Inter Press ServiceGlobalisation – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 23 Oct 2018 00:54:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 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 […]

The post Africa Remains Resolute Heading to COP 24 appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

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.

The post Africa Remains Resolute Heading to COP 24 appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/africa-remains-resolute-heading-cop-24/feed/ 0
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 […]

The post New Agreement with Canada and U.S. Is Win-Lose for Mexico appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
The post New Agreement with Canada and U.S. Is Win-Lose for Mexico appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/new-agreement-canada-u-s-win-lose-mexico/feed/ 0
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 […]

The post G20 Women’s Summit Pushes for Rural Women’s Rights appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
The post G20 Women’s Summit Pushes for Rural Women’s Rights appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/g20-womens-summit-pushes-rural-womens-rights/feed/ 0
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 […]

The post Investing in Arab and Asian Youth For a Sustainable Future appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

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.”

The post Investing in Arab and Asian Youth For a Sustainable Future appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/investing-arab-asian-youth-sustainable-future/feed/ 0
Q & A: Why Switching to Renewable Energy Sources is No Longer a Matter of Morality, But of Economicshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/q-switching-renewable-energy-sources-no-longer-matter-morality-economics/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=q-switching-renewable-energy-sources-no-longer-matter-morality-economics http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/q-switching-renewable-energy-sources-no-longer-matter-morality-economics/#respond Sun, 30 Sep 2018 10:51:47 +0000 Carmen Arroyo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157887 When the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) was founded eight years ago, the general public thought that renewable energies would never replace oil and coal. Today, the tables have turned. Dr. Frank Rijsberman has been the director general of the institute since 2016, and for him, green growth is no longer a matter of morality, […]

The post Q & A: Why Switching to Renewable Energy Sources is No Longer a Matter of Morality, But of Economics appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

The Bangui Wind Farm located in the northern Philippines hosts 20 wind turbines with a capacity of 33 megawatts. GGGI works mainly with governments that express an interest in sustainable growth and is supporting the Philippines in mainstreaming green growth into the country’s development planning. Credit: Kara Santos/IPS

By Carmen Arroyo
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 30 2018 (IPS)

When the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) was founded eight years ago, the general public thought that renewable energies would never replace oil and coal. Today, the tables have turned.

Dr. Frank Rijsberman has been the director general of the institute since 2016, and for him, green growth is no longer a matter of morality, but of economics. Renewable energies are now cheaper than fossil fuels. They create employment, do not pollute and provide countries with the amount of energy they need. Last week he joined several side events at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

GGGI is an intergovernmental organisation that works with over 60 countries. It seeks commitments among governments and private companies to switch to green growtheconomic growth that takes into account environmental sustainability.

The organisation, based in Seoul, South Korea, works mainly with governments that express an interest in sustainable growth. Its work does not directly depend on changes in administrations.

Under Rijsberman, GGGI has consulted with Colombia on their protection of the Amazon rainforest, the United Arab Emirates on how to diversify its economy, and more recently with New Zealand. Rijsberman is especially proud of the organisation’s work in Ethiopia and Rwanda, with its president Paul Kagame, who he considers a “champion of green growth”.

Rijsberman is not only very knowledgeable, he also calls his job “his passion”. When he describes GGGI’s presence worldwide, he jumps from Australia to Ethiopia, from South Korea to Mexico, and from Norway to the Philippines.

He talks slowly, like a teacher giving his first class, or a father trying to get his point through. And when he talks about GGGI’s achievements, he smiles in the affable way most Dutch people do. His excitement is justified: renewable energies are the present. And public opinion cares. Excerpts of the interview follow:

Director general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr. Frank Rijsberman outside the Office of the Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning in Thailand Photo Credit: Sinsiri Tiwutanond/IPS

Inter Press Service (IPS): Why has green growth become relevant?

Frank Rijsberman (FR): A variety of countries are already convinced green growth is their only option for pollution and climate reasons. For example in Asia, air pollution is a strong driver of investors in green growth. In Seoul, everybody checks the air condition in the morning, because it is a real issue. We have to decide whether we are going to wear air masks or not. In the West, last summer we saw fires and heat waves. And in Africa, the average farmer is convinced the climate has changed."In the end there are gonna be more jobs with renewables than with coal." -- Director general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) Dr. Frank Rijsberman.

I’ve been involved in climate change for a long time, and it used to be something we talked about that would happen in a 100 years. Then for our grandchildren. Then our children and then… it’s today.

Before, ministers of finance used to say they wanted first to develop and then they would care about the climate. Now, they also care about the quality of growth.

IPS: Has that international public opinion changed since United States president Donald Trump’s election?

FR: The truth is that the U.S. government was very influential in making the Paris Agreement exist in the first place. We have to thank them for that. They brought China to the table.

And after Trump was elected, the Chinese government did not back out, because solar and wind have become cheaper than coal. Wind energy prices have dropped by 66 percent and solar by 86 percent. In the last three years, the atmosphere has changed. There is a stronger belief that renewable energies are making a breakthrough.

Apart from the prices, the second big deal is batteries.Generally, you need a grid or a diesel generator to back solar and wind up. But instead of using diesel generators, now we can use batteries that store energy. Battery prices have also gone down by 80 precent. And over the next five years, batteries will be cheaper than the diesel backups. The investment recommendation we make is to buy batteries now, not diesel generators.

IPS: Where have renewable energies impacted the most?

FR: For example, in electricity production, we’ve seen a huge disruption. Most of the investments go to renewable energies. However, electricity is only 20 percent of energy use.

The other 80 percent is transportation and buildings. But I am confident that in some years, electric vehicles will be cheaper than normal fuel cars. These autonomous vehicles could reduce the number of vehicles in cities by three, which would reduce pollution, traffic, and costs.

IPS: The institute must also face challenges when promoting green growth. Is shifting investment patterns its biggest challenge?

FR: Yes. The hardest has been convincing Southeast Asian countries with fast-growing economies. They still invest in coal. Convincing those governments that solar and wind are cheaper remains the biggest challenge.

Sometimes we also find resistance in the utilities, companies that work with fossil fuels. We’ve had one government for which we did a plan for renewable energies, and then they told us they had already signed with fossil fuels. There are also countries where hotels want to put solars on their rooftops, but utilities say: “we will cut you off the grid.”

However, once the government agrees, it can take a short amount of time for them to transition to sustainable energies. In India it took two years. India had coal fired power plants. But as soon as the price of renewables decreased, the coal fired plants went down.

The example of Canberra (Australia) is also enlightening. They decided they wanted to be renewable by 2020. So, they put solars in schools, and they made it accessible so people could also put it on their homes. People got used to it and then they moved to utility-scale renewables.

IPS: Does this resistance in transitioning have to do with the loss of jobs?

FR: In the end there are gonna be more jobs with renewables than with coal. Trump talks about the job losses in coal, but he doesn’t talk about the new jobs with renewables. It’s true they may not be the same people, so you need some formal training. But that is normal. One industry dies and another is born.

IPS: You have been director general for two years, what have you achieved so far?

FR: GGGI has been strong in policy for a number of years. My predecessor saw there was a gap in developing bankable projects, and he started green investment finance services.

In 2017, we mobilised half a billion dollars in green and climate finance for the first time. I increased our goals to mobilise a couple billion dollars in our strategic planning. We raise it by investor commitments. Although our clients are governments, sometimes they can’t find investment themselves for renewable plans. We help find projects, we bring investors to the table, they sign a letter of intent, we hand it to the government and they decide over it.

IPS: And what do you want to accomplish in the next two years?

FR: We want to demonstrate that we can do it. Our goal for 2020 is to raise more than two and a half billion dollars in green and climate finance. And then convince more governments that this is crucial. Not only renewable energy, also waste management, pollution, and green jobs. We want to get more evidence that this works, and scale it to more countries. Our goal is to transform countries’ economies to green growth.

The post Q & A: Why Switching to Renewable Energy Sources is No Longer a Matter of Morality, But of Economics appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/q-switching-renewable-energy-sources-no-longer-matter-morality-economics/feed/ 0
Seize the Opportunity Offered by Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area, says UNIDO Chiefhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/seize-opportunity-offered-africas-continental-free-trade-area-says-unido-chief/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=seize-opportunity-offered-africas-continental-free-trade-area-says-unido-chief http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/seize-opportunity-offered-africas-continental-free-trade-area-says-unido-chief/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 13:03:28 +0000 Li Yong http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157733 LI Yong is Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

The post Seize the Opportunity Offered by Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area, says UNIDO Chief appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

LI Yong is Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

By Li Yong
VIENNA, Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

Since the turn of the millennium, Africa has experienced a steady and unprecedented economic growth.

However, poverty continues for people across the continent, especially in the sub-Saharan region. Unemployment and inequality have remained high. The rural population and the urban poor, women and youth, have not benefited from economic growth.

African policymakers realize that, for the benefits of growth to be shared by all, there needs to be a structural transformation of the economy. Specifically, there is an acknowledgement that its composition should change, with increased shares of manufacturing and agro-related industry in national investment, output, and trade.

Manufacturing, thanks to its multiplier effect on other sectors of the economy, has always been one of the most important drivers of economic development and structural change, especially in developing countries. Manufacturing is an “engine of growth” that enhances higher levels of productivity and greater technical change, thus creating more jobs with higher wages for both women and men.

Recognizing this, the United Nations has proclaimed the period 2016-2025 as the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III) in order to increase global awareness and encourage partnerships to achieve inclusive and sustainable industrialization.

Today, Africa has exceptional opportunities for industrialization.

In the next few decades, Africa will become the youngest and most populous continent in the world with a working age population expected to grow by 450 million people. Or close to 70 per cent of the total, by 2035.

With a rapidly growing population, and one of the world’s highest rates of urbanization, the middle class is on the rise too. This will drive consumption of consumer goods, creating a market worth USD 250 billion, set to grow at an annual rate of 5 per cent over the next eight years.

Industrialization, diversification and job creation in Africa, however, cannot happen without continental economic integration. The recent signing of the historic agreement for an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by 49 out of 55 countries creates an opportunity for inclusive and sustainable economic development, moving away from structural stagnation and commodity-based economics.

The AfCFTA agreement will create the world’s largest single, integrated market for goods and services, and a customs union that will enable free movement of capital and business travelers in Africa.

This will provide great business opportunities for trading enterprises, businesses and consumers, unlocking trade and manufacturing potential and further enhancing industrialization in Africa.

With the AfCFTA agreement, exports of processed or intermediate goods will increase rapidly, further opening the way to Africa’s economic transformation to dynamically-diversified economies and globally competitive industrial production locations.

Higher trade among African countries will also strengthen African regional value chains, making it easier for local small and medium-sized enterprises, which account for around 80 per cent of Africa’s businesses, to build competitiveness, supply inputs to larger regional companies, and participate in and upgrade to global value chains.

This will give unprecedented opportunities to exploit the full agri-business potential of the continent. Strengthening the continent’s agro-industries can generate high social and economic returns, create jobs in rural areas and for young women and men, as well as responding to the urgent need to ensure food security and poverty reduction.

By taking bold actions in advancing the agenda of the AfCFTA, using it as one of the best means of promoting industrialization, African countries are well-positioned to build an Africa that can become a strong link in today’s interdependent global economy.

Structural transformation, however, is never automatic. Political goodwill and commitments are a first important step; but a multi-pronged, action-based approach with partnerships at the heart, along with concrete industrial policies, is needed for this to become a reality.

That is why UNIDO has developed an innovative country-owned, multi-stakeholder partnership model to provide governments with a platform to bring together various stakeholders, including development finance institutions and the private sector, to mobilize large-scale resources, accelerate industrialization and achieve a greater development impact.

Using this Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) approach, and helping governments to identify priority sectors based on prospects for job creation, strong links to the agricultural sector, high export potential and capacity to attract investment, UNIDO has already started assisting Ethiopia, Senegal, Morocco and other countries in Asia and Latin America in achieving their export goals and enabling the manufacturing sector to compete on the increasingly globalized market.

Now more than ever, such innovative schemes and mechanisms for enabling partnership building and resource mobilization for sustainable industrial development are needed to address the urgent need for structural transformation in Africa and seize the opportunities offered by the AfCFTA.

The post Seize the Opportunity Offered by Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area, says UNIDO Chief appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

LI Yong is Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

The post Seize the Opportunity Offered by Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area, says UNIDO Chief appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/seize-opportunity-offered-africas-continental-free-trade-area-says-unido-chief/feed/ 0
Salmon Farming, Questioned in Chile, Arrives to Argentinahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina/#respond Mon, 10 Sep 2018 08:07:24 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157530 Questioned for its environmental and health impacts in Chile, where it is one of the country’s main economic activities, salmon farming is preparing to expand in Argentina from Norway, the world’s largest farmed salmon producer. The news has triggered a strong reaction from civil society organisations. “Argentina today has the advantage that it can refer […]

The post Salmon Farming, Questioned in Chile, Arrives to Argentina appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
A view of salmon cages in the Pacific Ocean in Chile. In recent decades, salmon farming has become an important industry in Chile, but the impact on the environment and people's health has been questioned. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

A view of salmon cages in the Pacific Ocean in Chile. In recent decades, salmon farming has become an important industry in Chile, but the impact on the environment and people's health has been questioned. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, Sep 10 2018 (IPS)

Questioned for its environmental and health impacts in Chile, where it is one of the country’s main economic activities, salmon farming is preparing to expand in Argentina from Norway, the world’s largest farmed salmon producer.
The news has triggered a strong reaction from civil society organisations.

