Inter Press ServiceGlobal – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 19 Sep 2018 14:09:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 UN Expects More Upheavals as Trump’s Foreign Policy Runs Wildhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-expects-upheavals-trumps-foreign-policy-runs-wild/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-expects-upheavals-trumps-foreign-policy-runs-wild http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-expects-upheavals-trumps-foreign-policy-runs-wild/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 10:22:26 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157674 The unpredictable Donald Trump, described by some as a human wrecking ball, will be walking down his own path of self-inflicted destruction when he visits the United Nations next week. The volatile American president’s unorthodox and reckless foreign policy has already reverberated throughout the United Nations: a $300 million reduction in funding to the UN […]

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Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, addresses the Assembly’s annual general debate. Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 19 2018 (IPS)

The unpredictable Donald Trump, described by some as a human wrecking ball, will be walking down his own path of self-inflicted destruction when he visits the United Nations next week.

The volatile American president’s unorthodox and reckless foreign policy has already reverberated throughout the United Nations: a $300 million reduction in funding to the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) aiding Palestinians and a $69 million cut in funding, since last year, for the UN Population Agency (UNFPA), advancing reproductive health.

And there is widespread speculation that the United States will also initiate a General Assembly resolution later this year to reduce its assessed contributions to the world body – currently at 22 percent of the annual budget.

But that resolution may be adopted by the 193-member General Assembly if the US resorts to strong-arm tactics — as US Ambassador Nikki Haley once threatened to “take down names” and cut American aid to countries that voted for a resolution condemning US recognition of Jerusalem as the new Israeli capital.

Making his second visit to the United Nations on September 25 to address the 73rd session of the General Assembly and later to preside over a Security Council meeting, Trump is known to hold the UN in contempt ever since he called for the renegotiation of the 2015 Climate Change agreement which has been signed by 195 countries and ratified by 180.

In May, Trump also withdrew from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)– while all other signatories, including France, UK, Russia and China, (four of the five permanent members of the Security Council), plus Germany and the European Union (EU), refused to follow his destructive path.

And he once denounced the UN as just another “social club” – a remark made through sheer ignorance than a well-thought-out diplomatic pronouncement.

The world body is expecting more upheavals from an erratic political leader who has kept the international community guessing – not excluding the United Nations.

Norman Solomon, Executive Director of the Washington-based Institute for Public Accuracy, told IPS: “The world is too large, too diverse and too wondrous to have the foremost world body held hostage by the United States government. Trump’s jingoistic arrogance has dragged powerful discourse to new lows at the United Nations”.

The madness of Donald Trump, he pointed out, is shocking on a daily basis, but his administration is an extreme manifestation of what the UN has all too often tolerated in previous times, in more “moderate” forms from Washington.

“The time has come — the time is overdue — for the United Nations to clearly distinguish its operational missions from destructive agendas of the U.S. government,” said Solomon, Co-Founder and Coordinator of the online activist group RootsAction.org, which has 1.4 million active online members.

Meanwhile, as part of his contempt for the international trading system, Trump has threatened to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva as he continues to break trade agreements and impose unilateral tariffs.

Still, he has his adherents out there in Washington DC.

Stephen Moore, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, has proposed that Trump should receive the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics, since the much-coveted Nobel Peace Prize is far beyond his reach.

Writing in Investor’s Business Daily last week, Moore said Trump’s economic achievements have been overshadowed by reports regarding his erratic and “dangerous” behavior.

As his foreign policy runs wild, Trump also broke political ranks with the rest of the world when he decided to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in open violation of a Security Council resolution calling for the warring parties to decide on the future of the disputed city.

Trump triggered a global backlash last year when he singled out Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” eliciting protests from the 55-member African Union (AU).

Trump has also come under fire for his insulting statements that “all Haitians have AIDS” and Nigerians who visit the US “would never go back to their huts.”

But running notoriously true to form, he has reversed himself again and again — and denied making any of these statements, despite credible evidence.

Mouin Rabbani, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies in Washington DC told IPS that speculating on what issues President Trump will address at the United Nations, and how he will conduct himself, is a difficult task.

“Virtually the only thing that can be said with certainty is that he will once again put on a display of breathtaking vulgarity, will spew falsehoods with abandon (in many cases, it must be said, without having a clue that he is doing so), and will for these reasons be celebrated for unprecedented acts of heroism by his American and Israeli supporters,” he added

If Trump sticks to the script drafted by his handlers, which he may or may not do, the United States is expected to focus on its attempts to isolate Iran, he noted.

“It’s an interesting choice, given that the JCPOA is an international treaty that has been ratified by the UN Security Council, that Iran has repeatedly been judged to be in compliance with its JCPOA obligations, and that the United States in unilaterally renouncing its obligations under this treaty stands in open, willful violation of both international law and its obligations to the world body,” he pointed out.

Last week National Security Adviser John Bolton told the Federalist Society in Washington DC the Trump administration will push hard against any investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of US citizens (read: American soldiers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan) or allies (read: Israel accused of war crimes by the Palestinians) from “unjust prosecution by an illegitimate court.”

Meanwhile, Haley has already held out a threat on US funding for the UN when she said “We will remember it (the voting against the US) when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution (22 percent of the regular budget) to the United Nations”.

Solomon told IPS the U.S. government’s contempt for international law, humanitarian priorities and the United Nations as an institution has reached new overt heights during the Trump presidency.

“The destructive arrogance of Washington’s current policies, represented at the UN by Ambassador Nikki Haley, must be condemned and opposed.”

But governments should do more than directly push back against the dangerous militarism and implicit racism of the current U.S. administration. Members of the UN should also assess — and fundamentally change — the trajectory of the world body’s subservience to the U.S. government and its long-term consequences he noted.

During the last few decades, while several different individuals have been in the White House, the U.S. government has engaged in de facto bribery, blackmail and other devious methods to manipulate member states — sometimes using very heavy-handed tactics to induce members of the Security Council to endorse or at least not oppose the USA’s aggressive military actions and ongoing wars, said Solomon.

Most permanent and rotating members of the Security Council have too often served as silent partners, rubber stamps or outright complicit assistants to the U.S. government’s flagrant, destabilizing and deadly violations of international law.

Yet the undue efforts to go along with Washington’s policies during the last several decades have disfigured the noble ideals of the United Nations — all too often twisting them into rationalizations for enabling the United States to claim the UN’s acquiescence, he declared.

Rabbani told IPS “Perhaps more interesting than Trump’s ramblings at the General Assembly will be his presiding over a session of the UNSC, over which the US holds the presidency this month.”

Watching Trump preside over a UN Security Council session, which includes an obligation to respect its procedures etc. will be a sight to behold. It’s entirely possible that he will open the session with an offer to remodel the building on the basis of one of his special discounts, and request that his fellow UNSC members adopt a resolution to dismiss Special Counsel Robert Mueller, said Rabbani.

If he does stick to script, and insists on pursuing the Iran agenda, one can think of a number of UNSC members that will provide pointed responses to the US position, and these may include US allies as well.

