Inter Press ServiceGlobalisation – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Thu, 17 Jan 2019 16:51:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.8 A New Spectre is Haunting Europehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/new-spectre-haunting-europe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-spectre-haunting-europe http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/new-spectre-haunting-europe/#respond Thu, 17 Jan 2019 10:16:26 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159673 Roberto Savio is founder of IPS Inter Press Service and President Emeritus

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

By Roberto Savio
ROME, Jan 17 2019 (IPS)

After Theresa May’s defeat in the British parliament it is clear that a new spectre is haunting Europe. It is no longer the spectre of communism, which opens Marx’s Manifesto of 1848; it is the spectre of the failure of neoliberal globalisation, which reigned uncontested following the fall of the Berlin Wall, until the financial crisis of 2009.

Roberto Savio

Roberto Savio

In 2008, governments spent the astounding amount of 62 trillion dollars to save the financial system, and close to that amount in 2009 (see Britannica Book of the Year, 2017), According to a US Federal Reserve study, it cost each American 70,000 dollars.

Belatedly, economic institutions left macroeconomics, which were until then used to assess GNP growth and started to look at how growth was being redistributed. And the IMF and the World Bank, (also because of the prodding of civil society studies, foremost those of Oxfam), concluded that there was a huge problem in the rise of inequality.

Of course, if the 117 trillion dollars had gone to people, that money would have led to a jump in spending, an increase in manufacturing, services, schools, hospitals, research, etc. But people were totally absent from the priorities of the system.

Under the Matteo Renzi government in Italy, 20 billion dollars went to save four banks, while in the same year total subsidies for Italian youth could be calculated at best at 1 billion dollars.

Then after the crisis of 2008-9, all went haywire. In every country of Europe (except for Spain, which has now caught up), a populist right-wing party came to life, and the traditional political system started to crumble.

The new parties appealed to the losers of globalisation: workers whose factories has been delocalised for the cheapest possible place to maximise gains; small shop owners displaced by the arrival of supermarkets; those made redundant by new technologies, by Internet like secretaries; retired people whose pensions were frozen to reduce the national deficit (in the last 20 years public debts have doubled worldwide). A new divide built up, between those who rode the wave of globalisation and those who were its victim.

Obviously, the political system felt that it was accountable to the winners, and budgets were stacked in their favour. Priority went to towns, where over 63% of citizens now live. The losers were more concentrated in the rural world, where few investments were made in infrastructure. On the contrary, in the name of efficiency, many services were cut, railway stations closed, along with hospitals, schools and banks.

In order to reach work, people often had to go several kilometres from home by car. A modest increase in the cost of petrol fuelled the rebellion of the ‘yellow jackets’. It did not help that out of the 40 billion that the French government obtains from taxes on energy, less than one-quarter went back into transportation infrastructure and services.

Universities, hospital and other services in towns suffered much less, were points of excellence, public transportation was available, and a new divide arose between those in towns and those from the rural world, those with studies and education and those who were far away and atomised in the interior.

A new divide had come about, and people voted out the traditional party system, which ignored them. This device brought Trump to power and led to the victory of Brexit in the United Kingdom. This divide is wiping the traditional parties, and bringing back nationalism, xenophobia and populism. It is not bringing back the ideological right wing, but a gut right and left with little ideology …

All this should be obvious.

Now, for the first time, the system is turning its attention to the losers, but is too late. The left is paying the dramatic illusion of Tony Blair who, considering globalisation inevitable, decided that it would be possible to ride its wave. So, the left lost any contact with the victims, and kept the fight on human rights as its main identity and difference with the right.

That was good for towns, where gays and LGBTs, minorities (and majorities like women), could congregate, but it was hardly a priority for those of the interior.

Meanwhile, finance continued to grow, become a world by itself, no longer linked to industry and service, but to financial speculation. Politics became subservient. Governments lowered taxes on the who stashed the unbelievable amount of 62 trillion dollars in tax havens, according to the Tax Justice Network. The estimated yearly flow is 600 billion dollars, double the cost of the Millennium Goals of the United Nations.

And the Panama Papers, which revealed just a small number of the owners of accounts, identified at least 140 important politicians among them from 64 countries: the prime minister of Iceland (who was obliged to resign), Mauricio Macri of Argentina, President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, a bunch of close associates of Vladimir Putin, David Cameron’s father, the prime minister of Georgia, and so on.

No wonder that politicians have lost their shine, and are now considered corrupt, or useless, or both.

In the current economic order, Emmanuel Macron acted rationally by lowering the tax on the rich people to attract investments. But he totally ignored that for those French who have difficulty in reaching the end of the month, this was proof that they were being totally ignored. And sociologists agree that the real ‘Spring’ of the yellow jackets was their search for dignity.

Ironically, British parties, and especially the Conservative and Labour parties, should be thankful to the debate on Brexit. It is clear that the United Kingdom is committing suicide, in economic and strategic terms. With a ‘hard’ Brexit, without any agreement with the European Union, it could lose at least seven percent of its GDP.

But the divide which makes Brexit win with all towns, the City, the economic and financial sector, academics, intellectuals and all institutions has confirmed the fear of those of the interior. Belonging to the European Union was profitable for the elites, and not for them. Scotland voted against, because it has now a different agenda from England. And this divide is not going to change with a new referendum.

That the cradle of parliamentarian democracy, Westminster, is not able to reach a compromise is telling proof that the debate is not political but a clash of mythologies, like the idea of returning to the former British Empire. It is like Donald Trump’s idea of reopening coal mines. We look at a mythical past as our future. This is what led to the explosion of Vox in Spain, by those who believe that under Franco life was easier and cheaper, that there was no corruption, woman stayed in their place, and Spain was a united country, without separatists in Catalonia and the Basque Country. It is what Jair Bolsonari in Brazil is exploiting, presenting the military dictatorship at a time when violence was limited. Our future is the past …

So this divide – once in one way or another the United Kingdom solves its Brexit dilemma – will pass into normal politics, and will bring about a dramatic decline, like elsewhere, of the two main traditional parties. Unless, meanwhile, populist, xenophobe and nationalist parties take over government and show that they do not have the answer to the problems they have rightly identified.

In that sense, the Italian experience could be of significant help … look how the government has performed with the European Union.

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Excerpt:

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

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Gloom Ahead of World Economic Stormhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/gloom-ahead-world-economic-storm/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gloom-ahead-world-economic-storm http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/gloom-ahead-world-economic-storm/#respond Tue, 15 Jan 2019 07:50:43 +0000 Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159629 In light of the uncertainty caused by the US-China trade war, the IMF expects the US economic growth to slow from a three-year high of 2.9 per cent in 2018 to 2.5 per cent in 2019, while China’s expansion has already slowed in recent years, albeit from much higher levels. Trump stimulus dissipates US President […]

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By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY & KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 2019 (IPS)

In light of the uncertainty caused by the US-China trade war, the IMF expects the US economic growth to slow from a three-year high of 2.9 per cent in 2018 to 2.5 per cent in 2019, while China’s expansion has already slowed in recent years, albeit from much higher levels.

Trump stimulus dissipates
US President Trump and the previous GOP-controlled US Congress claimed to be breathing new life into the US economy with generous tax cuts. The US economy is now overheating, with inflation rising above target, causing the Federal Reserve to continue raising the federal funds rate to dampen demand.

Anis Chowdhury

As most families hardly gained from the tax changes, US purchases of houses and consumer durables continued to decline through 2018. Instead of investing in expanding productive capacity, US companies spent much of their tax savings on a $1.1 trillion stock buy-back spree in 2018.

Hence, the positive impacts of tax cuts were not only modest, but are also diminishing. Nearly half of 226 US chief financial officers recently surveyed believe that the US will go into recession by the end of 2019, with 82 per cent believing that it will have begun by the end of 2020. Wall Street’s biggest banks, JP Morgan and Bank of America, are also preparing for a slowdown in 2019.

As if to confirm their concerns, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 had their worst ever December performance since 1931, when stocks were battered after the Great Crash.

European recession
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank is expecting sluggish 1.7 per cent regional growth in 2019. Europe is close to recession with the collapse of industrial output in Germany, France, UK and Italy.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Germany’s industrial output fell by 1.9 per cent month-on-month in November 2018, and was in negative territory in 5 of the 6 months before December. Its GDP fell by 0.2 per cent in the 3rd quarter of 2018. France’s industrial production fell 1.3 per cent in November 2018, reversing a 1.3 per cent growth recovery in October from a 1.7 per cent decline in September. Italy, Europe’s third largest economy, recorded negative growth in the 3rd quarter of 2018 as GDP fell by 0.1 per cent in July-September 2018 with weaker domestic demand.

As the UK remains mired in its Brexit mess, GDP growth was dragged down to 0.3 per cent in the three months to November with the biggest industrial output contraction since 2012. 2018 final quarter growth is expected to be 0.1 per cent, i.e., negligible.

Not preparing for the inevitable?
David Lipton, the first deputy managing director of the IMF, warned in early January 2019, “The next recession is somewhere over the horizon, and we are less prepared to deal with that than we should be . . . [and] less prepared than in the last [crisis in 2008].”

Although the IMF had projected 3.7 per cent global economic growth for 2019 in October 2018, Lipton’s statement suggests that the IMF is likely to revise its 2019 growth forecast downward.

There have also been growing concerns over the continued efficacy of unconventional monetary policy since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis (GFC). Undoubtedly, countries now have less fiscal space than in 2009, and overall borrowing, including public debt has risen since.

Reaping what you sow
The policy blunders since the GFC have only made things much worse. The ideologically driven case for fiscal consolidation did not boost investor confidence for a robust recovery, as promised.

Despite acknowledging false claims cited to justify fiscal consolidation, including the IMF’s admission that its early advice was based on faulty calculations, there was no recommended change in policy course.

Instead, all responsibility for recovery was put on the monetary authorities who resorted to unconventional policies, especially ‘quantitative easing’ (QE). However, the global economic recovery since then has remained tepid and easily reversible.

Additional liquidity, made available by QE, has largely been used to buy financial assets and for speculation, amplifying the financial vulnerability of emerging market economies, which have experienced increased volatility.

Governments also failed to take advantage of historically low, even negative real interest rates to borrow and invest to boost productive capacity in the longer term.

By mainly benefiting financial asset holders, QE has exacerbated wealth concentration. Meanwhile, cuts in public services and social spending have worsened social polarization, as tax cuts for the rich have failed to generate promised additional investments and jobs growth.

The failure to achieve a robust recovery has not only worsened the debt situation, but also made lives harder for ordinary people. Growing polarization has also worsened resentments, eroding trust, undermining solidarity and progressive alternatives.

Ethno-populist jingoism undermines cooperation
But lack of preparedness can hardly be due to ignorance as there have been many such predictions recently, certainly more than in 2007-2008, before the GFC.

The cooperation that enabled co-ordinated actions to prevent the Great Recession from becoming a depression has not only waned, but major countries are now at loggerheads, preventing collective action.

National political environments are also more hostile. In Europe, the rise of ethno-populist nationalism is making it harder to pursue EU-level policies and to act together to prevent and mitigate the next financial crisis and downturn.

The “new sovereigntists” and false prophets of American exceptionalism are undermining multilateral cooperation when needed most. Thus, a recession in 2019 may well elevate geo-political tensions, exacerbating the negative feedback loop for a ‘perfect storm’.

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

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Time for a new Paradigmhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/time-new-paradigm/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=time-new-paradigm http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/time-new-paradigm/#respond Tue, 08 Jan 2019 10:42:40 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159534 Roberto Savio is founder of IPS Inter Press Service and President Emeritus

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

By Roberto Savio
ROME, Jan 8 2019 (IPS)

The person most qualified to write the foreword for the latest work by Riccardo Petrella, In the Name of Humanity, would actually be Pope Francis, who, using other words but speaking of values and making denouncements, has often argued what the reader will find in its pages.

I quote him, because words like “solidarity”, “equality”, “social justice” or “participation” – now used only by Pope Francis I – have now disappeared from today’s political vocabulary. I was called to this task because I have spent my life in favour of information that would give citizens the tools to be conscious actors. But the reason why from a “professional” I have become an “activist” in the campaign for world governance is precisely because I see information as directly responsible for the drift in which we find ourselves.

Roberto Savio

Riccardo Petrella is a central point of reference for those who have not yet given up on seeing the governance of globalisation in terms of values and ideals. Riccardo has behind him a long series of struggles for a different economy and has denounced the dangers of neoliberal globalisation from the outset.

