the US thus providing higher returns to investors, the funds can rapidly flow back, often causing significant damage or even devastation to the host developing economies.

This boom-bust cycle of capital flows has been played out several times over the years. The boom in funds going to developing countries in the 1970s ended in 1982 with the Latin American debt crisis.  The boom in the early 1990s ended in crises in East Asia, Brazil, Russia and Argentina.

The boom in the early 2000s temporarily stopped with the global crisis in 2008-9 but resumed and has continued to now, with some sharp outflows in 2016 and early 2017 and a return of inflows since then.

It remains to be seen what effect the current stock market turmoil will have on capital flows.

A quite balanced view was given by Tokyo-based Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management, which oversees US$119 bil in assets.  “We’re not going to see the type of euphoria we saw in emerging markets anymore,” said its chief fund manager Hideo Shimomura in an interview with Bloomberg agency. “We’re in a phase where investors are being given a reality check after a great run.  That’s not to say inflows to emerging markets will reverse completely.”

In recent years the developing economies have become more open to external capital flows.  This has resulted in new vulnerabilities and heightened their exposure to external financial shocks, according to several papers published by the South Centre and written by its chief economist Yilmaz Akyuz.

There has been a massive build-up of debt by their non-financial corporations since the 2008 crisis, reaching $25 trillion or 95 per cent of their GDP.  The dollar-denominated debt securities issued by emerging economies increased from some $500 billion in 2008 to $1.25 trillion in 2016, according to the Bank of International Settlements.

Moreover, the foreign presence in local financial markets has reached unprecedented levels, increasing their susceptibility to global financial boom-bust cycles. Foreigners now own a much larger share of government bonds and of the equities in the stock market of many developing economies.  For example, in Malaysia, foreigners own about a quarter to a third of the value of government bonds and about a quarter the value of equities in the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange.

Should there be net capital outflows from developing economies, their currencies may depreciate.  When this happens, or when there is anticipation of this, the capital outflows may increase, in a vicious cycle. The depreciation will also make it more costly to service debt, and add to inflationary pressures.

While their vulnerabilities have grown, the countries have less resilience or capacity to prevent or counter a crisis if it happens, due to two reasons, according to the South Centre.

First, many of the countries have seen a significant deterioration in their current account balances and net foreign asset positions since the 2008-9 crisis. In most countries international reserves built up in recent years came from capital inflows rather than current account surpluses. The reserves could decrease significantly if foreigners decide to take their funds back, and they could be  inadequate to meet large and sustained outflows of capital.

Second, the developing countries have limited economic policy options in responding to deflationary and destabilizing impulses from abroad.

Their fiscal space for countercyclical policy response to deflationary shocks is much more limited today than in 2009. There is also a significant loss of monetary policy autonomy and loss of control over interest rates as a result of their deepened global financial integration. Flexible exchange rate regimes adopted in many emerging economies since the last bouts of crises are no panacea in the face of severe and sustained financial shocks, particularly in view of currency risks assumed by their corporations.

“Most developing economies have not only lost their growth momentum but find themselves in a tenuous position with an uncanny similarity to the 1970s and 1980s when the combined booms in capital flows and commodity prices that had started in the second half of the 1970s ended with a debt crisis as a result of a sharp turnaround in the US monetary policy, costing them a decade in development,”  says a South Centre paper by Akyuz.

“It would now be difficult for some of them to avoid international liquidity crises and even debt crises and significant loss of growth in the event of severe financial and trade shocks.”

In light of the South Centre analysis, the stock market turbulence could only be the tip of an iceberg of financial instability and vulnerability, with the developing countries in danger of being trapped in the grip of the flawed global system.

Ironically, this instability increased in recent years due to efforts by the developed countries to counter the effects of the 2008-9 crisis through easy money policies that fuelled more debt and bigger financial bubbles.  These initiatives may have the unintended consequence of building up a new and perhaps bigger crisis.