“Argentina today has the advantage that it can refer to Chile’s experience, which has been extremely negative,” attorney Alex Muñoz, director for Latin America of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas programme, told IPS from Santiago, Chile.

“In Chile we have suffered the serious impacts of the activity carried out by both local and Norwegian companies. Salmon is native to the northern hemisphere and there is very clear scientific evidence that farming this species is not sustainable in the southern hemisphere,” added the environmental law specialist.

Muñoz is one of the authors of a highly critical report on the Argentine project presented by 23 Argentine and international organisations – such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Oceana and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) – grouped in the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence."The effects of an industry that stretches 2,000 km along the Chilean coast have never been studied in-depth. Chemicals of all kinds are used to prevent disease and organic matter, food and fecal matter from salmon are dumped into the ecosystem.” -- Max Bello

The Forum is a network formed in 2004 to promote the care of the Atlantic Ocean in southern Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina and of the Pacific Ocean in Chile.

It was the visit to Argentina in March by King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, who met with President Mauricio Macri, which gave impetus to the initiative.

It would imply the introduction for the first time of an exotic species in the Argentinean sea, since this South American country has only up to now introduced fish in lakes and rivers.

On that occasion, Innovation Norway, a state-owned company and a national development bank that promotes Norwegian investment around the world, signed a cooperation agreement with the Argentine Agribusiness Ministry to study the implementation of “sustainable aquaculture” programmes in this South American nation.

Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic animals or plants in all types of water environments in controlled conditions. In the case of salmon in Argentina, feasibility studies are being carried out in the extreme south of Patagonia, off the Argentine coasts of Tierra del Fuego, the southern territory shared with Chile.

IPS’s questions about the project were not answered by the agriculture authorities of Tierra del Fuego province or by the Agribusiness Ministry, which on Sept. 3 was demoted to a secretariat as part of austerity measures aimed at cutting public spending in the midst of the country’s economic collapse.

Salmon seen in the Chilean sea. Broken cages sometimes cause hundreds of thousands of fish to end up in open sea, generating negative impacts on native species. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

Salmon seen in the Chilean sea. Broken cages sometimes cause hundreds of thousands of fish to end up in open sea, generating negative impacts on native species. Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Casado

In March, the then minister Luis Etchevere stated that “our relations with Norway will allow us to benefit from that country’s more than 50 years of experience” in aquaculture, and added that “Tierra del Fuego can be a pioneer in development within Argentina.”

Norway, which has both wild and farmed salmon, is the world’s largest producer of this species that is consumed around the world for its taste and nutritional value.

In Chile, salmon farming in sea cages began more than 30 years ago on the island of Chiloé, about 1,100 south of Santiago, in the Los Lagos Region, and from there it grew and spread throughout Patagonia, to the Aysen and Magallanes Regions.

Today salmon is one of Chile’s main export products. Official figures indicate that the sector is expanding, since in 2017 exports amounted to 4.1 billion dollars, 20 percent up from the previous year.

Last year, salmon accounted for more than six percent of the country’s total exports.

According to Chile’s Salmon Industry Association, this year will be even better and sales to 75 international markets will generate more than five billion dollars.

According to the business chamber, the activity generates more than 70,000 direct and indirect jobs.

But “no amount of economic growth justifies the destruction of Patagonian ecosystems,” Max Bello, a Chilean natural resources specialist who has been working for 15 years in marine conservation organisations, told IPS from Santiago.

Starfish seen in the seabed of the Beagle Channel, in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, where the Argentine government is promoting the development of salmon farming. The so-called Patagonian Sea is considered one of the most productive oceanic areas in the southern hemisphere. Credit: Courtesy of Beagle Secrets of the Sea

Starfish seen in the seabed of the Beagle Channel, in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, where the Argentine government is promoting the development of salmon farming. The so-called Patagonian Sea is considered one of the most productive oceanic areas in the southern hemisphere. Credit: Courtesy of Beagle Secrets of the Sea

Bello added: “The effects of an industry that stretches 2,000 km along the Chilean coast have never been studied in-depth. Chemicals of all kinds are used to prevent disease and organic matter, food and fecal matter from salmon are dumped into the ecosystem.”

“Salmon farming has spread in a brutal manner in recent years, affecting not only natural resources but also culture, as it has displaced other activities,” Bello said.

In Argentina, a country whoses population of 44 million mostly eats beef, fish are mostly for export.

In 2017, according to official figures, 706,000 tons of seafood were sold abroad, worth 1.9 billion dollars. The main products are shrimp and squid, both native. In the domestic market, 341,000 tons of seafood was consumed last year.

The report presented by the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence states that, besides the heavy use of antibiotics, the main problem posed by salmon farming is the frequent escape from the sea cages of fish that end up being an exotic species.

In fact, in July, during a storm, four of the five cages of a salmon farm owned by the Norwegian company Marine Harvest in Calbuco, near the city of Puerto Montt, broke and 650,000 salmon ended up in the sea.

“According to the law, the company has to recover at least 10 percent of the fish, because otherwise environmental damage is assumed,” biologist Flavia Liberona, executive director of the Chilean environmental foundation Terram, told IPS.

Regarding the use of chemical products, Liberona explained from Santiago that “because they are not in their environment, salmon in Chile are highly prone to diseases, which is why they use more antibiotics than in Norway.”

“In 2008 there was a major crisis in the industry due to the spread of a virus, which caused the loss of thousands of jobs,” she said.

Biologist Alexandra Sapoznikow, coordinator of the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence, said “this activity has frequent crises and we are concerned that it is seen as a possibility for economic development. Tierra del Fuego receives tourists who are looking for nature, which is this province’s opportunity.”

Speaking to IPS from the Patagonian city of Puerto Madryn, Sapoznikow, who teaches Natural Resources Management at Argentina’s National University of Patagonia, added that the introduction of salmon farming would also come into conflict with the project that civil society organisations have been working on with the Argentine government to create marine protected areas in the South Atlantic.

In November 2017, the government sent to Congress a bill for the creation of two marine protected areas near Tierra del Fuego, which would extend the total conservation area from the current 28,000 square km to 155,000.

The initiative, however, has not yet begun to be discussed, while the Ministry of Environment – which drafted it jointly with the National Parks Administration – was demoted on Sept. 3 to a secretariat.

The post Salmon Farming, Questioned in Chile, Arrives to Argentina appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/salmon-farming-questioned-chile-arrives-argentina/feed/ 0
Revisiting privatization’s claimshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/revisiting-privatizations-claims/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=revisiting-privatizations-claims http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/revisiting-privatizations-claims/#respond Tue, 04 Sep 2018 15:31:09 +0000 Jomo Kwame Sundaram http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157453 Advocates made exaggerated claims that privatization would reduce governments’ fiscal problems while ensuring more efficient, productive and competitive economies by promoting private entrepreneurship, innovation and investments.

The post Revisiting privatization’s claims appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Scene from Djibouti Port. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Sep 4 2018 (IPS)

Several arguments have been advanced to justify privatization since the 1980s. Privatization has been advocated as an easy means to:
1. Reduce the government’s financial and administrative burden, particularly by undertaking and maintaining services and infrastructure;
2. Promote competition, improve efficiency and increase productivity in providing public services;
3. Stimulate private entrepreneurship and investment to accelerate economic growth;
4. Help reduce the public sector’s presence and size, with its monopolistic tendencies and bureaucratic support.

Moot case for privatization
First, privatization is supposed to reduce the government’s financial and administrative burdens, particularly in providing services and infrastructure. Earlier public sector expansion was increasingly seen as the problem, rather than part of the solution. Thus, reducing the government’s role and burden was expected to be popular.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram. Credit: FAO

Second, privatization was believed by some to be a means to promote competition, improve efficiency and increase productivity in service delivery. This belief was naïve, confusing the question of ownership with that of promoting competition.

It was believed that privatization would somehow encourage competition, not recognizing that competition and property rights are distinct, and not contingent issues. Associated with this was the presumption that competition would automatically result in greater efficiency as well as improved productivity, not recognizing economies of scale and scope in many instances.

Third, privatization was expected to stimulate private entrepreneurship and investment. There is also a popular, but naïve belief that privatization was going to stimulate private entrepreneurship when, in fact, the evidence is strong, in Malaysia and elsewhere, that privatization often crowds out the likelihood of small and medium-sized enterprises actually emerging to fill the imagined void, presumed to exist following privatization.

Admittedly, there is scope for new entrepreneurship with privatization as new ways and ideas offered by the private sector are considered – or reconsidered – as the new privatized entity seeks to maximize the profits/rents to be secured with privatization.

However, the private purchase of previously public property, in itself, does not augment real economic assets. Private funds are thus diverted, to take over SOEs, and consequently diminished, rather than augmented. Hence, private funds are less available for investing in the real economy, in building new economic capacities and capabilities.

Fourth, privatization was supposed to reduce public sector monopolies, but there is often little evidence of significant erosion of the monopolies enjoyed by privatized SOEs. Arguably, technological change and innovation, e.g., in telecommunications, were far more significant in eroding privatized monopolies and reducing costs to consumers, than privatization per se.

From the 1980s, if not before, various studies have portrayed the public sector as a cesspool of abuse, inefficiency, incompetence and corruption. Books and articles, often with clever titles such as ‘vampire state’, ‘bureaucrats in business’ and so on, provided the justification for privatization.

Undoubtedly, there were some real horror stories, which have been conveniently and frequently cited as supposedly representative of all SOEs. But other experiences can also be cited to show that SOEs can be run quite efficiently, even on commercial bases, confounding the dire predictions of the prophets of public sector doom.

Has privatization improved efficiency?
Although some SOEs have been better run and are deemed more efficient after privatization, the overall record has hardly been consistent. Thus, it is important to ascertain when and why there have been improvements, or otherwise. It is also important to remember that better-run privatized SOEs, in and of themselves, do not necessarily serve the national or public interest better.

Undoubtedly, most SOEs can be better run and become more efficient. But this is not always the case as some SOEs are indeed already well run. For instance, very few privatization advocates would insist that most SOEs in Singapore are poorly run.

As its SOEs are generally considered well-run, public ownership is not used there to explain poor governance, management or abuse; instead, public ownership is recognized there as the reason for public accountability, better governance and management.

Principal-agent managerial delegation dilemma
Hence, in different contexts, with appropriately strict supervision, SOEs can be and have indeed been better run. Privatization, in itself, does not solve managerial delegation problems, i.e., the principal-agent problem, as it is not a problem of public ownership per se.

With SOEs, the principal is the state or the government while the agents are the managers and supervisors, who may — or may not — pursue the objectives intended by the principal.

This is a problem faced by many organizations. It is also a problem for private enterprises or corporations, especially large ones, especially where the principal (shareholders) may not be able to exercise effective supervision or control over the agent.

Also, natural monopolies (such as public utilities) are often deemed inefficient due to the monopolistic nature of the industry or market. The question which arises then is whether private monopoly is better, even with regulation intended to protect the public interest.

The answer needs to be ascertained analytically on the basis of evidence, and cannot be presumed a priori. If an industry is a natural monopoly, what does privatization achieve? Often, it means a transfer to private hands, which can be problematic and possibly dangerous for the public interest.

The post Revisiting privatization’s claims appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Advocates made exaggerated claims that privatization would reduce governments’ fiscal problems while ensuring more efficient, productive and competitive economies by promoting private entrepreneurship, innovation and investments.

The post Revisiting privatization’s claims appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/revisiting-privatizations-claims/feed/ 0
Damning U.N. Report Outlines Crimes Against Rohingya As Children Suffer from Trauma One Year Laterhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/damning-u-n-report-outlines-crimes-rohingya-children-suffer-trauma-one-year-later/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=damning-u-n-report-outlines-crimes-rohingya-children-suffer-trauma-one-year-later http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/damning-u-n-report-outlines-crimes-rohingya-children-suffer-trauma-one-year-later/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 23:38:55 +0000 Farid Ahmed http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157366 At 12, Mohammed* is an orphan. He watched his parents being killed by Myanmar government soldiers a year ago. And he is one of an estimated half a million Rohingya children who have survived and been witness to what the United Nations has called genocide. According to accounts in a U.N. fact-finding report released today, […]

The post Damning U.N. Report Outlines Crimes Against Rohingya As Children Suffer from Trauma One Year Later appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

A damning reporting by the United Nations on the Myanmar’s army crimes against the Rohingya may come too late for these Rohingya children, many of whom remain traumatised as witnesses of the genocide. Credit: Farid Ahmed/IPS

By Farid Ahmed
DHAKA, Aug 27 2018 (IPS)

At 12, Mohammed* is an orphan. He watched his parents being killed by Myanmar government soldiers a year ago. And he is one of an estimated half a million Rohingya children who have survived and been witness to what the United Nations has called genocide.

According to accounts in a U.N. fact-finding report released today, the children were likely witnesses to their homes and villages being burnt down, to mass killings, and to the rape of their mothers. As girls, they would have likely been raped themselves.

It has been a year since the atrocities in Myanmar’s Rakhine state led to the exodus of some 700,000 Rohingya—some 60 percent of whom where children, according to the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF)—into neighbouring Bangladesh and to the coastal Cox’s Bazar district were the refugee camps have been set up.

And life remains difficult for the children in these camps.

While some who live in the squalid camps find it hard to envision themselves returning to a normal life; others, like Mohammed, dream of justice.