We owe it to him if the theme of “commons” began to be debated, in particular that of water as a public good, at a time when the Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi was pushing for its privatisation.

He did so in an era – the period immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall – which today seems distant but which was of exceptional intellectual and political violence. Anyone who did not blindly adhere to the “single thought” introduced by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Treasury (the so-called Washington Consensus) was seen as either a nostalgist of the Soviet era or a dangerous subversive.

Petrella, with few other economists, had the strength to oppose the Washington Consensus, deriding the general inebriation which reached levels that today seem impossible. I still remember a conference held by IPALMO in May 1991 in Milan, where the then director general of the World Trade Organization, Renato Ruggiero, described the world as still blocked by the concept of nation or regional agreements (such as the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement) now overtaken by the course of history.

Globalisation was to have eliminated all frontiers, we were to have had a single currency, there were to be no more wars and the benefits of globalisation were to have rained down on all the citizens of the world, something that the theory of development and redistribution had failed to do. It took a generation of disappointed and marginalised people for the truth to become evident.

This book is the result of forty years of study, research, and social and academic engagement by Riccardo, gathered here in an organic way. It is a holistic engagement, with a humanist vision of the economy, of society and of the consequences of the crisis that dominates us.

Reading it, faced with the wealth of data and reflections it offers, the African proverb comes to mind: “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground”. But beyond the contents, what makes the book stimulating is that it communicates a moral engagement and a human empathy rare in this era of transition from a world that is unsustainable to one that is inevitable, but which we cannot yet see well. In his Letters from Prison, Antonio Gramsci wrote that “in the interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear”.

Petrella analyses these symptoms in a meticulous but clear way, and they are symptoms for which today’s politics and finance certainly have no answer. The book is an organic work, analysing each symptom on the basis of data and proposals, helping us to walk in the shadow evoked by Gramsci.

Finally we see that there are alternatives to the drift of a world of finance which – in the search for profit – comes into collision with the very productive economy of which it was only to have been a lubricant. And in turn politics, like the productive economy, is subject to the world of finance. Today, the production of goods and services, that is, the sphere in which men and women play a role, accounts for one-fortieth of financial transactions. Greed has led banks to engage in more and more criminal actions: since the Great Crisis of 2008, major banks have paid a total of 220 billion dollars in fines …

According to numerous historians, the course of history has been changed above all by two factors: Greed and Fear. After the fall of the Berlin Wall it even came to be said that history had ended, as Francis Fukuyama wrote, and that we were entering a post-ideological world.

The unification of the world into a single winning ideology, capitalism, was to have led to the end of clashes, in a united international reality dedicated to economic growth. What Fukuyama did not see is that capitalism without controls was to take the world back in time.

On this Petrella offers incontrovertible data and echoes Oxfam when it says that in 2020 social inequalities in Britain will be equal to those of the era of Queen Victoria, when an unknown German philosopher was writing some chapters of Das Kapital in the Reading Room of the British Museum … The statistics on inequality are known to all: in the last two decades, capital has become increasingly concentrated in a few hands and a large part of humanity sees its level of life, health and education decrease, to the point that the International Monetary Fund is even beginning to whisper that inequality is a brake on growth.

As for Fear, it took the Brexit to start seeing the rapidly growing nationalist, xenophobic and populist drift in European countries (and also in the United States with Donald Trump). Fear has transformed countries that once were a symbol of civic-mindedness and tolerance – like the Netherlands and the Nordic countries – into racist countries that even confiscate the few personal jewels of refugees (Denmark).

In just two years, the advance of the extreme right in Austria, France, Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary – until now considered a series of local coincidences – is finally creating a debate in traditional parties that have no concrete response to the causes of Fear.

Also because, as Petrella says, we are faced with a system that is a factory of poverty, which is not a natural phenomenon but a creation of the system itself. The challenges to be solved all derive from wrong answers.

Peace is being tackled with an increase in military engagement, the environment with ecological devastation, democracy with the privatisation of political power. Justice is witnessing an increase in injustice, the economy is in a financial and speculative drift, and the sense of life of citizens – who have lost the value of solidarity and accept the commodification of all that surrounds them – is crumbling. No concern is voiced that more is being spent per person on marketing in the world than on education …

The drift in which we find ourselves is affecting democracy, which has become a formal process, devoid of the conscious and active participation of citizens. In the Name of Humanity observes what should now be clear to all and is certainly not to the system in power: we are at a global impasse that no one, with the paradigms in place, is able to solve.

In an analytical but communicative way, this is the starting point for the list of Gramsci’s shadows: the lack of representation of humanity, the use of God, Nation and Money to transform into destroyers those who are still convinced of being constructors; and the data of the global impasse. Herein lies the importance of the book.

The analysis of the transitional era in which we find ourselves is roughly divided into two schools of thought. The first is that of those who believe that the current system is perhaps in crisis but that the answer may come from politicians – perhaps new ones – who, in every country, are able to give concrete and efficient answers with bold reforms. The second, and growing, school of thought argues that the current system is the cause of the problems to be solved and that without deep changes in vision and strategies the drift will continue.

This latter school of thought – which, moreover, is followed only by a small number of victims, many of whom are on the margins of society or are so frustrated as to take refuge in individual pessimism without hope – is a school strong in analysis and denunciation but poor in proposals.

And it is here that the book offers its own positive originality: an organic and holistic plan of proposals which invoke a pact for Humanity as the basis for the re-foundation of society. A re-foundation that declares poverty illegal, that leads to disarmament and the end of speculative finance … However, in order to achieve this re-foundation, it is necessary to return to talking about values and finding a consensus and world participation around them, because without common values it is not possible to build together and without a global response national or local actions serve little. This book, as well as being an analysis, is also a manual for action.

In this sense it is important that In the Name of Humanity sees the light in a moment of generational sacrifice. My generation, overwhelmed by Greed and Fear, by selfishness and the decline of politics, lives parameters of retirement and security that young people can only dream of.

The British referendum clearly demonstrated how the older generations are above all self-referential and feel no inter-generational responsibility. The elderly voted 65% for Brexit, deciding the future of young people, who were 75% in favour of Remain. This is the result of the absence of common values and the dramatic lack of policies for engaging young people, while those of fiscal rigour and priorities for the survival of the financial system abound – the most emblematic demonstration of current priorities.

To save banks from the 2008 crisis, it is estimated that so far the contribution to finance has amounted to eight trillion dollars. Youth policies do not exceed 500 million dollars.

It is no wonder that young people take refuge in a pessimistic individualism, creating their own communities only virtually on the Internet; that they lack representation and participation and, above all, for the first time in modern history, idols and points of reference.

Petrella’s book is an important instrument for young people because it transmits a message of hope that does not exist today. It is not inevitable that the world will continue like this. We have the instruments to change it. But to do that we have to go back to talking about values and going back to speaking with and understanding each other. In the Name of Humanity should be distributed free in schools …

Fifteen years have passed since the first meeting of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, where we – protagonists of different stories – gathered to denounce the unsustainability of neoliberal globalisation.

The scepticism and rejection that accompanied the WSF process have not prevented the Washington Consensus from today being just a discredited instrument of the past and the proponents of globalisation from admitting that the denunciations of the WSF had a real basis. As Petrella says, we can only emerge from the crisis with bold measures.

This book will be received as a utopia, or rather a chimera, by the beneficiaries of the current system. In 15 years time, it will be interesting to see how many will have been forced to admit that the analyses and the actions that Petrella proposes were not so far from the course of history.

Those who shoot at the stars can take heart from a Sri Lankan legend … there was a young boy who shot an arrow at the stars every night and was laughed at until one day the king organised an archery contest and that boy won because he was the one who shot furthest!

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

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Global Pact Gives Dignity and Rights to Latin American Migrantshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-pact-gives-dignity-rights-latin-american-migrants/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-pact-gives-dignity-rights-latin-american-migrants http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-pact-gives-dignity-rights-latin-american-migrants/#respond Thu, 20 Dec 2018 01:29:20 +0000 Orlando Milesi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159374 A landmark global migration pact provides dignity and rights to migrants in every situation and context, stressed representatives of non-governmental organisations in Latin America and the Caribbean, where some 30 million people live outside their countries, forced by economic, social, security, political and now also climatic reasons. Experts and migrants from the region lamented that […]

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Immigrants in Chile, which draws migrants from other countries in Latin America, celebrate the Fiesta of Cultures for a Dignified Migration waving flags from their countries at the emblematic Plaza de Armas in Santiago on Dec. 18, International Migrants Day. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

Immigrants in Chile, which draws migrants from other countries in Latin America, celebrate the Fiesta of Cultures for a Dignified Migration waving flags from their countries at the emblematic Plaza de Armas in Santiago on Dec. 18, International Migrants Day. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

By Orlando Milesi
SANTIAGO, Dec 20 2018 (IPS)

A landmark global migration pact provides dignity and rights to migrants in every situation and context, stressed representatives of non-governmental organisations in Latin America and the Caribbean, where some 30 million people live outside their countries, forced by economic, social, security, political and now also climatic reasons.

Experts and migrants from the region lamented that some countries are marginalising themselves from this multilateral and collaborative effort to solve a global problem by breaking with a pact that “establishes a minimum foundation for dialogue,” as Rodolfo Noriega of Peru, leader of the National Immigrant Coordinating committee in Chile that includes 72 organisations, told IPS.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was approved at a Dec. 10-11 intergovernmental conference in Marrakech, Morocco by 164 countries, which on Dec. 19 endorsed it in a vote at the United Nations in New York."There are places where the most urgent thing is for the migrant not to lose his or her life, or not to be persecuted, or not to be kidnapped by a trafficking network. There are other contexts in which the problem has to do with discrimination, access to opportunities, access to rights, one's value as a person and not being seen as just a number." -- Juan Pablo Ramacciotti

The right-wing governments of Chile and the Dominican Republic abstained from voting on the agreement, arguing that it does not protect the interests of their countries. This South American country is currently a destination for migrants from neighboring countries, and the Dominican Republic receives a major influx of people from Haiti, with which it shares the island of Hispaniola.

The non-binding agreement has 23 objectives and aims to “minimise the structural factors” that force mass exodus, while including measures against trafficking in persons and the separation of migrant families, and calling for international cooperation, as a first step towards establishing a common approach in a world in which one in 30 people is a migrant.

Juan Pablo Ramacciotti, an official with the Chilean Jesuit Migrant Service, told IPS that the agreement “recognises migrants as people who have dignity and rights in every situation and every context.”

The expert in Latin American migration recalled that currently in this region of 657 million inhabitants, the points of greatest need and crisis for migrants in the region are in the northern triangle of Central America and Venezuela.

In the first case, migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador cross Mexico in their attempt to reach the United States, and in the second, thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing a collapsing country and changing the situation in other South American countries.

“Today the caravan of 7,000 migrants (heading to the U.S. via Mexico) has made the headlines around the world, but it is a situation that is constantly repeated. There are caravans that may not be so massive, but they are permanently seeking to reach the United States. It’s a serious situation, a critical issue, where violations of rights and discrimination abound,” Ramacciotti said.

He added that the second problem arises from the economic and political crisis in Venezuela “because many people are leaving that country, presenting a humanitarian challenge, also because of the incorporation of Venezuelans in different countries, especially in South America.”

There are 258 million migrants around the world, and about 30 million of them are from Latin America and the Caribbean. The phenomenon of migration “has a diverse range of expressions that have placed the issue on the global agenda,” said Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Venezuelan immigrants, whose presence grew explosively in Chile as a result of the chaos in their country, successfully sell their products and typical foods in stalls in Vega Central, Santiago's main food market, which has become a meeting point for Venezuelans. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

Venezuelan immigrants, whose presence grew explosively in Chile as a result of the chaos in their country, successfully sell their products and typical foods in stalls in Vega Central, Santiago’s main food market, which has become a meeting point for Venezuelans. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

This U.N. agency was responsible for coordinating the Latin American position during the talks leading up to the pact. At its headquarters in Santiago, the first regional meeting to establish a common position was held in August 2017, which concluded with the demand that the agreement ratify the human right to free movement of persons.

In this region, migration increased mainly with the exodus from Central America to the United States. By 2015, 89 percent of Salvadoran migrants, 87 percent of Guatemalan migrants and 82 percent of Honduran migrants resided in the United States.