The post Stock Market Turmoil May Expose Flaws in Global Finance appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Martin Khor is Executive Director of the South Centre, a think tank for developing countries, based in Geneva

The post Stock Market Turmoil May Expose Flaws in Global Finance appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/stock-market-turmoil-may-expose-flaws-global-finance/feed/ 1
Pyeongchang Olympics: A New Cornerstone for Peace and Prosperityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/pyeongchang-olympics-new-cornerstone-peace-prosperity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pyeongchang-olympics-new-cornerstone-peace-prosperity http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/pyeongchang-olympics-new-cornerstone-peace-prosperity/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 18:09:50 +0000 Shamshad Akhtar http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154255 Dr. Shamshad Akhtar is the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

The post Pyeongchang Olympics: A New Cornerstone for Peace and Prosperity appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Dr. Shamshad Akhtar is the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

By Shamshad Akhtar
BANGKOK, Thailand, Feb 9 2018 (IPS)

All eyes are on the 23rd Olympic Winter Games and 12th Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang this February. Top athletes will carry their national flags in an opening ceremony which has come to epitomize the international community. Sports fans worldwide eagerly await the Olympics, and this time there is cause for cautious optimism that sport diplomacy may lower tensions on the Korean Peninsula itself. Leaders, diplomats and citizens from the world over will witness North and South Korean athletes walking side by side. For this, there could be few better places than PyeongChang, which means peace (Pyeong) and prosperity (Chang): goals integral to the mission of the United Nations and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Shamshad Akhtar

The Olympic and Paralympic Games attract people from around the world and help reinforce a set of unifying objectives. The goal of Olympism, as the Olympic Charter states, is “to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity”. Achieving sustainable peace and sustainable development are critical objectives and the Games in PyeongChang offer promise of peace and prosperity.

In this spirit, the first Olympics in South Korea held in 1988 served to foster relationships at a time of rapid geopolitical shifts. These games featured many participating nations, including sizeable delegations from both the USA and USSR. The thaw in relations to which the Olympics contributed led to the establishment of diplomatic relations with neighbors such as Russia and China in the years following the games. The Republic of Korea became a member of the United Nations in 1991.

The Olympics also heralded the economic transformation of the South Korean economy that is now known as “the Miracle on the Han River.” For the decade after the games, its economy grew at an average rate of around 8.5% per year, transforming the country from an aid recipient country to a key aid donor. The material improvement in the lives of people in South Korea was nothing short of a miracle. From 1960 to 1995, GDP per capita increased more than one hundred-fold, virtually eliminating absolute poverty from more than half of the population to less than 5%.

This miracle was linked with another key value of the Olympics and the United Nations – international collaboration. South Korea successfully leveraged international aid, international trade, and international investment with its domestic ingenuity, to show the world it is possible to transform in one generation an agrarian economy into a dynamic technological and cultural producer.

Along with the rapid economic transformation, social and environmental concerns have also risen to the fore. In recent years, we have seen South Korea make commendable steps towards environmental sustainability and inclusive social policies such as the aged pension. Integrating the economic, social and environmental dimensions is the cornerstone of the Sustainable Development Goals. South Korea is once again demonstrating to the world a way to achieve a more inclusive and sustainable prosperity.

South Korea now stands as a valued member of the international community, generating cultural phenomena appreciated by young people around the world, playing a leadership role at the UN, and as a significant contributor of aid to developing countries. Olympic sports can support cultural, political and economic diplomacy in its efforts to achieving and sustaining peace.

The Olympic Truce Resolution adopted by the United Nations is an example of using a momentous occasion in international sports, to build a stronger foundation for a more peaceful and inclusive world. The resolution urges all countries to respect the truce by creating a peaceful environment during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and calls on all countries to work together, in good faith towards peace, human rights, and sustainable development.

Opening of the direct dialogue between two countries of the Korean peninsula after the 2018 Olympics show cases a commitment to peace and prosperity. I wish South Korea a promising future and success in its endeavors to foster lasting peace and prosperity.

The post Pyeongchang Olympics: A New Cornerstone for Peace and Prosperity appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Dr. Shamshad Akhtar is the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

The post Pyeongchang Olympics: A New Cornerstone for Peace and Prosperity appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/pyeongchang-olympics-new-cornerstone-peace-prosperity/feed/ 0
Power of Partnerships in the Fight Against Povertyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/power-partnerships-fight-poverty/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=power-partnerships-fight-poverty http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/power-partnerships-fight-poverty/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 14:23:27 +0000 Amina Mohammed http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154237 Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, in an address to the UN Commission on Social Development

The post Power of Partnerships in the Fight Against Poverty appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

In Haiti, children in the Port-au-Prince slum of Bel Air enjoy a meal. Credit: MINUSTAH

By Amina J. Mohammed
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 9 2018 (IPS)

The 2030 Agenda is the most ambitious plan governments have ever developed to eradicate extreme poverty and safeguard our planet.

