Inter Press ServiceTrade & Investment – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Sun, 27 May 2018 01:35:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Unlocking Private Finance for Developing Countries’ Green Growthhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/unlocking-private-finance-developing-countries-green-growth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=unlocking-private-finance-developing-countries-green-growth http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/unlocking-private-finance-developing-countries-green-growth/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 11:03:03 +0000 Friday Phiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155894 Climate finance has never been more urgently needed, with massive investments in climate action required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and avoid the devastating effects of a warmer planet. However, it is an open secret that public financing mechanisms alone are not enough to meet the demand for climate finance, especially for […]

The post Unlocking Private Finance for Developing Countries’ Green Growth appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has installed 750 kilowatt hours of photovoltaic panels, which it says reduced its carbon emissions by 800 tonnes annually. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has installed 750 kilowatt hours of photovoltaic panels, which it says reduced its carbon emissions by 800 tonnes annually. Credit: Kenton X. Chance/IPS

By Friday Phiri
PEMBA, Zambia, May 23 2018 (IPS)

Climate finance has never been more urgently needed, with massive investments in climate action required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and avoid the devastating effects of a warmer planet.

However, it is an open secret that public financing mechanisms alone are not enough to meet the demand for climate finance, especially for developing countries whose cost to implement their conditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and transition to low-carbon economies is pegged at 4.3 trillion dollars.Scaling up and accelerating innovative approaches to climate finance from multiple sources, including the private sector, has emerged as a key strategy to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

This is a huge price-tag when compared to the Green Climate Fund (GCF’s) current coffers, which are still being counted in billion terms. The GCF is one of the designated UNFCCC financial instruments created at COP 17 in Durban, South Africa.

Therefore, scaling up and accelerating innovative approaches to climate finance from multiple sources, including the private sector, has emerged as a key strategy to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement through long-term and predictable climate-smart investments.

It is for this reason that the World Bank and partners has been organising platforms in which ways of leveraging public resources with private sector financing are discussed.

One such platform is the Innovate4Climate, launched in 2017 in Barcelona. It serves as an integral part of the global dialogue on climate finance, sustainable development, carbon pricing and markets.

This year’s event, set for Frankfurt from 22-24 May, with four thematic areas, convenes global leaders from industry, government and multilateral agencies for a one-day Summit, workshops and a Marketplace, to work and dialogue on development of innovative financing instruments and approaches to support low-carbon, climate-resilient development pathways.

The Business Case for Climate Investment

Under this pillar, the focus is on the important role of the private sector to fight climate change. It explores climate-related business opportunities such as how to create markets for climate investments, and which approaches are effective in de-risking investment opportunities.

At the meeting, this stream is set to showcase sustainability and climate-resilient initiatives of business associations and industries, present models of collaboration and partnerships between public and private sector, as well as analyse trends and new initiatives in mobilizing development/climate finance, to match developing country investment needs with private sector capital.

A classic example under this theme is the GCF blended model—the use of four financial instruments: concessional loans, equity, grants, and guarantees that can be used through different modalities and at various stages of the financing cycle. Debt and equity instruments help close a specific financing gap for specific projects and programmes, thus bringing more projects and programmes to fruition, while guarantees help to crowd in new private sector financing from multilateral development banks, national development banks, and others.

“We are starting to see it already with the GCF,” says Fenella Aouane, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI’s) Principal Climate Finance Specialist. “They put out the 500-million-dollar private sector facility…they have gone into the market for the entirety of the private sector globally, they put out a call for proposals to spend up to 500 million. Now relate that to the fact that in a single board meeting in February, they approved projects worth 1 billion.”

NDC Implementation—policies and finance

Another central theme of the Innovate4Climate conference this year is focusing on improving access to finance and support for capacity building to successfully implement countries’ NDCs. This stream targets initiatives aiming at getting “further-faster-together” for NDCs implementation.

The key questions revolve around how to improve access to available funding and mobilize new sources, to strengthen climate finance readiness and accelerate disbursement of climate finance, how to increase and sustain ambitions, and ensure accountability and how to reduce transaction costs through standardisation and simplifying processes.

Innovation for Climate Resilience

Technology is a crucial component of the Paris Agreement’s means of implementation pillar. There is no question that innovative technologies and financial instruments are changing the narrative of climate change resilience. Thus, this stream presents achievements and models in climate smart agriculture, climate action in cities, and disaster risk management among others.

And in relation to the theme of technology, Tony Simon, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), recently emphasised the importance of adopting locally-relevant options that enhance agricultural productivity, for example, in relation to climate change adaptation and mitigation through exploring innovative finance instruments.

“Explore innovative finance instruments,” said Simon at the UNFCCC organized first regional Talanoa which was part of the Africa Climate Week, held in Nairobi in April 2018. “Private equity offers a huge amount of money. Use the money from CTCN and other sources to pull in other funds and use that as an opportunity to blend financing for climate change initiatives.”

Climate Market and Metrics

Under this theme, the focus is on the contribution of market-based approaches to efficient and cost-effective climate change mitigation. Delegates will discuss current and future trends around practical outcomes of international negotiations on Article 6 (voluntary cooperation on mitigation and adaptation actions). The theme also seeks to understand what can be expected from aviation and shipping.

“One area where forestry hopes the private sector may be interested is—the airline industry is currently trying to decide how it will offset its emissions as an industry and one way that might do this is through the purchase of carbon offsetting assets so that could be forestry in the form of some level of carbon credit,” GGGI’s Fenella told IPS. “If they do this, then there will be a possible clear return for investors.”

While the Innovate4Climate conference gets underway in Frankfurt next week, it seems the private sector approach by GGGI is already paying dividends. According to its 2017 Annual report, GGGI helped mobilize over half a billion dollars for green investments that aim to support developing countries and emerging economies transition toward environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economic growth.

It contributed to the mobilization of 524.6 million dollars in green investments in Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Rwanda and other countries in which the Seoul-based international organization operates.

“This is a record achievement for GGGI, representing more than 11 times the organization’s actual budget in 2017,” said Dr. Frank Rijsberman, GGGI Director-General. “Working closely with partner countries over the years to develop and implement policies that enable the environment to for green growth investment, GGGI is now demonstrating its growing capacity to access and mobilize finance for projects that deliver strong impact.”

With GGGI technical support to design and de-risk bankable projects, of the total amount mobilized, 412 million came from the private sector.

And just to highlight some countries in Africa, in Ethiopia, GGGI produced a pipeline of projects for the Mekelle City Water Project that helped attract 337 million dollars from the international private sector, while in Rwanda, GGGI catalyzed a 60-million investment from the private sector for a Cactus Green Park Development Project in Kigali, to support Rwanda’s secondary cities program.

Role of Multilateral Banks

The discussion on green economic growth and the increasing need for private sector climate financing cannot be complete without mentioning the role of multilateral banks. According to the World Bank, concessional climate finance is one critical strategy under this pillar, to support developing countries to build resilience to worsening climate impacts and to catalyzing private sector climate investment. Through this approach, collectively, the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) increased their climate financing in developing countries and emerging economies to 27.4 billion dollars in 2016 – including more than 11 billion from the WBG.

From an African perspective, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has been instrumental to the green growth discourse and the need for African countries not to follow the fossil fuel development pathway.

And in its efforts to foster a green growth economic pathway, in 2014, the AfDB released the first-ever Green Growth Framework—to function as a foundational reference document for its work on green growth. The bank was therefore instrumental in the formulation of Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI).

The initiative, which came out of COP21 and subsequently approved by the African Union, aims at delivering 300GW of renewable energy by 2030.

The AfDB also played a key role in de-risking one of Africa’s gigantic multi-billion-dollar solar power investment in Ouarzazate, Morocco, an example of a green growth economic model, which requires multi-million-dollar investments that cannot be done by public financing alone.

Mustapha Bakkaoury, president of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), told delegates at COP 22 that his country’s renewable energy revolution would not have been possible if multilateral partners such as the AfDB had not come on board to act as a guarantor for financing of the project.

About the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)

Based in Seoul, GGGI is an intergovernmental organization that supports developing country governments transition to a model of economic growth that is environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.

GGGI delivers programs in 27 partner countries with technical support, capacity building, policy planning & implementation, and by helping to build a pipeline of bankable green investment projects.

More on GGGI’s events, projects and publications can be found on www.gggi.org.

The post Unlocking Private Finance for Developing Countries’ Green Growth appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/unlocking-private-finance-developing-countries-green-growth/feed/ 0
When Two Becomes One: Blending Public and Private Climate Financehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/two-becomes-one-blending-public-private-climate-finance/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=two-becomes-one-blending-public-private-climate-finance http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/two-becomes-one-blending-public-private-climate-finance/#comments Wed, 23 May 2018 05:27:21 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155888 With the landmark Paris Agreement now almost two years old, funding for climate-related activities continues to be a challenge. However, efforts have been underway to bring two seemingly very different sectors together to address climate change. While developed countries have committed to channeling 100 billion dollars to developing countries by 2020, trillions may be needed […]

The post When Two Becomes One: Blending Public and Private Climate Finance appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

The Erie Shores wind farm in Ontario, Canada. Credit: Denise Morazé/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, May 23 2018 (IPS)

With the landmark Paris Agreement now almost two years old, funding for climate-related activities continues to be a challenge. However, efforts have been underway to bring two seemingly very different sectors together to address climate change.

While developed countries have committed to channeling 100 billion dollars to developing countries by 2020, trillions may be needed in order to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

“Trying to address climate change at current financing levels is like walking into a Category 5 hurricane protected by only an umbrella,” said head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Patricia Espinosa during a conference.

“Right now, we are talking in millions and billions of dollars when we should be speaking in trillions,” she continued.

Achieving the ambitious climate goals set out by the international community will require major financial investments by both the public and private sectors in order to fill funding gaps.

It also requires coming up with ways for the two sectors to work together.

“International organizations such as the Global Green Institute (GGGI) and development banks are trying and testing different structures, different methods of financing, different blends of public and private financing all the time. And occasionally, things work,” GGGI’s Principal Climate Finance Specialist Fenella Aouane told IPS.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF), set up by UNFCC, was given an important role to serve the Paris Agreement and has since used public investment to mobilize private finance towards low-emission, climate-resilient development.

In March, the GCF approved concessional funding to 23 projects in developing countries valued together at 1 billion dollars.

“This large volume of projects for both mitigation and adaptation – and the additional USD 60 million for readiness support – shows that GCF is ready to shift gear in supporting developing countries to achieve their climate goals…. The projects adopted here will make a real impact in the face of climate challenges,” said GCF Co-Chair Paul Oquist.

Aouane echoed similar sentiments about GCF’s efforts to IPS, stating: “They are testing the waters but that was a very good move by the GCF to say if we’re going to get the private sector, we have got to start dealing with them.”

And waving a magic wand won’t get the private sector, whose sole purpose is to make profits, to funnel money into climate mitigation and adaptation.

“[We need] to make projects more attractive for private sector investment. Reduce the costs, reduce the risks, and do a few using that concessional funding to show that they worked,” Aouane said.

Already, successes can be seen in renewable energy development.

With the help of concessional finance and continued political will, there has been a boom in renewable energy development across the world, opening the door to more players.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the private sector paved the way in renewable energy investment in 2016, providing 92 percent of funding compared to 8 percent from the public sector.

This has helped rapidly reduce the cost of renewable energy, which is set to be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020.

In fact, solar and wind energy is already cheaper than fossil fuels in many parts of the world.

The forestry sector, on the other hand, is finding it more difficult to attract investments, Aouane told IPS.

“Forestry is a struggle in the sense of what is return, where do you make your money in a project?” she said.

But there is an ongoing initiative by the aviation industry that could help protect forests, Aouane noted.

In an effort to offset its carbon emissions, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has looked to buy credits from projects that reduce emissions such as forestry.

This could not only help level out their emissions, but also help nations protect their forests from deforestation and ensure biodiversity.

“If they do this, then there will be a possible clear return for investors in forestry because they will be able to purchase the forest and then sell the emission reduction assets to an airline who will pay for it. If the price is sufficient, then it’s attractive enough for the private sector,” Aouane said.

The idea has been controversial, however, with environmental groups noting that the move is not enough to substantially offset or reduce emissions.

The environmental group Fern also found that the Virgin Atlantic airline’s carbon offsetting projects in Cambodia have actually led to local residents being “exploited and kicked off their land,” while another project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by Austrian Airlines and the San Diego Airport has resulted in increased deforestation.