There appears to be a growing realisation that the US agenda is not limited to individual objectives such as the destruction of the JCPOA or ensuring permanent Israeli supremacy over the Palestinian people, but rather has a core objective the dismantling of international institutions, particularly those concerned with international law, and replacing these with naked power, primarily US and Israeli, as the arbiter of international affairs.

This agenda, he said, also helps further explain recent funding decisions taken by Washington vis-a-vis UN institutions such as UNRWA, though there are clear ideological factors at play as well.

“If Trump does come in for serious criticism at the UN, and particularly the UNSC, we should expect Washington to take further measures to seek to marginalise, de-fund, and render impotent the world body and its various agencies.”

“What we recently witnessed with respect to UNRWA and the ICC may prove to be just a precursor to what is coming,” warned Rabbani.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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An Urgent Need to Turn Down Rhetoric Against Migrants & Refugeeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/urgent-need-turn-rhetoric-migrants-refugees/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=urgent-need-turn-rhetoric-migrants-refugees http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/urgent-need-turn-rhetoric-migrants-refugees/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 15:02:29 +0000 Carl Soderbergh http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157666 Carl Soderbergh is Director of Policy & Communications, Minority Rights Group International

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Sub Saharan Africans - Israel
Female African asylum-seekers during a protest march where they called on the government to recognise African migrants as refugees, and for the release of Africans who are held in detention facilities.

By Carl Söderbergh
LONDON, Sep 18 2018 (IPS)

Migration has become a focus of debate in recent years. From United States President Donald Trump’s vehemently anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric to Denmark’s new ‘ghetto laws’, the language has become increasingly heated.

The Danish government adopted these measures in 2018, specifically targeting low-income immigrant districts and including compulsory education on ‘Danish values’ for children starting at the age of one. In the United Kingdom, while still Home Secretary, Prime Minister Theresa May instituted a ‘hostile environment’ policy in 2012 that was intended to catch undocumented migrants whenever they came into contact with public services.

The policy particularly affected members of the so-called ‘Windrush generation’, the tens of thousands of Afro-Caribbean men, women and children who came over to the UK after World War Two and settled there legally. It is thought that the number of those deported runs into the hundreds, while many thousands more have had to live for several years in considerable uncertainty.

While a public outcry led to an official apology by the UK government, other leaders and governments have been resolutely unapologetic. Indeed, Trump’s travel ban for citizens of several Muslim-majority countries was approved as constitutional by the US Supreme Court in June 2018.

Such policies – and the often vitriolic language accompanying them – have had a direct and negative impact on migrant and refugee communities. According to data released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the annual number of hate crimes against US Muslims recorded by the organization rose 15 per cent in 2017, following on from a 44 per cent increase the previous year – an increase it attributed in part to Trump’s divisive language and the discriminatory measures put forward by his administration.

Muslim woman – Thailand
A Thai policeman checks the papers of a Muslim woman at a checkpoint in Pattani.

On 11 September 2018, Minority Rights Group International launched its annual Minority and Indigenous Trends report by hosting a seminar for journalists in Krakow, Poland. This year, we focused the report on migration and displacement. We chose the theme for two reasons.

One is what I have outlined above – the casual disregard that we have repeatedly witnessed by people in power for the immediate impact of their actions and their words on minority and indigenous communities. Whenever politicians chase voters or news outlets seek to increase their readerships and advertising revenues by targeting migrants, they ignore the very real consequences in terms of increased hatred towards those same communities.

The other reason is that we sought to reflect the lived realities of migrants and refugees themselves – in particular, how discrimination and exclusion drive many people to make the very hard choice to leave their homes. It remains very difficult to arrive at a total percentage of minorities and indigenous peoples among the world’s migrants and refugees.

This is partly due to lack of interest – after all, much of the reporting on migration remains fixated on overall numbers rather than on the individual stories. More particularly, migrants and refugees who belong to minorities or indigenous peoples may well feel a need to remain silent about their ethnicity or religious faith, for fear of further persecution in transit or upon arrival in their new homes.

However, there are many clear indicators from around the world of an immediate causal link between marginalization and movement. The horrifying targeting of Yezidis by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as well as more recently of Rohingya by the military and its allies in Myanmar, are by now well-documented. In both cases, the overwhelming majority of the communities have been displaced.

Migrant workers – Russia

But there are many other examples of membership in minority and indigenous populations and displacement. In Ethiopia, the government’s crackdown on political dissent, aimed particularly at the Oromo population, contributed directly to an upsurge in migration from that community. Data collected by the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS) showed that by the beginning of 2017 as many as 89 per cent of arriving Ethiopian migrants in the key nearby transit country Yemen stated that they belong to the Oromo community. In Colombia, displacement by armed groups has continued despite the 2016 peace accord.

This disproportionately affects Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities who made up more than a quarter (26 per cent) of the more than 139,000 forcibly displaced in the country between January and October 2017, double their share of the national population as a whole.

In fact, the Colombian example is important as it highlights how, while global attention shifts away from a particular situation, the plight of minorities and indigenous peoples continues. Here, the distinction governments and UN agencies seek to make between refugees on the one hand and migrants on the other becomes blurred and even unhelpful.

The US government denies asylum to victims of Central American gang violence. However, much of the brutal gang-related violence in Guatemala, for instance, has affected indigenous communities disproportionately: decades of conflict and discrimination have left them impoverished and marginalized, with little recourse to protection from police or the judiciary. Indeed, in many cases their situation has been aggravated by official persecution.

The discrimination that caused many migrants and refugees to leave their homes often follows them while in transit. While the abusive treatment of asylum seekers and their families crossing into the US has been widely reported, the crackdown within Mexico on Central American migrants, particularly indigenous community members, has received less coverage.

Significantly, it has resulted not only in the targeting of foreign nationals, including many women and children, but also the arrest and intimidation of indigenous Mexicans by police. Over the past year, reports have emerged from Libya of sub-Saharan Africans trapped by the containment policies of the European Union, who now find themselves targeted by security forces, militias and armed groups. There have been widespread reports of torture, sexual assault and enslavement of migrants, many of whom are vulnerable not only on account of their ethnicity but also as non-Muslims.

The situation is further complicated for groups within minority or indigenous communities, such as women, children, persons with disabilities and LGBTQI people, who contend with multiple forms of discrimination and as a result face heightened threats of sexual assault, physical attacks and other rights abuses – in their places of origin, whilst in transit and upon arrival at their destinations.

What then is needed?

Firstly, all those participating in national and international debates on migration need to tone down their rhetoric. The Danish government could, for instance, have devised policies supporting marginalized urban districts without resorting to the historically loaded term, ‘ghetto’, which immediately stigmatizes residents while giving a green light to racists.

Secondly, governments need to abide by fundamental human rights principles, including the basic right to live with dignity. And finally, all those who are contributing to the debate – including media – must get past the numbers and reveal the individual stories. In order to discuss migration, one needs to understand it fully.