While it is a global agenda, it will only be achieved by addressing the multidimensional aspects of poverty and through ensuring ownership on the part of communities, local authorities and individuals.

There are many examples of local actors, cities and state governments in particular, that are creating new development pathways, overhauling their plans and budgets and taking other innovative steps to achieve the ambitious SDG targets.

Durban, South Africa and Cauayan City in the Philippines have aligned their development plans with the SDG targets, while local governments in Benin have made SDG progress a condition for accessing national funding.

Meanwhile, Kaduna State in Nigeria conducted a robust multi-level data exercise to analyze how all of its residents, particularly the most vulnerable, are faring in relation to each Sustainable Development Goal.

We need more of these local SDG leaders. At the 2017 session of the High Level Political Forum, it was revealed that local and regional governments have participated in only 57 per cent of the National Voluntary Reviews. We will not achieve the SDG’s if such low engagement with local governments continues.

To achieve the SDGs, all communities must be engaged substantively.

We must also increase our knowledge of local conditions. All data must be disaggregated, capturing the lives of residents in the most rural areas and densest informal settlements. And we must act on that knowledge with finance that reaches the communities most in need. Global and national funds must be decentralized and new financial instruments developed in cities and states.

As a former minister, I know the important role of community-focused programmes and projects. In my current role, I see, even more clearly, the value of local actions in realizing global development efforts.

You know as well as anyone the conditions that can make or break efforts to expand development opportunities to everyone.

Across Nigeria, local initiatives led by state governments, civil society actors and financiers are making outstanding contributions to poverty reduction.

The Ekuri Initiative, for example, which is located in the Cross River State, seeks to sustainably manage the forest as a community asset, generating income, subsistence materials and food.

The Smallholders Foundation is using rural radio broadcasts to educate 250,000 farmers on modern agricultural and environmental management techniques, to provide up-to-date market information, and give farmers a platform on which to advertise their products.

Nigeria, like many African countries, is at a crossroads. The country has an opportunity to build on recent economic, political and social gains and to leverage its vast human and natural resources to eradicate poverty.

At the same time, many internal conflicts are challenging the genuine efforts of Nigeria’s leaders, including the insurgency in the north-east, the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta and disputes between herders and farmers, thus undermining and reversing development gains.

To address these challenges, we must prioritize an integrated response to peace, security, human rights and development. And we must improve our efforts to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts while promoting inclusive, sustained and equitable development.

Harnessing the power of partnerships will be critical. We must deepen the joint and coordinated efforts of the federal government, state governments, local authorities, private sector and civil society organizations. Nigeria has taken concrete steps in this direction.

Under the leadership of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria launched the first national Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), to coordinate public-private partnerships and amplify locally-driven solutions to achieve the SDG’s. The PSAG includes 13 diverse partners, including Lagos Business School, the Dangote Group, General Electric and the Sahara Group.

The Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa is another inspiring example of partnership mobilization to achieve the SDG’s. Chaired by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Aliko Dangote, CEO of the Dangote Group, the Center brings together national governments, civil society and private sector leaders to collectively devise SDG solutions such as advancing inter-country projects on sustainable infrastructure and development of new platforms to better connect communities to achieve the SDG’s.

Meanwhile, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has stimulated inspiring partnerships between the Ministers, immunization and health experts in Nigerian States and private sector companies to strengthen vaccine cold chain infrastructure in Nigeria.

Together with initiatives such as Project Last Mile and Coca-Cola, the Foundation aims to increase the number of Nigerian children who can access life-ensuring vaccines, with the focus on the most vulnerable and hardest to reach children.

Similar work is underway elsewhere in Africa, such as in Ethiopia, where the Gates Foundation is supporting the advancement of national priorities and reinforcing government leadership in the areas of agriculture and health- through partnerships across the country that aim to improve agricultural productivity and increase the coverage of life-saving health and nutrition interventions.