“I want justice… I want the soldiers to face trial,” he tells IPS, saying he wants justice from the soldiers who “ruined his life”.

“They killed our people, grabbed our land and torched our houses. They killed both my mother and father. I am now living with my sister,” he says.


A year ago, on Aug. 25, Myanmar government forces responded to a Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attack on a military base. But, according to the report by the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, “the nature, scale and organisation of the operations suggests a level of preplanning and design on the part of the Tatmadaw [Myanmar’s military] leadership.”

The report outlines how  “the operations were designed to instil immediate terror, with people woken by intense rapid weapons fire, explosions, or the shouts and screams of villagers. Structures were set ablaze and Tatmadaw soldiers fired their guns indiscriminately into houses and fields, and at villagers.”

It also notes that “rape and other forms of sexual violence were perpetrated on a massive scale” and that “sometimes up to 40 women and girls were raped or gang raped together. One survivor stated, “I was lucky, I was only raped by three men.””

The report calls for a full investigation into genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, calling for Myanmar’s top generals to be investigated for genocide in Rakhine state.

Senior-general Min Aung Hlaing is listed in the report as an alleged direct perpetrator of crimes, while the head of state, Aung San Suu Kyi, was heavily criticised in the report for not using her position “nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events, or seek alternative avenues to meet a responsibility to protect the civilian population.”

While rights agencies have responded to the report calling on international bodies and the U.N. to hold to account those responsible for the crimes, local groups have been calling for long-term solutions to aid the surviving Rohingya children.

A Rohingya girl proudly holds up her drawing at a UNICEF school at Balukhali camp, Bangladesh. Credit: Farid Ahmed/IPS

Since their arrival in Bangladesh many Rohingya children have not received a proper education, while the healthcare facilities have been strained by the large numbers of people seeking assistance.

While scores of global and local NGOs, aid groups, U.N. agencies and the Bangladesh government are working to support the refugees, aid workers are concerned as many of the children remain traumatised by their experiences.

While they are receiving trauma counselling, it is still not enough.

“Whenever there is a darkness at night, I’m scared and feel somebody is coming to kill us… sometimes I see it in my dream when I’m asleep… sometimes I see our room is filled with blood,” 11-year-old Ayesha Ali*, who was studying at a madrassa at Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, tells IPS.

UNICEF in an alert last week warned that denial of basic rights could result in the Rohingya children becoming a “lost generation”.

“With no end in sight to their bleak exile, despair and hopelessness are growing among the refugees, alongside a fatalism about what the future has in store,” the alert states.

It is estimated that 700,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are housed in Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh. Credit: Mojibur Rahaman Rana/IPS

A number of children in the camps have lost either one or both parents. Last November, Bangladesh’s department of social services listed 39,841 Rohingya children as having lost either their mother or father, or lost contact with them during the exodus. A total of 8,391 children lost both of their parents.

“Most of the children saw the horrors of brutality and if they are not properly dealt with, they might have developed a mind of retaliation. Sometimes the small children talk like this: ‘We’ll kill the army…because they killed our people.’ They are growing up with a sort of hatred for the Myanmar army,” aid worker Abdul Mannan tells IPS.

And while there are 136 specialised, child-friendly zones for children and hundreds of learning centre across Cox Bazar, UNICEF notes it is only now “developing a strategy to ensure consistency and quality in the curriculum.”

BRAC, a development organisation based in Bangladesh, points out current learning centres and other facilities for children are not enough for the proper schooling and future development of the children.

“What we’re giving to the children is not enough to stand them in good stead,” Mohammed Abdus Salam, head of humanitarian crisis management programme of BRAC, tells IPS.

Newly arrived Rohingya refugees enter Teknaf from Shah Parir Dwip after being ferried from Myanmar across the Naf River. Credit: Farid Ahmed/ IPS

Salam says that the children and women in the camps also remain vulnerable. “Especially the boys and girls who have lost their parents or guardians are the most vulnerable as there was no long-term programme for them,” he says, adding that many were still traumatised and suffered from nightmares. Cox Bazar is a hub of drugs and human traffickers, and children without guardians remain at risk.

Both the Bangladesh government and international aid officials say that they are trying hard to cope with the situation in Cox Bazar which is the largest and most densely-populated refugee settlement in the world.

But Salam says that it is urgent to formulate long-term plans for both education and healthcare if the repatriation process was procrastinated. “Otherwise, many of the children will be lost as they are not properly protected,” he says.

*Names changed to protect the identity of the children.

Additional reporting by Nalisha Adams in Johannesburg.

The post Damning U.N. Report Outlines Crimes Against Rohingya As Children Suffer from Trauma One Year Later appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/damning-u-n-report-outlines-crimes-rohingya-children-suffer-trauma-one-year-later/feed/ 0
Has Globalization Enhanced Development Cooperation?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/globalization-enhanced-development-cooperation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=globalization-enhanced-development-cooperation http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/globalization-enhanced-development-cooperation/#comments Tue, 21 Aug 2018 15:05:52 +0000 Jomo Kwame Sundaram http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157295 Protracted economic stagnation in rich countries continues to threaten the development prospects of poorer countries. Globalization and economic liberalization over the last few decades have integrated developing countries into the world economy, but now that very integration is becoming a threat as developing countries are shackled by the knock-on effects of the rich world’s troubles. […]

The post Has Globalization Enhanced Development Cooperation? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Colombo, Sri Lanka. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS.

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 2018 (IPS)

Protracted economic stagnation in rich countries continues to threaten the development prospects of poorer countries. Globalization and economic liberalization over the last few decades have integrated developing countries into the world economy, but now that very integration is becoming a threat as developing countries are shackled by the knock-on effects of the rich world’s troubles.

 

Trade interdependence at risk

As a consequence of increased global integration, growth in developing countries relies more than ever on access to international markets. That access is needed, not only to export products, but also to import food and other requirements. Interdependence nowadays, however asymmetric, is a two-way street, but with very different traffic flows.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Unfortunately, the trade effects of the crisis have been compounded by their impact on development cooperation efforts, which have been floundering lately. In 1969, OECD countries committed to devote 0.7% of their Gross National Income in official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries. But the total in 2017 reached only $146.6 billion, or 0.31% of aggregate gross national income – less than half of what was promised.

In 2000, UN member states adopted the Millennium Development Goals to provide benchmarks for tackling world poverty, revised a decade and a half later with the successor Sustainable Development Goals. But all serious audits since show major shortfalls in international efforts to achieve the goals, a sober reminder of the need to step up efforts and meet longstanding international commitments, especially in the current global financial crisis.

 

Aid less forthcoming

Individual countries’ promises of aid to the least developed countries (LDCs) have fared no better, while the G-7 countries have failed to fulfill their pledges of debt forgiveness and aid for poorer countries that they have made at various summits over the decades.

At the turn of the century, development aid seemed to rise as a priority for richer countries. But, having declined precipitously following the Cold War’s end almost three decades ago, ODA flows only picked up after the 9/11 or September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Monterrey Consensus, the outcome of the 2002 first ever UN conference on Financing for Development, is now the major reference for international development financing.

But, perhaps more than ever before, much bilateral ODA remains ‘tied’, or used for donor government projects, rendering the prospects of national budgetary support more remote than ever. Tied aid requires the recipient country to spend the aid received in the donor country, often on overpriced goods and services or unnecessary technical assistance. Increasingly, ODA is being used to promote private corporate interests from the donor country itself through ostensible ‘public-private partnerships’ and other similar arrangements.

Not surprisingly, even International Monetary Fund staff have become increasingly critical of ODA, citing failure to contribute to economic growth. However, UN research shows that if blatantly politically-driven aid is excluded from consideration, the evidence points to a robust positive relationship. Despite recent efforts to enhance aid effectiveness, progress has been modest at best, not least because average project financing has fallen by more than two-thirds!

 

Debt

Debt is another side of the development dilemma. In the last decade, the joint IMF-World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative and its extension, the supplementary Multilateral Debt Relief initiative, made some progress on debt sustainability. But debt relief is still not treated as additional to ODA. The result is ‘double counting’ as what is first counted as a concessional loan is then booked again as a debt write-off.

At the 2001 LDCs summit in Brussels, developed countries committed to providing 100% duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) access for LDC exports. But actual access is only available for 80% of products, and anything short of full DFQF allows importing countries to exclude the very products that LDCs can successfully export.

Unfortunately, many of the poorest countries have been unable to cope with unsustainable debt burdens following the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Meanwhile, there has been little progress towards an equitable and effective sovereign-debt workout framework despite the debilitating Argentine, Greek and other crises.

 

Technology gap

In addition to facing export obstacles, declining aid inflows, and unsustainable debt, the poorest countries remain far behind developed countries technologically. Affordable and equitable access to existing and new technologies is crucial for human progress and sustainable development in many areas, including food security and climate-change mitigation and adaptation.

The decline of public-sector research and agricultural-extension efforts, stronger intellectual-property claims and greater reliance on privately owned technologies have ominous implications, especially for the poor. The same is true for affordable access to essential medicines, on which progress remains modest.

An international survey in recent years found that such medicines were available in less than half of poor countries’ public facilities and less than two-thirds of private facilities. Meanwhile, median prices were almost thrice international reference prices in the public sector, and over six times as much in the private sector!

Thus, with the recent protracted stagnation in many rich countries, fiscal austerity measures, growing protectionism and other recent developments have made things worse for international development cooperation.

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.

The post Has Globalization Enhanced Development Cooperation? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/globalization-enhanced-development-cooperation/feed/ 1
Music: Nigeria’s New Cultural Exporthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/music-nigerias-new-cultural-export/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=music-nigerias-new-cultural-export http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/music-nigerias-new-cultural-export/#respond Thu, 16 Aug 2018 12:19:51 +0000 Franck Kuwonu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157227 It is a cold evening in Antwerp, Belgium’s second-largest city, famous for diamonds, beer, art and high-end fashion. Inside a small restaurant, a mix of the latest American pop and rap—clearly enjoyed by diners—is playing on a radio. Nigerians Olalekan Adetiran and Adaobi Okereke, enjoying a kebab dinner, are startled when the radio begins playing […]

The post Music: Nigeria’s New Cultural Export appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Wizkid performs in London, United Kingdom. Photo: Alamy/Michael Tubi - Nigerian music is drawing interest from beyond the borders, showcasing the vitality of a creative industry that the government is now depending on, among other sectors, to diversify the economy and foster development.

Wizkid performs in London, United Kingdom. Photo: Alamy/Michael Tubi

By Franck Kuwonu, Africa Renewal*
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 16 2018 (IPS)

It is a cold evening in Antwerp, Belgium’s second-largest city, famous for diamonds, beer, art and high-end fashion. Inside a small restaurant, a mix of the latest American pop and rap—clearly enjoyed by diners—is playing on a radio. Nigerians Olalekan Adetiran and Adaobi Okereke, enjoying a kebab dinner, are startled when the radio begins playing the unmistakable “Ma Lo”—a catchy, midtempo and bass-laden song by popular Nigerian artistes Tiwa Savage and Wizkid.

The song, currently a hit in Nigeria and across Africa, awakens thoughts of home; they cannot stop smiling at the pleasant surprise. They are visiting Belgium as part of a tour of European countries and their cultural landmarks.

A week earlier, barely two months after its release, the eye-popping video of the song had been viewed on YouTube more than 10 million times—and counting.

For Mr. Adetiran, hearing “Ma Lo” on a Belgian radio station not known to cater to African communities confirms that music from Naija (as Nigerians fondly refer to their country), is going places. It reflects the greater reach of a new generation of Nigerian artists.

Just like the country’s movie industry, Nollywood, Nigerian music is drawing interest from beyond the borders, showcasing the vitality of a creative industry that the government is now depending on, among other sectors, to diversify the economy and foster development.

 

 

Greater recognition

Last November, Wizkid won the Best International Act category at the 2017 MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards held in London, the first for an Africa-based artist. He beat back competition from more established global celebrities such as Jay-Z, Drake, DJ Khaled and Kendrick Lamar.

At the same MOBO Awards, Davido, another Nigerian artist, took home the Best African Act award for “If,” one of his hit songs—a love-themed ballad with a blend of Nigerian rhythms and R & B.

Since its release in February 2017, the official “If” video has racked up more than 60 million views on YouTube, the highest number of YouTube views for any Nigerian music video and one of the highest ever recorded for a song by an African artist.

Across the African continent, other musical groups, such as Kenya’s boy band Sauti Sol, Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz and South Africa’s Mafikizolo, have collaborated with or featured Nigerian top stars in attempts to gain international appeal. Reuters news service calls Nigerian music a “cultural export.”

The Nigerian government is now looking to the creative industries, including performing arts and music, to generate revenues.

 

A billion-dollar industry?

“When we talk about diversifying the economy it is not just about agriculture or solid minerals alone, it is about the creative industry—about the films, theatre and music,”
Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information and culture


In rebasing or recalculating its GDP in 2013, the Nigerian government included formerly neglected sectors, such as the entertainment industries led by Nollywood. As a result, the country’s GDP increased sharply, from $270 billion to $510 billion, overtaking South Africa that year as the continent’s biggest economy, notes the Brookings Institution, a US-based nonprofit public policy think tank.

Brookings reports, however, that the GDP rise didn’t show an increase in wealth and that a recent crash in the price of oil, the country’s main export, is slowing economic growth.

Nigerian music sales revenues were estimated at $56 million in 2014, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), an international accounting and auditing firm. The firm projects sales revenues to reach $88 million by 2019.