While the way forward may appear challenging, I was inspired by the many Polish journalists who attended our launch event in Krakow and who are already rising to the challenge by seeking out the stories that migrants and refugees have to tell us.

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Excerpt:

Carl Soderbergh is Director of Policy & Communications, Minority Rights Group International

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In the Race to Achieve Zero Hunger and Mitigate Climate Change, We Must Look Down — to the Soilhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/race-achieve-zero-hunger-mitigate-climate-change-must-look-soil/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=race-achieve-zero-hunger-mitigate-climate-change-must-look-soil http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/race-achieve-zero-hunger-mitigate-climate-change-must-look-soil/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 09:41:57 +0000 Esther Ngumbi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157654 Esther Ngumbi is Distinguished Post Doctoral Researcher, Entomology Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Illinois. She was the 2015 Clinton Global University (CGI U) Mentor for Agriculture and 2015 New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

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John Daffi on his piece of land that is part of a cooperative that began in 1963 in Upper Kitete, Tanzania. Experts says the importance of soil cannot be overstated as healthy soils underpin agriculture and sustainable food systems. Credit: Adam Bemma/IPS

By Esther Ngumbi
ILLINOIS, United States, Sep 18 2018 (IPS)

Recently, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva urged countries, scientists, policymakers and stakeholders invested in building an equitable, sustainable, and thriving planet to pay attention to the soil. He further noted that the future of the planet depends on how healthy the soils of today are.

I agree. In the race to beat food insecurity, achieve zero hunger, and address climate change, we must pay attention to the soil. The importance of soil cannot be overstated. Healthy soils underpin agriculture and sustainable food systems.

But there is more to healthy soils. They can deliver many other benefits.

First, healthy soils can help address and mitigate climate change through storing soil carbon. Research studies have shown that healthy soils hold more carbon and these reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50-80 percent.

At the same time, research studies and reports have shown that soils that are rich in organic carbon can deliver many benefits, including increasing crop yields,  soil water holding capacity and storage. Plants can use stored water in periods when water is scarce.

Secondly, healthy soils make it possible for the inhabitants of the soils —soil microorganisms — to continue playing their roles. Unseen to the naked eye, tiny soil microorganisms that include bacteria and fungi are hard at work, helping plants to grow better while keeping our soils healthy, which ultimately allows farmers to grow food amidst a changing climate.

Further, these microorganisms deliver other benefits including helping plants to tolerate climate change induced extremities including drought. These microbes can also help plants to fend off and suppress insect pests, including invasive pests and other that have become a force to reckon with in the developing countries. Thriving and functioning soil microbes can be key to revolutionising agriculture.

Thirdly, taking care of the soil and keeping them healthy, ensures that farmers around the word build resilient ecosystems that can bounce back from extremities that come along with a changing climate.

Esther Ngumbi is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Auburn University in Alabama. Courtesy: Esther Ngumbi

However, even with all these benefits that come along when soils healthy, around the world, a third of our soils are degraded.

In 2015, the U.N. launched the International Year of Soils and highlighted the extent with which soils were degraded worldwide. Since then, countries, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and many other stakeholders have stepped up to the challenge. They are paying attention to soils.

Ethiopia launched a countrywide initiative to map the health and status of Ethiopian soils which has allowed farmers to reap the many benefits that can come when soils are healthy including increased crop yields. Because of paying attention to soil health, Ethiopia is slowly transforming agriculture, and paving way for its citizens to become food secure.

In addition, in early June, the FAO together with the Global Soil Partnership launched the Afrisoils programme, with a goal to reduce soil degradation by 25 percent in the coming decade in 47 African countries.

Moreover, because soil health is not only an African problem, developed countries are stepping up.

In the United States, the Soil Health Institute continues to coordinate and support soil stewardship and the advancement of soil health. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers tips, guidelines and many resources that can be useful to stakeholders and governments and farmers that want to help restore the health of their soils. Advocacy groups like Soil4Climate continue to advocate for soil restoration as a climate solution.

This must continue.

But, as Africa and the many stakeholders look to the future and pay attention to soils, what are some of the areas and innovations surrounding soils that are likely going to pay off?

Innovations surrounding beneficial soil microbes. When beneficial soil microbes are happy, healthy, and plentiful in the soils, the nutrients are available to roots, plants grow big, insects are repelled and farmers ultimately reap the benefits—a plentiful harvest.

We must ensure that products and solutions that spin off from beneficial soils microbes are affordable, especially so to the over 500 million smallholder farmers, who live on less than a dollar a day.

Innovations surrounding soil heath diagnostic kits that help farmers to rapidly and precisely determine the health of the soils will be a win-win for all.

As shown in Ethiopia, where knowing the status of the heath of the soils has resulted into the doubling of farmer’s productivity and improving soil health these innovations can be a game changer in the race to beat food insecurity across Africa.

Translating innovations into products and solutions requires funding. Luckily, innovators, researchers, NGO’s and for profit companies thinking of making this happen can apply for funding through FoodShot Global’s Innovating Soil 3.0 challenge.

This unique investment platform catalysing groundbreaking innovation to cultivate a healthy, sustainable and equitable food system will be offering a combination of equity and debt funding to innovative businesses and a groundbreaker prize of more than USD500,000 to researchers, social entrepreneurs and advocates taking bold “moonshots for better food”.

These cash prizes will allow winners to translate bold ideas that utilise the latest in technology, science and engineering into solutions that address the soil health crisis.

To reap the many benefits that come along with healthy soils, the right interventions and innovations to improve soil health must be funded, rolled out and scaled up. Healthy soils are the foundational base that will enable countries to achieve the U.N. sustainable development goals. In the race to achieve these goals, we must pay attention to the soil. Time is ripe.

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Excerpt:

Esther Ngumbi is Distinguished Post Doctoral Researcher, Entomology Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Illinois. She was the 2015 Clinton Global University (CGI U) Mentor for Agriculture and 2015 New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

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Another global financial crisis for developing countries?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/another-global-financial-crisis-developing-countries/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=another-global-financial-crisis-developing-countries http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/another-global-financial-crisis-developing-countries/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 09:05:35 +0000 Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157656 George Soros, Bill Gates and other pundits have been predicting another financial crisis. In their recent book, Revolution Required: The Ticking Bombs of the G7 Model, Peter Dittus and Herve Hamoun, former senior officials of the Bank of International Settlements, warned of ‘ticking time bombs’ in the global financial system waiting to explode, mainly due […]

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

George Soros, Bill Gates and other pundits have been predicting another financial crisis. In their recent book, Revolution Required: The Ticking Bombs of the G7 Model, Peter Dittus and Herve Hamoun, former senior officials of the Bank of International Settlements, warned of ‘ticking time bombs’ in the global financial system waiting to explode, mainly due to the policies of major developed countries.

Anis Chowdhury

Recent events vindicate such fears. Many emerging market currencies have come under considerable pressure, with the Indonesian rupiah, Indian rupee and South African rand all struggling since early this year. Brazil’s real fell sharply in June, and Argentina has failed to stabilize its peso despite seeking IMF aid. As Turkey struggles to stabilize its lira, many European banks’ exposure has heightened fears of another global financial crisis.