Other challenges arise when bringing together two very different sectors with different goals, Aouane said.

“Using some World Bank finance and some GCF finance is relatively simple because they are both heading in the same direction culturally. But when the private sector gets involved, there can often be an issue with trying to get mindsets to work together,” she told IPS.

“You can imagine that the mindsets are very different about how you put a deal together and how you actually get the motives right that the project is right for everybody,” Aouane continued.

The GCF provides a model for bringing the two sectors together, and its new projects could help the private sector become even more involved. But it will take time, Aouane said.

“There is work happening, but I think quite often people forget how long it takes for things to change…but it will get done,” Aouane said.

The post When Two Becomes One: Blending Public and Private Climate Finance appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/two-becomes-one-blending-public-private-climate-finance/feed/ 1
$1.7 Trillion Global Spending on Military in 2017: Highest since End of Cold Warhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/1-7-trillion-global-spending-military-2017-highest-since-end-cold-war/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=1-7-trillion-global-spending-military-2017-highest-since-end-cold-war http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/1-7-trillion-global-spending-military-2017-highest-since-end-cold-war/#respond Tue, 22 May 2018 16:55:14 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155877 According to the latest report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in total, countries around the world spent $ 1.739 billion on arms in 2017. Although there was a marginal increase of 1.1 percent rise in real terms on 2016, the total global spending in 2017 is the highest since the end of […]

The post $1.7 Trillion Global Spending on Military in 2017: Highest since End of Cold War appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
According to the latest report by SIPRI, countries around the world spent $ 1.739 billion on arms in 2017, the highest since the end of the cold war

A military helicopter flying during a drill. Credit: Simon Fitall

By Maged Srour
ROME, May 22 2018 (IPS)

According to the latest report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in total, countries around the world spent $ 1.739 billion on arms in 2017. Although there was a marginal increase of 1.1 percent rise in real terms on 2016, the total global spending in 2017 is the highest since the end of the cold war.

This is an unprecedented amount of resources. The spending in 2017 represented 2.2 percent of global domestic product (GDP) or $ 230 per person. The ‘military burden’, which is “the military expenditure as a share of GDP” and which “assesses the proportion of national resources dedicated to military activities and the burden on the economy”, has fluctuated from a post-cold war high of 3.3 percent in 1992 to a low of 2.1 percent in 2014.

The five biggest spenders in 2017 were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and India, which together accounted for 60 percent of global military spending. The United States alone accounted for more than a third of the world total in 2017 ($695 billion) and it spent more than the next seven highest spenders combined, confirming the fact that the country can retain itself as the most powerful nation – in terms of military – in the world.

Looking at the US trend, there is a clear difference between the Obama and the Trump administration. US military expenditure had fallen each year since 2010 and substantially did not change in 2017 from 2016. However, the military budget for 2018 has been set by the Trump administration at a considerably higher level ($700 billion).

 



Regional trends

Looking at the regional trends, in the Middle East, because of a lack of accurate data for Qatar, Syria, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen, SIPRI could not estimate the total military spending in this region in 2017. Between 2009 and 2015, military expenditure of countries in this region increased by 41 percent, although it then decreased by 16 percent between 2015 and 2016 because of the fall in oil prices.

The spending increased again in 2017 by 6.2 percent with Saudi Arabia being the largest military spender in the region and the third largest in the world, following the US and China. Turkey increased its military expenditure by 46 percent between 2008 and 2017 while the last available estimate for the UAE’s military spending is for 2014, when it was the second largest military spender in the Middle East ($24.4 billion). After some years of decline, Iran could increase its military spending between 2014 and 2017 by 37 percent, mainly due to the gradual lifting of European Union and United Nations sanctions, which brought benefits to the Iranian economy. Israel’s military spending increased by 4.9 percent to $16.5 billion in 2017 (excluding about $3.1 billion in military aid from the USA). Today Israel is one of the 10 countries with the highest ‘military burden’ in the world (4.7 percent of GDP).

Military spending in Asia and Oceania reached $477 billion in 2017, a 3.6 percent higher than in 2016 and 59 percent higher than in 2008. These high levels make the region the second largest spender after the Americas. The largest increases in military spending between 2008 and 2017 were those of Cambodia (332 percent), Bangladesh (123 percent), Indonesia (122 percent) and China (110 percent). China’s military spending in 2017 ($228 billion), accounted for 48 percent of the regional total.

Europe accounted for 20 percent of global military expenditure in 2017, at $342 billion. The spending in Europe was 2.2 percent lower than in 2016 and marginally higher (1.4 percent) than in 2008. France’s spending fell by 1.9 percent to $57.8 billion; the British military spending rose by a tiny 0.5 percent to $47.2 billion, while Germany’s spending rose by 3.5 percent to $44.3 billion, its highest level since 1999.

In Africa, military expenditure was marginally down in 2017, by 0.5 percent to $42.6 billion or 2.5 percent of global military spending. North Africa’s military spending was an estimated $21.1 billion in 2017: the first annual decrease since 2006. Algeria, Africa’s largest spender, decreased its budget by 5.2 percent between 2016 and 2017 to $10.1 billion. Nigeria’s expenditure fell for the fourth consecutive year in 2017, despite the ongoing military operations against the terrorist group Boko Haram. Its spending was $1.6 billion in 2017.

 



Military expenditure vs aid to developing countries: a huge gap

These data, combined with other key information on budget spending from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), show that the portion of GDP that OECD countries spend every year for the military, is much higher than the one dedicated to the ‘Official Development Assistance’ (ODA). The latter is defined as “government aid designed to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries”. According to OECD, “loans and credits for military purposes are excluded [from ODA]” and this aid “may be provided bilaterally, from donor to recipient, or channelled through a multilateral development agency such as the UN or the World Bank”.

The gap between military expenditure and ODA in OECD countries is incredibly deep in most cases. For example, Turkey spends more than twice as much for its military budget rather than for aid to developing countries: 2.2% of GDP for its military and 0.95% for ODA. The gap is even greater in the case of Israel: 4.7% for the military budget and an insignificant 0.10% for ODA. The US spends 3.1% of its GDP for the military and 0.182% for ODA. Only a few countries follow the opposite trend. Luxembourg, for example, in 2017 spent twice as much for ODA (1.00% of its GDP) rather than for its military budget (0.5%).

Analysts, activists and policymakers worldwide have often criticized this allocation of resources. Regardless of the freedom of each country to spend its budget in the way it prefers in order to guarantee security for its citizens, there is an important aspect to note. Anton Chekhov once said: “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there”. This principle, which then took the name of ‘Chekhov’s gun’, was paraphrased as “once a gun appears in a story, it has to be fired”, someday soon.

A global military expenditure of over $1.7 trillion clearly represents much more than a simple “pistol on the wall”. The likelihood to have a conflict caused or fuelled by those arms produced by that $1.7 trillion global budget, is higher than ever.

The post $1.7 Trillion Global Spending on Military in 2017: Highest since End of Cold War appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/1-7-trillion-global-spending-military-2017-highest-since-end-cold-war/feed/ 0
Agricultural Trade Liberalization Undermined Food Securityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/agricultural-trade-liberalization-undermined-food-security/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=agricultural-trade-liberalization-undermined-food-security http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/agricultural-trade-liberalization-undermined-food-security/#respond Mon, 21 May 2018 10:17:58 +0000 Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155846 Agriculture is critical for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) notes, ‘From ending poverty and hunger to responding to climate change and sustaining our natural resources, food and agriculture lies at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.’ For many, the answer to poverty and hunger is to accelerate […]

The post Agricultural Trade Liberalization Undermined Food Security appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Agricultural Trade Liberalization Undermined Food Security - Africa has been transformed from a net food exporter into a net food importer, while realizing only a small fraction of its vast agricultural potential. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

Africa has been transformed from a net food exporter into a net food importer, while realizing only a small fraction of its vast agricultural potential. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury
KUALA LUMPUR AND SYDNEY, May 21 2018 (IPS)

Agriculture is critical for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) notes, ‘From ending poverty and hunger to responding to climate change and sustaining our natural resources, food and agriculture lies at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.’

For many, the answer to poverty and hunger is to accelerate economic growth, presuming that a rising tide will lift all boats, no matter how fragile or leaky. Most believe that market liberalization, property rights, and perhaps some minimal government infrastructure provision is all that is needed.

Tackling hunger is not only about boosting food production, but also about enhancing capabilities (including real incomes) so that people can always access sufficient food. As most developing countries have modest budgetary resources, they usually cannot afford the massive agricultural subsidies common to OECD economies. Not surprisingly then, many developing countries ‘protect’ their own agricultural development and food security

The government’s role should be restricted to strengthening the rule of law and ensuring open trade and investment policies. In such a business-friendly environment, the private sector will thrive. Accordingly, pro-active government interventions or agricultural development policy would be a mistake, preventing markets from functioning properly, it is claimed.

The possibility of market failure is denied by this view. Social disruption, due to the dispossession of smallholders, or livelihoods being undermined in other ways, simply cannot happen.

 

Flawed recipes

This approach was imposed on Africa and Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s through structural adjustment programmes of the Bretton Woods institutions (BWIs), contributing to their ‘lost decades’. In Africa, the World Bank’s influential Berg Report claimed that Africa’s supposed comparative advantage lay in agriculture, and its potential would be best realized by leaving things to the market.

If only the state would stop ‘squeezing’ agriculture through marketing boards and other price distortions, agricultural producers would achieve export-led growth spontaneously. Almost four decades later, Africa has been transformed from a net food exporter into a net food importer, while realizing only a small fraction of its vast agricultural potential.

Examining the causes of this dismal outcome, a FAO report concluded that “arguments in support of further liberalization have tended to be based on analytical studies which either fail to recognize, or are unable to incorporate insights from the agricultural development literature”.

In fact, agricultural producers in many developing countries face widespread market failures, reducing their surpluses needed to invest in higher value activities. The FAO report also noted that “diversification into higher value added activities in cases of successful agriculture-led growth…require significant government intervention at early stages of development to alleviate the pervasive nature of market failures”.

 

Avoidable Haitian tragedy

In the wake of Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, former US President Bill Clinton apologized for destroying its rice production by forcing the island republic to import subsidized American rice, exacerbating greater poverty and food insecurity in Haiti.

For nearly two centuries after independence in 1804, Haiti was self-sufficient in rice until the early 1980s. When President Jean-Claude Duvalier turned to the BWIs in the 1970s, US companies quickly pushed for agricultural trade liberalization, upending earlier food security concerns.

US companies’ influence increased after the 1986 coup d’état brought General Henri Namphy to power. When the elected ‘populist’ Aristide Government met with farmers’ associations and unions to find ways to save Haitian rice production, the International Monetary Fund opposed such policy interventions.

Thus, by the 1990s, the tariff on imported rice was cut by half. Food aid from the late 1980s to the early 1990s further drove food prices down, wreaking havoc on Haitian rice production, as more costly, unsubsidized domestic rice could not compete against cheaper US rice imports.

From being self-sufficient in rice, sugar, poultry and pork, impoverished Haiti became the world’s fourth-largest importer of US rice and the largest Caribbean importer of US produced food. Thus, by 2010, it was importing 80% of rice consumed in Haiti, and 51% of its total food needs, compared to 19% in the 1970s.

 

Agricultural subsidies

While developing countries have been urged to dismantle food security and agricultural support policies, the developed world increased subsidies for its own agriculture, including food production. For example, the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) supported its own farmers and food production for over half a century.

This has been crucial for ensuring food security and safety in Europe after the Second World War. For Phil Hogan, the EU’s Agriculture & Rural Development Commissioner, “The CAP is at the root of a vibrant agri-food sector, which provides for 44 million jobs in the EU. We should use this potential more”.

Despite less support in some OECD countries, farmers still receive prices about 10% above international market levels on average. An OECD policy brief observed, “the benefits from agriculture for developing countries could be increased substantially if many OECD member countries reformed their agricultural policies. Currently, agriculture is the area on which OECD countries are creating most trade distortions, by subsidising production and exports and by imposing tariffs and nontariff barriers on trade”.

 

Double standards

If rich countries can have agricultural policies, developing countries should also be allowed to adopt appropriate policies to support agriculture, to address not only hunger and malnutrition, but also other challenges including poverty, water and energy use, climate change, as well as unsustainable production and consumption.