Bárcena has indicated that the pact “is a response by the international community to the challenges and opportunities posed by migration, in a global agenda. It is a historic instrument that constitutes an example of renewed multilateral interest.”

In the opinion of the senior U.N. official, the complexity of the phenomenon of migration in the region “has been growing, as revealed by the movements in Central America and the insufficient responses to the so-called mixed flows, including unaccompanied migrant children; emigration from Venezuela and the new realities faced by the receiving countries; and emigration from Haiti and the discrimination suffered by migrants from that country.”

“And as a corollary, the picture of contrasting realities expressed in the endless adversities faced by many migrants on their journeys,” Bárcena said.

Ramacciotti pointed out that migration is caused by situations of humanitarian crisis, political crisis, extreme poverty and war and that therefore it is very important “that we jointly take charge of a problem and a challenge that we all face.”

Juan Pablo Ramacciotti, an expert on migration in Latin America with the Chilean Catholic Jesuit Migrant Service, gives an interview to IPS in Santiago. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

Juan Pablo Ramacciotti, an expert on migration in Latin America with the Chilean Catholic Jesuit Migrant Service, gives an interview to IPS in Santiago. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), whose regional headquarters are also in Santiago, added two other ingredients driving people out of Latin American countries: climate change and the lack of opportunities in the countryside.

In Central America, for example, “The massive irregular migration we have seen in recent months is a direct consequence of food insecurity, climate crises, the erosion of the social fabric and the lack of economic opportunities in the rural villages and areas of these countries,” said Kostas Stamoulis, deputy director-general of FAO’s Economic and Social Development Department, earlier this month.

Because of the complexity of the phenomenon, “that migration is an issue that each country sees according to its own criteria, from the borders inward, is not a path that allows us to approach the phenomenon with a vision of the future or understanding that it is a problem that involves everyone: countries of origin, transit and destination,” Ramacciotti said.

He added that the fact that “we reached a pact in which we agree on major issues and which helps us move forward together is very good news for all.”

Noriega, for his part, criticised the non-binding nature of the pact and said that, furthermore, “the power and authority of the State is overvalued without giving a more explicit and full guarantee to the right to migrate.”

The pact means “having a minimum level of dialogue,” he said, but he criticised the reaffirmation of “the power of the State to decide who enters and who does not enter their countries and to decide what treatment irregular or regular immigrants should receive.”

He added that “a rather positive aspect is that it reaffirms principles that international law has already been asserting, such as, for example, that deportation should be a last resort in exceptional circumstances.”

With regard to the biggest threats to migrants, Ramacciotti said that depends on the context and the area in question.

“There are places where the most urgent thing is for the migrant not to lose his or her life, or not to be persecuted, or not to be kidnapped by a trafficking network. There are other contexts in which the problem has to do with discrimination, access to opportunities, access to rights, one’s value as a person and not being seen as just a number,” he explained.

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Global Anti-Human Trafficking Coalitionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 18:27:12 +0000 Vladimir Bozovic http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159316 Vladimir Bozovic is Advisor of Government of the Republic of Serbia

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Child labourers rescued in Delhi waiting to be sent back to their villages. Credit: Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

By Vladimir Bozovic
BELGRADE, Serbia, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

Entire human history is one great struggle for freedom. To many, slavery is a synonym for something in the past, for transatlantic slave trade, but, unfortunately, slavery still exists in many different forms.

Records show that over twenty seven million men, women and children still live today in conditions that characterized social form of the slave ownership. They are trapped in forced labor and debt bondage, in domicile work and forced marriages, or they are being exploited by the human traffickers. We can easily speak of slavery as of great tragedy, and the fact that in this day and age still exists, is a downfall of human kind.

Modern slavery is a challenge for every democratic country. Suffering is the same as in the past, but methods are more sophisticated and perfidious, and most of those who suffer are the ones that should be protected the most – poor and socially excluded groups, who often live on the margins of our society, and young women and children. This is not an imaginary problem, it does not happen only to someone else and somewhere else; rather, it is a real threat and anyone can fall victim to.

The very first challenge in fight against slavery must be a cognizance: we must confess a bitter truth that slavery has been weakened, but still exists. Human trafficking is one of the growing forms of transnational crime, characterized by high profit and low risk, and it is followed by a grave statistics. It is crime of economic nature, and most efficiently organized, and we are currently fighting it on inconsistent and fragmented way. That is the dark side of globalization.

The issue of modern slavery is globally recognized by the UN in its millennium goals. Goal 8 is dedicated to increasing labor productivity, reducing the unemployment rate, especially for young people, improving access to financial services and benefits, fight against modern slavery and child labor. So many activities around this particular global goal prove that we don’t live anymore in a selfish world where we don’t consider other nations and their problems. No, the world of todays opens up to the misery of others, and everybody everywhere has to be good, for us to feel good. Employed, productive populations, sustainable economic growth, decent jobs with equal opportunities for fair salaries, safe working environments, social protection, these are all values that will ensure the progress of the entire world, and the whole world will benefit from the creativity, business and innovation of the free people.

Plenty has been done in delivering the Goal 8. UN reports that the average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita worldwide increased, the number of children from 5 to 17 years of age who are working has declined, access to financial services through automated teller machines increased… Plenty has been done, but also plenty has to be done. Child labor remains a serious concern with more than half of child laborers participate in dangerous work and 59% of them work in the agricultural sector; labor productivity has slowed down, the global unemployment rate hasn’t changed from 2016, with women more likely to be unemployed than men across all age groups. Youth were almost three times as likely as adults to be unemployed… It is clear that efforts provide results, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

There was a time we thought that the slavery is forever beaten, only to come back to us in new forms and shapes. That is why the solution must be fresh and brave. The only final answer to this problem is for every country, every government, every agency to work together, to unite and create an Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition that will engage entire society in fight against this crime, and combine all our efforts in protecting our citizens. It should be understood that eradicating the human trafficking is not solely a mission for the police or law enforcement agencies, this is a fight at all levels of society. We should campaign through media with the message that will define the problem, and develop the clear strategy that will unite countries and governments, churches and religious organizations, NGOs, youth, academic communities, media and all other important representatives of the society in one efficient and effective action with clear mechanisms of measuring the results. Everything should be designed in the way that those results are realistic and visible to the present victims, and to provide prevention and protection for potential victims. Time has clearly shown us, that this is one thing we can’t beat alone, nationally, rather, it’s a nick of time to do it globally.

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Excerpt:

Vladimir Bozovic is Advisor of Government of the Republic of Serbia

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Taking Away the Ladderhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/taking-away-ladder/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=taking-away-ladder http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/taking-away-ladder/#comments Tue, 18 Dec 2018 13:18:36 +0000 Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159312 The notion of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and later, South Africa) was concocted by Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill. His 2001 acronym was initially seen as a timely, if not belated acknowledgement of the rise of the South. But if one takes China out of the BRICS, one is left with little more than […]

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By Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury
KUALA LUMPUR & SYDNEY, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

The notion of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and later, South Africa) was concocted by Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill. His 2001 acronym was initially seen as a timely, if not belated acknowledgement of the rise of the South.

But if one takes China out of the BRICS, one is left with little more than RIBS. While the RIBS have undoubtedly grown in recent decades, their expansion has been quite uneven and much more modest than China’s, while the post-Soviet Russian economy contracted by half during Boris Yeltsin’s first three years of ‘shock therapy’ during 1992-1994.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Unsurprisingly, Goldman Sachs quietly shut down its BRICS investment fund in October 2015 after years of losses, marking “the end of an era”, according to Bloomberg.

Growth spurts in South America’s southern cone and sub-Saharan Africa lasted over a decade until the Saudi-induced commodity price collapse from 2014. But the recently celebrated rise of the South and developing country convergence with the OECD has largely remained an East Asian story.

Preventing emulation
Increasingly, that has involved China’s and South Korea’s continued ascendance after Japan’s financial ‘big bang’ and ensuing stagnation three decades ago. They have progressed and grown rapidly for extended periods precisely because they have not followed rules set by the advanced economies.

Industrial policy — involving state owned enterprises (SOEs), technology transfer agreements, government procurement, strict terms for foreign direct investment and other developmental interventions — was condemned by the Washington Consensus, promoting liberalization, privatization and deregulation favouring large transnational corporations.

Anis Chowdhury

Well-managed SOEs, government procurement practices and effective protection conditional on export promotion accelerated structural transformation. When foreign corporations were allowed to invest, they were typically required to transfer technology to the host economy.

Countries have only progressed by using industrial policy judiciously when sufficient policy space was available, as was the norm in most developed countries. But such successful development practices have been denied to most developing countries in recent decades. Instead, the North now emphasizes the dangers of industrial policy, subsidies, SOEs and technology transfer agreements, to justify precluding their use by others.

Blocking the alternative
Instead, corporate-led globalization continues to be sold as the way to develop and progress.
Some advocates insist that global value chain participation will provide handsome opportunities for sustained economic development despite the evidence to the contrary.

Major OECD economies appear intent on tightening international rules to further reduce developing countries’ policy space under the pretext of reforming the multilateral trading system in order to save it.

Trump and other challenges to this neoliberal narrative do not offer any better options for the South. Nevertheless, their nationalist and chauvinist rhetoric has undermined the pious claims and very legitimacy of their neoliberal ‘globalist’ rivals on the Right.

Infrastructure finance
UNCTAD’s 2018 Trade and Development Report emphasizes the link between infrastructure and industrialization. It argues that successful industrialization since 19th century England has crucially depended on public infrastructure. Infrastructure investment is thus considered crucial for economic growth and structural transformation.

The ascendance of the neoliberal Washington Consensus agenda has not only undermined public interventions generally, but also state revenue and spending in particular, especially in the developing world. But even the World Bank now admits that it had wrongly discouraged infrastructure financing, which it now advocates.

Most Western controlled international financial institutions have recently advocated public-private partnerships to finance, manage and implement infrastructure projects. The presumption is that only the private sector has the expertise and capacity to be efficient and profitable. In practice, states borrowed and bore most of the risk, e.g., of contingent liabilities, while private partners reaped much profit, often with state guaranteed revenues.

Unexpected policy space
Infrastructure, including both its construction and financing, has been central, not only to China’s own progress, but also to its international development cooperation. China’s financial redeployment of its massive current account surplus has created an alternative to traditional sources of investment finance, both private and public.

The availability of Chinese infrastructure finance on preferential or concessionary terms has been enthusiastically taken up, not least by countries long starved of investible resources. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in over-investments in some infrastructure, resulting in underutilization and poor returns to investment.

The resulting debt burdens and related problems have been well publicized, if not exaggerated by critics with different motivations. Now threatened by China’s rise, Western governments and Japan have suddenly found additional resources to offer similar concessionary financing for their own infrastructure firms.

Thus, not unlike the US-Soviet Cold War, the perceived new threat from China has created a new bipolar rivalry. That has inadvertently created policy space and concessions reminiscent of the post-Second World War ‘Golden Age’ for Keynesian and development economics.

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“No to the pact of Marrakech!”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/no-pact-marrakech/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=no-pact-marrakech http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/no-pact-marrakech/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 15:50:56 +0000 Houda Hasswane http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159173 At the same time more than 160 countries adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), on the streets of Marrakech pro-migration groups and activists gathered in the city centre to chant: “No to the pact of Marrakech!” The historic Compact has found itself caught between a rock and a hard place: […]

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By Houda Hasswane
MARRAKECH, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

At the same time more than 160 countries adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), on the streets of Marrakech pro-migration groups and activists gathered in the city centre to chant: “No to the pact of Marrakech!”

The historic Compact has found itself caught between a rock and a hard place: It has been criticised by nationalists and those arguing for stronger borders on one side, and by human rights and migrant activists on the other.

The protest in Marrakech brought together people from the National Federation of the Agricultural Sector, the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, the Maghreb Coordination of Human Rights Organisations and the Platform of Associations and sub-Saharan communities in Morocco among other movements and communities.

 

 

The Compact, protestors say, does not represent a change in anti-migration policies, or in the current offensive against migrants and refugees by many countries in the northern hemisphere.

“The pact is a setback in terms of human rights, protection of migrants and their families as provided for in international conventions already approved by the United Nations and other institutions,” says Camara Alpha, general secretary of Platform of Associations and Sub-Saharan Communities in Morocco.

Protestors say they want to see a new global pact of solidarity for the rights of migrants, one which will guarantee the inalienable right to free movement of all people, by promoting regional and international cooperation, and public policies protecting migrants.