Globally, the creative industry is among the most dynamic economic sectors. It “provides new opportunities for developing countries to leapfrog into emerging high-growth areas of the world economy,” the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), a UN body that deals with trade, investment and development issues, said in a 2016 report.

Over the last decade, Europe has been the largest exporter of creative products, although exports from developing countries are growing fast too, UNCTAD reported.

According to PwC, lumped together, annual revenues from music, movies, art and fashion in Nigeria will grow from $4.8 billion in 2015 to more than $8 billion in 2019,.

Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics reports that the local music sector grew “in real terms by 8.4% for the first three months of 2016” and that in the first quarter of 2017, the sector grew by 12% compared with the same period one year prior.

The growth may be attributed to a reversal in music consumption patterns, according to local media reports. Up to the early 2000s, the music in clubs and on the radio in Nigeria was dominated by British and American hit songs.

Not anymore. Reportedly, most Nigerians now prefer songs by their local artists to those by foreigners, even the big ones in the West.

“When I go out, I want to hear songs by Davido or Whizkid or Tekno; like other people, I cannot enjoy myself listening to songs by foreign artistes anymore,” says Benjamin Gabriel, who lives in Abuja. With a population of about 180 million, Nigerian artists have a huge market to tap into. The big ones like Whizkid and Davido are feeling the love—maybe the cash too!

 

The new oil

“We are ready to explore and exploit the ‘new oil,’” Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, commented ahead of a creative industry financing conference held in Lagos last July.

“When we talk about diversifying the economy it is not just about agriculture or solid minerals alone, it is about the creative industry—about the films, theatre and music,” Mr. Mohammed said.

He was reacting to UNCTAD’s findings that the creative industry contributed £84.1 (about $115.5) billion to the British economy in 2014 and $698 billion to the US economy that same year. “Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind,” Mr. Mohammed declared.

The Nigerian government is already providing incentives to investors in the sector, including a recent $1 million venture capital fund to provide seed money for young and talented Nigerians looking to set up business in creative industries.

The government is also allowing the industry “pioneer status,” meaning that those investing in motion picture, video and television production, music production, publishing, distribution, exhibition and photography can enjoy a three- to five-year tax holiday.

Other incentives, such as government-backed and privately backed investment funds, are also being implemented.

Yet as hopes of a vibrant industry rise, pervasive copyright violations could stunt its growth.

 

Profits are “scattered”

In December 2017, the Nigerian police charged three people in Lagos with copyright violations. Their arrests had been widely reported in the country months earlier. “Piracy: Three suspects arrested at Alaba with N50 million [US$139,000] worth of materials,” Premium Times, a Lagos-based newspaper, announced in a headline.

Alaba market in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, is famous for electronics, but it is also notorious for all things fake and cheap, attracting customers from across West Africa to East Africa.

Recent efforts by the authorities to fight piracy led to police raids of Alaba and other markets in the country, resulting in the seizure of pirated items worth $40 million.

Despite such raids, the business of pirated music and movie CDs continues unabated, turning enforcement efforts into a game of Whack-A-Mole. With minimal returns from CD sales, Nigerian artists rely on ringtone sales, corporate sponsorship contracts and paid performances to make ends meet. Most Nigerian artists now prefer online releases of their songs.

Still, online release poses its own challenges. For example, Mr. Adetiran and Mr. Okereke recall visiting in March 2017 a club in Dakar, Senegal, where DJs spun Nigerian beats nonstop. The two realised only much later that those songs had been downloaded from the Internet.

“When you create your content and put it out, it’s scattered,” Harrysong, a Nigerian singer, told the New York Times in June 2017, echoing Mr. Adetiran and Mr. Okereke’s experience. He was expressing performers’ sense of powerlessness as they lose control of sales and distribution of their music.

The Times summed it up like this: “Nigeria’s Afrobeat music scene is booming, but profits go to pirates.”

*Africa Renewal, a magazine published by the United Nations, was launched in 1987. It was formerly published as Africa Recovery/Afrique Relance. 

This article was originally published here

 

The post Music: Nigeria’s New Cultural Export appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/music-nigerias-new-cultural-export/feed/ 0
The New World Disorder: We must learn to live with ithttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/new-world-disorder-must-learn-live/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-world-disorder-must-learn-live http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/new-world-disorder-must-learn-live/#respond Mon, 30 Jul 2018 11:52:55 +0000 Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156947 A fundamental law of physics, also applicable to the social sciences, is that everything in nature is in a state of flux. The sage Heraclitus had said we never step into the same river twice. The flow of the river of life today has remarkably gained a momentum that is torrential. It gushes ahead washing […]

The post The New World Disorder: We must learn to live with it appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

President Donald Trump poses for photos with the 2017 NCAA football national champions the Alabama Crimson Tide at the White House on April 10, 2018. PHOTO: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP

By Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury
Jul 30 2018 (The Daily Star, Bangladesh)

A fundamental law of physics, also applicable to the social sciences, is that everything in nature is in a state of flux. The sage Heraclitus had said we never step into the same river twice. The flow of the river of life today has remarkably gained a momentum that is torrential. It gushes ahead washing away old values, norms, and the societal architecture that human mind and endeavour had conceived and created over a long period of time. As it leads us into the digital post-modern era dominated by big data, cloud-computing, and artificial intelligence, it also impacts on the politics, economics and sociology of how we organise our lives.

It is without doubt that a major factor of change in our socio-political and economic life today, President Donald Trump, the leader of the world’s most powerful nation, the United States. He is relentlessly adding kinetic energy speeding up the motion. But did not make a sudden appearance. Ex Nihilo nihil fit—nothing comes from nothing. Mr Trump, with his disturbingly erratic and seemingly irrational behaviour, is the product of decades of domestic and global developments. These are those that are both within America and in the world beyond. In the nineteenth-century America believed it had a “manifest destiny”, ordained by God. It was not only to expand its territorial dominion westward, but also spread democracy and capitalism throughout North America.

Across the Atlantic, in Europe, the present was being shaped by the past. The Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 created nation-states. The French Revolution of 1789 sparked nationalism with its positive and negative ramifications. Germany, a somewhat late entrant to European civilisation, burst upon the unfolding history with its enormous contributions in literature, mathematics and philosophy. The “Protestant Reformation” of Martin Luther, supplanted orthodox Catholicism, igniting the spirit of enquiry. It also laid the foundation sciences and a new work ethic. Eventually a scattered Germanic nation became united under Bismarck. Meantime other European nations—Spain, Portugal, Holland and England—were dividing up the world between themselves. Freshly empowered, Germany now demanded its “platzan der Sonne”—“a place in the sun”, including its own colonies.

The result was two disastrous world wars. America, the “new world”, was called out to aid the “old” Europe. Thereafter, to rebuild it on the ashes of the conflagrations. Through the Marshall Plan and the establishment of the Bretton Woods Institutions (World Bank, International Monetary Fund), the United Nations, and the World Trade Organization, it helped create “a new World Order”. It helped set the norms and standards for trade, arms control, and international relations. The “Manifest Destiny” now moved eastward. The opposing Communist ideology of the Soviet Union was confronted and ultimately vanquished. The winner was capitalism, buttressed by free trade and liberal values. America was now the “city on the shining hill”, the unparalleled “hyper-power”.

Then several things happened. First, unsurprisingly, hubris set in. Its military misadventures, in Iraq and Afghanistan, led to immeasurable damage to the respect and reputation it had acquired. Second, its strategic nuclear-weapon superiority was now deterred not just by Russia, but also China. Third, it incurred huge deficits in trade with its partners, with many now seeing commerce as a “zero-sum game”. Finally, other nations were rapidly emerging in capabilities and in particular China. Its new-found wealth and capacity, spurred on by President Xi Jinping’s “ZhungGuomeng” or China Dream, were being rapidly translated into power. The American sociologist, Andre Gunder Frank, remarked that what he feared more was not so much the rise of China, as America’s response to it.

America was now exhausted. Middle America, the redneck white working classes, distressed by the widening gulf between them and the elite, thought they were paying a heavy price , economically and militarily, for their so- called “leadership of the free world”. Enter Donald Trump. He was thrown up by this constituency, small, but consistent and powerful. He promised to tear up the rulebooks of traditional conduct, put “America First” and make it “Great” again. He pulled America out of past agreements, challenged the very institutions that America had created, and sought to renegotiate America’s engagements with the rest of the world. America was not necessarily disengaging from the world. Rather, it was re-engaging with its perceived self-interest, on new terms. It now preferred to do it bilaterally, where it was strong, rather than multilaterally, where it felt weak and constrained by rules. To America there was no longer “friends” or “foes”. Only “others”. Idealism had yielded to realism. Lord Palmerston of Britain had once, in a moment of pique vis-à-vis his continental peers, had reportedly remarked that God had made a mistake when He made foreigners. Mr Trump actually seemed to believe it.

So, is the old global order giving way to a New World Disorder? Perhaps. Some fear that there may be chaotic consequences that would be unmanageable. But chaos need not necessarily be bad. For instance, ancient Greeks perceived it positively. To them it was the dark void of space, the primeval state of existence, from which the four elements of nature—air water, earth and fire, and eventually divine and human forms emerged. Today we see disruption as providing the necessary fillip to technological innovation. Trump’s actions may be perceived as doing the same on the political matrix. Possibly in a dialectical fashion, the “disorder” that we “confront” would eventually synthesise into another order, a newer methodology for the interrelationship of peoples and nations.

For most countries, including those in our own region, South Asia, these developments may presage a return to the classical form of “balance of power”. Henry Kissinger has endeavoured to educate the contemporary times on it. It entails that no nation is supremely dominant. Each is left to calculate its imperatives of power, and accordingly, align itself with or oppose other nations. No one would be an a priori ally or antagonist forever.

For countries like Bangladesh, as for other smaller South Asian countries, it would mean the need for nimble diplomacy. Linkages would need to be constructed on the merits of specific issues. It is important to bear in mind, that even if America at the highest levels disengage, at operational levels, where its interests are not critical, its field functionaries like its diplomats may be landed with a greater role. This is why we see America sanction, on recommendations from its agents in the field, Myanmar generals for their alleged atrocious perpetration of inhumane violence upon the “Rohingyas” in the Rakhine State.

Nevertheless, South Asia, as well as other regions, must know that it can no longer routinely draw on external state-actors to make up the power gaps with adversarial neighbours. It is a key point to bear in mind for our leaderships in this election period in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bangladesh and India. These countries would be well advised to renegotiate their intramural relationships. They must aim to ease tensions among themselves to be better able to confront the world with collective interests. They must be able to help themselves, as no one else will.

The global trends cited earlier will not alter substantively even after Trump leaves office. He is not the cause but the effect of the changes. The “New World Disorder” will eventually become a new normal, which will become yet another “New World Order”. For now, however, the “disorder” has come to stay. The rest of the world has no option but to recognise, readapt and respond to the changing times.

Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury is a former foreign adviser to a caretaker government of Bangladesh and is currently Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.

This story was originally published by The Daily Star, Bangladesh

The post The New World Disorder: We must learn to live with it appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/new-world-disorder-must-learn-live/feed/ 0
Japan: the Land of the Rising Robotshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/japan-land-rising-robots/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=japan-land-rising-robots http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/japan-land-rising-robots/#respond Fri, 13 Jul 2018 12:39:31 +0000 Todd Schneider - Gee Hee Hong and Anh Van Le http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156697 Todd Schneider is deputy division chief, Gee Hee Hong is an economist, and Anh Van Le is a research assistant, in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department.

The post Japan: the Land of the Rising Robots appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Todd Schneider is deputy division chief, Gee Hee Hong is an economist, and Anh Van Le is a research assistant, in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department.

By Todd Schneider, Gee Hee Hong and Anh Van Le
WASHNGTON DC, Jul 13 2018 (IPS)

While automation will eliminate very few occupations entirely in the coming decades, it is likely to have an impact on portions of almost all jobs to some degree—depending on the type of work and the tasks involved.

Set to move beyond routine and repetitive manufacturing activities, automation has the potential to appear in a much broader range of activities than seen until now, and to redefine human labor and work style in services and other sectors.

In Japan, the rapid decline in the labor force and the limited influx of immigrants create a powerful incentive for automation, which makes the country a particularly useful laboratory for the study of the future landscape of work.

Japan’s estimated population fell by a record-breaking 264,000 people in 2017. Currently, deaths outnumber births by an average of 1,000 people a day. The Tohoku region in northern Japan, for example, now has fewer inhabitants than it did in 1950.

Japan’s birth rate has long been significantly below the 2.1 births a woman needed to sustain growth—it currently stands at about 1.4 births a woman—and unlike for many other advanced economies, immigration is not sufficient to fill the gap.

Nearly a third of Japanese citizens were older than 65 in 2015—research from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research suggests that number will rise to nearly 40 percent by 2050.

The Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs released an estimate for Japan that showed the country’s population will dip below 100 million shortly after the middle of the 21st century. By the century’s end, Japan stands to lose 34 percent of its current population.

Japan’s domestic labor force (those ages 15–64) is projected to decline even faster than the overall population, dropping by some 24 million between now and 2050. With immigration unlikely to rise enough to compensate for this dramatic decline anytime soon, Japan faces dim prospects for productivity, potential output, and income growth (see Chart 1).

Japan is no stranger to coping with limited resources—including labor—and has historically been a leader in technological development. Automation and robotics, either to replace or enhance human labor, are familiar concepts in Japanese society. Japanese companies have traditionally been at the forefront in robotic technology.