Why the vulnerability?
Some fundamental weaknesses are at the core of this vulnerability. These include the international financial ‘non-system’ since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in 1971, and continuing to use the US dollar as the main international reserve currency.

This burdens deficit countries vis-à-vis surplus countries and ensures near-universal vulnerability to US monetary policy. Thus, most countries accumulate dollars as a precaution, i.e., for ‘protection’, eschewing other options, such as investing in socially desirable projects.

Policy makers not only failed to address these weaknesses following the 2008-2009 global financial crisis (GFC), but also compounded other problems. Having eschewed stronger, more sustained fiscal policy interventions, monetary policy virtually became the sole policy instrument. Major central banks, led by the US Federal Reserve, embarked on ‘unconventional monetary policies’, pushing real interest rates down, even into negative territory.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

Emerging and developing economies (EDEs) offering higher returns temporarily experienced large short-term capital inflows. The external debt of emerging market economies has grown to over $40 trillion since the GFC. The combined debt of 26 large emerging markets rose from 148% of gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of 2008 to 211% in September 2017, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

Easy money raised household and corporate debt, fuelling property and financial asset price bubbles. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) April 2018 Fiscal Monitor, global debt peaked at $164 trillion in 2016, or 225% of global GDP, compared to 125% before the GFC. The IIF reported that global debt rose to over $247 trillion in early 2018, i.e., equivalent to 318% of GDP.

Rising debt levels pose serious downside risks for the global economy. With easy money coming to an end, as the Fed continues to ‘normalize’ monetary policy by raising the policy interest rate, capital flight to the US is undermining emerging market currencies. When debt defaults increase with interest rates while income growth remains subdued, the world becomes more vulnerable to financial crisis.

Diminished capacities
Both developed and developing countries have less policy space than during the GFC. Most governments are saddled with more debt following massive financial bail outs followed by abandonment of efforts to sustain robust recovery.

According to the IMF’s April 2018 Fiscal Monitor, average public debt of advanced economies was 105% of GDP in 2017, constraining fiscal capacity to respond to crisis. Meanwhile, monetary policy options are exhausted after a decade of ‘unconventional’ monetary policies.

General government debt-to-GDP ratios in emerging market and middle-income economies almost reached 50% in 2017 — a level only seen during the 1980s’ debt crisis. The 2017 ratio exceeded 40% in low-income developing countries, climbing by more than ten percentage points since 2012.

Playing With Fire
by Yilmaz Akyuz, former South Centre chief economist, has highlighted the self-inflicted vulnerabilities of developing countries. Public debt-GDP ratios in EDEs are likely to rise due to falling commodity prices and stagnant global trade, while they have almost no monetary policy independence due to deeper global financial integration.

Weaker global growth
While corporate sectors have been busy with mergers, acquisitions and share buybacks with cheap credit, instead of investing in the real economy, the financial sector has successfully portrayed sovereign debt as ‘public enemy number one’.

Held hostage to finance capital, governments around the world have wasted the opportunity to improve productive capacities by investing in infrastructure and social goods when real interest rates were at historic lows. At around 24% of global GDP, the global investment rate remains below the pre-crisis level of around 27%, with investment rates in EDEs either declining or stagnant since 2010.

Failure to address the falling wages’ share of GDP, rising executive pay and asset price bubbles, due to ‘easy’ monetary policy, have continued to worsen growing income inequality and wealth concentration. Meanwhile, deep cuts in government spending and public services, while reducing top tax rates, cause anger and resentment, often blamed on ‘the other’, contributing to the spread of ‘ethno-populism’.

In turn, growing inequality limits aggregate demand, which has been maintained by unsustainably raising household debt, i.e., perverse ‘financial inclusion’.

Perfect storm?
Turbulence in currency markets is due to developing countries’ limited economic policy space. A decade after the GFC, developing countries still experience lower growth and investment rates.

Financial sectors of emerging market economies now have more and deeper links with international financial markets, also reflected in high foreign ownership of stocks and government bonds, with large sudden capital outflows causing financial crises.

Meanwhile, recent commodity price drops have accelerated the rising indebtedness of low-income countries. According to the IMF, 24 out of 60 (40%) are now either already facing debt crises or are highly vulnerable—twice as many as five years ago, with a few already seeking Fund bail-outs.

The problem is compounded by declining concessional aid from OECD countries. Also, more creditors are not part of the Paris Club, obliged to deal with sovereign debt on less onerous terms. Meanwhile, growing trade and currency conflicts are worsening the woes of those already worse-off.

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Kofi Annan, the Last UN Secretary-General Who Paid for His Independencehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/kofi-annan-last-un-secretary-general-paid-independence/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kofi-annan-last-un-secretary-general-paid-independence http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/kofi-annan-last-un-secretary-general-paid-independence/#respond Fri, 14 Sep 2018 08:49:03 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157612 Roberto Savio is co-founder of IPS Inter Press Service and President Emeritus

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Kofi Annan. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Kofi Annan. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

By Roberto Savio
ROME, Sep 14 2018 (IPS)

This testimony to Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, comes a month after his death. Much has already been written, and it is now superfluous to recall his efforts for peace and international cooperation. It is better to place his figure in a crucial context: how the great powers progressively reduced the figure of the UN Secretary-General and charged a high price from those who tried to keep the system’s independence.

First of all, it must be remembered that the United Nations was born – to a considerable extent – due to the strong propulsive drive of the United States. The United States, the great winners of the Second World War [with 416,800 soldiers and 1,700 civilians dead, compared with over 20 million Soviet Union soldiers and civilians], wanted to avoid the recurrence of a new world conflict. It therefore sought the construction of a multilateral system, able to maintain – through peace in a ruined world – its economic and military hegemony intact. It pledged to contribute 25 percent to the budget of the organisation, agreed to house its headquarters and ceded national sovereignty to an unprecedented extent.

This special arrangement took the first heavy blow through the hand of US President Ronald Reagan who, at the North-South Summit held in Cancun, Mexico, in 1981, shortly after his election, said he considered the United Nations a straitjacket for American interests. He argued that it was not acceptable that his country had only one vote like any other country, and was forced by majority votes (often from developing countries) to follow paths far from US policy. Since then Washington’s policy has been to attempt to reshape the political weight of the United Nations, and it has constantly sought to have a “manager” as Secretary-General who would take account of American weight.

After Javier Perez de Cuellar, a quiet Peruvian diplomat who by nature and training avoided confrontation, had succeeded Kurt Waldheim – Secretary-General at the time of the Cancun summit – the United States began a process of disengagement, which came to a halt with the arrival of George W. Bush, a moderate from the old school, who took a more positive view of the United Nations as a place to assert American power.

Then came the fall of the Berlin Wall and the vote of the UN General Assembly could not be exploited by the socialist bloc. An Egyptian diplomat, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, had taken over from Perez de Cuellar, supported by Washington because Egypt was considered a traditional US ally.