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70 Years since the Universal Declaration on Human Rights – Hope Against Hopehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/70-years-since-universal-declaration-human-rights-hope-hope/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=70-years-since-universal-declaration-human-rights-hope-hope http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/70-years-since-universal-declaration-human-rights-hope-hope/#comments Mon, 10 Dec 2018 09:41:01 +0000 Prince Al Hassan bin Talal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159109 “Save the Children estimates that 84,701 children under five have died in Yemen from untreated cases of severe acute malnutrition between April 2015 and October 2018.” “The grim analysis of United Nations data comes as intense fighting has again erupted in Yemen’s strategic port city of Hodeidah.” Meanwhile, the UN considers Yemen the world’s biggest […]

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By HRH Prince Al Hassan bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
GENEVA, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

“Save the Children estimates that 84,701 children under five have died in Yemen from untreated cases of severe acute malnutrition between April 2015 and October 2018.”

“The grim analysis of United Nations data comes as intense fighting has again erupted in Yemen’s strategic port city of Hodeidah.”

Meanwhile, the UN considers Yemen the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis and warns that without an end to the fighting, the country, in which more than half the population is already at risk of famine, faces the worst famine in decades.

Such have been the headlines day after day since the start of the war in Yemen in 2015. The tragedy is that statistics, coupled with the sensationalism of news, swiftly lose their impact. We become inured to the human catastrophe unfolding before our eyes as we turn the pages of our newspapers or flick channels on our television sets in search of something less distressing (OR less demanding).

This year sees the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, proclaimed in Paris by the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th December 1948. Following the unmitigated horrors of the Second World War, it was a milestone in the history of human rights. Yet, seventy years on, the river of human history continues to be poisoned by injustice, starvation, displacement, fear, instability, uncertainties and politicised sectarian and ethnic divisions.

Today it seems we are moving further away from the concept of Universal rights, in favour of my rights, even if at the expense of yours (although the other may be you yourself), with a callous disregard for the Declaration’s two key ethical considerations: a commitment to the inherent dignity of every human being and a commitment to non-discrimination.

The schisms in the world today have become so numerous, the inequities so stark, that a universal respect for human dignity is something that must be brought back to the consciousness of the international community.

Recognition of religion and individual cultural identities are a crucial part of the mix. Unlike citizenship – the legal membership of a sovereign state or nation, identity encompasses the totality of how one construes oneself, including those dimensions that express continuity with past ancestry and future aspirations, and implies affinity with certain groups and the recognition of common ties. In brief, it demands the recognition of the totality of the self, of one’s human dignity, irrespective of background, ethnicity or financial clout. A call to be empowered to fulfil one’s potential, without kowtowing to a social construct or relinquishing any part of one’s heritage.

We need to be proactive in addressing the growing global hunger for human dignity for it goes to the very heart of human identity and the polarity / plurality divide, and without it, all the protections of the various legal human rights mechanisms become meaningless.

We have gone from a world of symmetries and political and military blocs, to a situation of fearful asymmetries and violent, armed non-state actors.

The polarity of hatred among people is corrosive, not only in the Mashreq/Levant, but across the globe. The retrenchment into smaller and smaller identities is one of the most striking paradoxes of globalisation. Binary fallacies lead nations to dead ends; to zero sum games.

Cross border themes of today, water, energy and human dignity, must be discussed at a regional level, as a creative common, rather than country by country. The neglect of these themes has meant that the West Asia area has become a breeding ground for rogue and extremist actors. The complex dynamics among the three greatest forces shaping our planet – man, nature, technology – require a whole new outlook. Yet there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

In drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, its proponents [OR the drafting committee] sought to underpin a shared ideal, a common standard for all peoples and all nations, a code of conduct of rights and responsibilities if you will.

I should like to pay tribute to my late mother-in-law, the Begum Shaista Ikramullah. When she, the first Muslim Indian (as she then was) woman to gain a PhD from the University of London, working in 1948 with Eleanor Roosevelt on the Declaration of Human Rights and Convention Against Genocide, declared:

It is imperative that there be an accepted code of civilized behaviour.

Adding later:

The ideas emphasized in the [Declaration] are far from being realized, but there is a goal which those who believe in the freedom of the human spirit can try to reach.

To date we have fallen far short. Nonetheless the UDHR, not only provided the first step towards the creation of the International Bill of Human Rights (completed 1966, came into effect 1976), but gave rise to numerous conventions and international agreements which should give us cause for hope. I would like to mention but a few.

Of personal interest is the 1948 Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which was worked on and signed by the late Begum Ikramullah. She strongly supported the work of Professor Raphael Lemkin who lost 24 members of his family in the Holocaust. Raphael Lemkin defined genocide as “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves“.

Some years later, the Helsinki Final Act (1975) “provided a basis for creating conditions favourable to peace in Europe and made human rights a common value to be respected by all nations in a world which was divided into East and West camps in that period”. It gave rise to the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, a non-governmental organisation of people in Europe, dedicated to the promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms, peace, democracy and pluralism and to our own Middle East Citizens’ Assembly.

More recently I had the honour to serve on the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, whose fundamental purpose was to empower those living in poverty through increased protections and rights – thereby addressing simultaneously, exclusion, loss of dignity, and the link between poverty and lack of access to the law.

The basic premise of its report (published in 2008) was that the law should work for everyone, and included as a key underpinning, state/governmental investment in the conditions of labour.

Despite these positive steps, the three main challenges identified by the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues (ICIHI): man against man, man against nature and man-made disasters, summarised in the title of our report: Winning the Human Race? continue to prevail (OR there is much much more to be done.)

In a world where nearly one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution, and where 85% of the worlds’ displaced are being hosted by developing countries, ill-equipped to do so, of which Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Jordan and Lebanon are in the forefront and in which 15% of all mankind live in areas somewhat euphemistically described as ‘fragile states’, the moral lobby that is still strong across the world must act in cohesion. Together we must ensure that equal citizenship rights and human dignity are at the forefront of all development efforts. Further that the shift towards viewing human dignity as an individual, and not collective attribute, is realised.

This means placing human welfare firmly and definitively, at the centre of national and international policy-making.

We continue to hear of a security order or an economic order, neither of which have succeeded in creating a Universal order from which all of humanity benefits. In the face of this disharmonious logic, it is time for an humanitarian order based on the moral and ethical participation of the peoples of the world, as well as an intimate understanding of human nature.

We have, in the reports mentioned above and in other projects, a well-honed tool box of critical issues and agendas which should form the multi-stakeholder platform of our commitment to the universal ideals we all cherish. As with the UDHR, these reports are a clarion call to action – it is up to us to ensure they also represent a continuation of imaginative thinking for a universally beneficial creative process.

It is time to take off the blinkers of thinking only of ourselves – of our tribe and of our nation against all others – and consider how much can be achieved by drawing on the whole pool of our talents and resources to address common concerns on the basis of our shared humanity. We need an inclusive approach to meeting challenges, one that accounts for both the natural and the human environment. Only thus can we attain the desired organic unity between man and nature and the ethics of universal responsibility. This may sound idealistic; it is, but whether we are talking about water scarcity, food security, poverty, education, the ability for everyone to fulfil their potential, we need to focus on human dignity both in its ontological dimension by virtue of our very humanity and in its operative dimension as enhanced by our self-accomplishment.

We were not put on this earth to go forth and multiply, desecrate and destroy, but to bring life as well as hope for future generations.

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Why Bother about World War Ihttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/bother-world-war/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bother-world-war http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/bother-world-war/#comments Wed, 05 Dec 2018 06:59:20 +0000 Jan Lundius http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159033 Why do we still need to be concerned about a war that ended a hundred years ago? Sure, it caused the death of at least 37 million people, but why bother about that now? Anyhow France´s president Emmanuel Macron believed it was worthwhile to commemorate the end of World War I and seventy world leaders […]

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By Jan Lundius
Stockholm/Rome, Dec 5 2018 (IPS)

Why do we still need to be concerned about a war that ended a hundred years ago? Sure, it caused the death of at least 37 million people, but why bother about that now? Anyhow France´s president Emmanuel Macron believed it was worthwhile to commemorate the end of World War I and seventy world leaders were invited to attend the centennial ceremony by Paris´s Arc de Triomphe.

In pouring rain Macron delivered a speech in which he reminded the gathered leaders that “old demons” were once again emerging all over the world, threatening peace and global co-operation. A common theme for these forces is Nationalism. We all know what that is all about – an intense form of loyalty to one’s country, or to what is often labelled as “our people”, exaggerating the value and importance of our own nation, placing its interests above those of other countries.

In his speech Macron declared that: “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism, which in fact is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying ´our interests first; who cares about the others?´, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great, and what makes it essential — its moral values.” Upholding moral values requires listening to others, efforts to co-operate and understand one another. We have to accept that the fate of all humans is intertwined and “giving into the fascination for withdrawal, isolationism, violence and domination would be a grave error” for which future generations will hold us all accountable.

Listening to this speech was the US President Donald Trump, a leader who once tweeted about Kim Jong Un: “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” and who is supporting Saudi Arabia´s devastating war in Yemen. Present was also Russia´s president, Vladimir Putin, whose regime supports a long-winding war in the Ukrainian Donetsk Oblast and bombed civilian targets in Syria. Trump, who like Putin proudly has ¬declared himself a nationalist, sat stony-faced during Macron´s speech, but smiled broadly as he exchanged a handshake with Putin, who flashed him a thumbs-up sign.

Like any other statesman Trump also gives speeches, maybe not as eloquent as Macrons´, but nevertheless quite forceful:

      You know what a globalist is, right? You know what a globalist is? A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And you know what? We can’t have that.

Why bother about all this? What is the use of remembering World War I? The reasons to this overwhelming affliction were manifold; political, territorial and economic. However, the main cause of the disaster was the growth of nationalism and imperialism, fuelled by a breakdown of the European power balance. The crumbling of the Austro-Hungary and Ottoman Empires. The unification of Italy and Germany, combined with a grave intoxication of nationalism, which appeared to have poisoned every European nation.

A case in point was England, with an anthem that declared Rule, Brittania, Britons never, never will be slaves and where the press constantly warned about German, Russian or French aggression, as well as the Yellow Peril and the danger of losing admirable hereditary genetic characteristics due to the influx of and mixing with “inferior races”. Such “invasion literature” depicted the Germans as cold, cruel and calculating. Russians were described as uncultured barbarians. The French were above all leisure-seeking nonentities, while the Chinese were murderous, opium-smoking savages and Africans childish and underdeveloped.

Germans sang Deutschland, Deutschland über alles. Über alles in der Welt, Germany, Germany above all. Above all in the world and celebrated German culture as humanity´s most perfect creation, protected and backed up by a splendid Prussian war machine. In Russia, more than 80 ethnic groups were forced to speak Russian, worship the tsar and practice the Russian Orthodox religion. Africa, the Middle East and Asia were being “carved up” and economically exploited by European powers, while people of almost every ethnic European group were convinced that they, their nation, or the one they aspired to create, occupied or would be destined to obtain a position of cultural, economic and military supremacy. With provocative remarks and high-flown rhetoric, politicians, diplomats, authors and journalists contributed to this divisive and eventually destructive mind set.

The result? Millions of dead, wounded, bereaved, bewildered and starving people all over the world. Did humanity learn anything? Twenty years after the armistice a great part of the world was plunged into the abyss of another devastating war, even worse than the first one. And now? Have we learned anything? What are we doing now? We are once again listening to the siren song of nationalists. Please – let us take warning from what has happened before and pay attention to other tunes:

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Gone to graveyards, everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
                                     (Pete Seeger & Joe Hickerson)

Jan Lundius holds a PhD. on History of Religion from Lund University and has served as a development expert, researcher and advisor at SIDA, UNESCO, FAO and other international organisations.

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African Countries Deserve an Enhanced Climate Ambitionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/african-countries-deserve-enhanced-climate-ambition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=african-countries-deserve-enhanced-climate-ambition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/african-countries-deserve-enhanced-climate-ambition/#respond Tue, 04 Dec 2018 14:07:23 +0000 Robert Muthami http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159021 Robert Muthami is a Programme Coordinator at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Kenya Office. He coordinates work around socio-ecological transformation

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Credit: Benny Jackson on Unsplash

By Robert Muthami
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 4 2018 (IPS)

African countries have been at the climate-change negotiating table for more than 20 years. The continent faces some of the most severe impacts of climate change, but questions remain over its adaptive capacity despite this engagement.