After all, tackling hunger is not only about boosting food production, but also about enhancing capabilities (including real incomes) so that people can always access sufficient food.

As most developing countries have modest budgetary resources, they usually cannot afford the massive agricultural subsidies common to OECD economies. Not surprisingly then, many developing countries ‘protect’ their own agricultural development and food security.

Hence, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to agricultural development, requiring the same rules to apply to all, with no regard for different circumstances, would be grossly unfair. Worse, it would also worsen the food insecurity, poverty and underdevelopment experienced by most African and other developing countries.


Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, was Assistant Director-General for Economic and Social Development, Food and Agriculture Organization, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2007.
Anis Chowdhury, Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University (Australia), held senior United Nations positions in New York and Bangkok.

The post Agricultural Trade Liberalization Undermined Food Security appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/agricultural-trade-liberalization-undermined-food-security/feed/ 0
Fighting Inequality in Asia and the Pacifichttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/fighting-inequality-asia-pacific/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fighting-inequality-asia-pacific http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/fighting-inequality-asia-pacific/#respond Tue, 15 May 2018 13:46:12 +0000 Shamshad Akhtar http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155771 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 Fighting Inequality in Asia and the Pacific appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

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, May 15 2018 (IPS)

Inequality is increasing in Asia and the Pacific. Our region’s remarkable economic success story belies a widening gap between rich and poor. A gap that’s trapping people in poverty and, if not tackled urgently, could thwart our ambition to achieve sustainable development. This is the central challenge heads of state and government will be considering this week at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). A strengthened regional approach to more sustainable, inclusive growth must be this Commission’s outcome.

Shamshad Akhtar

It’s imperative, because ESCAP’s Sustainable Development Goal Progress Report shows that at the current rate of progress, Asia and the Pacific will fall short of achieving the UN’s 2030 Agenda. There has been some welcome progress, including in some of the least developed countries of our region. Healthier lives are being led and wellbeing has increased. Poverty levels are declining, albeit too slowly. But only one SDG, focused on achieving quality education and lifelong learning, is on track to be met.

In several critical areas, the region’s heading in the wrong direction. Environmental stewardship has fallen seriously short. The health of our oceans has deteriorated since 2015. On land, our ecosystems’ biodiversity is threatened. Forest conservation and the protection of natural habitats has weakened. Greenhouse gas emissions are still too high. But it’s the widening inequalities during a period of robust growth that are particularly striking.

Wealth has become increasingly concentrated. Inequalities have increased both within and between countries. Over thirty years, the Gini coefficient increased in four of our most populous countries, home to over 70 per cent of the region’s population. Human, societal and economic costs are real. Had income inequality not increased over the past decade, close to 140 million more people could have been lifted out of poverty. More women would have had the opportunity to attend school and complete their secondary education. Access to healthcare, to basic sanitation or even bank accounts would have been denied to fewer citizens. Fewer people would have died from diseases caused by the fuels they cook with. Natural disasters would have wrought less havoc on the most vulnerable.

The uncomfortable truth is that inequality runs deep in many parts of Asia and the Pacific. There’s no silver bullet, no handy lever we can reach for to reduce it overnight. But an integrated, coordinated approach can over time return our economies and our societies to a sustainable footing. Recent ESCAP analysis provides recommendations on how to do just that.

At their heart is a call to in invest in our people: to improve access to healthcare and education.

Only a healthy population can study, work and become more prosperous. The universal basic healthcare schemes established by Bhutan and Thailand are success stories to build on. Expanding social protection to low income families through cash transfers can also help underpin a healthy society.

Increasing investment in education is fundamental to both development and equality. Here the key to success is making secondary education genuinely accessible and affordable, including for those living in rural areas. Where universal access has been achieved, the focus must be on improving quality. This means upskilling teachers and improving curricula, and tailoring education to future labour markets and new technologies.

Equipping people to exploit frontier technologies is becoming more important by the minute. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a rapidly expanding sector. It can quicken the pace of development. But it is also creating a digital divide which must be bridged. So investment in ICT infrastructure is key, to support innovative technologies and ensure no one is left behind. Put simply, we need better broadband access across our region. Geography can’t determine opportunity.

This is also true when it comes to tackling climate change, disasters and environmental degradation. We know these hazards are pushing people back into poverty and can entrench inequality. In response, we need investment to help people to adapt in the region’s disaster hotspots: targeted policies to mitigate the impacts of environmental degradation on those most vulnerable, particularly air pollution. Better urban planning, regular school health check-ups in poorer neighborhoods, and legislation guaranteeing the right to a clean, safe and healthy environment into constitutions should be part of our response.

The robust growth Asia and the Pacific continues to enjoy, gives us an opportunity to take decisive action across all these areas. But for this to happen, fiscal policy needs to be adjusted. More effective taxations systems would increase the tax take, and better governance would increase people’s willingness to contribute. Public expenditure could then be made more efficient and progressive, the proceeds of growth shared more widely, and inequalities reduced.

My hope is that leaders will seize the moment, strengthen our commitment to fighting inequality on all fronts and put us back on track to sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.

The post Fighting Inequality in Asia and the Pacific appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

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 Fighting Inequality in Asia and the Pacific appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/fighting-inequality-asia-pacific/feed/ 0
United Arab Emirates: Entering into a Sustainable Futurehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/united-arab-emirates-entering-sustainable-future/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=united-arab-emirates-entering-sustainable-future http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/united-arab-emirates-entering-sustainable-future/#respond Mon, 14 May 2018 20:35:53 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155763    The end of the oil age In the early 1970’s the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was an impoverished desert, with little access to food, water and well-paying jobs. Today, this country looks nothing like it was fifty years ago. Thanks to oil, the UAE has completely transformed and now is one of the most […]

The post United Arab Emirates: Entering into a Sustainable Future appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

View from the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Credit: Ravin Vimesh

By Maged Srour
ROME, May 14 2018 (IPS)

 
 
The end of the oil age
In the early 1970’s the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was an impoverished desert, with little access to food, water and well-paying jobs. Today, this country looks nothing like it was fifty years ago. Thanks to oil, the UAE has completely transformed and now is one of the most developed economies in the Middle East, if not the world: its per capita GDP is equal to those of highly developed European nations ($68,000 – 2017 est.).

Wealth in the UAE, as in other Gulf countries, is derived mainly from oil but the black gold will run out someday soon. For this reason, the UAE, similar to other petro-rich countries in the region, is activating a list of local and national strategies and initiatives to build a new framework for the future. This framework aims to be run only by renewable energies but keeping the same level of wealth, if not improving it. Therefore rich, but without depending on oil.

Indeed, the UAE has recently embarked on a new path of investments, to end oil dependence and turn around most of its infrastructures run by renewable energies. Launched in 2017, the UAE Energy Strategy 2050 aims “to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25 percent to 50 percent by 2050 and reduce carbon footprint of power generation by 70 percent, thus saving AED 700 billion by 2050.” The Strategy also seeks to increase consumption efficiency of individuals and corporates by 40 percent and it targets an energy mix that aims to combine renewable, nuclear and clean sources as follows: 44 percent clean energy, 38 percent gas, 12 percent clean coal and 6 percent nuclear.

For example, the city of Masdar is the first city in the world to have a zero carbon footprint and zero waste and it is a car-free city. The city is still not fully developed but it currently aims to be home to 40 to 50 thousand people in a total area of six kilometres.

Back to the future
Energy is not the only field in which the UAE is at the forefront for development and innovation. Transportation, health, education, tackling climate change, visionary architecture, tourism, cyber security and so forth: these and others are all sectors in which the UAE is showing the world its willingness to improve and possibly become the leader, shocking the planet in terms of innovation.

Today the UAE is a country where skyscrapers nearly touch the sky, streets are clean, electric and hybrid cars are gradually becoming more common than cars run on fuel and the crime rate is very low. According to Numbeo, which surveyed 50,175 people in 4,574 cities, Abu Dhabi is one of the safest cities in the world, ranking 16th and with a very low crime index (11.85) and a quite high safety index (88.15).

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Credit: Martin Adams

The UAE is also planning to build a high-speed train, named Hyperloop, which will be able to reach 1.200 kph and connect Dubai and Abu Dhabi (120 km) in 12 minutes by 2021. In addition, in 2016, the world applauded the first journey to be ever completed by a solar airplane, which, not surprisingly, was an UAE product. Solar Impulse 2 is a solar-powered aircraft equipped with more than 17,000 solar cells. The airplane landed in Abu Dhabi after a journey of 505 days and 26,000 miles at an average speed of about 70 kph. The UAE government is even planning to establish the first human settlements in Mars by 2117.

However, this is just a small portion of the wider picture that describes the UAE’s way to the future. In December 2016, Gulf News had launched “The Amazing Nation”, a book to celebrate UAE’s 45th anniversary that aimed to tell the story of the innovative and modern UAE while also exploring its deep cultural roots. The book shows – through 117 pages with more than 40 double-page spreads filled with highly informative vignettes and varying forms of visual illustrations, photographs and multi-dimensional renderings – how the UAE’s famed architectural prowess will be visible in intelligent and energy-efficient buildings in the coming future.

According to this book, homes of the future will be incredibly smart and capable of growing their own food in a sustainable way. 3D and 4D printing in construction will allow unique innovations in terms of sustainable architecture and homes will also be folded up and transported by drones to any location. The country is also planning to build below the waterline and make underwater living possible. If there is one country that is projecting itself into the future, that is certainly the UAE.

An attractive country: UAE aims to become a crucial business hub
The strong belief of Emirates policy makers in the importance of spending in education, innovation and development, has made the country one of the most attractive hubs for business people and corporations from all over the world. According to the Arcadis Global Infrastructure Investment Index, the UAE is the third most attractive place in the world to invest in infrastructure.

Indeed, the UAE is extremely conducive to private business and the free market. In the thirty-eight free trade zones of UAE, businesses and corporations, even those that are owned by foreigners, are exempt from all taxes. This lack of taxation is a feature of those known as “rentier States”. A “rentier State” gets most (or all) of its income from natural resources revenues. These revenues are used to modernize the economy and to finance the public sector and ultimately to guarantee a fixed income for its citizens. Due in no small part to this system, taxation is almost inexistent in rentier States and makes them the perfect place to invest.

Development in a conflict region
The UAE, like some other Gulf countries, is clearly projecting itself into the future. These countries want to diversify the portfolio of their investments and provide an alternative source of revenues away from those related to oil. This unfolding situation must be addressed and monitored in the long run. The unprecedented modernisation occurring in the Gulf region is inspired by a new and young leadership that is gradually replacing the elders. These leaders are showing a remarkable enthusiasm for innovation but, at the same time, they are the protagonists of a provocative foreign policy, which is ultimately contributing to fuel tensions and conflict across the Middle East. Therefore, this modernisation needs to be examined also assessing the constant political instability in the region.

Indeed, unless this region does not find political compromises which allows enduring peace and a reliable stability, those same people who would enjoy the remarkable technological innovations, will constantly be concerned because of the lack of security in their countries.

Economic and social development needs to be accompanied by a wise and peaceful foreign policy, particularly in the Gulf and in the broader Middle East.

The post United Arab Emirates: Entering into a Sustainable Future appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/united-arab-emirates-entering-sustainable-future/feed/ 0
Sustainable Food Systems; Why We do Not Need New Recipeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/sustainable-food-systems-not-need-new-recipes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sustainable-food-systems-not-need-new-recipes http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/sustainable-food-systems-not-need-new-recipes/#comments Mon, 14 May 2018 05:14:37 +0000 Doaa Abdel-Motaal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155751 Many believe that the food and agricultural sector is different to all other economic sectors, that it is unique, and that it requires special economic models to thrive. After all, we expect the global food and agricultural system to respond to many different goals. It needs to deliver abundant, safe, and nutritious food. It needs […]

The post Sustainable Food Systems; Why We do Not Need New Recipes appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
By Doaa Abdel-Motaal
ROME, May 14 2018 (IPS)

Many believe that the food and agricultural sector is different to all other economic sectors, that it is unique, and that it requires special economic models to thrive. After all, we expect the global food and agricultural system to respond to many different goals. It needs to deliver abundant, safe, and nutritious food. It needs to create employment in rural areas while protecting forests and wildlife, improving landscapes, and preventing climate change through lower food production emissions. Well-functioning food systems are also considered essential for social stability and conflict prevention. In fact many politicians today go as far as to argue that food systems need to thrive so as to stem rural-to-urban migration and the cross-border flow of desperate people fleeing food insecure nations.