Firms such as FANUC, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Sony, and the Yaskawa Electric Corporation led the way in robotic development during Japan’s economic rise. Automation and the integration of robotic technology into industrial production have also been an integral part of Japan’s postwar economic success.

Kawasaki Robotics started commercial production of industrial robots over 40 years ago. About 700,000 industrial robots were used worldwide in 1995, 500,000 of them in Japan.

Japan is still a leader in robot production and industrial use. The country exported some $1.6 billion worth of industrial robots in 2016—more than the next five biggest exporters (Germany, France, Italy, United States, South Korea) combined.

Japan is also one of the most robot-integrated economies in the world in terms of “robot density”—measured as the number of robots relative to humans in manufacturing and industry. Japan led the world in this measure until 2009, when Korea’s use of industrial robots surged and Japan’s industrial production increasingly moved abroad (see Chart 2).

The success of the first marriage of Japan’s labor force with robotics—the automation of key sectors such as the automotive and electronics industries in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s—augurs well for the next wave of technology and artificial intelligence and for an impact on employment and wages beyond manufacturing.

First, the gap in productivity growth between the manufacturing and services sectors in Japan is extremely wide. While there are many causes, the largest gains in industrial productivity have been closely correlated with increased use of information and communication technology and automation.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the most productive manufacturing sectors in Japan—automotive and electronics—are the ones whose production processes are heavily reliant on automation.

By contrast, the services sector, which accounts for 75 percent of GDP, has seen little annual productivity growth—only about half that of the United States. Labor productivity has roughly tripled since 1970 in manufacturing, but improved by only about 25 percent in the nonmanufacturing sector.

The coming wave of automation technology and artificial intelligence promises new possibilities for replacing or augmenting labor in the nonmanufacturing sector (for example, in transportation, communications, retail services, storage, and others).

According to several government reports (including the Bank of Japan’s Regional Economic Report and the annual survey on planned capital spending by the Development Bank of Japan), even small and medium-sized firms are embracing new technology to compensate for scarce labor and stay competitive.

For example, Family Mart, a Japanese retail convenience store chain, is accelerating implementation of self-checkout registers, while the restaurant group Colowide and many other restaurant operators have installed touch-screen order terminals to streamline operations and reduce the need for staff.

Other examples abound in health care, financial, transportation, and other services—including robot chefs and hotel staff.

Second, empirical evidence suggests that—contrary to fears for the worst—automation and increased use of robotics have had an overall positive impact on domestic employment and income growth.

IMF staff calculations—based on an approach pioneered by Acemoglu and Restrepo (2017) using prefectural level data from Japan—found increased robot density in manufacturing to be associated not only with greater productivity, but also with local gains in employment and wages.

Notably, these findings—which exclude crisis periods—are the opposite of results of a similar exercise based on US data. It appears that Japan’s experience may differ significantly from that of other advanced economies.

Japan’s progress in automation, use of robots, and integration of artificial intelligence with daily living is likely to move at a faster pace than in many other advanced economies for several reasons:

Shrinking population and the more rapidly shrinking workforce
: As noted above, the constraint on productivity implied by a secular decline in the labor force will effectively push many industries to invest in new technology—as appears evident in Japan now, including among small and medium-sized enterprises, which have a more difficult time attracting and retaining labor. Japan is not alone in this demographic trend, but is well ahead of other advanced economies.

Aging population: The aging of Japan’s population— the so-called baby boom generation will reach 75 in just a few years—is creating substantial labor needs in health and eldercare that cannot be met by “natural” workforce entrants (that is, natives). As a result, the proliferation of robots will extend well beyond Japanese factories to include schools, hospitals, nursing homes, airports, train stations, and even temples.

Declining quality
of services: Surveys support the view that both the volume and quality of services in Japan are in decline. Recent work by the research arm of Japan’s Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (Morikawa 2018) shows that the quality of services is eroding as a result of labor shortages.

Most critically affected are parcel delivery services, hospitals, restaurants, elementary and high schools, convenience stores, and government services.

These same factors may explain why—in model- based simulations—Japan could experience higher and more immediate gains from the continued advance of robotics and artificial intelligence in the economy.

Looking at data across the Group of 20 industrialized countries, a simulation prepared by the IMF staff points to the risk of declining labor shares, income polarization, and rising inequality. This assumes substantial transition costs (unemployment, lower wages) as increasing automation substitutes for and displaces existing human labor.

However, applying this same approach only to Japan yields some very different results. Specifically, with a shrinking labor force, even fully substitutable automation could boost wages and economic growth.

In other words, with labor literally disappearing and dim prospects for relief through higher immigration, automation and robotics can fill the labor gap and result in higher output and greater income rather than replacement of the human workforce.

These positive results notwithstanding, Japan is not immune from societal and welfare risks linked to increased automation. Polarization of the labor force, in which a relatively small proportion of workers have the training and education needed to fully leverage productivity from robotics, is always a social risk.

Research suggests that the female labor force, which has swelled in the past five years, is particularly vulnerable to displacement, given the heavy concentration of women in nonregular jobs (that is, temporary, part-time, or other positions outside the mainstream of Japan’s lifetime employment system), whose tasks are more susceptible to automation (Hamaguchi and Kondo 2017).

There is no crystal ball that can accurately predict how fast and how far robotics and artificial intelligence will advance in the next few decades. Nor is there perfect foresight with regard to how these technologies will be adapted to substitute for human labor— particularly in sectors outside of manufacturing.

Aside from the nontrivial technological challenges, there are a range of hurdles related to supporting infrastructure— including the legal framework for the use of such technologies alongside the general population— that will need to be worked out. Key issues could include consumer protection, data protection, intellectual property, and commercial contracting.

But the wave of change is clearly coming and will affect virtually all professions in one way or another. Japan is a relatively unique case. Given the population and labor force dynamics, the net benefits from increased automation have been high and could be even higher, and such technology may offer a partial solution to the challenge of supporting long-term productivity and economic growth.

Japan’s experience could hold valuable lessons for such countries as China and Korea, which will face similar demographic trends in the future, and for Europe’s advanced economies.

For policymakers, the first hurdle is to accept that change is coming. The steam engine was likely just as disconcerting, but it came nonetheless—putting an end to some jobs but generating many new ones as well.

Artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation have the potential to make just as big a change, and the second hurdle may be to find ways to help the public prepare for and leverage this transformation to make lives better and incomes higher.

Strong and effective social safety nets will be crucial, since disruption of some traditional labor and social contracts seems inevitable. But education and skills development will also be necessary to enable more people to take advantage of jobs in a high-tech world.

And in Japan’s case, this also means a stronger effort to bring greater equality into the labor force—between men and women, between regular and nonregular employees, and even across regions—so that the benefits and risks of automation can be more equally shared.

The link to the original article: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2018/06/japan-labor-force-artificial-intelligence-and-robots/schneider.htm

The post Japan: the Land of the Rising Robots appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Todd Schneider is deputy division chief, Gee Hee Hong is an economist, and Anh Van Le is a research assistant, in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department.

The post Japan: the Land of the Rising Robots appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/japan-land-rising-robots/feed/ 0
A Gender-Specific Approach To Counter-Terrorismhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/gender-specific-approach-counter-terrorism/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gender-specific-approach-counter-terrorism http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/gender-specific-approach-counter-terrorism/#respond Thu, 12 Jul 2018 08:55:22 +0000 Carmen Arroyo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156663 Understanding the different way that terrorists target women and how to prevent their recruitment could play a significant role in counter-terrorism efforts, and is gaining increased recognition among the international community. “Any prevention programme should be fully mindful about its gender implications, and should be tailored toward understanding men and women’s grievances being exploited by […]

The post A Gender-Specific Approach To Counter-Terrorism appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb took credit for bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Algiers in December 2007, an act that claimed the lives of 17 U.N. personnel. The international community is increasingly recognising the importance of integrating a gender perspective into the global counter-terrorism efforts. Credit: UN Photo / Evan Schneider

By Carmen Arroyo
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 12 2018 (IPS)

Understanding the different way that terrorists target women and how to prevent their recruitment could play a significant role in counter-terrorism efforts, and is gaining increased recognition among the international community.

“Any prevention programme should be fully mindful about its gender implications, and should be tailored toward understanding men and women’s grievances being exploited by recruiters,” Mattias Sundholm, communications adviser to the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, told IPS.

Hundreds of members of civil society and representatives of member states met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York at the end of June for the first High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism. During the two-day conference, the role of gender in counter-terrorism strategies was discussed in length. 

A senior European Union official shared with IPS that “the international community is increasingly recognising the importance of integrating a gender perspective into the global counter-terrorism efforts.”

“Gender inequality and corruption, combined with the lack of information, no access to education and lack of understanding of what’s happening on the battlefield seem to play a role in the recruitment of women fighters,” the official said.

Despite the military setback of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in many Middle Eastern countries, countering its influence in the media and public opinion, along with Al-Qaeda’s power and Boko Haram’s attacks, remains a top priority for the U.N.

Last year, the General Assembly decided to implement the U.N. Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and created the Office of Counter-Terrorism, while the establishment of a Global Network of Counter-terrorism coordinators was discussed. The theme of this year’s meeting was “Strengthening international cooperation to combat the evolving threat of terrorism,” with the goal of creating partnerships and finding practical solutions.

Different approaches to recruiting men and women

The way terrorists target men and women is different as they promise them particular rewards they find appealing.

“Extremist armed groups shrewdly exploit gender just as they exploit any other potential recruitment tool. For women, they may dangle the promise of adventure, travel, romance, commitment to a cause, and the possibility of being part of an extended family yet far from the yoke of immediate relatives. For men, the pitches are often more macho, complete with the promise of glory and multiple wives,” Letta Tayler, senior researcher on terrorism at Human Right’s Watch (HRW), told IPS.

Megan Manion, policy analyst with U.N. Women, explained men are often recruited as fighters with a promise that fighters get wives as a reward.  “Extremist groups also offer a salary for services of the fighters.”

But on the other hand, Manion explained, women are promised different things.

“Women join extremist groups together with or to follow their husbands or boyfriends. Women also join violent extremist groups to get the opportunities they will not have in their own communities due to inequalities,” she said.

If terrorism strategies include gender-specific narratives, so should prevention plans.

“Women have a particularly influential role in families and can play an important role in preventing young people from radicalising,” the senior EU official said.

Thus, prevention strategies must raise to the level of terrorist strategies in terms of their nuances. “When extremist groups understand gender inequalities and the impact and power they hold, but we, those who are preventing violent extremism do not, there is a significant issue around identifying and responding to human rights violations, as well as serious security implications and risks,” Manion said.

When asked how prevention strategies should then be framed to be effective, Tayler firmly responded that any successful prevention strategy had to provide the same sense of belonging and thrill that groups like ISIL offered.

“That can only work if states stop marginalising communities and individuals who are vulnerable to recruitment,” Tayler said.

One of the ways to implement gender-specific strategies could be through the strengthening the role of women in law enforcement and policing both in terms of numbers but also on all hierarchical levels, the EU source said.

He argued in favour of reaching out to all communities, especially the de-radicalised ones.

“There is an important role for women religious leaders and local interfaith dialogue to build an environment which is less conducive to violent extremism,” he said.

Some civil organisations, such as the non-profit International Centre for Religion and Diplomacy, are already including religious actors in their counter-terrorism strategies.

Moreover, Sundholm, from the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, added that youth, and in particular girls, “should also be empowered to lead and participate in the design and implementation of prevention programmes.”

Tayler explained that at HRW gender was taken into account when the issue required it. For example, ISIL rapes or the sexual enslavement of Yezidi women require the counter-terrorism strategy to be very gender-specific. Another case would be Nigeria, where “women who managed to escape Boko Haram are reportedly being raped by Nigerian security forces who claim to be their rescuers.” 

What should member states do?

Most experts and policy makers say that counter-terrorism should be the responsibility of U.N. member states, as they control borders and pass laws, which can either give privilege to or marginalise groups. Member states should also take the lead in including a gender perspective into their policies.

“Gender-mainstreaming should be integrated in the work and programmes of both Member States and the U.N.,” the EU source said.

Manion believes that member states hold the key to prevention.

“Repressive laws and lack of security, rule of law or good governance are powerful drivers for radicalisation for women and men,

“They must make sure that the laws they pass to respond to terrorist threats do not impose unreasonable burdens on women, including women civil society organisations who are often working on the front lines to identify and prevent radicalisation and re-integrate returnees,” she added.

However, Tayler warned that while gender should be a critical focus of counter-terrorism efforts, “neither the U.N. nor national governments should assume that being gender-sensitive is a panacea.”

“Ticking off the “gender” box alone is not an effective counterterrorism strategy. Authorities need to address the myriad root causes of terrorism,” she said.   

The post A Gender-Specific Approach To Counter-Terrorism appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/gender-specific-approach-counter-terrorism/feed/ 0
New Human Rights Chief? UN Secretary-General Cannot Afford to Get It Wronghttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/new-human-rights-chief-un-secretary-general-cannot-afford-get-wrong/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-human-rights-chief-un-secretary-general-cannot-afford-get-wrong http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/new-human-rights-chief-un-secretary-general-cannot-afford-get-wrong/#respond Thu, 28 Jun 2018 15:20:30 +0000 Fred Carver and Ben Donaldson http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156448 Fred Carver is Head of Policy & Ben Donaldson, Head of Campaigns, United Nations Association – UK

The post New Human Rights Chief? UN Secretary-General Cannot Afford to Get It Wrong appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Fred Carver is Head of Policy & Ben Donaldson, Head of Campaigns, United Nations Association – UK

By Fred Carver and Ben Donaldson
LONDON, Jun 28 2018 (IPS)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is about to make one of the most important decisions of his tenure – one that will directly impact communities worldwide: the appointment of the next High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The role is formidable. She or he is tasked with promoting and protecting all human rights for everyone, everywhere. This is an immensely challenging mandate in itself.

Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Al Hussein, the outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Credit: UN

At a time when fundamental human rights are in retreat across the world, including in established democracies, it is even more crucial that a talented and effective individual is appointed, who can rise to the occasion.

The Secretary-General cannot afford to get this wrong. The world is watching.

Since the current post holder – Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein – announced last December that he will not be standing for re-appointment, UNA-UK has worked with partners to encourage a robust, transparent and inclusive process.

We were delighted that the Secretary-General issued a public call for nominations to governments, as well as an explicit invitation to civil society and national human rights institutions to put forward candidates.

We are also pleased that he has committed to advertising widely, to involving external experts in the recruitment process, and that he has encouraged female nominees.

But the Secretary-General is leaving things very late. While we have no doubt there have been vigorous efforts behind the scene, the public call for nominations was only issued on 11 June, with a deadline of one month.

That will leave a mere 51 days between the closing date and the new High Commissioner’s first day in the job. In that time, the candidate will need to be pre-vetted, interviewed, vetted again more rigorously, nominated by the Secretary-General, approved by the UN General Assembly, serve out any notice they have in their current role, move to Geneva and prepare for one of the toughest positions on the planet.

The Secretary-General’s own appointment process benefitted greatly from reforms which brought inclusivity and transparency triggered by pressure from member states and civil society, including the ‘1 for 7 Billion’ campaign of our organisation – UNA-UK.

Technically, the HCHR’s appointment is different – it’s an internal concern for the Secretary-General without meaningful involvement of the Security Council or the General Assembly – but that does not mean the process should be less robust, or that there is no room for public consultation. After all, this is the UN’s principal human rights official.

UNA-UK is therefore pushing to use the limited time available to ensure the call for nominations reaches the widest possible audience, and to campaign for a fair and transparent process.

Our “transparency checklist” shines a light on the process, using metrics such as “are the terms of reference for the interview panel disclosed”, “do women make up at least half the shortlist”, “is a clear timetable for the appointment published” and “are human rights defenders and civil society consulted during the process?”

The future postholder’s mandate will be strengthened if they are seen to have come through a thorough, meritocratic recruitment process. At present, our checklist identifies significant room for improvement on this front.

A lack of transparency will feed the speculation that a small group of powerful states could have undue influence on the process raising the spectre of a compromised appointee.

A robust process, meanwhile, would make the General Assembly’s approval a mandate, rather than a rubberstamp. Including civil society would send a strong message about the UN’s openness to the public, as well as a signal to member states that they are not the organisation’s only stakeholders.

The UN is on its knees financially. The US is looking for cuts and Russia and China calling for those cuts to fall on the UN’s already underfunded human rights mechanisms. This is happening already in peacekeeping, but is unlikely to stop there.

Security Council gridlock between the big powers has resulted in conflicts in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere turning into quagmires. The US has pulled out of the Human Rights Council, which will not make joined up work on human rights across the UN any easier. Now more than ever the UN needs to inspire faith in its representatives from the public and the wider UN membership.

The incumbent high commissioner voiced an ominous rationale for not seeking a second term – that he fears his voice will be silenced and his independence and integrity compromised. The next postholder will need to rise to this formidable challenge – being seen to come through a rigorous and fair recruitment process will help.

The post New Human Rights Chief? UN Secretary-General Cannot Afford to Get It Wrong appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Fred Carver is Head of Policy & Ben Donaldson, Head of Campaigns, United Nations Association – UK

The post New Human Rights Chief? UN Secretary-General Cannot Afford to Get It Wrong appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/new-human-rights-chief-un-secretary-general-cannot-afford-get-wrong/feed/ 0
Unprecedented Human Migration Cries Out for a Global Responsehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/unprecedented-human-migration-cries-global-response/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=unprecedented-human-migration-cries-global-response http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/unprecedented-human-migration-cries-global-response/#comments Mon, 25 Jun 2018 22:41:05 +0000 Gustavo Capdevila http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156398 The world is “basically at odds with itself,” International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Director General William Swing said Monday, June 25, describing the critical state of human migration between countries and continents. “I have to say that we are not only living in turbulent and troubled times; I have never known a world such as […]

The post Unprecedented Human Migration Cries Out for a Global Response appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
General view of the plenary session of the World Conference on “Religions, Creeds and Value Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights”, held June 25 in Geneva, with the participation of the director general of the IOM, William Swing, as a special guest. Courtesy of the GCHRAGD

General view of the plenary session of the World Conference on “Religions, Creeds and Value Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights”, held June 25 in Geneva, with the participation of the director general of the IOM, William Swing, as a special guest. Courtesy of the GCHRAGD

By Gustavo Capdevila
GENEVA, Jun 25 2018 (IPS)

The world is “basically at odds with itself,” International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Director General William Swing said Monday, June 25, describing the critical state of human migration between countries and continents.

“I have to say that we are not only living in turbulent and troubled times; I have never known a world such as the one we have today,” said the veteran U.S. diplomat who this year ends his second five-year term at the helm of the IOM.

Swing was addressing the first World Conference on “Religions, Creeds and Value Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights”, organised by the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue (GCHRAGD), which brought together academics and religious and political leaders on June 25 in Geneva."We have, in addition to that, more people on the move than at any other time in recorded history, owing to the demographic oddity that the world’s population quadrupled in the last century." -- William Swing

Swing’s warnings come at a time when the European Union is trying, so far in vain, to come up with a common policy with regard to the arrival of thousands of immigrants each week, and when U.S. President Donald Trump is not abandoning his government’s policy of separating immigrant children – more than 2,000 so far – from their undocumented parents – a procedure widely described not only as “cruel” but as “torture”.

“I’m not aware of any significant negotiations or political processes underway right now, and with all of this, we have a countercyclical reaction by the world community — basically, fear of the other, anti-migrant and anti-refugee sentiment, that not only is putting human life at stake but denying us the contributions these migrants make,” Swing said.

“So my first point is: I believe that we are in the middle of a perfect storm. We have a dozen conflicts from the western bulge of Africa to the Himalayas, with absolutely no hope in the short and medium term of resolving any of these,” he added.

The IOM head also said: “We have, in addition to that, more people on the move than at any other time in recorded history, owing to the demographic oddity that the world’s population quadrupled in the last century.”

“Unfortunately, while most of this is occurring regularly, orderly and safely, we have at least 65 million people who have been forced to move,” Swing stressed.

Furthermore, he said, “We have the impact of violations of international humanitarian law on all sides, a serious decline of international law of tort…and an absence of any leadership on the major issues.”

The GCHRAGD, where Swing was speaking, is an institution under the patronage of Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan.

Bin Talal gave the opening speech at the global conference, in which some 50 religious leaders from the world’s different religions and faiths, as well as international experts on migration, participated.

International Organisation for Migration Director General William Swing speaks at the  World Conference on “Religions, Creeds and Value Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights”, held June 25 in Geneva. Credit:  GCHRAGD

International Organisation for Migration Director General William Swing speaks at the World Conference on “Religions, Creeds and Value Systems: Joining Forces to Enhance Equal Citizenship Rights”, held June 25 in Geneva. Credit: GCHRAGD

The prince said that “Together we can share the responsibility of challenging conventional thinking about the underlying causes of loss of human dignity, marginalisation and oppression.”

The conference, held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, was a contribution to the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and approved a global 10-point strategic plan to achieve its aim of promoting equal citizenship rights.

The document unveiled by Idriss Jazairy, executive director of the GCHRAGD and co-host of the conference, who stressed that it would be presented to different U.N. bodies.

The veteran Algerian diplomat said that one of the points in the declaration was “To preserve the diverse ethnic, cultural and religious heritages of transit and host countries, while, at the same time, offering opportunities for integration to arriving refugees and migrants.”

Jazairy added that the aim of the initiative, as stated in the document, “is to promote mutual contributions and respective resilience, thus avoiding forced assimilation of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons, in line with the proviso set forth in Sustainable Development Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The IOM director general applauded the incorporation of this proposal in the conference’s strategic plan.

“It seems that (the document) underlines the importance of respecting diversity and promoting the contributions that migrants and refugees have generally made,” Swing told IPS.

“And I’m very pleased to see that it deals with the question of integration, which is at the heart of the issue. And very often people get there and they’re not properly integrated. So I think that’s important,” he emphasised.

During the conference, Swing criticised those who ignore the contributions to society made by immigrants.

He noted, for example, that a study by the IOM and the McKinsey Global Institute “determined that although only 3.5 percent of the world’s population are migrants, they are producing nine percent of global wealth measured in GDP terms, which is four percent more than if they had stayed at home.”

“So, if we’re in a storm, we need to find the high ground. We do this by following the teaching of all faiths, that men, women and children are all children of God and members of the universal family,” Swing told the religious leaders drawn together by the GCHRAGD.

“If we are to prevent future storms, we obviously have to make some changes. We have three challenges, in my view. Number one, is the challenge of changing the public narrative, which, right now, is toxic. We’ve become used to building walls rather than bridges….Until we can change that narrative, people will continue to be abused and have their rights disrespected,” he said.

The second challenge, he added, is the challenge of demography. With a rapidly declining population, the global north “is in need of skills and persons to do the jobs. At the same time, we have a rapidly expanding largely unemployed youthful population in the global south — the median age in Africa is 25, while in Europe it is 50.”

“That has to be addressed through programmes of public education and public information,” Swing recommended.

Lastly, “we have to learn to address the challenge of inexorably growing ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity,” he said.

“…I would simply leave you with the message that movement of people, human mobility, is not an issue to be resolved, it is a human reality, as old as humankind, that has to be managed,” he concluded.

The post Unprecedented Human Migration Cries Out for a Global Response appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/unprecedented-human-migration-cries-global-response/feed/ 1
Food Sustainability, Migration, Nutrition and Womenhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/food-sustainability-migration-nutrition-women/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=food-sustainability-migration-nutrition-women http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/food-sustainability-migration-nutrition-women/#respond Tue, 19 Jun 2018 18:02:14 +0000 Enrique Yeves http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156293 We worry about how we can continue to put food on our tables; and yet one-third of food is never eaten, instead being lost or wasted. We worry about eating properly, and yet in many countries, poor nutrition, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies are increasingly common. This trend is taking place in the Americas, Oceania, Asia, […]

The post Food Sustainability, Migration, Nutrition and Women appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

By Enrique Yeves
ROME, Jun 19 2018 (IPS)

We worry about how we can continue to put food on our tables; and yet one-third of food is never eaten, instead being lost or wasted.

We worry about eating properly, and yet in many countries, poor nutrition, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies are increasingly common. This trend is taking place in the Americas, Oceania, Asia, Africa and in Europe.

Enrique Yeves

We want to empower women and girls, yet in every sector we still see serious disparities in terms of equal pay for equal wages and getting more women into senior management positions. We worry about the mass movement of people, many of them disenfranchised, and yet fail to stop the exploitation and even death that too often awaits those who try to migrate.

What is to be done? First, we must understand how each of these issues is interlinked and how they can be alleviated using an integrated approach involving agriculture, education, social services, health and infrastructure. If we channel development assistance in an integrated way, rather than towards specific sectors, we are more likely to achieve sustainable changes – these in turn can ease the burden of coordination and enhance our ability to help governments to achieve more effective and long term improvements.

For this to happen, we need the political will of governments to achieve change, coupled with adequate resources.

These issues are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Governments committed to the SDGs in 2015, pledging to end hunger, extreme poverty, and other social, environmental and health evils that have left over 815 million people undernourished, and in many areas barely surviving in squalid and inhumane conditions.

The role of governments is central. Only they can exert the political will to enforce the required changes and to set aside the critically needed resources.

The role of development organizations, including the UN, non-governmental organizations and international and regional financial institutions, is also critical. They exist to support governments determined to achieve the SDGs and in so doing to improve their overall social, economic and political wellbeing.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been working for over 70 years on both the policy front and on the ground, doing so globally, regionally, nationally and at the community level. We have been documenting the state of food insecurity in the world, exploring and emphasizing the all-important role of small producers in achieving food security. Small-scale farmers, fishers and foresters, constituting a vast number of the rural poor, are vulnerable to environmental and market forces often beyond their control.

Yet it is they who, using tried and tested traditional systems enhanced where possible by improved technologies adapted to their needs, hold the keys to a world without hunger. As FAO has documented, family farmers produce more than two-thirds of the world’s food, with smallholders producing more per unit of land.

In the long run, tackling the direct relationship between mass migration and poverty and instability entails addressing basic challenges in the countries that people are leaving, and by providing more integrated assistance to refugees to improve their health and capacity to earn livelihoods in the receiving countries.

An important but frequently underplayed aspect for governments in developing countries is their need for assistance in defining and quantifying their present situation through internationally accepted benchmarks. Reliable statistics are crucial in order to measure progress towards attainment of the SDGs and general progress in development.

FAO delivers a lot of services to its members in this regard. And the effort produces globally relevant information, some of it alarming. Right now, for example, the global number of undernourished people is estimated at 815 million and that figure is rising for the first time in more than a decade. The number of countries reliant on external food assistance is now 39, the highest it’s ever been since FAO started tracking.