Boutros-Ghali turned out to be surprisingly independent. A profound campaign to relaunch the United Nations began, with several World Conferences being organised on topics ranging from Climate to Population, from Human Rights to Gender Equity, and with a social summit in Copenhagen, which established a strong pledge agenda. Boutros-Ghali set an Agenda for Peace, an Agenda for Development, and many other initiatives that the United States could not desert. As a result, an American veto in 1996 prevented a second term for him (despite the favourable vote of the other 14 UN Security Council members: Boutros-Ghali  was the only Secretary-General to serve just one mandate).

When Bill Clinton became US President, his mandate was not at all unequivocal. He was openly internationalist, and he officially declared, with regard to the Rwanda War, that the United States would ban any peacekeeping operation that did not directly benefit US foreign policy. He was also the one who abolished the 1933 Segall-Glass law, which strictly kept separated deposit banks from speculation banks. As a consequence of that , speculative finance boomed and citizens deposits started to be used to grow capital, giving supremacy to finance over economy and politics.

There are many factors behind the crisis of the United Nations but the progressive withdrawal of the United States from multilateralism is its fundamental cause. The United States no longer needs the United Nations under President Donald Trump's desire for a policy not only of America First, but of America Alone. After Reagan and Bush, Trump is the third nail in the coffin.

With the veto on Boutros-Ghali, the American administration, represented by Madeline Albright, ex-US Ambassador to the United Nations and promoted to Secretary of State thanks to her battle against Boutros-Ghali, wanted to give a signal: the United States was ready to ban a UN Secretary-General who did not respect Washington’s voice. Albright’s proposal was accepted and a respectable Ghanaian official, Kofi Annan, was appointed Boutros-Ghali’s successor by the Security Council.

It was at this point that the greatness of Annan came to the fore. The man who had been considered a man linked to Washington embarked on a process of deep UN administrative reform, in order to make it more transparent and efficient. He received the Nobel Prize in 2001, together with the UN Organization, “for his work for a better organized and peaceful world”: confirmation of his prestige and authority at the highest level.

However, in 2001, George W. Bush was elected President of the United States. His agenda’s priority was American supremacy in a changing world, taking over much of Reagan’s spirit. Whoever had Kofi Annam’s confidence could have heard how Bush wanted Annam’s unconditional support, despite his resistance.

Bush began his mandate with the decision to bring down the President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, for his invasion of Kuwait the previous year, despite American warnings. In 2003, because he did not have the support of the Security Council, which was not convinced there was sufficient evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (France ‘s refusal to believe the US Administration was particularly firm), Bush invented the “Coalition of the Willing”, an alliance of various states promoted with the support of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and invaded Iraq without UN legitimation, with the results we all know.

Kofi Annan denounced the invasion, and in 2004 declared it illegal. American retaliation was rapid.

In 2005, an assistance programme was set up: the United Nations sold the country’s oil in order to provide food and medications to civilians. Under the pressure of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the American right-wing invented a scandal, which targeted the United Nations and Annan (through his son) undermining the organisation’s credibility. An inquiry commission headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker declared that American and British companies, and Saddam Hussein himself, benefited from the illegal transactions, but it did not help. By then image of the United Nations had been irreparably compromised.

Annan showed extreme dignity, and quit his position in 2006, taking action for peace and international cooperation. It was emblematic of his personality when the Arab League and the United Nations entrusted him in February 2012 with mediation to end the civil conflict in Syria. It took him just five months to quit the job, declaring that the conflict had then become internationalised, and that no one was interested in peace.

Between 2007 and 2016, South Korean diplomat Ban Ki Moon held the office of UN Secretary-General. It is said that Bush’s instructions to the American delegation were: choose the most innocuous. And even though the end of the Bush presidency in 2009 was followed by that of Barack Obama who believed in an American policy based on cooperation and détente, Ban Ki Moon’s secretariat left a minimum legacy of actions.

Today, the United Nations is a kind of ‘Super Red Cross’, focusing on sectors that do not affect governance of the economy or finance but politics on refugees, education, health, agriculture and fishing, and so on. Trade and finance, the two great engines of globalisation, are now outside of the United Nations which is no longer a place for debate and consensus for humanity. The Davos Economic Forum attracts more leaders than the UN General Assembly.

There are many factors behind the crisis of the United Nations but the progressive withdrawal of the United States from multilateralism is its fundamental cause. The United States no longer needs the United Nations under President Donald Trump’s desire for a policy not only of America First, but of America Alone. After Reagan and Bush, Trump is the third nail in the coffin.

The latest Secretary-General, António Guterres of Portugal, has a political career at the highest level, having also been his country’s prime minister. He was chosen by the General Assembly (an unprecedented fact), and imposed on the Security Council. Stuck by Trump’s promise to withdraw the United States from the United Nations, he had to avoid any position that would increase the decline of the United Nations thanks to this immobility.

It is clear that the crisis of multilateralism and the return to nationalism is an international phenomenon. Not only the United States, but China, India, Japan, the Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand, and several European countries, including Italy, are re-discovering the old traps: in the name of God, in the name of the Nation and now in the name of Money, using nationalism, xenophobia and populism to cancel the European project.

Is it reasonable to remark that those who are missing are the Kofi Annans, those who place values and ideals above all else, shunning personal interests and not interested in holding on to their positions, in order to invite citizens to a debate of ideas by those who dare to resist in this era of sleepwalking.

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Excerpt:

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

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Trump at the UN – a Dramatist Seizes an Opportunityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/trump-un-dramatist-seizes-opportunity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trump-un-dramatist-seizes-opportunity http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/trump-un-dramatist-seizes-opportunity/#respond Thu, 13 Sep 2018 13:38:59 +0000 James Paul http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157601 James Paul is former Executive Director of the New York-based Global Policy Forum and author of the recently-released “Of Foxes and Chickens: Oligarchy & Global Power in the UN Security Council”

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James Paul is former Executive Director of the New York-based Global Policy Forum and author of the recently-released “Of Foxes and Chickens: Oligarchy & Global Power in the UN Security Council”

By James Paul
NEW YORK, Sep 13 2018 (IPS)

Donald Trump, as we know, is first and foremost a showman. He is a person who loves theatrics and tries always to stay in the spotlight. In his habitual theater at the White House, however, the air has become tense, the audience unreliable, his efforts to attract an adoring crowd increasingly frought.

Donald J. Trump. Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak

So the president has decided to come to New York—on September 25– for a venue always much appreciated by world leaders – the United Nations. Here, he will have the chance to “strut upon the stage” in full view of a global audience.

UN supporters will certainly shake their heads in wonder. They will say: how could he come to the UN when he has already done it so much harm? How can he face this audience of people committed to multilateral cooperation when his signature mantra is “America First!”

At first glance this does seem contradictory. Trump has grievously weakened the UN and multilateralism. Who can forget the withdrawal of the US from the Human Rights Council, the withdrawal from UNESCO, the demanded cuts to the UN’s core budgets, and the diminished US contributions to many of the UN funds and programs.