Doaa Abdel-Motaal

This sounds like a tall order, sufficient to make of food and agriculture an economic sector apart. Add to this mix that some want the agricultural sector to deliver energy in the form biomass and biofuels, and not just food, and you seem to have an almost impossible set of goals.

But let us take a minute to work through all of this. Is there any economic sector of which we do not expect abundance, safety, employment generation and environmental protection? Do we not expect, for example, when our cars are manufactured that there be a sufficient number of them to meet demand, that they be safe and generate employment, and that they not pollute either during their production or use? Do we not expect when cars or other manufactured products are produced, that our economies grow while delivering greater peace and security in the process?

The food and agricultural sector requires exactly what all other economic sectors do. Beyond government intervention to impose food safety and environmental regulations, governments need to invest in the infrastructure that is necessary for absolutely any economic sector to thrive. This infrastructure includes physical infrastructure such as roads and highways, but above all legal infrastructure too. By this I mean the rule of law, in the form of a functioning court system to which investors can have quick and easy recourse, and open trade and investment policies. This legal infrastructure is what allows non-governmental actors like the private sector to throw their hat into the ring.

But there is something about food that makes any discussion of it emotional. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 815 million people are chronically undernourished. This figure is as unacceptable as it is alarming, and is certainly cause for immediate action. However, what this number does not call for is a misdiagnosis.

An emotional response to what is a troubling reality is the last thing we need. Doubling down on government intervention to pick winners and losers in the food sector, or to create an ‘industrial policy’ for agriculture, would be a mistake. It would prevent market signals from functioning properly. In fact, the answer to current food insecurity is to double down on economic growth, pursuing it even more aggressively.

Clearly some social protection is needed as this transition occurs. While people do not die of a lack of cars, they do die of a lack of food. But social protection must be managed carefully. The safety nets must be targeted to those in need, must not create complacency and slow the pace of economic reform, and, above all, food aid must not grow into an industry of its own, with the associated vested interests that would make it impossible to dismantle.

I have worked on international trade issues for decades where I have watched some of the world’s most developed nations refuse to reduce their agricultural subsidies and escalating tariffs that inflict daily harm on the developing world’s agricultural sector. A beggar thy neighbour approach. In the same arena, I have watched many developing countries refuse to open their markets to imported food, making food more expensive for the poorest segments of their population. These are all examples of the unfortunate application of an industrial policy to food.

I have also worked extensively in the area of food aid. While I have seen this aid come to the rescue of millions of people in dire need, I have also seen it create dependence and delay desperately needed economic reforms. I now work on polar issues, where I am watching scientists in Antarctica harvest their first crop of vegetables grown without earth, daylight or pesticides as part of a project designed to cultivate fresh food where we would have previously thought impossible.

My message is this, let us apply simple economics to food and agriculture and not invent new industrial policy recipes for this sector every day. Let us also keep a watchful eye on where technology can take us. Research and development may well take this sector towards a very different future.

*Doaa Abdel-Motaal is former Executive Director of the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health, former Chief of Staff of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and former Deputy Chief of Staff of the World Trade Organization. She is the author of “Antarctica, the Battle for the Seventh Continent.”

The post Sustainable Food Systems; Why We do Not Need New Recipes appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/sustainable-food-systems-not-need-new-recipes/feed/ 1
“Green Development Has to Be Equal for All”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/green-development-equal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=green-development-equal http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/green-development-equal/#respond Mon, 14 May 2018 00:57:29 +0000 Diana Mendoza http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155745 IPS caught up with Dr. Frank Rijsberman, director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), at the end of the flagship side event of the GGGI during the 51st Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila on May 4, 2018, which featured the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its potential to […]

The post “Green Development Has to Be Equal for All” appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Dr. Frank Rijsberman, director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). Credit: Diana Mendoza/IPS

By Diana Mendoza
MANILA, May 14 2018 (IPS)

IPS caught up with Dr. Frank Rijsberman, director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), at the end of the flagship side event of the GGGI during the 51st Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila on May 4, 2018, which featured the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its potential to create sustainable infrastructure and promote green growth pathways.

In this brief chat with IPS correspondent Diana Mendoza, Dr. Rijsberman noted the success of just a few countries with successful environmental protection policies, while many others have yet to adopt green growth policies.

Q: China is obviously the major player in the BRI. How does GGGI see China influencing other countries to actively take part in it and adopt green growth policies?

A: China is a huge investor. Among the countries in the BRI, China is the most important foreign direct investor, if not one of the most important. What we are particularly interested from our GGGI perspective is that China has also become, out of necessity, an important source of green technology because it implements renewable energy policies at a large scale. It is but fitting for it to have initiated the BRI. It is a leader in electric mobility, green technology and policy. It is keen on its air quality around Beijing and has very rapidly cleaned it up in just the last two years. What we’re interested in also is not just having large direct investments as part of their BRI initiative but how it will influence its government to export green technology.

Q: On one hand, China has also upset its Asian neighbors, particularly in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), that claim China is exploring their islands and upsetting territorial boundaries.

A: I know basically nothing about territorial disputes but it’s clear that China is a world power, a dominant force.  It is very influential and we are hoping it will use this to bring opportunities for other countries to prosper. We’ve been seeing China for decades as having relations with countries in bringing resources such as Afghan steel or mineral resources to which China is a huge importer. That’s basically the first relationship we’re seeing in a bilateral way. It is also starting its ODA ministry to bring more support to developing countries and is willing share more environmental technology and hopefully, to also share the benefits of the equal civilization approach.

Q: What would the equal civilization approach mean to countries around the BRI?

A: There are small and relatively poor countries along the Maritime Silk Road. Growth and development should also benefit them. The impact of climate change and the unhealthy effects of modernization and urbanization affect all countries, but green development has to be equal for all.

Q: What are GGGI’s priorities in the next five years?

A: We would like to see countries adopting renewable energy policies. Many countries are not introducing renewable energy to the potential that they have. Many countries also have some policies but we see they only have something like 1 percent solar, where it could be 20 or 30 percent. Only in China do we see a very rapid transition to renewable energy and electricity generation. But I live in Korea and they only have 2 percent. The government recently increased the target for renewable energy to 20 percent, but you know even 20 percent is still modest.

Q: How much is the ideal target for renewable energy?

A: It should be 50 or 60 percent if we want to achieve what was agreed upon in the Paris Agreement. Vietnam is still planning to build 24 more coal fire-powered plants. The current paths that many governments are on are still very far away from achieving the Paris Agreement. We need to see a rapid switch to renewable energy and we think it’s much more feasible than governments are aware of. Prices have come down so quickly that you know I’ve been spending most of my week in the Philippines and the provincial governments are still talking about hydropower because that’s what they know. You go to Mindanao and they’re talking about this big project in 1953 and they know that renewable energy is hydro.

Q: So hydro is not the answer?

A: We told them that if they want more hydro they should realize there are much better opportunities now in solar energy.  Even if the potential in hydro is there, it’s complex. It takes a long time and it has a big environmental risks. It takes five years to put it in place and construction is complicated. You can have solar in six months if you have enough land. In Manila, every school, factory and shopping mall should have solar rooftops already. In Canberra, even if the central government was not all active in this movement, it adopted in 2016 the 100 percent renewable policy by 2020. It is doing just that and it looks good.

Q: What can you say about tiny efforts to protect the environment such as opting for paper bags instead of plastic bags?  

A: A plastic bag should no longer be available. We should absolutely stop using all those disposable plastic bags. We should all look at the major impact that plastics cause, that micro-plastics go into the sea and the fish eat them. It goes back to our body when we eat the fish. It goes right back in the body.

Q: So which counties have totally eradicated plastic?

A: Rwanda — they said no more plastic bags. There will be many more countries that will do that. They will say you don’t have to pay for plastic bags if you didn’t bring your eco bag or there’s no available paper bag. If there is plastic, it has to be biodegradable. The cheap plastic in the supermarket lasts forever. It looks biodegradable if you leave it in the sun, but it’s more dangerous when it is thrown into the sea. But either way, there should be no more plastic bags anywhere.

Q: You live in Seoul and you mentioned about your child not going to an event because of bad air. How do you think kids understand environmental issues?  

A: The school nurse checks the air quality and informs us in the morning. My wife also does that. Our nine-year-old is totally aware of that. Even if it’s not too bad, the kids go to school wearing masks. The kids’ experiences on a daily basis will help them understand the need for clean, quality air.  This way, they will learn about the rest of the environment concerns as they grow up.

The post “Green Development Has to Be Equal for All” appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/green-development-equal/feed/ 0
Regional Cooperation Needs a Strategic Vehicle for Inclusive Growthhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/regional-cooperation-needs-a-strategic-vehicle-for-inclusive-growth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=regional-cooperation-needs-a-strategic-vehicle-for-inclusive-growth http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/regional-cooperation-needs-a-strategic-vehicle-for-inclusive-growth/#respond Fri, 11 May 2018 10:04:23 +0000 Winston Chow http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155721 Winston Chow is Country Representative for China at the Global Green Growth Institute

The post Regional Cooperation Needs a Strategic Vehicle for Inclusive Growth appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Regional cooperation needs a strategic vehicle for inclusive growth

By Winston Chow
BEIJING, May 11 2018 (IPS)

There is growing recognition that regional cooperation is a crucial driver of growth. We should now also recognize if regional trade networks are to yield the intended benefit of inclusive growth, then there needs to be a strategic vehicle for development that can be scaled.

The China Belt Road initiative is an example of an ambitious regional cooperation programme that includes benefits for many other countries in its development plans.

The initiative's planned $150bn investment over the next five years is an opportunity for sector specialists across development institutions to work together even more closely. More importantly, the initiative should complement the work of other regional cooperation efforts.

Its importance lies in that the scheme offers an opportunity for GGGI and Asian Development Bank (ADB) member countries to narrow the inequality, technology and poverty gap by improving trade among themselves. The scheme also shows us that the prospects of a sustainable future rely heavily on countries working together.

The initiative’s planned $150bn investment over the next five years is an opportunity for sector specialists across development institutions to work together even more closely. More importantly, the initiative should complement the work of other regional cooperation efforts.

Some key examples of current regional partnerships are the Eurasia Initiative, Partnership for Quality Infrastructure, Steppe Road. The Belt Road Initiative stands out  because it is bold, it intends to connect Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf in a single strategic and more closely coordinated network.

 

Regional trade growth should be inclusive

The recent increase in regional trade between countries in the Asia region presents some opportunities. This makes the introduction of green technology to the Asia-Pacific region crucial.

Manufacturing of new technologies can help tackle structural distortions in Pacific Island countries. These economies are dominated by agriculture, fisheries and tourism.

South-South collaboration will assist in this spread of technology across the region to benefit countries that will start from a very low green technology base. China for instance has emerged as aworld leader in the manufacture and use of clean energy technology.

The energy sector’s growth will not only cater for energy needs, if low carbon energy is introduced it will generate positive spin-offs in regions and communities where they are hosted.

The sharing of knowledge between countries in this respect is a catalyst that can be used to fast-track growth in the green technology sector in countries that are lagging behind.

Research shows that Asian economies are deeply intertwined. This interdependency has been forged by supply chain activity that has extended to financial industries and regional infrastructure networks.

An efficient regional economic network will make the collaboration between GGGI, ADB and other development stakeholders in countries like Georgia much easier. It will make it easier for the government of Georgia to improve the security and stability of its electric power systems.

Another important opportunity for shared learning that avails itself is the GGGI-ADB partnership in Mongolia. Increasing investment in the country’s mining sector will slowly translate into an increase in energy demand. We have to anticipate these developments in the regional economy.

 

Governance

It is important that countries have a long term vision in their environmental sustainability policy approach. This involves the introduction of green growth guidelines into development planning policies.

For these guidelines to be effective their use must be scaled up to include local, provincial and national plans. It is important  to understand is that the local government level is crucial as it is at the frontline of climate change planning.

 

Green local currency bonds

The next important point for our collective consideration is how to increase socially and environmentally beneficial investments to the region and its partners. Here we have to think of ways of growing the green bonds market.