UNDP is also partnering with the relevant authorities to promote SDG localization in Anambra, Benue, Kaduna and Kogi States, and to support implementation and monitoring of SDG-based State Development Plans.

The promise of the 2030 Agenda to leave no-one behind cannot be kept without translating global goals into local action. This requires concerted and coordinated efforts at all levels of decision-making, and the empowerment of local actors.

To eradicate poverty and ensure a life of dignity for all, we must work with the world’s most vulnerable people at the level of their everyday realities to make extreme poverty a problem of the past.

The post Power of Partnerships in the Fight Against Poverty appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, in an address to the UN Commission on Social Development

The post Power of Partnerships in the Fight Against Poverty appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/power-partnerships-fight-poverty/feed/ 0
Humanitarian Response Plan for Spreading Crisis in Nigeriahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/humanitarian-response-plan-spreading-crisis-nigeria/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=humanitarian-response-plan-spreading-crisis-nigeria http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/humanitarian-response-plan-spreading-crisis-nigeria/#respond Thu, 08 Feb 2018 18:06:17 +0000 Edward Kallon http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154227 Edward Kallon is the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria

The post Humanitarian Response Plan for Spreading Crisis in Nigeria appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
The 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for north-east Nigeria demonstrates the commitment of the international community to the people of Nigeria

Humanitarian crisis in nigeria. Credit: UNHCR/Romain Desclous

By Edward Kallon
ABUJA, Nigeria, Feb 8 2018 (IPS)

The 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for north-east Nigeria demonstrates the commitment of the international community to the people of Nigeria. It is also a clear and positive indication of the strong and continued partnership between us – the international humanitarian community – and the Government of Nigeria.

As we know, the humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s north-east, that has spilled over into the Lake Chad region, is one of the most severe in the world today. It is also now in its ninth year. This crisis is a protection crisis first and foremost that has also evolved into a food security and nutrition crisis.

7.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance this year in the worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. These are people who have been displaced and are living in camps or host communities, people who have returned home to nothing, and people living in other areas that are hard to reach for humanitarians.

6.1 million of these people are being targeted for humanitarian assistance in the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan by 60 organisations, including UN agencies and international and national NGOs. This humanitarian assistance ranges from food, protection, water, shelter and sanitation, to medicine, education and agricultural support, and will be delivered to vulnerable women, children and men across the three states.

These figures, and those that you find in the documents, have been arrived at after meticulous and thorough consultation with all humanitarian partners, including the Government of Nigeria.


The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s north-east, that has spilled over into the Lake Chad region, is one of the most severe in the world today. It is also now in its ninth year. This crisis is a protection crisis first and foremost that has also evolved into a food security and nutrition crisis

The aim in 2018 is to build on the humanitarian work carried out in previous years and we have three strategic objectives. The first is to provide life-saving emergency assistance to the most vulnerable people in conflict-affected areas, ensuring that assistance is timely and to-scale.

The second is to ensure that all assistance promotes the protection, safety and dignity of affected people, and is provided equitably to women, girls, men and boys. The third is to help people kick-start their lives again and also reconstruct the foundations of their lives so that they are better prepared to face future crises.

This includes the 1.3 million people who have returned home, but also includes those who have decided to stay where they are and try and rebuild their lives. While nothing should undermine the commitment to principled humanitarian action, there is a shared moral imperative to sustainably reduce people’s dependence on humanitarian aid and support self-reliance.

This year, we, a community of 60 organisations working to implement the HRP, will aim to provide food assistance, including through improved agriculture, to 3.7 million people. Because grave violations of human rights continue to take place daily, we aim to support 2.7 million vulnerable women, children and men with protection services. Medical care is also a priority and will be provided to 5.1 million people.

Many children and pregnant and nursing women are malnourished as a result of the crisis, and nutritional supplements and support will be given to 2.7 million of them. In many locations, access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities remains a big problem: we will aim to support 2.7 million people in need of those basic services. We will provide shelter and basic household items to 1.3 million persons living in camps or host communities.