Eradicating hunger is a lynchpin for the entire 2030 Agenda, and governments must raise awareness about why achieving the SDGs is critical. This effort will both enable and benefit from women’s empowerment.

Programmes such as food for work, food stamps or a mix of both – especially in situations where conflict or natural disaster have impacted local production – are all part of the toolkit and are demonstrably efficient in fostering women’s power and interests. Increasing access to food is a building block to goals ranging from nutrition to women’s rights and assuring resilient livelihoods for producers.

What is essential is to find synergies – not only to avoid wasteful duplication but to forge the basis for sustainable solutions. Otherwise our worries are in vain.

Enrique Yeves is Director of Communications, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The post Food Sustainability, Migration, Nutrition and Women appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/food-sustainability-migration-nutrition-women/feed/ 0
Trump is Here to Stay and Change the Worldhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/trump-stay-change-world/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trump-stay-change-world http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/trump-stay-change-world/#respond Mon, 18 Jun 2018 15:05:37 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156274 Donald John Trump, 45th and current president of the United States, has been seen in many illustrious circles as an anomaly that cannot last. Well, it is time to look at reality. If we put on the glasses of people who have seen their level of income reduced and are afraid of the future, Trump […]

The post Trump is Here to Stay and Change the World appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
By Roberto Savio
ROME, Jun 18 2018 (IPS)

Donald John Trump, 45th and current president of the United States, has been seen in many illustrious circles as an anomaly that cannot last. Well, it is time to look at reality.

If we put on the glasses of people who have seen their level of income reduced and are afraid of the future, Trump is here to stay, and he is a result and not a cause.

Roberto Savio

In his year and a half of government, Trump has not lost one of his battles. He has changed the political discourse worldwide, established new standards of ethics in politics, a new meaning of democracy, and his electoral basis has not been shrinking at all.

His critics are the media (which a large majority of Americans dislike), the elite (which is hated) and professionals (who are considered to be profiting at the expense of the lower section of the middle class).

There is now a strong divide with the rural world, the de-industrialised parts of the United States, miners with their mine closed, etc. In addition, white Americans feel increasingly threatened by immigrants, minorities, corporations and industries which have been using the government to their advantage. At every election their number shrinks by two percent.

Let us not forget that Trump was elected by the vote of the majority of white woman, in a country which is the bedrock of feminism.

I know that this could create some irate reactions. The United States is home to some of the best universities in the world, the most brilliant researchers as shown by the number of Nobel prizes awarded , very good orchestras, libraries, museums, a vibrant civil society, and so on. But the sad reality is that those elites count, at best, for no more than 20 percent of the population.

In 80 percent of cases, TV news is the only source of information on international affairs. Newspapers are usually only local, with exception of a few (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, in all less than ten), and have a readership of 35 percent of the population.

You have only to travel in the US hinterland to observe two striking facts: it is very rare to meet somebody who knows geography and history even minimally, and everybody is convinced that the United States has been helping the entire world for which nobody is grateful.

An investigation by the New York Times found out that Americans were convinced that their country has been giving at least 15 percent of its budget for support and philanthropy. In fact, in recent decades the real figure has been below 0.75 percent. At the same time, it has a number of institutes of international studies of the highest level with brilliant analysts, plus a large number of international NGOs. But only 34 percent of the member of the Senate, and 38 percent of members of the House of Representatives have a passport…

The country is divided into two worlds. Of course, the same happen in every country, and in Africa or Asia the division between elite and low-level population is even more extreme. But the United States is an affluent country, where for more than two centuries efforts have been made on the fronts of education and integration in a country which has also been called the “melting pot”, and where it is widely believed that it is the best – if not the only – democracy in the world.

Trump, therefore, has an easy and captive electorate, made up of strong believers, and we cannot understand why, if we do not go over the history of American politics, which is in fact parallel to the political history of Europe. The calls for a lengthy analysis which is what is missing in today’s media, and in which recent US politics can be divided (very roughly) into three historical cycles.

The first, from 1945 to 1981), saw the political class convinced that the priority was to avoid a new world war. For this, institutions for peace and cooperation had to be built, and individuals were to be happy with their status and destiny.

Internationally, that meant the creation of the United Nation, multilateralism as a way to negotiate on the basis of participation and consensus, and international cooperation as a way to help poor countries develop and reduce inequalities. Domestically, this was to be done by giving priority to labour over capital. Strong trade unions were created and in 1979 income from labour accounted for 70 percent of total income. A similar trend was also the seen in Europe.

The second cycle ran from 1981 to 2009, the year Barack Obama was named president. On behalf of the corporate world, Ronald Reagan had launched the neoliberal wave. He started by shutting down the trade union of air traffic controllers, and went on to dismantle much of the welfare and social net built over the previous four decades, eliminating regulations, giving free circulation to capital, creating unrestricted free trade, and so on.

That led to delocalisation of factories, the decline of trade unions and their ability to negotiate, and a very painful reduction of the labour share of wealth, which fell from 70 percent in 1979 to 63 percent in 2014, and has continued to decline ever since.

Unprecedented inequalities have become normal and accepted. Today, an employee at Live Nation Entertainment, an events promotion and ticketing company, who earns an average of 24, 000 dollars would need 2,893 years to earn the 70.6 million dollars that its CEO, Michael Rapino, earned last year.

Reagan had a counterpart in Europe, Margaret Thatcher, who dismantled trade unions, ridiculed the concept of community and common goods and aims (“… there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families …” ), partly followed by Gerard Schroeder in Germany. Globalisation became the undisputed new political vision, far from the rigid ideologies which had created communism and fascism, and were responsible for the Second World War. The market would solve all problems, and governments should keep their hands off.

Reagan was followed by Bush Sr., George H. W. Bush. who somewhat moderated Reagan’s policies. While he started the war with Iraq, he did not go on to invade the entire country. And he was followed by a Democrat, Bill Clinton, who did not challenge neoliberal globalisation but tried to ride it, showing that the left (in American terms) could be more efficient than the right. To give just one example, it was Clinton who completed deregulation of banks by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act which separated savings and investment banking. That led to the transfer of billions of dollars from savings to investments, or speculation, with the result that today banks consider customer activity less lucrative than investments, and finance has become a sector that is totally separate from the production of goods and services. There are now 40 times more financial transactions in one day than output from industry and services, and finance is the only sector of human activity without any international control body.

Markets are now more important than the vote of citizens given that, in many cases, it is they that decide the viability of a government. Furthermore, this has become a sector with no ethics: since the financial crisis of 2008, banks have paid a whopping amount of 321 billion dollars in penalties for illegal activities.

Clinton’s conviction that the left could be successful also had its counterpart in Europe, like Reagan had Thatcher. It was Tony Blair, who constructed a theoretical design for explaining the submission of the left to neoliberal globalisation: this was the so-called Third Way which was, in fact, was a centrist position that tried to reconcile centre-right economic and centre-left social policies.

However, it became clear that neoliberal globalisation was in fact lifting only a few boats and that capital without regulation was becoming a threat. Social injustices continued to increase and legions of people in the rural area felt that towns were syphoning off all revenues and that the elite was ignoring them, and unemployed workers and the impoverished middle class no longer felt old loyalties to the left, which was now considered representative of the elite and professionals.

In the United States the Democratic Party, which also held a neoliberal view with Clinton, began to change its agenda from an economic approach to one of human rights, defending minorities, Afro-Americans and immigrants, and advocating their inclusion in the system.

The fight was no longer between corporations and trade unions, and Obama was the result of that fight, the champion of human rights also as an instrument of international affairs. In fact, while he had a brilliant agenda on human rights, he did very little on the social and economic front, beside the law on national health. But his alliance of minorities and progressive whites was a personal baggage, who could not pass on to an emblematic figure of the establishment like Hillary Clinton.

That led to a new situation in American politics. Those on the left began to see defence of their identity (and their past) as the new fight, now that the traditional division between left and right had waned. Religious identity, national identity, fight against the system and those who are different, become political action.

It should be stressed that the same process happened in Europe, albeit in a totally different cultural and social situation. Those left out deserted the traditional political system to vote for those who were against the system, and promised radical changes to restore the glories of the past.

Their message was necessary nationalist, because they denounced all international systems as merely supporting the elites who were the beneficiaries. It was also necessarily to find a scapegoat, like the Jews in the thirties. Immigrants were perfect because they aroused fear and a perceived loss of traditional identity, a threat in a period of large unemployment.

The new political message from the newcomers was to empower those left out, those who felt fear, those who had lost any trust in the political class, and promise to give them back their sovereignty, reject intruders and take power away from the traditional elites, the professionals of politics, to bring in real people.

Since the end of the financial crisis in 2008 – which brought about even further deterioration of the social and economic situation) – those parties known as populist parties started to grow and they now practically dominate the political panorama.

In the United States, the Republicans of the Tea Party, radical right-wing legislators, were able to change the Republican party, pushing out those called compassionate conservatives because they had social concern. In Europe, the media were startled to see workers voting for Marine Le Pen in France, but the left had lost any legitimacy as representative of the lower incomes; technological change led to the disappearance of social identities, like workers.

In a period of crisis, there was no capability for redistribution. The left had now found itself in the middle of a crisis of identity and it will not emerge from it soon.

Let us now come to today. In November 2016, to universal amazement, (and his own) Trump was elected president of the United States, and just four months later, in March 2017, Brexit came as a rude awakening for Europe. The resentful and fearful went to the polls to get Great Britain out of Europe. The fact that the campaign was plagued by falsehood – recognised by the winners after the referendum – was irrelevant. Who was against Brexit? The financial system, the international corporations, the big towns like London, university professors: in other words, the system. That was enough.

Here, I have deliberately lumped together the United States and Europe (the European Union) to show that globalisation has had a global impact. A United States, which had been the creator and guarantor of the international system, started to withdraw from it under Reagan when he felt that it was becoming a straitjacket for the United States.

This started the decline of the United Nations: on American initiative, trade was taken away from the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was created. Globalisation has two engines, trade and finance, and both are now out of the United Nations, which has become an institution for health, education, children, woman and other non-productive sectors, according to the market. It is no coincidence that Trump is now fighting against the globalisation that United States invented, and one of its main enemies is the WTO.

An old maxim is that people get the government they deserve. But we should also be aware that they are being pushed by a new alliance: the alternative right alliance. In all countries it has the same aim: destroy what exists. This network is fed at the same time by Russia and the United States. American alt-right ideologues like Steve Bannon are addressing European audiences to foster the end of the European Union, with clear support from the White House. The populists in power, like Viktor Orban in Hungary or Matteo Salvini in Italy (as well those not in power, like Le Pen) all consider Trump and Vladimir Putin as their points of references. Such alliances are new, and they will become very dangerous.

And now we come to Mr. Trump. After what has been said above, it is clear why he should be considered a symptom and not a cause, while his personality is obviously playing an additional important role. It should be noted that he has not lost any important battle since he came to power. He has been able to take over the Republican party completely, and it is now de facto the Trump Party.

In the primaries for the November 2017 elections (for all House of Representative seats and 50 percent of those of the Senate), he intervened to support candidates he liked, and their opponents always lost. In South Carolina, conservative Katie Arrington, who won against a much stronger opponent, Mark Sanford, declared in her acceptance speech: our party is the Trump party.

Trump knows exactly what his voters think, and he always acts in a way that strengthens his support, regardless of what he does. He is a known sexist, and is now involved in a scandal with a porno star? He has moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and he now has the support of the evangelists, a very large and puritan Protestant group which is an important source of votes. (Interestingly, Guatemala and Paraguay which decided to move their embassies to Jerusalem are also run by evangelists.)

Trump has refused to disclose his incomes and taxes, and he has not formally separated himself from his companies. In the United States, this is usually is enough to force people to resign.

He has removed from his cabinet all the representatives of finance and industry he had put in on his arrival (in order to be accepted by the establishment) and replaced them with right-wing hawks, highly efficient and not morons, from National Security Advisor John Bolton to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He has managed to obtain Gina Hastel, a notorious torturer, as director of the CIA with the votes of Democrats.

He has turned his back on a highly structured treaty with Iran (and other four major countries) to forge a totally unclear agreement with North Korea, which creates problems with Japan, an American ally by definition. He has decided to side with Israel and Saudi Arabia against Iran, because that move has the support of a large American sector.

In addition to narcissism, what moves Trump are not values but money. He has quarreled with all historical allies of the United States and he is now engaging in a tariff war with them, while starting one with China, simply on the basis of money. However while erratic, Trump is not unpredictable. All that he has done, he announced during his electoral campaign.

Trump believes he is accountable to no one, and has created a direct relationship with his electors, bypassing the media. According to The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog, which keeps track of Trump’s many misstatements, untruths and outright lies, he exceeded 3,000 untrue or misleading statements in his first 466 days – on average, 6.5 untruths a day. Nobody cares. Very few are able to judge.

When a president of United States announces that he is abandoning the treaty with Iran, because they are the main financier of ISIS and Al Qaida, the lack of public reaction is a good measure of the total ignorance of most Americans.

Americans have no idea that Islam is divided between Sunni and Shiite, and that the terrorists are Sunni and based on an extreme interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, or Salafism. Iranians, who are not Arabs, are Shiite, and are considered apostate by the Sunni extremists; Iran has lost thousands of men in the fight against ISIS.

This ignorance helps Trump win Republican voters, no matter what.