Growth in this market has proved to be an essential source of funding for programmes aimed at eradicating poverty and meeting the SDGs. The Asian region should continue being among the leading regions that invest in green bonds.

To stimulate growth in the sector we must remove barriers such as higher administration costs for green bonds. Another area that requires focused attention is the task of harmonizing Green Bond Principles (GBPs) that guide issuers about environmental benefits.

There has to be synergy between the widespread adoption of GBPs and the development of a framework that will make them available in local currencies. The aim is to make green bonds more attractive to investors.

I need to re-emphasize what makes responsible investment important. I’m convinced that responsible investors have an eye for solutions to the under employment and gender disparate labour market of the region.

The Pacific Island Countries are in a precarious situation because climate change could reduce tourism revenues considerably. This impact is expected to add to the numbers of migrant labourers, many of whom are women already disadvantaged by the labour markets.

The urgent task for us is to take advantage of the opportunities that mainstreaming green growth will avail. Regional cooperation is central to scaling up the impact of inclusive green growth.

Increased South-South cooperation on the basis of the shared objective of attaining environmentally sustainable economic growth will assist in the attainment of the SDGs.

The post Regional Cooperation Needs a Strategic Vehicle for Inclusive Growth appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Winston Chow is Country Representative for China at the Global Green Growth Institute

The post Regional Cooperation Needs a Strategic Vehicle for Inclusive Growth appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/regional-cooperation-needs-a-strategic-vehicle-for-inclusive-growth/feed/ 0
Economic and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific 2018 – Mobilizing finance for sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth.http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/economic-social-survey-asia-pacific-2018/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=economic-social-survey-asia-pacific-2018 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/economic-social-survey-asia-pacific-2018/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 12:19:06 +0000 Shamshad Akhtar http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155652 Asia and the Pacific remains the engine of the global economy. It continues to power trade, investment and jobs the world over. Two thirds of the region’s economies grew faster in 2017 than the previous year and the trend is expected to continue in 2018. The region’s challenge is now to ensure this growth is […]

The post Economic and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific 2018 – Mobilizing finance for sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
By Shamshad Akhtar
BANGKOK, Thailand, May 7 2018 (IPS)

Asia and the Pacific remains the engine of the global economy. It continues to power trade, investment and jobs the world over. Two thirds of the region’s economies grew faster in 2017 than the previous year and the trend is expected to continue in 2018. The region’s challenge is now to ensure this growth is robust, sustainable and mobilised to provide more financing for development. It is certainly an opportunity to accelerate progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Shamshad Akhtar

Recent figures estimate economic growth across the region at 5.8 per cent in 2017 compared with 5.4 per cent in 2016. This reflects growing dynamism amid relatively favourable global economic conditions, underpinned by a revival of demand and steady inflation. Robust domestic consumption and recovering investment and trade all contributed to the 2017 growth trajectory and underpin a stable outlook.

Risks and challenges nevertheless remain. Rising private and corporate debt, particularly in China and countries in South-East Asia, low or declining foreign exchange reserves in a few South Asian economies, and trends in oil prices are among the chief concerns. Policy simulation for 18 countries suggests a $10 rise in the price of oil per barrel could dampen GDP growth by 0.14 to 0.4 per cent, widen external current account deficits by 0.5-to 1.0 percentage points and build inflationary pressures in oil-importing economies. Oil exporters, however, would see a positive impact.

These challenges come against the backdrop of looming trade protectionism. Inward-looking trade policies will create uncertainty and would entail widespread risks to region’s export and their backbone industries and labour markets. While prospects for the least developed countries in the region are close to 7 per cent, concerns persist given their inherent vulnerabilities to terms-of-trade shocks or exposure to natural disasters.

The key questions are how we can collectively take advantage of the solid pace of economic expansion to facilitate and improve the long-term prospects of economies and mobilize finance for development as well as whether multilateral institutions, such as the World Trade Organization membership can resolve the global gridlock on international trade?

Economic and financial stability along with liberal trade access to international markets will be critical for effective pursuit of the 2030 Agenda. Regional economies, whose tax potential remains untapped, now need to lift domestic resource mobilization and prudently manage fiscal affairs. Unleashing their financial resource potential need to be accompanied by renewed efforts to leverage private capital and deploy innovative financing mechanisms. The investment requirements to make economies resilient, inclusive and sustainable are sizeable − as high as $2.5 trillion per year on average for all developing countries worldwide. In the Asia-Pacific region, investment requirements are also substantial but so are potential resources. The combined value of international reserves, market capitalization of listed companies and assets held by financial institutions, insurance companies and various funds is estimated at some $56 trillion. Effectively channelling these resources to finance sustainable development is a key challenge for the region.

The need to come up with supplementary financial resources will remain. Public finances are frequently undermined by a narrow tax base, distorted taxation structures, weak tax administrations, and ineffective public expenditure management. This has created problems of balanced fiscalization of sustainable development, even if the national planning organizations have embraced and integrated sustainable development agenda in their forward looking plans.

Despite a vibrant business sector, the lack of enabling policies, legal and regulatory frameworks, and large informal sectors, have deterred sustainability and its appropriate financing. The external assistance from which some countries benefit is insufficient to meet sustainable development investment requirements, a problem often compounded by low inbound foreign direct investment. Capital markets in many countries are underdeveloped and bond markets are still in their infancy. Fiscal pre-emption of banking resources is quite common. For those emerging countries which have successfully tapped international capital markets, a tightening of global financial conditions means borrowing costs are on the rise.

Our ESCAP flagship report, Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2018 (Survey 2018) which has been launched today calls for stronger political will and governments strengthening tax administrations and expanding the tax base. If the quality of the tax policy and administrations in Asia-Pacific economies matches developed economies, the incremental revenue impact could be as high as 3 to 4 per cent of GDP in major economies such as China, India and Indonesia and steeper in developing countries. Broadening the tax base by rationalizing tax incentives for foreign direct investment and introducing a carbon tax could generate almost $60 billion in additional tax revenue per year.

But government action must be complemented by the private sector to effectively pursue sustainable development. The right policy environment could encourage private investment by institutional investors in long-term infrastructure projects. Structural reforms should focus on developing enabling policy environment and institutional setting designed to facilitate public-private partnerships, stable macroeconomic conditions, relatively developed financial markets, and responsive legal and regulatory frameworks.

Finally, while much of the success in mobilizing development finance will depend on the design of national policies, regional cooperation is vital. Coordinated policy actions are needed to reduce tax incentives for foreign direct investment and to introduce a carbon tax. For many least developed countries, the role of external sources of finance remains critical. In many cases, the success of resource mobilization strategies in one country is conditional on closer regional cooperation. ESCAP’s remains engaged and its analysis can support the planning and cooperation needed to effectively mobilize finance for sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

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 Economic and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific 2018 – Mobilizing finance for sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/economic-social-survey-asia-pacific-2018/feed/ 0
Mounting Debt Threatens UN’s Sustainable Development Goalshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/mounting-debt-threatens-uns-sustainable-development-goals/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mounting-debt-threatens-uns-sustainable-development-goals http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/mounting-debt-threatens-uns-sustainable-development-goals/#respond Wed, 02 May 2018 10:51:41 +0000 Elliot Harris and Chris Lane http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155580 Elliot Harris is Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist of the United Nations Division of Economic and Social Affairs & Chris Lane is Special Representative of the International Monetary Fund to the United Nations

The post Mounting Debt Threatens UN’s Sustainable Development Goals appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Elliot Harris is Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist of the United Nations Division of Economic and Social Affairs & Chris Lane is Special Representative of the International Monetary Fund to the United Nations

By Elliot Harris and Chris Lane
UNITED NATIONS, May 2 2018 (IPS)

In 2015, 193 countries adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an overarching policy roadmap through 2030. These goals are predicated on the idea that for a sustainable future, economic growth must go hand-in-hand with social inclusion and protection of the environment.

Our respective institutions, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), fully support these goals. From the UN perspective, they represent a down payment on a more peaceful, prosperous, and cooperative world, especially in increasingly perilous times. For the IMF, they help underpin economic stability and sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

In 2017, most types of development financing flows increased, helped by an upturn in the world economy, increased investment, and supportive financial market conditions. Yet less than three years after adoption, the implementation of the SDGs is running into a major hurdle—rising public debt in some developing countries.

This is the sobering message of a new report on financing for development (FfD) issued by the UN, in collaboration with the IMF and almost 60 other agencies.

Here’s the problem: as noted recently by IMF Deputy Managing Director Tao Zhang, 40 percent of low-income countries face high risk of debt distress or are unable to service their debt fully—this is up from 21 percent just five years ago. On top of this, several developing countries are also falling behind in terms of per capita income, induced by such factors as fragility and conflict—these include vulnerable countries like Haiti, D.R. Congo, and Chad.

Low tax revenue, weak international support

A key problem is that many of these countries are not able to raise enough public revenue. There are many reasons for this—narrow tax bases, continued over-reliance on extractive industries, and weak tax administration. But tax evasion is also part of the problem. The low tax take in low income developing countries—where the median tax revenue is just 13.3 percent of GDP—can be traced in part to informality and tax evasion.

In light of this, the first step of any reform strategy must surely be to raise more revenue at home. But in a world where business activity has become increasingly global, domestic efforts alone will not be enough.

We will also need enhanced international collaboration on tax. It is encouraging that governments are developing new international standards on exchange of tax information—we need to make sure that developing countries also benefit from this.

Official Development Assistance (ODA) also has a vital role to play. According to recently released data, ODA amounted to $146.6 billion in 2017. But this amounts to less than half the internationally-agreed target of 0.7 percent of gross national income.

And a growing share of ODA is being deployed for emergencies such as in-country refugee costs and humanitarian aid. While such aid is critical, it leaves less available for long-term public investments in sustainable development.

ODA inflows toward the poorest and most vulnerable countries have stagnated and remain concentrated in a few of them. Donor countries need to step up their assistance in this area.

Private investment in support of the SDGs

Given the large investment needs, attracting more private investment will be critical. But the least developed countries still struggle to do so at scale, particularly in sectors outside extractive industries.

The report* calls on developing countries to continue building competitive business environments, including by improving institutional and regulatory frameworks and developing project pipelines and investible projects—especially in infrastructure.

More recently, policymakers have also focused on sharing risks with private investors, through instruments such as guarantees and public-private partnerships. If done correctly, such blending activities can potentially unlock additional SDG investments. For now, they are mostly bypassing countries where the need is greatest. Only 7 per cent of private finance so far mobilized was directed toward projects in the least developed countries.

There is also a risk that such activities will also add to debt burdens, including through contingent off-balance sheet liabilities. These risks need to be managed carefully.

Growing debt risks

The recent growth in debt is not all bad news, however. Greater access to international financial markets and lending by new creditors such as China has unlocked much-needed financing for infrastructure investments in recent years.

And investment in productive capacity, if done right, can lead to higher income that offsets debt service. The report recommends that assessments of debt sustainability take this important channel into consideration.

But problems arise when debt is already high, when resources are not spent well (including in the presence of corruption and governance weaknesses), or when a country is hit by natural disasters or economic shocks such as sudden reversals of capital flows.

Another issue is that the new wave of private credit often comes with higher interest rates and shorter maturities. And coordination among creditors has become harder, which creates problems when debt restructuring is needed.

When the risk of debt crisis is high, a quick response to lessen the immediate financial stress can make all the difference between rapid recovery and long-lasting harm. We need to think hard about innovative solutions here.

For example, a greater use of state-contingent debt instruments—which reduce or delay a country’s debt obligations during crises—can provide some relief in some cases. By reducing default risks and risk premiums, they also expand available fiscal space for investment.

Another interesting idea is debt-for-climate swaps—these entail concessional funders buying back outstanding debt, freeing up resources to fight climate change and helping regions hit hard by climate-related disasters.

Now is the time

The bottom line is that we only have 12 years left in which to implement the SDGs. The current upswing in the global economy opens up a vital window of opportunity, but we must make sure that the financing agenda is not derailed by mounting public debt.

The UN and the IMF are united in this common cause. This is demonstrated by our collaborative report, which puts forth recommendations on public finance and debt, private investments, trade, and other critical priorities for SDG financing.

Our institutions are committed to deepening our support for the SDGs, in the service of our member countries, to secure a more prosperous and peaceful world.

