One of the highlight activities as the United Nations commemorates its 75th anniversary this year will be the launch of an “annual temperature check” on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), progress. With only ten years left to the final whistle for the Goals, this activity that will take place each September will provide a snapshot of what’s working, and where countries need more action.
The latest November 2019 UBS/PwC Billionaires Report
counted 2,101 billionaires globally, or 589 more than five years before. Earlier, Farhad Manjoo
had seriously recommended, ‘Abolish Billionaires’, presenting a moral case against the super-rich as they have and get far, far more than what they might reasonably claim to deserve.
“Fire bullets at the traitors of the country,” chanted mobs of Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, supporters wrapped in Indian flags in Delhi last week.
Let’s face what lies ahead with open eyes: 2020 is going to be a very tough year for the world, and developing countries in particular. The infant decade has already begun with the harbingers of climate disaster as thousands fled to beaches in Australia from raging bush fires, and the Middle East braced for more conflict after a U.S. air strike in Baghdad killed Iran’s top general.
The social utility of billionaires’ existence has come under increased scrutiny, especially during the Democratic Party primaries for the 2020 US Presidential election. Leading newspapers, such as The New York Times, published opinion pieces arguing to abolish billionaires
and reflecting on why billionaires engage in illegal insider trading
“The 2030 Agenda is coming to life”, declared the Secretary General at the opening of the first SDG Summit, a quadrennial event for the follow up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As leaders from Asia – Pacific took the floor, they highlighted country progress of SDG implementation and reaffirmed commitment to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Statements reflected different approaches across the region. Yet all converged on one priority: accelerated actions and transformative pathways
Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, and developing countries are recognized as hotspots for climatic risks. Through solidarity, peer-to-peer learning and collective self-reliance, developing countries are collaborating among themselves to address the threat.
Genesis smiles and holds her hand up proudly to answer questions in class. She claps her hands in support of her classmates when they answer the teachers’ questions correctly. “I miss my cousins and aunts in Venezuela, she says.” Her smile fades and her lips tighten. She struggles to hold back her tears. “I can’t return. I want to stay here in my school, with my new friends.” Her smile returns, as she resolutely states: “I want to become a lawyer, so I can help solve problems
Much recent unrest, such as the ‘yellow-vest’ protests in France and the US ‘Abolish the Super-Rich’ campaign
, is not against inequality per se, but reflects perceptions of changing inequalities. Most citizens resent inequalities when it is not only unacceptably high, but also rising.
Unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are the authoritative global reference point articulating the responsibilities of companies to respect and protect human rights.
After years of austerity, a number of Eurozone countries are now considering expansionary
fiscal policies. And in the UK, government spending is set to return to levels last seen in the 1970s
. But austerity abounds elsewhere in the world, including in some of the poorest countries.
Next year the United Nations will commemorate its 75th anniversary. The General Assembly determined that all the UN’s activities in 2020 shall be guided by the theme “The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism”.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO), all dominated by rich countries, have long promoted trade liberalization as a ‘win-win
’ solution for “all people—rich and poor—and all countries—developed and developing countries”, arguing that “the gains are large enough to enable compensation to be provided to the losers”.
New information published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
shows that action taken by just 11 countries – most of them low- or middle-income – has resulted in 20 million fewer adult tobacco users in 2017 compared with 2008. Seventy percent of the world’s tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries.
I met late professor T.N. Srinivasan (popularly known as TN) a couple of months before he passed away in November 2018. Despite his original contributions to trade theory, ¬development economics, inequality and poverty, he never won the Nobel in economics. His colleague at Yale had once ¬remarked that TN would get not one but two Nobels. I was too much in awe of TN to ask this question but my friend asked him directly if he could think of an Indian economist who might win the Nobel for economics in the near future. He said, “Abhijit but not so soon”. He was right but not entirely.
Four years ago, UN member states proclaimed their ambitions for development in a document named “Transforming Our World”, also known as Agenda 2030.
Today, according to several assessments including of the UN’s inter-agency task force on financing for development (FfD) transformation has fallen off-track. It has received too little money, political commitment and action to change the workings of the global economy. Agenda 2030 spells out the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) needed to ‘transform our world’.
On the 8th of October, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that the organisation is running out of money by the end of October - "member States have paid only 70 percent of the total amount needed for [our] regular budget”.
When the six much-ballyhooed high-level UN meetings concluded late September, there were mixed feelings about the final outcomes.
And civil society organizations (CSOs), who were mostly disappointed with the results, are now gearing themselves for two upcoming key climate summit meetings: COP25 in Santiago, Chile in December and COP26 in Glasgow, UK in late 2020, along with the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Women’s Conference scheduled to take place in September 2020 in New York.
Rural poverty and inequality continue inflicting large swaths of population in Colombia, especially in rural areas. This situation, endemic since at least the beginning of the twentieth century, was at the root of the 50-year long conflict that shattered the country, leaving 220,000 deaths and 5.7 million displaced persons, and devastating a significant part of the rural areas, where government services and infrastructure vanished.
Last month 195 world leaders once again met in New York for big speeches and grand events. But on inequality, when all is said and done, more has been said than done.
For the first time since a new development agenda was adopted in 2015 to make the world a better place for everyone, government leaders assembled at the United Nations in late September to take stock of progress. The verdict of this summit was not good.