About 2.2 million children and teachers will be supported through education assistance, including through the provision of safe spaces for learning, school supplies and teacher trainings. Finally, for longer-term impact, 2.7 million people will be supported in accessing basic public services and restarting their lives.

And all of the above interventions will be guided, every day, by the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.

Last year, the humanitarian community provided life-saving assistance to 5.6 million people. Several successes were achieved. Notably, the number of food insecure people was reduced from 5.1 million to 3.9 million. A cholera outbreak was contained through the innovative use of an oral cholera vaccine. 1.3 million farmers were assisted to help improve agricultural production.

And thousands of children were supported to go to school, against all odds. These results – which are just examples of the many positive results that I have myself witnessed in many areas of the north-east – can be attributed to strong coordination, extensive engagement and generous funding.

Despite these achievements, many challenges remain as the conflict and population movements continue. Prior to the crisis, the region was already mired by chronic development challenges. Humanitarian assistance has stopped people from slipping further below emergency thresholds, but it has not addressed underlying vulnerabilities and problems. In the absence of a political solution, the crisis will continue through 2018.

While a robust and improved humanitarian response will be essential – especially in hardest-hit Borno State – the protracted nature of the crisis creates new needs which require longer-term assistance. For the 1.6 million who are displaced from their homes, and the communities that host them, we need to find durable solutions. This requires longer planning horizons, more strategic interventions and flexible, longer-term funding.

The 2018 HRP is, therefore, underpinned by a multi-year strategy that demonstrates a commitment by the international humanitarian community to align with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the Buhari Plan and the United Nations Sustainable Development Partnership Framework. It is a step towards strengthening the humanitarian, development and peace nexus, in line with the New Way of Working and commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.

Capacity building for local partners and government counterparts will also be prioritized to strengthen national response mechanisms. We aim to promote what we call localization of the response, which means investing in the institutional capacities of local and national responders, including national NGOs and local government.

Gender-sensitive programming will also be strengthened. Finally, we remain accountable at all times to the people we serve and we will be making a concerted effort throughout the year to systematically communicate with and listen to the communities.

Access to target populations is obviously a pivotal part of the implementation of the Humanitarian Response Plan this year, as 930,000 people are estimated to be in areas that are hard to reach for humanitarian organisations due to insecurity or the threat of insecurity. We will be working this year to advocate for improved access, and we are also aiming to obtain safety assurances for the delivery of aid in hard-to-reach areas.

In 2017, donors funded the plan very generously. The $1 billion appeal was 70 per cent funded by the end of the year – representing more than $740 million, a staggering amount that actually meant that Nigeria was one of the best funded appeals globally.

The donor commitment was extraordinarily impressive, and one of the most remarkable I have seen in my career. The total donated to the humanitarian response last year, including HRP and non-HRP interventions, reached $945 million.

We have also committed this year to including any carry-over from last year, so as to be entirely transparent when it comes to funding. The carry-over from the 2017 HRP to the 2018 HRP will be an estimated $196 million.

This means that this sum has already effectively been raised and allocated to the 2018 HRP. We estimate however that most of the carry-over will be exhausted in the first quarter of the year, and I call upon donor representatives to start pledging resources to the 2018 HRP.

While we are aware that other large-scale crises also require donor attention, it is essential to continue this positive momentum and build on the results we achieved last year. Should we fail to meet our targets, it could undermine the progress made to date and ultimately impact our ability to save lives.

As Humanitarian Coordinator my call to all of you, as government, as donors, as Member States, as operational partners, as members of the press and civil society, is to continue the outstanding work of recent years. I count on you for your continued support to the people of north-east Nigeria. Let us work together to save lives today and also restore stability to the region, end the crisis and save lives tomorrow.