Also, there is the US rejection of the climate change agreement, the pullout from the Iran nuclear deal, the multiple trade wars, and the plan to destroy the International Criminal Court. John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Advisor, is famous for his hostility to the UN.

But the President comes – as they all come – not out of enthusiasm for the UN and multilateralism but to take advantage of the theatrical opportunity. For Trump in particular, it is a chance to reach for global grandiosity, to rail against foreign enemies, to “disrupt” the status quo and to bask in the limelight of the frenzied news media.

He will arrive, as US presidents always do, with a great show and a lengthy motorcade. At the UN, his receptions and meetings will be the go-to moments.

There will be the premier speech from the podium of the General Assembly. He will command world attention as he makes expectable or unexpected jibes, denounces enemies real or imagined and thunders about a feverishly imagined reality. Nations may shudder at the thought of what he may say.

Media trucks will jam First Avenue to broadcast this and his other doings. From the point of view of the President and his advisors, it will be a morality play – giving the world a much-needed lesson in good conduct.

Above all, there will be the meeting of the UN Security Council at which he is expected to preside. How did the other Council members agree to the inevitable theatrics? The US happens to be president of the Council this month and the US almost always gets its way in Council proceedings.

As theater, it will inevitably recall the meeting in February 2003, when Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, argued for Council action on Iraq. That, too, was pure theater, though with dire consequences.

When Trump calls the Council to order, public attention will be riveted, as it so often is, on this showman. P.T. Barnum, the circus impresario, would endorse the method. We can wonder whether there will be some bellicose announcement: a “final warning” to Syria or Iran, for example.

In between the moments of theater, will Trump slip away to meet privately with other leaders, to do deals out of the spotlight as so many of his predecessors have done? Or will he stick to the theatrics, glad to be in front of the global cameras and to escape for a short while from the difficulties in Washington?

As his New York visit proceeds, will he encounter awkward silences, or a smattering of unenthusiastic applause – insufficient enthusiasm from those who (he might expect) would show honor and the fullest respect?

And what if there is real push-back – if some nations decide that enough is enough and call him out for his outrageous breaches of the peace? Will there be whispered threats? Angry vengeful tweets? Raw power on immediate display?

Finally, thank goodness, the show will be over. Trump will depart for Washington. The media trucks will vanish. Hopefully, the damage will not be too heavy! Maybe the sun will shine.

The post Trump at the UN – a Dramatist Seizes an Opportunity appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

James Paul is former Executive Director of the New York-based Global Policy Forum and author of the recently-released “Of Foxes and Chickens: Oligarchy & Global Power in the UN Security Council”

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A Personal Remembrance of and a Tribute to Kofi Annan on the Occasion of the 2018 African Green Revolution Forumhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/personal-remembrance-tribute-kofi-annan-occasion-2018-african-green-revolution-forum/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=personal-remembrance-tribute-kofi-annan-occasion-2018-african-green-revolution-forum http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/personal-remembrance-tribute-kofi-annan-occasion-2018-african-green-revolution-forum/#respond Thu, 13 Sep 2018 06:47:27 +0000 Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157591 Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn is President of the World Food Prize Foundation

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Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn is President of the World Food Prize Foundation

By Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn
Sep 13 2018 (IPS)

When Kofi Annan passed away just last month, I issued a statement on behalf of the World Food Prize that said:

Kofi Annan’s vision in creating the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to ensure global food security for all in the 21st century, will ultimately be seen as his greatest contribution.

To that should be added that Kofi Annan’s leadership role with AGRA will be as consequential as his initiatives while Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Indeed, as the world gathers in Rwanda and the 2018 AGRF is launched, the spirit of AGRA’s first Chairman, the man who personally galvanized the leaders of Africa to focus their attention and their energy on the continent’s most pressing issue- -achieving a Green Revolution- -clearly pervades the Kigali Convention Center. It was so apparent when AGRA President Agnes Kalibata called for a moment of silence to honor him.

Looking back almost two decades earlier, the sense of momentum that Annan’s creation of the MDGs generated was palpable. Dr. Norman E. Borlaug the founder of the World Food Prize reflected that renewed energy in his remarks at our Laureate Recognition Ceremony that we held in New York City in October, 2000 to support Annan’s U.N. Millennium Summit.

Norm was so happy that global attention was, thanks to Kofi Annan, at last now turning to Africa. It was at that ceremony that we introduced our first female Laureate- – Dr. Evangelina Villegas of Mexico, honored most appropriately for her work in developing Quality Protein Maize in Ghana.

One of the next steps Secretary General Annan took in this endeavor, was to appoint two World Food Prize Laureates as the co-chairs of the United Nations Hunger Task Force- -Dr. M.S. Swaminathan of India and Dr. Pedro Sanchez, a native of Cuba. It was, therefore, a special privilege to be in Norway in 2001 as Kofi Annan received the Nobel Peace Prize for his dynamic leadership.

It was the 100th anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s founding of the award, and I attended with Dr. Borlaug the 1970 Laureate for Peace. The award ceremony in Oslo City Hall, with HRH The King of Norway presiding, was as visually impactful as Annan’s words in his Laureate Address were inspiring. He began his address with a reference to a young girl living in poverty in Afghanistan, powerfully capturing the direction in which he was taking the global community.

When my longtime colleague, U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke beckoned me over to congratulate the Secretary-General at the conclusion of the formal Peace Laureate Dinner, I had the chance to see up close the huge smile on Kofi Annan’s face and observe his light step as he did a few celebratory dance moves. It was a bit of a departure for the usually very formal international diplomat, but one that made him appear to be literally walking on air at what had to be the apogee of his professional career.

That recognition seemed to propel Annan forward at an increased pace; just as he had also sharpened our focus on the U.N. and Africa. In 2003, our second woman Laureate was Catherine Bertini head of the U.N. World Food Programme. One year later in 2004, Dr. Monty Jones became our first African World Food Prize Laureate. That was the same year that in Addis Ababa, Kofi Annan surfaced the idea for creating AGRA. The rest as they say is AGRA history, thanks to the critical support of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Reflecting his dual global leadership in food security, it was my privilege to present to Kofi Annan the World Food Prize Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Medallion at the 2010 Africa Green Revolution Forum in his home country of Ghana. We were honoring him for being the catalyst in putting in place the structure that would allow African political leaders, scientists, business executives and donor organizations to come together and identify strategies and focus their efforts, both at the U.N. and AGRA.

As I said in my remarks, I was sure that Norman Borlaug was looking down from Green Revolution Heaven on Kofi Annan and the AGRF within a broad smile on his face. That same year, we welcomed Kofi Annan to the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium in Des Moines where he delivered the keynote address on the symposium theme of Norman Borlaug’s last words- -“Take it to the Farmer.”

My earliest memory of interacting with Kofi Annan, however, goes back to the early 1990s when I was an American diplomat and we worked together to deploy a UN peacekeeping force to Cambodia. It came at our meeting in New York during which arrangements were put in place for the U.S. Air Force to provide the airlift capability to transport Peacekeeping troops from almost a dozen countries to Phnom Penh.