*“Financing for Development: Progress and Prospects,” is the 2018 comprehensive annual progress report on how to finance the Sustainable Development Goals. The report is edited by UN DESA with inputs from major institutional stakeholders including the IMF, World Bank, UNCTAD, WTO and UNDP. Download the report and access the comprehensive data annex to the report at:
https://developmentfinance.un.org

This article ran in April 2018: https://blogs.imf.org/2018/04/27/debt-as-an-obstacle-to-the-sustainable-development-goals/

The post Mounting Debt Threatens UN’s Sustainable Development Goals appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Elliot Harris is Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist of the United Nations Division of Economic and Social Affairs & Chris Lane is Special Representative of the International Monetary Fund to the United Nations

The post Mounting Debt Threatens UN’s Sustainable Development Goals appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/mounting-debt-threatens-uns-sustainable-development-goals/feed/ 0
Blending Finance Not SDG Financing Silver Bullethttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/blending-finance-not-sdg-financing-silver-bullet/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=blending-finance-not-sdg-financing-silver-bullet http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/blending-finance-not-sdg-financing-silver-bullet/#respond Mon, 30 Apr 2018 13:42:21 +0000 Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155535 After largely failing to provide 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income (GNI) in aid to developing countries for almost half a century since making the commitment, donor countries have recently promoted blended finance (BF) as a solution to the financing for development challenge. Blending refers to combining public development funds (in the form […]

The post Blending Finance Not SDG Financing Silver Bullet appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY & KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 30 2018 (IPS)

After largely failing to provide 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income (GNI) in aid to developing countries for almost half a century since making the commitment, donor countries have recently promoted blended finance (BF) as a solution to the financing for development challenge. Blending refers to combining public development funds (in the form of grants, technical assistance or interest indemnification) with loans from private lenders.

Credit: OECD

Following adoption of Agenda 2030 for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the OECD and the World Economic Forum (WEF) claimed that “blended finance represents an opportunity to drive significant new capital flows into high-impact sectors, while effectively leveraging private sector expertise in identifying and executing development investment strategies”.

Potential and progress
The OECD and WEF launched the multi-year ReDesigning Development Finance Initiative (RDFI) in 2013 to promote public-private cooperation for sustainable development. The RDFI defines BF as “the strategic use of development finance and philanthropic funds to mobilize private capital flows to emerging and frontier markets”.

The RDFI promoted BF at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) in Addis Ababa in July 2015. A BF pioneer claimed BF had been effective in targeted development interventions and would complement traditional overseas development aid (ODA) such as grants.

The European Council endorsed BF as a tool of development cooperation in 2014, with other donors following suit. Multilateral development banks (MDBs) have enthusiastically embraced BF, issuing From Billions to Trillions: Transforming Development Finance, which claimed that it ensures “the best possible use of each grant dollar”. The Canadian minister of international development echoed this in Turning billions into trillions: The power of blended finance.

In a 2017 report, the OECD argued that BF can help bridge the US$2.5 trillion annual investment gap for SDGs in developing countries. The European Union (EU), the single largest promoter of BF, has made the European Fund for Sustainable Development key to its External Investment Plan (EIP) to address investment gaps in 18 countries of Southeastern Europe, Central and West Asia, and Africa, with a budget of €2.6 billion and guarantees of €1.5 billion.

According to the 2018 Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) report on Financing for Development, 17 of 23 DAC members are engaged in BF, often through intermediaries such as development banks and finance institutions. It also noted that 167 new blended finance facilities, with approximately US$31 billion in commitments, and 189 blended finance funds were launched during 2000-2016.

A 2016 OECD survey found US$81.1 billion from the private sector mobilized through five instruments (guarantees, syndicated loans, credit lines, direct investments in companies, and shares in collective investment vehicles) during 2012-2015.

What’s the catch?
The IATF Report noted the lack of a universally agreed definition of BF, while a 2017 OXFAM-EURODAD report listed six different definitions. All accept ODA (e.g., grants), but other non-ODA official finance (e.g., export credit) are also included. Confusingly, terms such as ‘leveraging’, ‘mobilizing’ and ‘catalyzing’ are used interchangeably.

Thus, monitoring BF’s actual magnitude and development impact is difficult. BF often lacks transparency and accountability, with insufficient information made public. Noting the confusion, OXFAM-EURODAD argued that BF can be problematic: it is not necessarily pro-poor and mainly serves middle-income countries.

Like others, they also found donor country private corporations favoured, as with tied aid. When relying on external private finance, BF often crowded out host country financial sectors. Furthermore, BF projects may not be aligned with national plans, and usually do not involve stakeholder participation, undermining country ownership. An evaluation of the EU’s EIP found no reliable evidence of BF mechanisms actually aligned with and contributing to development objectives.

Worsening inequality

The IATF found BF has largely bypassed LDCs so far. ¬In 2016, the MDBs mobilized US$49.9 billion in private co-financing, with only US$1 billion going to LDCs, where infrastructure gaps are greatest. An OECD survey found that only 7 per cent of private finance was for projects in LDCs. According to the 2017 OECD report, between 2012 and 2015, most private financing mobilized by ODA was for middle income countries, with little trickling to LDCs. It also noted that private capital was greatest for finance and energy.

The IATF also observed that BF tends to target investment areas where the business case is clearer—such as energy, growth, infrastructure, climate action and, to a lesser extent, water and sanitation. BF is much smaller for areas such as ecosystems, reflecting such investments’ strong ‘public good’ character, with public finance generally more effective.

OXFAM-EURODAD noted that by pooling public resources and using ODA to subsidize private companies usually owned and domiciled in OECD countries, BF diverts aid from social programmes and essential services. Clearly, private finance is not guided by the same interests and principles as public finance, and cannot be presumed to serve the public interest.

Labelling BF a ‘honey trap’, The Economist noted, “Private investors do not typically fund the construction of rural roads in Africa, say, or vaccination drives in villages, even though the returns on such investments are often enormous. That is because the returns are either hard to monetize, or the risks are too great for the private sector to tolerate.”

It is unclear how public development funds, channelled through risky commercial financial services, will effectively mobilize private resources for sustainable development. There is no evidence that current BF practices are achieving development outcomes that would not have happened otherwise. After all, existing BF mechanisms do not safeguard the public interest and achieve development objectives.

The IATF report noted limited evidence of any additional development impact due to BF. Many BF projects do not monitor development impacts, while the few evaluations made are rarely publicly available. The limited evidence available suggests a modest impact on poverty.

Going forward
ODA nevertheless remains crucial for low-income countries. Private finances cannot achieve what public finances can, especially for social development and environmental protection. Public finance is more predictable and effective in providing public goods. Despite much enthusiasm for using ODA or public funds to leverage private finance, many unanswered questions remain, suggesting BF is no silver bullet.

Caution is needed as the development community ascertains the pros and cons of using public money to ‘leverage’ private finance. First steps would include a universally acceptable BF definition and a monitoring framework to ascertain the additionality of alternative BF mechanisms for both finance and development impacts.

Additionally, BF should respond to recipient country’s development strategies in the spirit of the 2015 Addis Ababa FfD Action Agenda which recognizes its potential while urging caution.

The post Blending Finance Not SDG Financing Silver Bullet appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/blending-finance-not-sdg-financing-silver-bullet/feed/ 0
Revving Up Green Growthhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/revving-green-growth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=revving-green-growth http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/revving-green-growth/#respond Fri, 27 Apr 2018 09:55:50 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155503 While sustainable development may still seem elusive to some, a new initiative wants to pave a path for nations working towards a greener future. Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030, or P4G, is a new partnership initiative that aims to boost countries’ efforts in achieving the globally adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). […]

The post Revving Up Green Growth appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

African cities are prone to feeling the effects of climate change. Pictured here is the Democratic Republic of Congo capital, Kinshasa. Credit: Einberger/argum/EED/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 27 2018 (IPS)

While sustainable development may still seem elusive to some, a new initiative wants to pave a path for nations working towards a greener future.

Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030, or P4G, is a new partnership initiative that aims to boost countries’ efforts in achieving the globally adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

By creating and accelerating public-private partnerships, P4G could provide market-driven solutions to real life challenges in developing nations.

“There is an increasing conviction and need that to solve some of the more challenging problems, people are wanting an inter-disciplinary forum where they can talk to financiers, companies, banks…they want a forum like that and they want a forum to be quick, practical, and action-oriented,” Global Green Growth Institute’s (GGGI) Assistant Director-General and Head of its Investment and Policy Solutions Division Mahua Acharya told IPS.

“P4G is really one of those coalitions that is responding to needs…where you can bring private companies, governments, and others together and try to get around a single problem,” she continued.

Established by the Government of Denmark, the initiative will bring together leaders in government, civil society, and business to work together in five key sectors in sustainable development: food, water, energy, healthy cities, and circular economy.

But why these sectors in particular?

“Because they present the biggest climate change challenges,” Acharya told IPS.

The world’s cities emit up to 70 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide—and the figure is likely to be even higher when consumption emissions are included, one of P4G’s organizational partners C40 Cities found.

As city populations are predicted to double by 2050, the amount of carbon emissions is only expected to increase.

In response, cities such as New York have already begun to step up and lead the way against climate change.

Despite the United States’ announced withdrawal from the landmark Paris climate accord, New York aims to cut its carbon emissions from buildings by 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050.

Buildings account for almost three quarters of the Northeastern American city’s contribution to climate change.

Like what P4G represents, New York’s government has partnered with leaders in the private and non-profit sectors in order to achieve its ambitious goal. With assistance from the Mayor’s Office, a number of partners from universities, hospitals, and commercial offices have already met their 30 percent goal.

Acharya also pointed to the role that innovative partnerships have played in food waste.

Around the world, entrepreneurs have launched apps to help reduce food waste among households, restaurants, and supermarkets.

In the United Kingdom, FoodCloud allows supermarkets and farms to work with charities in order to donate surplus food, while YourLocal in Denmark gives consumers a discount to food that would otherwise go to waste.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), food loss and waste account for 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Food waste is also a major source of other greenhouse gases such as methane, a pollutant that is at least 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

With apps like FoodCloud and YourLocal, stakeholders can work together to create a cleaner, greener society.

Though it will take time for P4G’s partnerships to have concrete results, the initiative acts as a foundation to get the conversation started.

“Can the public sector start to work with private companies towards a solution—short-term, quick, commercial, action-oriented solutions? Can private companies offer solutions that are not just observing but are creating solutions to issues affecting society? They need to come a little closer together and try to speak the same language,” Acharya told IPS.

Over 400 public-private partnerships from over 80 countries have applied to receive funding or support through P4G, proposing a range of solutions to drive sustainable development.

“It was really encouraging, I saw some really revolutionary ideas…I’m very inspired by these partnerships,” Acharya said.

Launched in 2017, P4G awards up to 4 million dollars annually to help between 10-15 partnerships and accelerate sustainable development solutions. Winners will be announced at the first P4G Summit in 19-20 October 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The post Revving Up Green Growth appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/revving-green-growth/feed/ 0
Development Prospects for Hundreds of Millions Remain in Jeopardyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/development-prospects-hundreds-millions-remain-jeopardy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=development-prospects-hundreds-millions-remain-jeopardy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/development-prospects-hundreds-millions-remain-jeopardy/#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:26:01 +0000 Amina Mohammed http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155443 Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, addressing the Forum on Financing for Development

The post Development Prospects for Hundreds of Millions Remain in Jeopardy appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed addresses the Economic and Social Council's third Financing for Development follow-up Forum. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

By Amina J. Mohammed
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 24 2018 (IPS)

The global economy is strengthening. A broad-based economic upturn has underpinned progress in many areas.

But significant weaknesses and medium-term risks in the world economy continue to challenge our efforts. As a result, the development prospects of hundreds of millions of people remain in jeopardy.

We need a comprehensive and systemic response to remain on track.

I see five areas for attention.

First, domestic resource mobilization is fundamental. National leadership, ownership and implementation lie at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.

Integrated national sustainable development strategies and financing frameworks can provide a long-term vision and platform to support domestic financing.

This is especially important in the context of much-needed infrastructure spending in developing countries.

Additionally, the international community needs to help fight tax evasion, money laundering and illicit financial flows which undermine domestic resource bases.

Second, development cooperation is critical to supporting SDG implementation.

Meeting commitments on Official Development Assistance (ODA) must be a priority.

Although ODA has increased in real terms, it has stagnated for countries where it is most needed.

Third, we need a global enabling environment that is supportive of long-term investment.