African civil society organizations, trade unions and governments have advocated for three main means of implementation: climate finance for adaptation and mitigation; technology transfer; and capacity building.

The latter is aimed at facilitating and enhancing the ability of individuals, organizations and institutions in African countries to identify, plan and implement ways to adapt and mitigate to climate change. African countries are participating in the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention Climate Change (UNFCCC) currently taking place in Katowice, Poland from 2 to 14 December.

Through the Paris Work Programme (PAWP) expected to be adopted in Poland, African countries expect that COP 24 will deliver on the continent’s expectations with regards to facilitating climate resilience.

Climate finance for adaptation and mitigation
Climate change is impacting all economies in Africa, a continent highly dependent on agriculture. The impact is increasing the already high inequality, as resources meant for investment in social amenities are being channelled into climate-change adaptation.

In this case, due to climate change related disasters like droughts and flooding, there is an adverse impact on agricultural production—namely food insecurity. Therefore, resources meant to provide other services like universal and affordable health care, expansion of infrastructure and other social services for the poor are channelled to climate change response initiatives.

Panel Discussion for Kenyan Delegation Reflecting on the Progress of Agenda Items after UNFCCC-SB48. Credit: FES Kenya

During the COP 16, the world’s developed countries agreed to mobilize 100 billion US dollars per year by the year 2020 for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. This is still a pipe dream as only 10 billion US dollars have been mobilized so far since the establishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in 2006 to date.

Additionally, African countries continue to face difficulties in accessing the funds as they are on a perpetual treadmill of paperwork to even qualify to receive any of the funds earmarked for them. Is imperative of global social justice that this funding be fast-tracked.

As countries head to Poland, African nations approach the negotiations with the hope that issues dealing with transparency and accountability on climate financing will be made clearer and smoother.

Otherwise, African countries will be obliged to divert more domestic resources to meeting their commitments under their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), which could affect other development priorities.

If promised international funding is not forthcoming and the shortfall needs to be made up from scarce domestic resources, this can mean these resources are no longer available at national level for example for social protection measures or food security. The decision in Poland should therefore be clear on provision, transparency and accountability of climate financing.

Technology transfer and capacity building
Many adaptation and mitigation solutions will require technology as well as financing, for the purposes of innovation and upscaling across various sectors. Technology transfer, therefore, is critical for African countries.

One of the concerns for African countries is the sheer lack of capacity to implement new technologies for climate-change responses. But Africa has the potential to also transfer technology to the north if the existing low carbon technologies that incorporate the already existing indigenous knowledge of African countries are expanded.

Therefore, a provision for reverse transfer from South to North with regard to technology should also be provided. At the moment the discussion is being handled as North–South transfer only.

Robert Muthami engaging Kenyan Participants during the Post UNFCCC-SB48 Reflection Workshop. Credit: FES Kenya

Africa is also cautious of becoming a testing ground for new technologies. Therefore, technologies from the north should be tried and tested before being transferred to Africa—for example short-lived solar panel technologies that end up being very expensive in the long run—a key issue that needs to be part of the discussions at COP 24.

Finally, the means of implementation, especially climate finance and capacity building on uptake and implementation, are critical for technology transfer to work in Africa.

Climate change needs to be tackled on a global level and in a just manner
The climate-change crisis is now being felt in developed countries. As Europe and America battle wildfires amid massive heat waves over the past year, the impact in Africa is felt even stronger.

The increasing frequency of droughts and flooding, and consequently increased risk of violent conflict in already volatile regions, present a major threat to livelihoods on the African continent. Looking ahead to Poland, it is the hope of African countries that these impacts will be reflected in the outcome document.

Lastly, as parties move towards operationalization of the Paris Agreement, it is important to ensure that the commitments towards promoting decent work and a just transition are properly articulated in the Paris Work Programme.

This is key because climate change is already having significant impacts on the world of work in Africa. Over 60 per cent of Africa’s economically active population works in and lives off the agricultural sector, which is adversely affected by climate change.

The transition to low-carbon economies offers great potential for green jobs creation, in areas such as the renewable-energy sector. This transition process however means that current existing jobs that do not offer sustainable production methods will be at a risk. It is important to ensure that this transition happens in a socially just and inclusive manner.

Therefore, a socially and ecologically just outcome from COP 24 must take into consideration the African demands on the means of implementation (climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building) for adaptation and mitigation as well as the necessity of a just transition.

This outcome should also facilitate the realization of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially goals 8, 10 and 13, which focus on promoting decent work, addressing inequality and climate action.

*For more information on the work by FES in Kenya visit the country office website and follow the official Facebook fan page.

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Excerpt:

Robert Muthami is a Programme Coordinator at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Kenya Office. He coordinates work around socio-ecological transformation

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Migrants Send Record Amounts to Home Countries, but Overall Poverty Pertainshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/migrants-send-record-amounts-home-countries-overall-poverty-pertains/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migrants-send-record-amounts-home-countries-overall-poverty-pertains http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/migrants-send-record-amounts-home-countries-overall-poverty-pertains/#respond Fri, 30 Nov 2018 14:24:32 +0000 Daan Bauwens http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158957 At the end of this year, migrants will have sent 466 billion dollars to family and friends in their countries of origin. Despite this record amount these remittances have little to no effect on the dire economic state of affairs in those home countries. Earlier this week in Brussels, a group of experts convened to […]

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In the popular municipality of Estación Central, in Santiago de Chile, a Haitian hairdresser has established a barber shop where Creole is spoken and the nationals are served. At the end of this year, migrants will have sent 466 billion dollars to family and friends in their countries of origin. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

By Daan Bauwens
BRUSSELS, Nov 30 2018 (IPS)

At the end of this year, migrants will have sent 466 billion dollars to family and friends in their countries of origin. Despite this record amount these remittances have little to no effect on the dire economic state of affairs in those home countries. Earlier this week in Brussels, a group of experts convened to think of ways to make the sent money work in a way that benefits more than just a few lucky families. 

Though relatively stable as a percentage of the world population, there have never been more migrants than today. Out of the one billion people that moved away from their places of birth, some 258 million have found a place abroad while 760 million remained within their own states. Despite it being a heated political debate in the global North, only one third of all international migration is directed from South to North. The overall majority, some 100 million people, move between states in the global South.

These numbers were presented by Laura Palatini, Belgium and Luxemburg’s mission chief for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Palatini was the first of five speakers on an international conference, organised by IOM, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), several Brussels municipalities and local and international NGOs at the Brussels Parliament this Tuesday.

These one billion migrants each year send home approximately 466 billion dollars. “It is said that if remittances would be country, it would have the right to claim its seat in the G20,” says Valéry Paternotte of Réseau Financité, a Belgian network of organisations for ethical finance, “It is three times the annual budget of development aid world-wide.”

But according to Paternotte, the numbers need a closer look. “In Belgium for instance, 38 percent of all remittances are destined to neighbour France and 4 percent for Luxembourg while Senegal, Congo, Rwanda and Bangladesh together account for less than one percent.” Then again, the estimate of 466 billion is most probably an underestimation, as not all countries are being taken into account, second and third generations are not included, nor are informal remittances – migrants travelling with envelopes, small transfer agencies and possible other unknown practices of sending money home.

Nevertheless the 6.4 billion flowing annually into Morocco is just as important for the economy as the entire phosphate sector or tourism. The nine billion dollars sent to Congo by members of the diaspora accounts for twice the country’s annual budget. Remittances are an indispensable source of income for 750 million people worldwide. Research in 71 developing countries indicates that a 10 percent rise in remittances leads to a 3.5 percent drop in the number of people living with less than one dollar a day.

Researchers on the topic agree that remittances are a stable source of income for developing countries that are not affected by economic shocks or cycles of regression and growth. Moreover, they are the first form of help that reaches regions affected by natural disasters or epidemics. This became most evident with the last ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and the recent earthquake in Nepal.

But as of yet, the money flow doesn’t lead to structural changes in the countries of origins whose economies remain in a dire state. “The first obstacle is that the money received is spent, not invested in the local economy,” says Paternotte, “and this is understandable. In the world’s least developed countries less than a quarter of adults have access to a bank account. The received money is kept under the mattress. That is a very practical but very important barrier to saving and investing in the local economy.”

Traditional banks seem not to be interested in putting up branches in developing areas, let alone rural zones in those developing areas, the expert explains. “Moreover, social projects – schools, hospitals, cooperative farms – aren’t invested in due to poor returns. That is a characteristic of the system and not very different in our own country,” the Belgian national says.

Besides that, lots of migrant communities lack financial literacy, which together with cultural factors leads to inefficiency. Pedro de Vasconcelos, manager of the Financing Facility for Remittances at IFAD in Rome, gives the example of a Filipino community in Italy.

“We found out that they couldn’t say no when someone called for money,” he says, “it’s in their culture. It was a revelation for many of them when we told them that you can refuse when there’s not a good reason. Then we began to save. Two hundred out of every thousand euros, which is a lot. With all these savings we started investing in rural areas around their home town which used to be an agricultural area but now had become an importer of food. From three farms for laying hens we quickly went to five. On Facebook, the diaspora followed everything that happened in the homeland.”

Several of the investors in Italy moved back after the project turned out a success. “Because they see that there are possibilities there. That work can be created. The Philippine government is now looking at how this project can be scaled, to achieve real economic growth through the Diaspora.”

De Vasconcelos’ example shows that remittances can play a role in reversing or even stemming migration. But according to agronomist Jean-Jacques Schul of the Belgian NGO, IDAY International, an important factor should not be overlooked: the involvement of the local government.

“Remittances carry a risk,” Schul says, “because thanks to the money from abroad, the government does not have to listen to its citizens. They can survive without the government’s support. And without a government that listens to its citizens, nobody sees a future in their own country. Which makes them leave. It is a vicious circle. ”

The solution? When it comes to any kind of transfers of funds to the South, civil society and the government must be encouraged to start a constructive dialogue.

“Provide a policy in which remittances, or at least a part of those, serve to start up projects together with the government. If development aid is made available, make sure that citizens’ movements can check where that money is going. That is hardly the case now. Only with collaboration between citizens’ movements and the government will sustainable change occur. Nobel Prize winners Amartya Sen and Angus Deaton have been proclaiming this for years, why don’t we listen?”

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Multilateralism Undermined by Globalization’s Discontentshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/multilateralism-undermined-globalizations-discontents/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=multilateralism-undermined-globalizations-discontents http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/multilateralism-undermined-globalizations-discontents/#comments Wed, 28 Nov 2018 06:17:05 +0000 Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158915 On 24 October 1945, the world’s most inclusive multilateral institution, the United Nations, was born to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, … reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, … establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and […]

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By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 2018 (IPS)

On 24 October 1945, the world’s most inclusive multilateral institution, the United Nations, was born to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, … reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, … establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom” (UN Charter: Preamble).

Thus, one major purpose of the UN is to foster international cooperation to resolve the world’s socio-economic problems and to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms (UN Charter: Article 1.3).

Anis Chowdhury

Hence, all Members are obliged to “refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” (Article 1.4), and to give the UN “every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with [its] Charter” (Article 1.5).

For many, however, the world today is increasingly at odds with the ideals of the UN Charter. Wars and conflicts are causing unprecedented humanitarian crises, worsened by rising intolerance and xenophobia.

Important international organizations and treaties are being threatened by unilateral withdrawals, non-payment of dues, virtual vetoes and threats of worse. Meanwhile, bilateral and plurilateral trade and other agreements are undermining crucial features of the post-Second World War order.

Little incentive to cooperate
Before the opening of the General Debate of the UN General Assembly, Secretary-General António Guterres warned that “multilateralism is under attack from many different directions precisely when we need it most.”

Pundits have identified many causes such as the proliferation of multilateral institutions, often with overlapping mandates, undermining one another, sometimes inadvertently, but nonetheless effectively. Institutional resistance to reform has also frequently made them unfit for purpose.

While design of the post-war order at Bretton Woods, Yalta and San Francisco envisaged a post-colonial multilateral order, it was not long before new arrangements for hegemony, if not outright dominance prevailed as the old imperial powers reluctantly retreated from their colonies, often with privileges largely intact.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Without Roosevelt, the World War Two Allies were soon engaged in a bipolar ‘Cold War’, demanding the loyalty of others. By the 1960s, many ‘emerging countries’ sought national political and policy space through ‘non-alignment’ and the emerging bloc of developing countries called the Group of 77 (G77).