The logistical coordination issues were extraordinarily complex both physically and politically, but under Annan’s leadership and direction, the U.N. Transitional Authority for Cambodia, or UNTAC, was a total success in delivering a peaceful, democratic election to the people of Cambodia, one judged free and fair by every observer.

That the Cambodians themselves were unable to maintain this genuinely representative government and returned to conflict and violence, in no way detracts from the masterful role that Kofi Annan and his U.N. staff did in planning and executing an exceedingly complex political-military strategy, especially as it came in the wake of the wretched policies of the Pol Pot Khmer Rouge regime- -the worst genocidal, mass-murdering, terrorist organization of the second half of the 20th century.

Kofi Annan and the United Nations had given the five million Cambodian survivors of genocide a second chance at a peaceful life.

That experience in Cambodia revealed some lessons about U.N. peacekeeping missions, which seem relevant as AGRF 2018 takes place in Rwanda, where Annan himself publicly lamented that the United Nations did not rise to the challenge that the extreme violence presented in 1994.

The UNTAC Mission in Cambodia, in contrast, was highly successful because it had the full support of all five of the Permanent Members of the U.N. Security Council. Indeed, as deputy head of the U.S. delegation during the four year long negotiation process, I saw first hand the commitment each country had to the U.N. / Cambodian peace process. That unified political support was essential to the success of UNTAC, as it would be for any peacekeeping endeavor.

A second lesson is that no matter how much support there is for a Peacekeeping operation among the U.N. Members, if the local parties themselves decide to return to conflict (as was the case in Cambodia), there is little that can be done, except the critical importance of providing essential protection to innocent civilians.

Indeed, it was his command over all of these myriad Peacekeeping details, as well as his smoothly effective diplomatic style that made Kofi Annan such an exceptional United Nations civil servant and the logical choice to become the next Secretary-General- – the first individual ever to emerge from the United Nations’ professional staff and ascend to that highest office.

One of my favorite stories about Kofi Annan involves my home state of Iowa. It came from Dr. Rajiv Shah then the Administrator of USAID, when he began his luncheon address at the World Food Prize by saying “I just bumped into Kofi Annan at the airport in Des Moines.”

One of our local guests told me that he laughed when he heard it, because nothing seemed less likely to him than Annan, the impeccably tailored, diplomatically oriented statesman, being found outside the halls of the U.N. in New York and in a rural place like Iowa.

But, I told that person that the truth is that Kofi Annan was actually one of us. The son of Ghana, scion of Africa and consummate international diplomat was in fact also a “midwesterner” equally at home in the American heartland, because of his undergraduate college degree from Macalester College in Minnesota.

The U.N. Charter begins “We the peoples…” of the world. Kofi Annan was truly a man for all “peoples,” just as his leadership demonstrated that the United Nations is an organization of and for all peoples.

The post A Personal Remembrance of and a Tribute to Kofi Annan on the Occasion of the 2018 African Green Revolution Forum appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn is President of the World Food Prize Foundation

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Q&A: Achieving Sustainable Goals: “In the End it is All About People. If People Want, it Will Happen.”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-achieving-sustainable-goals-end-people-people-want-will-happen/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-achieving-sustainable-goals-end-people-people-want-will-happen http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-achieving-sustainable-goals-end-people-people-want-will-happen/#respond Wed, 12 Sep 2018 10:05:07 +0000 Manipadma Jena http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157577 Manipadma Jena interviews the Deputy Director and Water Sector Lead at the Global Green Growth Institute's (GGGI) Investment and Policy Solutions Division, PETER VOS.

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On Bangladesh's extensive estuaries, millions of poorest climate vulnerable families eke out a paltry living from inter-tidal fishing like this father-son team that is selling their catch of catfish to tourists on a power boat. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

By Manipadma Jena
STOCKHOLM, Sep 12 2018 (IPS)

Today just over two billion people live without readily available, safe water supplies at home. And more than half the world’s population, roughly 4.3 billion people, live in areas where demand for water resources outstrips sustainable supplies for at least part of the year.

Yet the world is not managing water well or making the most of it, the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development said in July this year. This is due above all to failures of policies, governance, leadership and markets."So currently there is emerging a good opportunity to attract conservation finance for nature conservation, for water management, for sustainable landscapes." -- Deputy Director and Water Sector Lead at the Global Green Growth Institute, Peter Vos.

By 2030, investment in water and sanitation infrastructure will need to be around USD0.9 -1.5 trillion per year, according to the New Climate Economy Report 2018. The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate released this major report earlier this month.

Maximising returns on water investment requires recognising the potential for natural or green infrastructure to complement or replace built infrastructure. It also requires mobilising private finance and investment at scale and generating adequate revenue returns. It will also be vital to put an appropriate value on water and sanitation services.

This is what the South Korea headquartered Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) helps developing countries and emerging economies do, among other things. GGGI, an inter-governmental organisation with 28 member countries, supports and promotes strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in its partner countries. It supports countries’ national efforts to translate climate commitments, contained in their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, into concrete climate action.

“GGGI delivers green growth services in the water sector that requires [the application of] market-based solutions for managing ecosystem services using innovative financial instruments such as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES),” said Peter Vos, deputy director and Global Water Sector Lead during World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. Vos has extensive experience in international water projects both in the public and private sector.

He said that GGGI saw the PES model as not only providing a vehicle for incentivising ecosystem management, but also being able to help achieve long-term sustainable goals.

In a presentation on financing water conservation for ecosystem services at the global event organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute, Vos strongly emphasised PES as a powerful tool for enhancing economic, environmental and social returns from investments in integrated ecosystem management. Excerpts of the interview follow:

Peter Vos, Deputy Director and Water Sector Lead in GGGI’s Investment and Policy Solutions Division, said that GGGI saw the Payment for Ecosystem Services model as not only providing a vehicle for incentivising ecosystem management, but also being able to help achieve long-term sustainable goals. Courtesy: Peter Vos

IPS: Please tell us about GGGI’s participation in the World Water Week and how it benefits from it.

PV: What is getting the attention of the water discussion now is ecosystem services. We try to get knowledge about the crucial elements of this aspect. GGGI is implementing PES in the water sector and has been involved in the development of financial instruments to support ecosystem services in several developing countries.

GGGI works to address issues impacting water availability and use by encouraging water-related innovation in industries and investment in green urban infrastructure, and through integration with policies on water allocation in economic sectors.

Secondly, there are the bilateral meetings which hold importance for our future work and at World Water Week we met a cross-section of stakeholders, including from ministries, donors, also NGOs.

We had very intense discussions and made good progress. GGGI is an international organisation focusing on green growth, and we need partners to pursue our agenda, not only in terms of attracting finance but also in ways in which we can work together, to cooperate, expand and have more impact. We are a small organisation and cannot do it alone.

IPS: GGGI’s water sector has been providing a range of appropriate technical guidance towards green growth to low and lower-middle income countries that are tailored to their socio-economic conditions, their capacity and demand. What are GGGI’s working strengths in this area?