Short-termism is a persistent threat to successful poverty eradication efforts.

As we learned from the recent Inter-Agency Task Force report, most corporate executives say they would delay investments in projects with positive returns in order to hit quarterly earnings targets.

This mindset needs to change.

Fourth, the international community must find ways to speedily unlock resources and access to finance for countries with urgent needs, such as those affected by crises or disasters.

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season wrought havoc and destruction across the Caribbean and reversed the development course of affected countries.

These disasters underlined the need for a wide range of measures to support countries that face such challenges, including by financing climate change adaptation.

There are some innovative solutions being devised in this area – such as insurance-like mechanisms that can be supported where needed, or loans that reduce repayment during crises.

However, many of these are yet to be implemented or taken to scale. Resources also need to be more effectively targeted to sectors that are integral to achieving the SDGs.

For example, to achieve universal access to clean water and sanitation, we need to triple the amount spent to around $114 billion per year. This implies a major step-change in the scale of investments.

Similarly, on affordable and clean energy, impressive gains are being made as the price of renewables decline, but again, investment needs considerably exceed current spending.

Fifth, and finally, Governments and partners from the private sector must work more effectively to overcome current financing challenges.

We need to think innovatively about how to catalyze the growing interest and potential of private investment for the SDGs.

The United Nations system is committed to supporting Member States in their efforts to finance and implement the 2030 Agenda. In September, the Secretary-General will host a high-level meeting on finance.

The UN will support countries to broker partnerships, pursue innovative finance, leverage resources for sustainable development and build the necessary capacities.

We are working to improve coherence and effectiveness, with a special focus on delivering collective results on the ground. This is in line with the Secretary-General’s proposal for the repositioning the UN development system and is linked to his overall reform vision.

Over the next four days, I encourage you to consider the work of the Inter-Agency Task Force, share experiences and ideas, and seek out and forge partnerships that will keep us moving ahead.

I count on your continued commitment and leadership to invest in a better future for all.

The post Development Prospects for Hundreds of Millions Remain in Jeopardy appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, addressing the Forum on Financing for Development

The post Development Prospects for Hundreds of Millions Remain in Jeopardy appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/development-prospects-hundreds-millions-remain-jeopardy/feed/ 0
Illicit Trade in Oil & Fuel: an Emerging Global Policy Challengehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/illicit-trade-oil-fuel-emerging-global-policy-challenge/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=illicit-trade-oil-fuel-emerging-global-policy-challenge http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/illicit-trade-oil-fuel-emerging-global-policy-challenge/#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:02:06 +0000 Jeffrey Hardy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155440 Jeffrey Hardy is Director General, Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade*

The post Illicit Trade in Oil & Fuel: an Emerging Global Policy Challenge appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

There is a broad spectrum of potential avenues for the illegal skimming from or shifting of profits in developing countries, carried out by criminal entities, corrupt officials and dishonest corporations. Credit: epSos .de/cc by 2.0

By Jeffrey Hardy
NEW YORK, Apr 24 2018 (IPS)

Illicit trade in any of its forms—alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, diamonds, timber, ivory and oil—sits at the nexus of two social-economic disorders that challenge global stability.

Firstly, the global economy remains on unsteady footing, and governments are scrambling to stimulate growth, employment and investment in infrastructure and other public programs.

Secondly, the upswing in criminal activity and lawlessness—in some cases punctuated by terrorist acts—has left us all questioning our security for this generation and the next.

Illicit trade exacerbates both problems and presents governments with an immediate challenge to address their pervasive and significantly negative impacts on our economy and our civil society.

Economic Impacts Deriving from Illicit Trade in the Petroleum Sector

Every year, an estimated $133 billion of fuels are illegally stolen, adulterated, or defrauded from legitimate petroleum companies. Roughly 30% of Nigeria’s refined fuel products are smuggled into neighboring states and pipeline fuel theft in Mexico is at record levels.

This illegal activity creates an enormous drain on the global economy, crowds out billions from the legitimate economy and dislocates hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Equally significant are associated fiscal losses from tax evasion and subsidy abuses that deprive governments of revenues for vital public services and force higher burdens on taxpayers—especially in developing countries where petroleum industry royalties and tax payments finance development.

For example, Philippines loses $750 million annually in tax revenue from fuel adulteration and smuggling. Dakila Cua, Chairman of the Philippines House Committee on Ways & Means, told me that fuel smuggling is a vicious practice that deprives his country of precious revenues for investment in infrastructure. He confirmed that the problem is deeply embedded in the Philippine economy and throughout ASEAN economies. The value of the illegal fuel trade in Southeast Asia ranges from $2 to $10 billion a year.

Links to transnational Organised Crime and Terrorism

The links between illicit trade and organized crime are well established. The global economic value of oil and fuel theft ranks amongst the highest of transnational crimes. Research shows connections between oil theft and drug cartels in Mexico; insurgents and human traffickers in Thailand; human smugglers in Libya; terrorists in Ireland; militant groups in Nigeria; rebel movements in Mozambique, and of course, ISIS.

This activity significantly threatens national and regional stability, and creates significant deterrents for business investment, which thrives in stable, peaceful environments.

Notably, the criminal connection is not limited to oil and fuel theft. Transnational organized crime is involved in all forms of illicit trade, from human trafficking networks and tobacco smuggling, to the involvement of the Mafia and Camorra in the trade of counterfeit goods. Moreover, profits from one illegal activity are frequently used to finance a different type of illicit trade.

Illicit Trade and Environmental Degradation

Illicit trade in the petroleum sector perpetuates extensive ripple effects across global markets, including undercutting sustainable development and hastening environmental degradation. The process of illegal tapping, bunkering and ship transfers, for example, carry a higher probability for oil spills and blown pipelines, potentially causing significant damage to soil fertility, clean water supplies and marine life.

Consequently, fighting fuel fraud is a global responsibility, as well as a prerequisite for the achievement of the UN SDGs.

Solutions

Despite these severe negative effects, the global problem of oil and fuel theft so far has been largely unchecked and remains mostly hidden from international attention.

Any long-term solution will be dependent on sustained collaboration between governments and the private sector.

Business will contribute by continuing to develop technical solutions, such as fuel markers and GPS tracking. Modern fuel-marking programs allow governments to identify stolen or diverted fuel and reduce fuel losses, while delivering improved integrity in fuel supply chains, mitigating tax evasion and subsidy abuses, and plugging revenue drains.

Business also can share intelligence, data, resources and measures that effectively control this illicit activity. And Business is willing to work with partners to convene stakeholders, improve awareness, expand the knowledge base, and energize the global dialogue.

Governments, however, need to improve regulatory structures, set deterrent penalties, rationalize tax policies, strengthen capacity for more effective enforcement and educate consumers. This is a matter of urgency and government efforts to fight illicit trade should be considered investments that pay tangible dividends to economic development and global security.

The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (www.TRACIT.org) is responding to this challenge by leading business engagement with national governments and intergovernmental organizations to ensure that private sector experience is properly integrated into rules and regulations that will govern illicit trade.

Our specific engagement in the petroleum sector stems from the shared understanding that a united industry voice is required to track, report and stop fuel fraud – from extraction to production to distribution to consumers.

The geographic diversity and wide-ranging methods of oil and fuel theft and fraud require a comprehensive global approach to mitigating the problem. All stakeholders have an interest in stamping out illicit trade; and all benefit from collective action.

*The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) is an independent, business-led initiative to mitigate the economic and social damages of illicit trade by strengthening government enforcement mechanisms and integrating supply chain controls across industry sectors.

The post Illicit Trade in Oil & Fuel: an Emerging Global Policy Challenge appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Jeffrey Hardy is Director General, Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade*

The post Illicit Trade in Oil & Fuel: an Emerging Global Policy Challenge appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/illicit-trade-oil-fuel-emerging-global-policy-challenge/feed/ 0
India Pledges $50 Million More to UN Partnership Fundhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/india-pledges-50-million-un-partnership-fund/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=india-pledges-50-million-un-partnership-fund http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/india-pledges-50-million-un-partnership-fund/#respond Mon, 23 Apr 2018 11:59:32 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155412 At a time when funding for UN agencies is on the decline – and also threatened with cuts by the Trump administration—the Indian government has made an additional contribution of $50 million to development funding. At last week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced the launch of […]

The post India Pledges $50 Million More to UN Partnership Fund appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

UN office for south-south cooperation. Credit: UN Photo

By IPS World Desk
ROME, Apr 23 2018 (IPS)

At a time when funding for UN agencies is on the decline – and also threatened with cuts by the Trump administration—the Indian government has made an additional contribution of $50 million to development funding.

At last week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced the launch of a $50 million “Commonwealth window” to the India-UN Development Partnership Fund.

This contribution is in addition to $100 million pledged in 2017 for the India-UN Development Partnership Fund, thereby increasing India’s multi-year contribution to $150 million.

The India-UN Development Partnership Fund is managed by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

The new Commonwealth window aims to catalyze the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in developing countries of the Commonwealth.

The countries supported by this fund are located in various parts of the world and include some of the most vulnerable Member States of the Commonwealth.

Grenada, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu are the first three development partners engaged under this newly created Commonwealth window.

The India-UN Development Partnership Fund Commonwealth window supports demand-driven, country-owned, and concrete initiatives that focus on the implementation of 17 SDGs, according to the UNOSSC.

Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary of the UN said: “South-South cooperation is one of the world’s most important pathways to prosperity. I’m therefore delighted that India is demonstrating such strong leadership to helping others through the India-UN Development Partnership Fund. India’s commitment is also timely, as the world strives to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. India’s focus on multilateral action generates genuine hope that we can build a world where no one is left behind.”

Fekita Utoikaman, UN Under-Secretary General and the UNSG’s High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States said: “India’s leadership and dedication to improve the living conditions of people living in the countries that are most affected by poverty, hunger, and impacts of climate change, bring us closer to achieving the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. I am pleased to work together with India in advancing sustainable solutions in the countries of the Global south and in enhancing the opportunities for a prosperous and sustainable future for all.”

Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative of India to the UN said: “The establishment of a dedicated Commonwealth window of the India-UN Development Partnership Fund is a unique model of South-South development Cooperation. The Commonwealth membership is built on a shared past, respect for common values, broadly similar government structures, and institutions. We are, therefore, excited to initiate this partnership to contribute to our collective efforts to implement Sustainable Development Goals.”

Singling out India’s contribution, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner declared: “Over the past two decades, India has made huge economic strides and lifted millions out of poverty. It has shown itself again to be a leader in South-South cooperation with this new opportunity to support vulnerable countries in the Commonwealth, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and fulfill the central promise of Agenda 2030 to leave no one behind”.

“The Commonwealth Window of India-UN Development Fund is an admirable example of South-South cooperation,” said Jorge Chediek, Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation, and Director, UNOSSC. “UNOSSC is pleased and gratified to collaborate with the Government of India in bringing this initiative to fruition.”

The post India Pledges $50 Million More to UN Partnership Fund appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/india-pledges-50-million-un-partnership-fund/feed/ 0
Brexit Reopens Old Wounds in Northern Irelandhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/brexit-reopens-old-wounds-in-northern-ireland/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=brexit-reopens-old-wounds-in-northern-ireland http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/brexit-reopens-old-wounds-in-northern-ireland/#respond Mon, 16 Apr 2018 09:04:46 +0000 Erik Larsson http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155286 In less than 12 months, the United Kingdom will leave the EU. One of the hardest issues to solve is how to handle the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Border shop employees are particularly worried about what's going to happen with their jobs.

The post Brexit Reopens Old Wounds in Northern Ireland appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
The post Brexit Reopens Old Wounds in Northern Ireland appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

In less than 12 months, the United Kingdom will leave the EU. One of the hardest issues to solve is how to handle the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Border shop employees are particularly worried about what's going to happen with their jobs.