The post Humanitarian Response Plan for Spreading Crisis in Nigeria appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Edward Kallon is the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria

The post Humanitarian Response Plan for Spreading Crisis in Nigeria appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/humanitarian-response-plan-spreading-crisis-nigeria/feed/ 0
Inequality also Relates to Education, Health & Illiteracy, not Wealth Alonehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/inequality-also-relates-education-health-illiteracy-not-wealth-alone/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=inequality-also-relates-education-health-illiteracy-not-wealth-alone http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/inequality-also-relates-education-health-illiteracy-not-wealth-alone/#respond Wed, 07 Feb 2018 17:02:32 +0000 Bjorn Lomborg http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=154222 Bjorn Lomborg  is director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

The post Inequality also Relates to Education, Health & Illiteracy, not Wealth Alone appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

A health worker marks a boy’s finger with ink to show that he has been vaccinated against measles in India’s Gujarat State. Credit: UNICEF/UNI133530/Pietrasik

By Bjorn Lomborg
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Feb 7 2018 (IPS)

Antipoverty group Oxfam International got a lot of attention for claiming that there’s a global “inequality crisis,” but a far more important point is entirely neglected: globally, income distribution is less unequal than it has been for 100 years.

The best data on this comes from Professor Branko Milanovic, formerly of the World Bank, now at City University of New York. His research shows that, mostly because of Asia’s incredible growth, global inequality has declined sharply for several decades, reducing so much that the world hasn’t been this equal for more than a century.

Moreover, the conversation on inequality sparked by Oxfam fails to acknowledge that equality is about much more than money. Look at education and health. In 1870, more than three-quarters of the world was illiterate. Today, more than four out of every five people can read.

Focusing so narrowly on the topic does an injustice to the much more serious challenges affecting the world’s poorest, such as air pollution, tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies and barriers to equal and fairly distributed access to education.
Half of all of humanity’s welfare gains from the past 40 years come from the fact that we’re living longer, healthier lives. In 1900, people lived to be 30 on average; today, it’s 71. Over the past half-century, the difference in life expectancy between the world’s wealthiest and poorest countries has dropped from 28 to 18 years.

Oxfam almost entirely glosses over this reality, and instead points to wealth levels within individual countries. It’s true inequality on this measure has increased. But Oxfam overstates the case when it claims that the wealth of the world’s 42 richest people is greater than the bottom 50 percent of the planet (3.7 billion).

A little less than one-fifth of the “bottom half” are actually people with a collective debt of $1.2 trillion: likely mostly rich world citizens, like students with loans or people with negative equity in their houses. It is quite a stretch to classify such people among the world’s poor.

It would be fairer, then, to say that the wealth of the poorest 40 percent of the planet (excluding those with negative wealth) is equal to the wealth of the top 128 billionaires. But this wouldn’t be as catchy as claiming that just 42 people own as much as half the planet.

Oxfam’s repeated claim that the top 1 percent own more than half the planet’s wealth lacks historical context. Thomas Piketty looked at wealth for select countries and found a dramatic decline in the wealth of the top 1 percent from 1900 to about 1970-80, and a smaller increase since then. Thus, it’s likely that the world is more equal today in terms of wealth than it has been historically, apart from over the past three or four decades.

Looking at the United Kingdom for example, the top 1 percent of wealth has increased, yet the data show that the country was still more unequal every year before 1977.

More relevant than wealth, though, is the measure of income inequality, since this determines our lives from one year to the next. Inequality has indeed risen recently. But what of the bigger picture? Perhaps unsurprisingly, most diagrams used by Oxfam start in around 1980, at the historic low-point for income inequality.

The data show that the top 1 percent of income in English-speaking countries has returned to levels akin to those in the early 1900s, while in non-English countries it has declined dramatically.

Oxfam’s core purpose is “to end the injustice of poverty,” so it’s unfortunate that its simplistic narrative points to a need for redistribution within countries while overlooking the many things — like global free trade lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty, and vaccination campaigns that have nearly eradicated diseases like polio — that need to be maintained to continue recent dramatic global progress.

Too much inequality can reduce growth and stifle social mobility, so it should be kept in check. But it is wrong to ignore the bigger story of humanity’s progress against poverty and inequality.

Focusing so narrowly on the topic does an injustice to the much more serious challenges affecting the world’s poorest, such as air pollution, tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies and barriers to equal and fairly distributed access to education.

All of these challenges have cheap and effective solutions. And it’s on these solutions that we need to focus.

The post Inequality also Relates to Education, Health & Illiteracy, not Wealth Alone appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Bjorn Lomborg  is director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

The post Inequality also Relates to Education, Health & Illiteracy, not Wealth Alone appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/02/inequality-also-relates-education-health-illiteracy-not-wealth-alone/feed/ 0