Profitable globalization
By the 1980s, the Thatcher-Reagan-led ‘neoliberal’ counter-revolution against Keynesian and development economics seized upon Soviet economic decline under Brezhnev to strengthen private corporate interests, by extending property rights, privatization, liberalization and globalization.

The new patterns of international economic specialization saw significant industrialization and growth, especially where governments pro-actively made the most of the new opportunities available to them, especially in East and South Asia.

Much of the new prosperity in the North was neither inclusive nor shared, resulting in new economic polarization unseen since the 1920s. Much of this was easily blamed on the ‘other’, with immigrants and cheap foreign imports blamed for stealing good jobs.

Meanwhile, a new generation of social democrats in the West embraced much of the neo-liberal agenda, even rejecting Keynesian counter-cyclical fiscal policies after failing to check the libertarian revolt against progressive taxation.

Successful in achieving their political ambitions, the ‘new social democrats’ offered a culturally alien, new ‘identity politics’ as ideological surrogate. This, in turn, later served to fuel the reactionary ascendance of ‘ethno-populism’ by the ‘new right’.

Thus, neoliberalism’s triumph – with enhanced corporate prerogatives, privatization, economic liberalization and globalization, in the embrace of Western social democratic leaders’ abandonment of their own purported class base – led to corporatist populist reactions, reminiscent of earlier fascist resurgences.

International solidarity undermined
Narrow reactionary ethno-nationalisms are rarely conducive to international cooperation, often depicted as a variant of their ostensible enemy – (neoliberal) globalism! This has not only weakened international solidarity, but also undermined multilateral engagement, let alone cooperation.

Roosevelt’s protracted leadership of the ascendant post-WW2 US and recognition of the urgent need to transcend the limited imperialist multilateralism of the League of Nations were crucial. Thus, despite its limitations, the UN system met the need for an inclusive post-colonial multilateralism after WW2.

Ironically, the ongoing undermining of multilateralism, especially with the rise of US ‘sovereigntism’ after the end of the Cold War, has gained new momentum as backlashes to globalization and its pitfalls have spread from developing countries to transition economies and declining industrial powers.

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Amidst Rising Hunger, BCFN Forum to Promote Food Sustainabilityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/amidst-rising-hunger-bcfn-forum-promote-food-sustainability/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=amidst-rising-hunger-bcfn-forum-promote-food-sustainability http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/amidst-rising-hunger-bcfn-forum-promote-food-sustainability/#respond Mon, 26 Nov 2018 07:33:30 +0000 Stella Paul http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158858 As 2018 nears its end, the world faces a new wave of food insecurity with the level of hunger being on the rise globally. A record 821 million people are facing chronic food deprivation – a sharp rise from 804 million figure in 2016 – said a report published by the UNFAO earlier this year. […]

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An organic farmer in his sustainable farm in Paro, Bhutan. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

By Stella Paul
MILAN, Italy, Nov 26 2018 (IPS)

As 2018 nears its end, the world faces a new wave of food insecurity with the level of hunger being on the rise globally. A record 821 million people are facing chronic food deprivation – a sharp rise from 804 million figure in 2016 – said a report published by the UNFAO earlier this year. Along with rising hunger, food security has declined across Africa and South America while undernourishment is on the rise again in Asia, said the report which attributed the changing scenario to climate-related changes, adverse economic conditions and conflict. With this alarming picture as the backdrop, the 9th Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) International Forum on Food and Nutrition in Milan is all set to take off on November 27.

A Diverse, Promising Platform

Founded with the aim to “provide an open space for interdisciplinary discussion on issues of nutrition and sustainability,” the annual 2 day BCFN forum has always drawn food and nutrition experts, policy makers, media leaders and civil society. With a long line of speakers from governments, academia, business, research and media organizations, this year’s forum also appears promising where participants and followers can expect rich and diverse opinions, stories, and ideas, especially on sustainable food –which is the core focus area at this year’s forum. There is also a long list of topics being discussed that include hunger and obesity, optimum use of natural resources, reducing food waste, promoting sustainable diets, and the effects of climate change.

SDGs, Collaborative Food Action in Focus

The 2-day event is co-hosted by BCFN, in joint collaboration with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN), and is designed to have three sessions. The first session focused on understanding the three paradoxes of food: An obese planet dying of hunger; competition for natural resource among people, animals, and cars; and food loss and food waste. Session two is focused on the role of agriculture, nutrition, and food in migration and development while the third and fine session focuses on solutions towards a sustainable urban food system.

A prawn farmer selling his produce in Can Tho of Vietnam. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

The Forum also will present the publication Food and Cities, a joint initiative between BCFN and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) which highlights effective food policies of various European Cities.

It is estimated that over 50 per cent of the world’s population today live in cities – a number expected to rise to 80% by 2050. If such trend continues undeterred, current food systems cannot meet the growing demand with sustainable development, especially since high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming directly affects food production. Also, rising demand for food will require more water and land which will be in shortage due to raising of animals, grazing and cultivation of fodder.

The MUFPP which has 180 signatory cities worldwide, is an excellent example of collaborative action taken by cities to deal with the food security issues of tomorrow. The BCFN will, therefore, be a window to this global food action.

Food Sustainability and Role of Media

A salient feature of the forum has been its strong focus on the role of media in highlighting food and nutrition issues and also helping create a model for food sustainability, especially in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For the second year on, the forum is hosting the Food Sustainability Media Award – an international contest that recognizes journalistic excellence in reporting on food from a different perspective and turning the spotlight on food sustainability. Apart from this, the pool of speakers also has a number of leading voices from media who will share their experiences of covering food and nutrition issues, throwing light on the biggest challenges faced by the global communities as well as the solutions that are working on the ground.

The full agenda of the event can be accessed here

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The Blue Economy for the Blue Planethttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/blue-economy-blue-planet/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=blue-economy-blue-planet http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/blue-economy-blue-planet/#respond Tue, 20 Nov 2018 20:00:27 +0000 Cameron Diver http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158759 Cameron Diver is the Deputy Director-General of the Pacific Community (SPC).

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Sea level rise threatens Raolo island in the Solomon Islands. The ongoing negative effects of climate change, inadequate agricultural, industrial and household waste management, to name but a few, all threaten and undermine the promise of the Blue Economy. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS.

By Cameron Diver
NEW CALEDONIA, Nov 20 2018 (IPS)

We live on a “blue planet” where water covers around 75 percent of the Earth’s surface. Without water we would simply not survive as a species. As we strive to find pathways to and take action for inclusive sustainable development, we must ensure that our ocean, our seas, rivers, lakes, waterways and wetlands, together with their invaluable biodiversity, are preserved, sustainably used and integrated into development programming.

Above all, we should understand, value and harness these natural pillars of the Blue Economy as answers to many development challenges, as solutions to help us achieve the ambition of the Paris Agreement, deliver a new deal for nature and people, and reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Blue Economy has enormous potential as a driver of economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection, but it is also faced with immense challenges.

The ongoing negative effects of climate change, inadequate agricultural, industrial and household waste management, plastic and chemical pollution, corruption and lack of robust water governance mechanisms, the alarming rate of biodiversity loss in global ecosystems and sometimes wilful ignorance of scientific evidence and advice, to name but a few, all threaten and undermine the promise of the Blue Economy.

There are inspiring examples worldwide of action to clean up waterways, restore habitat and create clean environments for economic and recreational activities. But you don’t have to be a wealthy developed country to share the same ambition or achieve similar outcomes.

Here are just a few examples from the Pacific region, whose large ocean/small island states are taking up the challenge, all the while dealing with the immediate impact of climate change, natural disasters and the very real tyranny of distance.

The Pacific Islands are uniquely vulnerable to the environmental impacts of maritime transport due to their reliance on shipping and the fact that many ports in island contexts are located both in the main urban area and in fragile coastal ecosystems like lagoons.

Through programmes like our Green Pacific Port initiative my organisation, the Pacific Community, is helping its Member States address these issues through improved efforts to increase port energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint, and enhanced environmental management including marine pollution and waste management.

In the tiny archipelago of Wallis and Futuna, the issue of used oils, batteries and saturated landfill was prioritised by local authorities due to its potential repercussions on the quality of the aquifer, lagoon and coastal water, and of course marine biodiversity.

Working alongside local communities and decision makers, our teams contributed to developing multiple measures to remove hazardous waste from the islands. A viable export business was set up to process this type of waste and, on the island of Futuna, the landfill was closed and underwent site remediation.

In the agriculture sector Pacific Island countries are also tackling threats to soil quality, plant life and water resources. In Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Samoa we are helping develop and implement innovative approaches using soft chemicals and biocides to target specific pests and diseases without affecting other forms of biodiversity and significantly lessening the environmental impact.

Alongside other partners, the Pacific Community contributed to the 2018 Pacific Marine Climate Change Report Card. The Report Card provides an easy to access summary of climate change impacts on coasts and seas in the Pacific region.

It also highlights the critical nexus between the ocean and climate change and underscores the significant threat that deteriorating marine and coastal biodiversity would present for livelihoods, health, culture, wellbeing and infrastructure.

It also proposes are range of responses Pacific Islands can adopt such as: building resilience to unavoidable climate change impacts on coral reefs, mangroves and seas grass by reducing non-climate threats and introducing protected areas; working with communities to diversify fisheries livelihoods and restore and preserve fish habitats; optimising the sustainable economic benefits from tuna through regional management.

For the large ocean/small island States of the Pacific region the ocean is at the heart of their identity: “We are the sea, we are the ocean, we must wake up to this ancient truth”. Through the Blue Pacific narrative, Oceania’s Leaders seek to harness the potential of Pacific peoples’ shared stewardship of the Pacific Ocean based on an explicit recognition of their shared ocean identity, ocean geography, and ocean resources.

The Blue Economy must therefore contribute to the Blue Pacific identity and help fulfil a higher ambition for regionalism and sustainable development based first and foremost on the deep-rooted bond between the peoples of the Pacific, the land, the ocean and biodiversity.

In this context, the Pacific Community and our partners provide scientific and technical expertise and advice for evidence-based policy making and sustainable solutions tailored to the needs of the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories. Globally, as in the Pacific, we must ensure that the Blue Economy is more than a slogan, more than a concept encouraging sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth.

It must become a concrete reality where decisions are informed by science and the best available evidence. We must use the Blue Economy so that nature and the environment are not sacrificed for short-term political or economic gain but leveraged for long-term sustainable growth and development.

We must truly transform the promise of the Blue Economy from the page and the conference hall to tangible and integrated climate action, ocean action and biodiversity action to guarantee a sustainable future for our planet and, as a consequence, ourselves.

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Excerpt:

Cameron Diver is the Deputy Director-General of the Pacific Community (SPC).

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Lessons for the ‘Rest’ from ersatz miracleshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/lessons-rest-ersatz-miracles/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lessons-rest-ersatz-miracles http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/lessons-rest-ersatz-miracles/#comments Tue, 06 Nov 2018 11:35:21 +0000 Jomo Kwame Sundaram http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158544 Of the ten fastest growing economies since 1960, eight are in East Asia. Two main competing explanations claimed to explain this regional concentration of catch up growth since the late 20th century, often referred to as the East Asian miracle. The dominant ‘neo-liberal’ Washington Consensus, sought to establish minimalist ‘night-watchman’ state, attributed this exceptional regional […]

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By Jomo Kwame Sundaram
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Nov 6 2018 (IPS)

Of the ten fastest growing economies since 1960, eight are in East Asia. Two main competing explanations claimed to explain this regional concentration of catch up growth since the late 20th century, often referred to as the East Asian miracle.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

The dominant ‘neo-liberal’ Washington Consensus, sought to establish minimalist ‘night-watchman’ state, attributed this exceptional regional performance to macroeconomic stability, public goods provision, and openness to trade and investment.

Meanwhile, more heterodox economists focused on the need for states to adopt pragmatic, experimental ‘trial and error’, selective approaches to overcome market and coordination failures in order to accelerate growth, especially through industrialization.

In this view, the developmental states of Northeast Asia used their ‘embedded autonomy’ viz a viz the private sector to accelerate technological catch-up and achieve rapid growth. But what then is to be learnt from the more modest and mixed progress in Southeast Asia?