The post Brexit Reopens Old Wounds in Northern Ireland appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/brexit-reopens-old-wounds-in-northern-ireland/feed/ 0
Tunneling Through the Andes to Connect Argentina and Chilehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/tunneling-andes-connect-argentina-chile/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tunneling-andes-connect-argentina-chile http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/tunneling-andes-connect-argentina-chile/#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2018 03:14:26 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155260 Visionaries imagined it more than 80 years ago, as a way to strengthen the integration between Argentina and Chile. Today it is considered a regional need to boost trade flows between the two oceans. Work on a binational tunnel, a giant engineering project in the Andes, is about to begin. The tunnel will be built […]

The post Tunneling Through the Andes to Connect Argentina and Chile appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
View of the Agua Negra border crossing, which connects Argentina and Chile in the Andes mountain range. It is not suitable for trucks and is closed for a good part of the year, because it is 4,800 m above sea level and is often covered in snow. Credit: Courtesy of Rodrigo Iribarren

View of the Agua Negra border crossing, which connects Argentina and Chile in the Andes mountain range. It is not suitable for trucks and is closed for a good part of the year, because it is 4,800 m above sea level and is often covered in snow. Credit: Courtesy of Rodrigo Iribarren

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, Apr 13 2018 (IPS)

Visionaries imagined it more than 80 years ago, as a way to strengthen the integration between Argentina and Chile. Today it is considered a regional need to boost trade flows between the two oceans. Work on a binational tunnel, a giant engineering project in the Andes, is about to begin.

The tunnel will be built at more than 4,000 m above sea level, along the longest border in Latin America and one of the longest in the world. Argentina and Chile share more than 5,000 km of border in the majestic Andes mountain range, which has hindered but never impeded transit of people and merchandise.

In colonial times, products were transported by mule from one side of the Andes to the other.

By the end of this year or the beginning of next year, the allocation of the contract for the construction of the Agua Negra Pass will be announced. The tunnel will be built along the central area of the border, linking the Argentine province of San Juan with the Chilean region of Coquimbo.

The aim is to cut transit time and freight costs.

The cost has been set at 1.5 billion dollars and 23 companies from Argentina, Chile, China, France, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States, grouped in 10 consortia, expressed an interest in building the tunnel, and the envelopes were opened in May 2017.

During a special meeting in March, the Agua Negra Tunnel Binational Entity (Ebitan), created by the two governments, completed an evaulation of the background presented by the 10 consortia, and the next step will be to announce which ones may take part in the tender.

The tunnel will take about 10 years to build, and is presented as the largest road work project in Latin America.

“The tunnel will be key to easier traffic to and from the Pacific Ocean, which will give us access to the Asian market,” Maximiliano Mauvecin, a businessman based in Córdoba, the second largest city in Argentina, in the centre of the country, told IPS.

“For that reason, when the project seemed to be failing in 2014, we organised the Central Bi-oceanic Corridor Network, with members of the business community not only from Chile and Argentina, but also from Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay,” explained Mauvecin, director of the Forum of Business Entities of the Central Region of Argentina.

To that end, he explained, “we generated trade missions and business rounds, with which we sought to engage the interest of governments once again.”

Argentina and Chile have 26 border crossings, but most lack adequate infrastructure for truck traffic and are closed for long stretches of the year because of weather conditions, as is the case of Agua Negra.

Bumpy road

The Agua Negra tunnel project has had advances and setbacks.

Momentum seemed to surge in August 2009, during a summit of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), founded in 2004 as a regional forum for coordinating actions towards integrated development among the 12 countries of the region, which are home to a combined total of more than 400 million people.

On that occasion an understanding was reached to build the tunnel, signed by the then presidents of Argentina and Chile, Cristina Fernández (2007-2015) and Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010 and 2014- March 2018).

It was also signed by the then president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011), whose participation clearly reflected that it was a “regional integration project”, as the signatory governments described it.

The following year, the details of the initiative were formally shared at a summit of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) with the then presidents of Uruguay, José Mujica (2010-2015), and of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo (2008-2012), which along with Argentina and Brazil make up the bloc, of which Chile is an associate.

The binational tunnel will be a key part of the Porto Alegre-Coquimbo Central Bi-oceanic Corridor, between the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, and the Chilean port of Coquimbo, along more than 2,700 km of roads that are mainly paved already.

The Corridor crosses different provinces of central Argentina and can also be used by companies from other countries of the Atlantic Ocean basin keen on access to the Pacific Ocean.

In Chile there is so much anticipation for the arrival of goods to get into the Asian market, that at the beginning of this year a project was presented to upgrade and modernise the port of Coquimbo, to enable it to serve bigger ships, with an expected investment of 120 million dollars.

However, wine growers in the Elqui Valley, formerly known as the Coquimbo Valley, which is along the route after the Agua Negra Pass, have expressed concern about the increase in truck traffic that the tunnel will bring.

“There were always communication routes in the transverse valleys of the Andes mountain range. In the 19th century, cattle began to be brought in from San Juan and provinces of northern Argentina to Chile. And in 1932 or 1933, the government of Coquimbo asked an engineer to study the possibility of building a tunnel,” Chilean researcher Rodrigo Iribarren told IPS.

“Although it has a long history, it was not until the 1960s that it was opened as an international pass for vehicles,” added Iribarren, author of the book “Agua Negra; History of a Road” and head of the history museum of La Serena, the capital of Coquimbo, located on the Pacific coast about 470 km north of Santiago.

The pass was closed in 1978, when the dictators of Argentina, Jorge Videla (1976-1981), and Chile, Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), brought to a point of extreme tension a border conflict at the southern tip of the continent and were about to lead the two countries to war.

Although it was reopened in the 1990s, after the two countries had returned to democracy, it is not suitable for trucks and is closed much of the year, because traffic is blocked due to snow.

After the agreement between Fernandez, Bachelet and Lula, Ebitan was formed in 2010, and in 2013 23 companies expressed an interest in building the tunnel.

Financial solution

The funding problem was solved in April 2016, when the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced to the two governments that it would finance the project.

In October 2017, the regional credit agency approved an initial disbursement of 130 million dollars to Chile and 150 million to Argentina, within a credit line expandable to 1.5 billion dollars as the work progresses.

“The objective is to reduce, through the construction of this infrastructure, the transaction costs at the borders, to increase the competitiveness of the countries involved and promote the economic development of the region,” said José Luis Lupo, manager of the IDB’s department of Southern Cone countries.

According to Ebitan, the tunnel will shorten the border crossing by 40 km and three hours. It will also make it possible to keep the pass open year-round.

The road climbs today to 4,780 m, but the tunnel will begin at 4,085 m above sea level on the Argentine side and will descend to 3,620 m on the Chilean side.

There will be two completely separate passages, for the sake of safety, one running in each direction, with two 7.5-m wide lanes each. Of the 13.9 km tunnel, 72 percent will be in Argentina.

The post Tunneling Through the Andes to Connect Argentina and Chile appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/tunneling-andes-connect-argentina-chile/feed/ 1
The UN tells private enterprise leaders that “Business as Usual Won’t Work”.http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/un-tells-private-enterprise-leaders-business-usual-wont-work/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-tells-private-enterprise-leaders-business-usual-wont-work http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/un-tells-private-enterprise-leaders-business-usual-wont-work/#comments Wed, 11 Apr 2018 17:42:20 +0000 Will Higginbotham http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155241 As global citizens face an array of issues from unemployment to discrimination, affecting their livelihoods and potential, a UN agency called upon businesses to employ a new, sustainable, and inclusive model that benefits all. Business leaders from around the world convened at the United Nation’s 2018 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) partnership forum to hear […]

The post The UN tells private enterprise leaders that “Business as Usual Won’t Work”. appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
By Will Higginbotham
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 11 2018 (IPS)

As global citizens face an array of issues from unemployment to discrimination, affecting their livelihoods and potential, a UN agency called upon businesses to employ a new, sustainable, and inclusive model that benefits all.

2018 ECOSOC Partnership Forum. Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

Business leaders from around the world convened at the United Nation’s 2018 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) partnership forum to hear how the private sector can work with governments to improve global economic opportunities.

“The private sector is an indisputable partner in reducing global inequalities and improving employment opportunities for all” the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the audience.

Mohammed stressed that the private sectors contribution to development was essential if the world is to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

However, in order for this to happen Mohammed said that “business as usual simply won’t work.”

Instead, leaders were challenged to commit to align their business goals with the SDGs by investing in sustainable business models.

“I would also like to take the opportunity to challenge the business leaders present here today to make bold commitments to a more inclusive future for all,” said Marie Chatardova, president of the ECOSOC.

Chatardova reminded the leaders of the UN’s Business and Sustainable Development Commissions recent research that found that investment in sustainable models could create some $12 trillion dollars in economic opportunities by 2030.

“Investing in sustainable development goals – it’s a ‘win-win partnership,” she said.

Calling for Inclusion

Today, 192 million people are unemployed. Eight per cent of the global population live in poverty. There is a mounting youth unemployment crisis. Women, indigenous and disabled persons continue to face barriers to equitable and meaningful employment.

Attendees highlighted the importance of sustainable business models that prioritize diversity and inclusivity by getting women, youth, indigenous and disabled persons into the workforce.

In panel discussions, many business leaders spoke of their companies’ ongoing diversity programs.

Sara Enright, director of the Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC), pointed to Impact Sourcing – an example of inclusive business practice.

Impact sourcing, Ms Enright told the forum is: “when a company prioritises suppliers who are hiring and providing career development to people who otherwise have limited prospects of formal employment.”

The GISC is a global network of 40 business that include – Google, Microsoft, Aegis, and Bloomberg – that have committed to impact sourcing.

In March, GISC members were challenged to hire and provide training to over 100,000 new workers by 2020. Enright said so far ten companies have responded to the challenge, pledging to hire over 12,000 workers across Kenya, Nepal, Cambodia and the United States.

Enright said she expected many more companies to sign up and stressed that the GISC would monitor and measure the outcomes.

The UN applauded GISC’s work as an inspiring example of the private sector working collaboratively and inclusively to meet the SDGs vision.

Curb Your Corruption

Another issue that arose during the forum was corruption in development.

Last year global development funding reached $143 trillion dollars, of which the UN estimates that over 30 percent of funds failed to reach their intended destinations.

The UN told business leaders that if they commit to using technology that better tracks where money goes in development, then it will help curb corruption.

Bob Wigley, chairman of UK Finance, encouraged businesses to invest in technologies like ‘Block Chain’.

Block-chain, or Distributed Ledger Technology, is a digitized public record book of online transactions that was developed in 2008 with the rise of online currency ‘bitcoin’.

It is an entirely decentralized means of record keeping, meaning it is operated on a peer-to-peer basis rather than one central authority.

Wigley said the technology allows the direct tracking of online payments, ensuring that it is delivered correctly.

“If I was the recipient of state aid or wanting to know where my funds are going exactly then I’d be using block-chain systems, not the antiquated bookkeeping that gives rise to potential corruption every time a payment trickles from one set of hands to another,” he said.

“Think of how embracing and enhancing block chain technology could ensure accountability and transparency – things that are critical to meeting the SDGs,” Wigley continued.

A Race to the Top

Whilst many businesses are committing to the SDGs and implementing sustainable initiatives, more still needs to be done to unlock the full potential of the sector.

Kristine Cooper from United Kingdom insurance company Avia said it is a question of creating ‘competition’ between business by tracking them in their commitment and delivery.

“Lots of companies are doing great things in diversity and SDG commitments and how they do business to meet these goals, but it’s hard to know who’s doing really well, there is no consistency with reporting,” Cooper said.

“The system lacks the incentives to make right decisions and make organizations live up their responsibility.”

Ranking companies and holding them accountable, Cooper said, would create a “race to the top” and in the process, truly unleash “the power of the corporate and private sector in meeting development goals”.

Discussion points from this meeting will be further discussed in ECOSOC meetings held in May 2018, as well as at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2018.

The post The UN tells private enterprise leaders that “Business as Usual Won’t Work”. appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/un-tells-private-enterprise-leaders-business-usual-wont-work/feed/ 1
For Many Migrants, No Land Is Sweeter Than Homehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/many-migrants-no-land-sweeter-home/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=many-migrants-no-land-sweeter-home http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/many-migrants-no-land-sweeter-home/#respond Mon, 09 Apr 2018 05:36:01 +0000 Rafiqul Islam Sarker http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155200 Most migrants to Europe, Australia and the United States from Rangpur in northern Bangladesh leave home at a young age and return when they have just passed middle age. Intensely connected and immersed in family bonds and Bangladeshi cultural values, they tend to return to their birthplace despite obtaining citizenship from a second country. For […]

The post For Many Migrants, No Land Is Sweeter Than Home appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
The post For Many Migrants, No Land Is Sweeter Than Home appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/many-migrants-no-land-sweeter-home/feed/ 0