The fact that Trump knows exactly what his voters feel and think feeds his narcissism. After his meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, at a press conference he said of previous US presidents: “I don’t think they’ve ever had the confidence, frankly, in a president that they have right now for getting things done and having the ability to get things done”.

He does not tolerate any criticism or dissent, as his staff well knows. The result is that he is surrounded by yes men, like no president before. His assistant for trade, Peter Navarro, has declared that there should be a special place in hell for foreign leaders who disagree with Trump.

According to the large majority of economists, the tariff war that he has now started now with US allies plus China will bring growth down all over the world, but nobody reacts in the United States. It is all irrelevant to his voters. He now has a 92 percent rate of confidence, the highest since the United States has existed.

Considering all he has done in less than two years against the existing order leads us to consider that the real danger is that he will be re-elected, and leave office only in 2024. By then, the changes in ethics and style will have become really irreversible.

With many candidates in various countries looking to him as a political example, he will certainly be able to change the world in which we have grown and which, albeit with many faults, has been able to bring about growth and peace.

It is true that the traditional political system needs a radical update, and it does appear able to do so. Meanwhile, it is difficult to foresee how a world based on nationalism and xenophobia – with a strong increase in military spending worldwide, and many other global problems from climate change to no policy for migration, and a global debt that has reached 225 percent of GNP in ten years – will be able to live without conflicts,

What we do know is that the world which emerged from the Second World War, based on the idea of peace and development, the world which is in our constitutions, will disappear.

Democracy, can be a perfect tool for the legitimacy of a dictator. This is what is happening in the various Russias, Turkeys, Hungarys or Polands. A strongman wins the elections, then starts to make changes to the constitution in order to have more power. The next step is to place cronies in institutional positions, reduce the independence of the judiciary, control the media, and so on. That is then followed by acting in name of the majority, against minorities.

This is not new in history. Hitler and Mussolini were at first elected, and today many “men of providence” are lining up.

The post Trump is Here to Stay and Change the World appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/trump-stay-change-world/feed/ 0
China Generates Energy and Controversy in Argentinahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/china-generates-energy-controversy-argentina/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=china-generates-energy-controversy-argentina http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/china-generates-energy-controversy-argentina/#comments Fri, 08 Jun 2018 08:04:43 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156109 As in other Latin American countries, in recent years China has been a strong investor in Argentina. The environmental impact and economic benefits of this phenomenon, however, are a subject of discussion among local stakeholders. One of the key areas is energy. A study by the non-governmental Environment and Natural Resources Foundation (FARN) states that […]

The post China Generates Energy and Controversy in Argentina appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Demonstrators protest the construction of two mega hydroelectric power plants on the Santa Cruz River in Argentine Patagonia, with Chinese investment of five billion dollars. Despite concerns about environmental impacts, the government of Mauricio Macri decided to go ahead with the projects. Credit: Courtesy of FARN

Demonstrators protest the construction of two mega hydroelectric power plants on the Santa Cruz River in Argentine Patagonia, with Chinese investment of five billion dollars. Despite concerns about environmental impacts, the government of Mauricio Macri decided to go ahead with the projects. Credit: Courtesy of FARN

By Daniel Gutman
BUENOS AIRES, Jun 8 2018 (IPS)

As in other Latin American countries, in recent years China has been a strong investor in Argentina. The environmental impact and economic benefits of this phenomenon, however, are a subject of discussion among local stakeholders.

One of the key areas is energy. A study by the non-governmental Environment and Natural Resources Foundation (FARN) states that China has mainly been financing hydroelectric, nuclear and hydrocarbon projects.

Just four percent of these investments are in renewable energies, which is precisely the sector where the country is clearly lagging.

“China’s main objective is to export its technology and inputs. And it has highly developed hydraulic, nuclear and oil sectors. There are no more rivers in China where dams can be built and this is why they are so interested in the dams on the Santa Cruz River,” María Marta Di Paola, FARN’s director of research, told IPS."What we attributed in the past to U.S. pressure we are now experiencing with China….The dams are a clear example of how this pressure for economic reasons could be trampling over the nation's environmental sovereignty.” -- Hernán Casañas

China is behind a controversial project to build two giant dams in Patagonia, on the Santa Cruz River, which was approved during the administration of Cristina Kirchner (2007-2015) and ratified by President Mauricio Macri, despite strong environmental concerns.

The dams would cost some five billion dollars, with a foreseen a capacity of 1,310 MW.

However, expert Gustavo Girado said that it is not China that refuses to get involved in renewable energy projects, but Argentina that has not yet made a firm commitment to the energy transition towards clean and unconventional renewable sources.

“Like any country with a lot of capital, China is interested in all possible businesses and takes what it is offered. In fact, in Argentina it also has a high level of participation in the RenovAr Plan,” explained Girado, an economist and director of a postgraduate course on contemporary China at the public National University of Lanús, based in Buenos Aires.

He was referring to the initiative launched by the Argentine government to develop renewable energies and revert the current scenario, in which fossil fuels account for 87 percent of the country’s primary energy mix.

Also participating in this industry are Chinese companies, which during the period January-September 2017 produced 25 percent of the total oil and 14 percent of the natural gas extracted in the country.

Since 2016, the Ministry of Energy has signed 147 contracts for renewable energy projects that would contribute a total of 4,466 MW to the electric grid, most of them involving solar and wind power, which are currently under development.

The goal is to comply with the law enacted in 2015, which establishes that by 2025 renewables must contribute at least 20 percent of the capacity of the electric grid, which today is around 30,000 MW.

In this sense, 15 percent of the power allocated through the RenovAr Plan has been to Chinese capital.

One mega project in renewable energies is the Caucharí solar park, in the northern province of Jujuy, which is to consist of the installation of 1,200,000 solar panels built in China, on a 700-hectare site.

The project has a budget of 390 million dollars, of which 330 million will be financed by the state-owned Export-Import Bank of China.

China is also behind Argentina’s intention to develop nuclear energy, since in 2017 it was agreed that it would finance the fourth and fifth nuclear power plants in this South American country, at a total cost of 14 billion dollars.

However, the Macri administration announced this month that it would indefinitely postpone the start of construction of at least the first of these plants, to avoid further indebtedness and reduce the country’s high fiscal deficit.

The decision is aimed at facilitating the granting of a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), after the crisis of confidence that resulted in a massive outflow of capital and which put the local economy in serious trouble.

On the other hand, other energy projects funded by Chinese capital are going ahead, including four other hydroelectric power plants and thermal plants powered by natural gas.

So far, the investments already committed by Beijing in the energy sector in Latin America’s third-largest economy total 30 billion dollars, in addition to projects in other areas, such as infrastructure, agribusiness or mining.

“The Chinese looked first at their continent, then at Africa, and for some years now they have their eyes on Latin America. First of all, they were interested in agricultural and mineral products, and today they are not only the region’s second largest trading partner, but also a good investor,” Jorge Taiana, Argentine foreign minister between 2005 and 2010, told IPS.

The veteran diplomat recalled a point made by then U.S. President George W. Bush at the 2005 Summit of the Americas (SOA) in the Argentine city of Mar del Plata, where the region refused to form the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

“He (Bush) told us,’I don’t know why they care so much about the FTAA, when what we need to discuss is how we defend ourselves against China’,” Taiana said.

He maintains that it depends on the decisions of Argentina and the rest of the countries in the region whether they will benefit from or be victims of China’s aggressive economic expansion.

“Foreign direct investment is always beneficial. The secret lies in what conditions the recipients put in place and what their development plan is,” he said.

“Argentina, for example, built its railways with English capital, and all the tracks converge in Buenos Aires because the English were only interested in getting the agricultural products to to the port. Those are the things that shouldn’t happen,” he added.

Environmental organisations are particularly critical of the dams on the Santa Cruz River, which begins in the magnificent Los Glaciares National Park and could affect the water level in Lake Argentino, home to the Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the country’s major tourist attractions.

However, the dam contract has a cross default clause whereby, if not built, Chinese banks could also cut off financing for railway infrastructure projects they are carrying out in Argentina.

“What we attributed in the past to U.S. pressure we are now experiencing with China,” said Hernán Casañas, director of Aves Argentinas, the country’s oldest environmental organisation.

“The dams are a clear example of how this pressure for economic reasons could be trampling over the nation’s environmental sovereignty,” he told IPS.

In this regard, Di Paola said that “China has occupied in Latin America the place previously occupied primarily by traditional financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.”

“The problem is that it does not have the same framework of safeguards, so they are able to start infrastructure works without complying with environmental requirements,” he said.

But Girado sees things differently, saying “the financial institutions impose conditions on the countries that receive the credits, which China does not do. In that sense it is more advantageous.”

The post China Generates Energy and Controversy in Argentina appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/china-generates-energy-controversy-argentina/feed/ 1
Migrants Bringing Melodies to the Streets of Rome: Traditional Music Returns to the Eternal Cityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/migrants-bringing-melodies-streets-rome-traditional-music-returns-eternal-city/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migrants-bringing-melodies-streets-rome-traditional-music-returns-eternal-city http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/migrants-bringing-melodies-streets-rome-traditional-music-returns-eternal-city/#respond Fri, 01 Jun 2018 15:51:28 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156029 During the past recent years, the city of Rome has experienced a rise in the presence of musicians in its streets and in particular those playing traditional sounds. It does not take a long time, while walking in the streets of Rome, to see a band playing joyful traditional sounds in Piazza Navona. The group […]

The post Migrants Bringing Melodies to the Streets of Rome: Traditional Music Returns to the Eternal City appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

“Colosseo band” is a music street-band performing in Rome since years. Credit: Maged Srour / IPS

By Maged Srour
ROME, Jun 1 2018 (IPS)

During the past recent years, the city of Rome has experienced a rise in the presence of musicians in its streets and in particular those playing traditional sounds. It does not take a long time, while walking in the streets of Rome, to see a band playing joyful traditional sounds in Piazza Navona. The group renamed itself “Colosseo Band” but they are all from Eastern Europe. A double bass, violins, guitars and a xylophone: this unique assortment gives rise to an explosion of pleasant sounds that make people dancing in the same square.

“People used to think that traditional and working-class music had no place in urban context and that it was more related to rural areas,” said once Alessandro Portelli, a historian who, together with the musicologist Sara Modigliani created the project “Roma Forestiera” (“Foreigner Rome”). ” A few years ago, Romans started to walk around the city and seeing musicians at almost every corner and they realized that those musicians were not Italians but Nigerians, Romanians and Senegalese: people realized that music had come back to the streets of Rome and those who brought it were foreigners”.

The project “Roma Forestiera” (“Foreigner Rome”) was created in 2010 by the cultural association ‘Circolo Gianni Bosio’ and it is only one of the many other initiatives that want to bring together migrants and Italians through music. The aim of the association is to study and spread the music performed by migrants in Rome and the rest of Italy. The founders of the project –Portelli and Modigliani – went on a tour to the streets, the mosques and the schools of Rome, and they were amazed by the variegated sounds coming from Bangladesh, Senegal, Ecuador, Kurdistan. Today they boast the biggest auditory archive of migrants’ music in Europe.

Thanks to this initiative, the association could also promote the creation of the multi-ethnic chorus “Romolo Balzani”. The latter, promoted by the ‘Iqbal Masih’ school of Rome, gathers adults and minors singers once a week, in the neighbourhood of Torpignattara, one of the most multicultural hubs of Rome. The chorus, founded by Sara Modigliani, today is directed by two migrants women: Roxana Ene from Romania and Sushmita Sultana from Bangladesh.

Two street-musicians playing in the famous square of Piazza Navona, in Rome. Credit: Maged Srour / IPS

Only a few kilometres from there, in the heart of the Esquilino neighbourhood – another crucial melting pot of the city of Rome, known for its high rate of migrants – the association Apollo 11 created in 2002 the “Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio” (OPV, “The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio”).

In a neighbourhood where Italians are definitely a minority group, two Italians – Mario Tronco and Agostino Ferrente – imagined and created this Orchestra. The OPV gathers musicians coming from ten different countries and speaking nine different languages. Together, they transformed their cultural roots in one unique language: music.

The OPV became in the past recent years one of the best examples of positive integration of migrants in the city of Rome. Through a self-managed system of auto-taxation carried out by some citizens, the OPV was able to create jobs and related residency permits for talented musicians from all around the world.

“Music is a world within itself, it is a language we all understand,” said the singer Stevie Wonder once. Amongst the many forms of art, music has always been characterised by contaminations and borrowings between different peoples: it always represented one of the main vehicles for integration among different cultures. Without a doubt, the language of music is universal. Everyone can understand it regardless of the city, country or culture of origin.

However, at the same time, music is also a banner of each country’s identity. Therefore, it should not be a surprise finding Greek people being so proud of their traditional music or Egyptians loving so much to listen to their cheerful melodies in their microbuses and taxis.

This is the real value of music, which contains at the same time individualism and collectivism. It has its unique shape and identity and its own role in our societies. Music represents an individual experience diverse from person to person. On the other hand, music is also a collective experience because ears of people from throughout the world can enjoy it indifferently: melodies are able to unite people in concerts and celebrations or at the angle of a street while listening to a street musician. Therefore, music can be a tool for individual meditation or a tool to bring people together: different facets of the same coin.

The post Migrants Bringing Melodies to the Streets of Rome: Traditional Music Returns to the Eternal City appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/06/migrants-bringing-melodies-streets-rome-traditional-music-returns-eternal-city/feed/ 0