Southeast Asia and the ‘Rest’
The conventional wisdom about Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand (MIT), is that states there lacked the strength, autonomy and embeddedness viz a viz the private sector to successfully adopt Northeast Asian development strategies.

Selective interventions in MIT were said to be subject to too much rent-seeking and corruption, which were widely believed to have slowed growth elsewhere. But this view does not quite fit the facts, i.e., sustained rapid growth in MIT.

Michael Rock’s Dictators, Democrats and Development in Southeast Asia shows how weaker and less autonomous states in MIT, subject to corruption and rent-seeking, successfully achieved rapid growth by pursuing unorthodox interventionist policies.

MIT undoubtedly looks much more like the Rest than Northeast Asia. They are resource rich, but have avoided the ‘resource curse’. They have high levels of ethnic heterogeneity, but have avoided related growth tragedies.

Like the Rest, they have poorer governance—weaker and less competent states, with less autonomy from the private sector, more corruption and rent-seeking. Yet, they have avoided the growth slowdowns and lost decades experienced by many of the Rest.

Nation building first?
So, how did MIT succeed while the Rest did not? Economic take-offs in MIT were preceded by rentier capitalist political elites gaining state control and pragmatically implementing industrial development strategies.

The successes were certainly not primarily about free trade, laissez faire, or being FDI friendly and export-oriented. They were also not easy, took time, and encountered political resistance, instability and violence.

Development did not emerge on the political agenda until elites needed to protect their conservative ‘nation-building’ projects. To consolidate power, they recognized that development and growth were in their long-term political interest.

The inability of political elites to successfully complete their nation-building projects is therefore crucial to understanding ‘failed states’. Such conservative nation-building projects were typically led by ‘centre right’ coalitions composed of monarchies, the military, police, bureaucracy and business elite.

The losers were the Left and popular groups, among others. With the defeat of the Left and histories of openness to foreign trade and investment, elites forged pro-growth political coalitions enabling an open capitalist, but nonetheless interventionist growth strategy to work.

Pragmatic development
This development strategy was more pragmatic than ideological, and rooted in essentially ‘experimental’, ‘muddling through’ and ‘trial and error’ approaches. Thus, even though these were ‘open economies’, the governments were not dogmatic ‘free traders’.

As MIT governments used both markets and states to sustain growth, development policies were certainly not laissez faire, even though they were capitalist, with states far more interventionist than mere night-watchmen.

MIT states sought to promote domestic capitalists to compete in the global economy. Such promotion of rentier business elites was reciprocated with ‘kickbacks’ for political elites to secure political support.

The fact that MIT growth was primarily driven by domestic, not foreign investment, has important implications for development policy. MIT’s favoured capitalists generally responded by substantially increasing the investment to GDP ratio.

MIT growth was thus investment, rather than export-led. The shares of manufactures in GDP and exports are larger than expected while export concentration indices are less than believed, suggesting that selective industrial policies worked, albeit unevenly.

Policy context
This strategy has influenced the size distribution of firms as a small number of very large conglomerates dominate—government-patronized ethnic Chinese conglomerates which dominate the MIT economies and, exceptionally, Malaysia’s ‘government-linked companies’.

This political economy ‘ecosystem’ could have failed if MIT governments were not developmentalist, or if the elites were too greedy, or if the private sector did not invest, or if there were no checks or balances.

Ruling political elites in MIT have been opportunistically or pragmatically nationalistic despite quasi-neoliberal rhetoric to the contrary. They pursued economic development as necessary for regime consolidation, national power and achieving their goals.

Catching-up?
Many observers correctly argue that MIT economies have not been consistently good at catching-up, which is only to be expected from experimenting. Nevertheless, their industrial policies have been effective in upgrading some firms and industries.

There is evidence of learning in aircraft, wood processing and automotive industries in Indonesia, and of substantial learning in palm oil processing and electronics in Malaysia, and agro-processing, cement, automotive parts, and component supplies in Thailand.

MIT governments and capitalists also learned from setbacks and failures without necessarily admitting to them, e.g., when governments took too much, or when government incentives failed, and policies had adverse consequences, even if unintended.

Sustaining growth, industrialization and technological progress remain preconditions for continuing income increases. Yet, all three now seem caught in so-called ‘middle income traps’. Escaping these traps will depend on the governing elites’ understanding of past progress.

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Brazilians Decide on a Shift to the Right at Any Costhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/brazilians-decided-shift-right-cost/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=brazilians-decided-shift-right-cost http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/brazilians-decided-shift-right-cost/#respond Mon, 29 Oct 2018 23:27:39 +0000 Mario Osava http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158429 Voters in Brazil ignored threats to democracy and opted for radical political change, with a shift to the extreme right, with ties to the military, as is always the case in this South American country. Jair Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old former army captain, was elected as Brazil’s 42nd president with 55.13 percent of the vote in […]

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Supporters of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro celebrate his triumph in the early hours of Oct. 29, in front of the former captain's residence on the west side of Rio de Janeiro. The far-right candidate garnered 55.13 percent of the vote and will begin his four-year presidency on Jan. 1, 2019. Credit: Fernando Frazão/Agencia Brasil

Supporters of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro celebrate his triumph in the early hours of Oct. 29, in front of the former captain's residence on the west side of Rio de Janeiro. The far-right candidate garnered 55.13 percent of the vote and will begin his four-year presidency on Jan. 1, 2019. Credit: Fernando Frazão/Agencia Brasil

By Mario Osava
RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 29 2018 (IPS)

Voters in Brazil ignored threats to democracy and opted for radical political change, with a shift to the extreme right, with ties to the military, as is always the case in this South American country.

Jair Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old former army captain, was elected as Brazil’s 42nd president with 55.13 percent of the vote in Sunday’s runoff election, heading up a group of retired generals, such as his vice president, Hamilton Mourão, and others earmarked as future cabinet ministers. He takes office on Jan. 1.

His triumph caused an unexpected political earthquake, decimating traditional parties and leaders.

The Bolsonaro effect prompted a broad renovation of parliament, with the election of many new legislators with military, police, and religious ties, and right-wing activists.

His formerly minuscule Social Liberal Party (PSL) is now the second largest force in the Chamber of Deputies, with 52 representatives. The country’s most populous and wealthiest states, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, elected PSL allies as governors, two of whom had no political experience.

Brazil thus forms part of a global rise of the right, which in some countries has led to the election of authoritarian governments, such as in the Philippines, Turkey, Hungary and Poland, or even the United States under Donald Trump.

Bolsonaro’s chances of taking his place in the right-wing wave only became clear on the eve of the first round of elections, on Oct. 7.

Little was expected of the candidate of such a tiny party, which did not even have a share of the national air time that the electoral system awards to the main parties. His political career consists of 27 years as an obscure congressman, known only for his diatribes and outspoken prejudices against women, blacks, indigenous people, sexual minorities and the poor.

But since the previous presidential elections in 2014, Bolsonaro had traveled this vast country and used the Internet to prepare his candidacy.

Early this year, polls awarded him about 10 percent of the voting intention, which almost doubled in August, when the election campaign officially began.

That growth did not worry his possible opponents, who preferred him as the easiest adversary to defeat in a second round, if no candidate obtained an absolute majority in the first. The idea was that he would come up against heavy resistance to an extreme right-wing candidate who has shown anti-democratic tendencies.

Fernando Haddad, the candidate of the leftist Workers Party, promised his supporters, after his defeat in the Oct. 28 elections, that as an opposition leader he would fight for civil, political and social rights in the face of Brazil's future extreme right-wing government. Credit: Paulo Pinto/Public Photos

Fernando Haddad, the candidate of the leftist Workers Party, promised his supporters, after his defeat in the Oct. 28 elections, that as an opposition leader he would fight for civil, political and social rights in the face of Brazil’s future extreme right-wing government. Credit: Paulo Pinto/Public Photos

But this was no ordinary election. The poll favorite was former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011), whom the leftist Workers’ Party (PT) insisted on running, even though he had been in prison on corruption charges since April, and was only replaced on Sept. 11 by Fernando Haddad, a former minister of education and former mayor of São Paulo.

Five days earlier, Bolsonaro had been stabbed in the stomach by a lone assailant during a campaign rally in Juiz de Fora, 180 km from Rio de Janeiro.

The attack may have been decisive to his triumph, by giving him a great deal of publicity and turning him into a victim, observers say. It also allowed him to avoid debates with other candidates, which could have revealed his weaknesses and contradictions.

But two surgeries, 23 days in a hospital and then being confined to his home, due to a temporary colostomy, prevented him from participating in election rallies. So the social media-savvy candidate focused on the Internet and social networks, which turned out to be his strongest weapon.

The massive use of WhatsApp to attack Haddad aroused suspicions that businessmen were financing “fake news” websites, thus violating electoral laws, as reported by the newspaper Folha de São Paulo on Oct. 18. The electoral justice system has launched an investigation.

The recently concluded campaign in Brazil triggered a debate about the role of this free instant messaging network and “fake news” in influencing the elections.

The social networks were decisive for Bolsonaro, who started from scratch, with practically no party, no financial resources, and no support from the traditional media. The mobilisation of followers was “spontaneous,” according to the candidate.

Brazil, the largest and most populous country in Latin America, with 208 million people, is one of the five countries in the world with the most social media users, with 120 million people using WhatsApp and 125 million using Facebook.

But these tools were only successful because the former army captain managed to personify the demands of the population, despite – or because of – his right-wing radicalism.

He presented himself as the most determined enemy of corruption and of the PT, whose governments from 2003 to 2016 are blamed for the systemic corruption in politics and the errors that caused the country’s worst economic recession, between 2014 and 2016.

As a military and religious man, recently converted to an evangelical church, he swore to wage an all-out fight against crime, a pressing concern for Brazilians, and said he would come to the rescue of the conventional family, which, according to his fiery, and often intemperate, speeches, has been under attack by feminism and other movements.

He seduced business with his neoliberal positions, represented by economist Paulo Guedes, presented as a future minister.

The promise to reduce the size of the state and cut environmental taxes, among other measures, brought him the support of the agro-export sector, especially cattle ranchers and soybean producers.

The economic crisis combined with high crimes rates, added to a wave of conservatism in the habits and customs of this plural and open society, galvanised support for Bolsonaro, while offsetting worries about his authoritarian stances or his inexperience in government administration.

Bolsonaro said he would govern for all, defending “the constitution, democracy and freedom…It is not the promise of a party, but an oath of a man to God,” he said while celebrating his victory, announced three hours after the close of the polls.

His speech did little to reassures the opposition, which will be led by the PT, still the largest party, with 56 deputies and four state governors.

A week earlier he said that in his government “the red criminals will be swept from our homeland,” referring to PT leaders. He threatened to jail his rival, Haddad.

In the past he defended the torturers of the military dictatorship and denied that the 1964-1985 military regime was a dictatorship.

His brutal statements are downplayed by his followers as “boastfulness” and even praise his declarations as frank and forthright.

The problem is not the statements themselves, but the fact that they reveal his continued fidelity to the training he received at the Military Academy in the 1970s, in the middle of the dictatorship

He considers the period when generals were presidents “democratic”, since they maintained parliament and the courts, although with restrictions and subject to controls and purges..

Bolsonaro’s victory, with 57.8 million votes, also has the symbolic effect of the absolution of the military dictatorship via elections, to the detriment of democratic convictions.

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Africa Remains Resolute Heading to COP 24http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/africa-remains-resolute-heading-cop-24/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=africa-remains-resolute-heading-cop-24 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/africa-remains-resolute-heading-cop-24/#respond Thu, 18 Oct 2018 13:15:06 +0000 Friday Phiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158250 In December 2015, nations of the world took a giant step to combat climate change through the landmark Paris Agreement. But African experts who met in Nairobi, Kenya at last week’s Seventh Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA VII) say the rise of far-right wing and nationalist movements in the West are […]

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The pastoralists of Ethiopia’s Somali region make a living raising cattle, camels and goats in an arid and drought-prone land. They are forced to move constantly in search of pasture and watering holes for their animals. Ahead of COP 24, African experts have identified the need to speak with one unified voice, saying a shift in the geopolitical landscape threatens climate negotiations. Credit: William Lloyd-George/IPS

By Friday Phiri
NAIROBI, Oct 18 2018 (IPS)

In December 2015, nations of the world took a giant step to combat climate change through the landmark Paris Agreement. But African experts who met in Nairobi, Kenya at last week’s Seventh Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA VII) say the rise of far-right wing and nationalist movements in the West are threatening the collapse of the agreement.
The landmark Paris Agreement focuses on accelerating and intensifying actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future, through greenhouse-gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, finance, and technology transfer among others.

And as Parties struggle to complete the implementing measures needed to get the Paris regime up and running, African experts have identified the need to speak with one unified voice, saying a shift in the geopolitical landscape threatens climate negotiations.

“The rise of ‘the inward-looking nationalist right-wing movement and climate deniers’ in the West is a signal of hardening positions in potential inaction by those largely responsible for the world’s climate problems,” Mithika Mwenda, secretary general of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, told the gathering.

Mwenda said civil society organisations were seeking collaboration with governments on the continent and stood ready to offer support as Africa seeks homegrown solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“Our leaders who hold the key for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement should remain candidly focused and resist attempts to scatter the unified African voice to deny Africa a strong bargain in the design of the Paris rulebook,” Mwenda told IPS in an interview.

The 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Katowice, Poland in December, is earmarked as the deadline for the finalisation of the Paris Agreement operational guidelines.

But there are concerns from the African group that there is a deliberate attempt by developed parties to derail the process as the operationalisation of the agreement implies a financial obligation for them to support the adaptation and mitigation action of developing countries.

Since 2015 when the Paris Agreement was reached, the world has seen a shift in the geopolitical landscape, ushering in a climate-sceptic Donald Trump as president of the United States, and several far-right wing nationalist movements gaining power in Europe.

“Two strong groups have joined forces on this issue – the extractive industry, and right-wing nationalists. The combination has taken the current debate to a much more dramatic level than previously, at the same time as our window of opportunity is disappearing,” said Martin Hultman, associate professor in Science, Technology and Environmental studies at Chalmers University of Technology and research leader for the comprehensive project titled ‘Why don’t we take climate change seriously? A study of climate change denial’.

For his part, Trump made good on his campaign promise when he wrote to the UNFCCC secretariat, notifying them of his administration’s intention to withdraw the United States from the treaty, thereby undermining the universality of the Paris Agreement and impairing states’ confidence in climate cooperation.

With this scenario in mind, the discussions at the recently-concluded climate conference in Africa were largely dominated by how the continent could harness homegrown solutions and standing united in the face of shifting climate political dynamics.

In his opening remarks, which he delivered on behalf of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s environment and forestry minister, Keriako Tobiko said climate change was a matter of life and death for Africa.

And this was the reason why leaders needed to speak with a strong unified voice.

“We have all experienced the devastating and unprecedented impacts of climate change on our peoples’ lives and livelihoods as well as our national economies. Africa is the most vulnerable continent despite contributing only about four percent to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but when we go to argue our case we speak in tongues and come back with no deal,” he said.

He said given Africa’s shared ecosystems, it was essential to speak in one voice to safeguard the basis of the continent’s development and seek transformative solutions.

This climate conference was held just days after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius which warned of a catastrophe if immediate action is not taken to halt GHG emissions.

And commenting on the IPCC report, Tobiko reiterated the resolutions of the first Africa Environment Partnership Platform held from Sept. 20 to, under the auspices of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the technical body of the African Union, which emphasised the need to turn environmental challenges into economic solutions through innovation and green investments.

Tobiko said that Kenya would be hosting the first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference from Nov. 26 to 28 to promote sustainable investments in oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers.

Just like the Africa Environment Partnership Platform — which recognised “indigenous knowledge and customary governance systems as part of Africa’s rich heritage in addressing environmental issues” — indigenisation was also a trending topic at the CCDA VII.

Under the theme: ‘Policies and actions for effective implementation of the Paris Agreement for resilient economies in Africa’, the conference attracted over 700 participants from member states, climate researchers, academia, civil society organisations and local government leaders, among others.
Experts said that local communities, women and the youth should be engaged in Africa’s efforts to combat the vagaries of climate change.

James Murombedzi, officer-in-charge of the Africa Climate Policy Centre of the U.N. Commission for Africa, said African communities have long practiced many adaptation strategies and viable responses to the changing climate.

However, he said, “there are limits to how well communities can continue to practice adaptive livelihoods in the context of a changing climate”, adding that it was time they were supported by an enabling environment created by government-planned adaptation.

“That is why at CCDA-VII we believe that countries have to start planning for a warmer climate than previously expected so this means we need to review all the different climate actions and proposals to ensure that we can in fact not only survive in a 3 degrees Celsius warmer environment but still be able to meet our sustainable development objectives and our Agenda 2063,” added Murombedzi.

Murombedzi said it was sad that most African governments had continued spending huge sums of money on unplanned adaptations for climate-related disasters.

And these, according Yacob Mulugetta, professor of Energy and Development Policy, University London College, “are the implications of global warming for Africa which is already experiencing massive climate impacts, such as crop production, tourism industries and hydropower generation.”

Mulugetta, one of the lead authors of the IPCC special report, however, noted that “international cooperation is a critical part of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees,” but warned African climate experts to take cognisance of the shifting global geopolitical landscape, which he said is having a significant bearing on climate negotiations.

Meanwhile, the African Development Bank (AfDB), pledged continued support to a climate-resilient development transition in Africa through responsive policies, plans and programmes focusing on building transformed economies and healthy ecosystems.

James Kinyangi of the AfDB said the Bank’s Climate Action Plan for the period 2016 to 2020 was ambitious, as it “explores modalities for achieving adaptation, the adequacy and effectiveness of climate finance, capacity building and technology transfer – all aimed at building skills so that African economies can realise their full potential for adaptation in high technology sectors.”

Under this plan, the bank will nearly triple its annual climate financing to reach USD5 billion a year by 2020.

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New Agreement with Canada and U.S. Is Win-Lose for Mexicohttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/new-agreement-canada-u-s-win-lose-mexico/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-agreement-canada-u-s-win-lose-mexico http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/new-agreement-canada-u-s-win-lose-mexico/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 23:14:21 +0000 Emilio Godoy http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158082 Following the fanfare of the countries’ leaders and the relief of the export and investment sectors, experts are analysing the renewed trilateral agreement with Canada and the United States, where Mexico made concessions in sectors such as e-commerce, biotechnology, automotive and agriculture. Karen Hansen-Kuhn, director of Trade and Global Governance at the U.S.-based Institute for […]

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G20 Women’s Summit Pushes for Rural Women’s Rightshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/g20-womens-summit-pushes-rural-womens-rights/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=g20-womens-summit-pushes-rural-womens-rights http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/g20-womens-summit-pushes-rural-womens-rights/#respond Fri, 05 Oct 2018 14:52:59 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158026 Rural women play a key role in food production, but face discrimination when it comes to access to land or are subjected to child marriage, the so-called affinity group on gender parity within the G20 concluded during a meeting in the Argentine capital. The situation of rural women was one of the four themes of […]

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Investing in Arab and Asian Youth For a Sustainable Futurehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/investing-arab-asian-youth-sustainable-future/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=investing-arab-asian-youth-sustainable-future http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/investing-arab-asian-youth-sustainable-future/#respond Fri, 05 Oct 2018 11:08:16 +0000 Aniqa Haider http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158002 As the youth population has increased to unprecedented levels in Arab and Asian regions, governments need to do more to invest in them. “We are proposing concrete ideas on the effective use of the natural environment in the Arab region to contribute food security and youth employment,” said Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) board […]

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Governments, particularly those in Arab and Asian regions need to leverage youth population for sustainable development instead of making them an element of social instability. Credit: Victoria Hazou/IPS.

By Aniqa Haider
MANAMA, Oct 5 2018 (IPS)

As the youth population has increased to unprecedented levels in Arab and Asian regions, governments need to do more to invest in them.

“We are proposing concrete ideas on the effective use of the natural environment in the Arab region to contribute food security and youth employment,” said Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) board of directors’ head and Japan Parliamentarians Federation for Population (JPFP) vice chair Teruhiko Mashiko.

According to Youth Policy, a global think thank focusing on youth, more than 28 percent of the population – some 108 million people – in the Middle East are youth, between the ages of 15 and 29.

“This is the largest number of young people to transition to adulthood in the region’s history,” the organisation states. In Asia the number is almost 10 times greater with over one billion youth.

Mashiko was speaking during a key regional parliamentary forum called “Asian and Arab Parliamentarians Meeting on Population and Development – Investing in Youth: Towards Regional Development and Achievement of the SDGs” held in Manama, Bahrian this week.

Growing population, food security, unemployment and investing in youth for sustainable future were the main topics discussed during the meeting.

It was hosted by Bahrain under the patronage of Shura Council chair Ali Saleh Ali, and organised by the APDA and the Forum of Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development (FAPPD) and brought together Asian and Arab parliamentarians along with experts and government officials.

Mashiko said governments needed to leverage youth population for sustainable development instead of making them an element of social instability.

“While these ideas may not seem to be directly linked to the issues of population, expanded youth employment and education programmes in the workplace can promote their acceptance of population programmes, [and have] various other implications for bringing about improvements in the existing situation.”

He further said that many regional parliamentarians forums on population and development are unable to sufficiently fulfil their roles. He said 40 years after activities on population and development started, it was becoming difficult to share the underlying principles of these activities.

“We are communicating with the people and governments about the concept of development from an international viewpoint,” he said.

Jordan member of parliament (MP) Marwan Al-Hmoud told IPS that he has a strong belief and faith in the importance of the role played by the youth.

“We need to focus on educating youth and emphasise on reinforcing values necessary to combat attacks against the Arab region,” he explained.

The annual Arab Youth Survey shows that defeating terrorism, well-paying jobs and education reform were among the top properties of Arab youth. “Overall defeating terrorism is cited as
a top priority more frequently than any other issue, with a third (34 percent) of young Arabs selecting it as a top priority to steer the region in the right direction.”

Al-Hmoud added: “Our youth are taking a step back from the Arab reality and [are] influenced by globalisation and foreign cultures, resulting in a lot of our youth to [having] no identity.”

Indian MP Nadimul Haque told IPS that the youth are the energy of the nation.

“Finding solutions in the field of population and development which impacts all areas concerned with humans is important,” he added.

“It needs to be uniform and sustained otherwise the whole idea of SDGs will fall flat,” he said. He was referring to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a collection of global goals to end poverty, mitigate climate change and protect the planet and to ensure equity and peace, among others.

According to the U.N. the world’s population as currently 7.6 billion as of 2017 and is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100 with “the upward trend in population size expected to continue, even assuming that fertility levels will continue to decline.”

Haque said this might lead to a multitude of problems, such as lack of access to resources, knowledge and health services.

“It can lead to resource depletion, inequality, unsustainable cities and communities, irresponsible consumption and production, climate change, conflicts, [and can] gradually lead to an erosion of the quality of life on land.”

Haque highlighted success stories from his home city of Kolkata.

“We have successfully installed rooftop solar power in individual dwellings/buildings,” he explained. “For waste management, we have set up compactor units and we are proud that India is self-reliant in producing its own food grains.”

A list of recommendations to achieve the SDGs was issued, which identified combating health issues, especially communicable diseases and expanding primary health care as an important step.

Recommendations included, among others:

  • universal access to reproduce health services;
  • further improvement in primary education;
  • comprehensive sex education;
  • eradicating gender-based violence;
  • and increasing employment opportunities for youth.

Bahraini MP Juma Al Kaabi said that his country’s legislative authority supported young people and mobilised their energies and strengths.

Al Kaabi further added that the government has made many sporting, cultural, humanitarian and scientific initiatives aimed at raising and developing Bahraini youth who are self-aware and capable of belonging to their homeland and participating in real and effective development and growth.

Al Kaabi said the Tamkeen Foundation has been established by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to support young jobseekers through a variety of training programmes that would equip them in being skilled for the job market and to also help financial guidance and support.

“The King Hamad Award was launched to empower the world’s youth, which is the first of its kind at the global level to create the conditions for young people to participate in the development of creative and professional ideas that have reached the United Nations goals for sustainable development,” he told the IPS

While MP Amira Aser from Sudan told IPS: “Agriculture was one of the key sources of livelihood in the state and youth involvement would further boost agriculture activities.”

In some regions of Sudan, farming is largely characterised by rain-fed production, low fertiliser use, poor quality seeds, inadequate water management and low soil fertility.

The region has experienced some of the lowest per hectare crop yields in the world.

Japanese Ambassador to Bahrain, Hideki Iko, summed it up: “Investing in youth for their education, employment and welfare are important as they are an investment for a better future for all countries.”

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