PV: GGGI focuses on mainstreaming water resources management in green planning frameworks, decentralised sanitation and water quality investments, and innovation through bio-economy, including climate resilient food systems and payment for ecosystem services.

What makes GGGI’s operations successful is that we are embedded in the government. We are not outsiders but one of them. We have our staff sitting in the ministry itself, discussing constantly how to improve sustainable economic growth, looking at policy reform through the green pathway.

Green growth policies allow for limited water resources to be used more efficiently and enable access to all at a reasonable cost, while leaving sufficient quantities to sustain the environment. New green projects in water and sanitation not only improve overall capacity in sustainable water management, but also create additional green jobs.

The second aspect about the way GGGI works is that it is there with partner countries for the long haul. Our commitments are long term and we see it through from policy reforms all the way to supporting project implementation. We are there monitoring projects even five years after [implementation] and assist governments if something goes wrong.

Our linkages between policy reform and project development ensures implementation. But if it is only about policy reform then it is very likely that it will be written in a report and may never see the light of day. Without policy implementation, policy reform is a toothless tiger; it will not be successful…So we have two pillars. The first is policy reform to create a conducive environment. [And the] second is project implementation that creates the hands and feet of what we jointly want to achieve.

IPS: What are some of the implementation challenges GGGI faces and how does it handle them?

PV: In setting the ground for reforms, yes challenges are there. Politicians are there for the short term. Elected governments may be there for four years but ministers are often changed in a year’s time. One cannot rely on political support only; one has to work with all the layers below it – the civil service and municipalities – to make a policy or a project sustainable and internalise it.

We consider ourselves the strategic advisors, discussing policies and project extensively till the administration is fluent with them. We ensure that we have a broad base of support and not concentrated on one or two [powerful] persons.

We have been very nimble. The world is changing very fast and we need to adapt and respond quickly to the needs and opportunities for our member countries. So in the past year we have strengthened our presence in the countries of operations. With two-thirds of our staff in member countries, and just one-third at headquarters, we are closer than before to ground operations in member countries.

IPS: GGGI also helps member countries with investment strategies for their green projects. What is its investment mantra in an increasingly public fund-squeezed world?

PV: The mantra is that public investments are not sufficient to change the world. We need to attract other financing. Private financing is very important. There is a huge amount of private financing floating around. They are all looking for investment opportunities.

With current low interest rates it is difficult for them to find the right investment opportunities. So currently there is emerging a good opportunity to attract conservation finance for nature conservation, for water management, for sustainable landscapes.

Definitely there is a search for returns on investments but investors want impact; they want to do good for Nature, to do good for people. So this is also helping. Investors, especially in Germany, in the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries, are contributing to this shift. We have to find our opportunity in this shift to attract funding.

Since there is limited public money, we have to use it intelligently. What GGGI is doing is putting government and donor money or contributions from the Green Climate Fund into projects in such a way that the private investor feels confident that their investment will give assured returns. For instance, in Rwanda we are working on energy efficiency and climate change investments. Financial vehicles are designed with a foundation of public funds and this gives comfort to private investors.

IPS: How do you see the earth in 2050 and where do you see hope for sustainability coming from?

PV: In principle I am very optimistic. This is not a scientific answer but a personal opinion. I am also optimistic that we will be able to achieve positive results and in the end remain below the two degree warming limit.

This positivity is fed by the innovations for sustainability I see, that investors now are looking for impact rather than financial returns and the fact that the membership of GGGI increased to 28 members who remain very committed to a sustainable growth path. Countries like China may still be resorting to coal-powered electricity but they are taking big steps towards sustainability simultaneously.

Today, it is a combination of positive and negative factors, but I hope and expect the positive will prevail, that we will be able to turn the ship in the end. In the end it is all about people. If people want, it will happen.

The post Q&A: Achieving Sustainable Goals: “In the End it is All About People. If People Want, it Will Happen.” appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Manipadma Jena interviews the Deputy Director and Water Sector Lead at the Global Green Growth Institute's (GGGI) Investment and Policy Solutions Division, PETER VOS.

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Law of the Sea Convention Expands to Cover Marine Biological Diversityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/law-sea-convention-expands-cover-marine-biological-diversity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=law-sea-convention-expands-cover-marine-biological-diversity http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/law-sea-convention-expands-cover-marine-biological-diversity/#respond Tue, 11 Sep 2018 11:21:21 +0000 Palitha Kohona http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157556 Dr Palitha Kohona is former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations & former co-Chair of the UN Adhoc Working Group on Biological Diversity Beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction

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Coral reef ecosystem at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Jim Maragos/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

By Dr Palitha Kohona
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Sep 11 2018 (IPS)

Responding to a persistent demand by developing countries, the conservation community and science, the UN General Assembly has commenced a process for bringing the areas beyond national jurisdiction in the oceans under a global legally binding regulatory framework.

Approximately two thirds of the oceans exist beyond national jurisdiction. The Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS), concluded in 1982, currently provides the broad legal and policy framework for all activities relating to the seas and oceans, including, to some extent, for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction (BBNJ).

However, despite the comprehensive nature of UNCLOS, many feel that BBNJ is not adequately covered under it as detailed knowledge of BBNJ was not available, even to the scientific community, at the time. Advancements in science and technology have brought vast amounts of knowledge to our attention in the years following the conclusion of UNCLOS.

Today human knowledge about the oceans, including its deepest parts which were inaccessible previously, is much more comprehensive and new information continues to flood in due to significant scientific and technical advances.

UNCLOS, referred to as the ‘Constitution for the Oceans’ by the former Singaporean Ambassador Tommy Koh, came into force in 1994,and will necessarily be further elaborated as human knowledge of the oceans increases and human activities multiply.

It is already complemented by two specific implementing agreements, namely the Agreement relating to Part XI of UNCLOS, which addresses matters related to the Area as defined in the UNCLOS (the sea bed beyond national jurisdiction), and the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of UNCLOS relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. The proposed treaty on BBNJ will be the third implementing agreement under the UNCLOS.

The seas and oceans, which have acquired unprecedented commercial value and have become a major source of global nutrition, have also been the subject of considerable international rule making, most of it piecemeal. An estimated 200 million people world-wide make a living from fishing and related activities. Mostly in poor developing countries.

Fish provide at least 20 % of the animal protein intake of over 2.6 billion people. A treaty on BBNJ, as envisaged, while filling a gap in the existing global regulatory framework, will also result in significant areas of the oceans being set aside as Marine Protected Areas (MPA) to provide protection to marine biological diversity, its critical habitat, including spawning areas, as well as ensuring the equitable division of the benefits resulting from the scientific exploitation of such resources, especially through the development of new products.

Under the umbrella of UNCLOS, and carefully accommodated within it and its implementing agreements, a number of international instruments (and regimes) at the global and regional levels relevant to the conservation and
sustainable use of marine BBNJ, have been put in place already.

At the global level, these include inter alia, the regulations adopted by the International Seabed Authority for the protection and preservation of the marine environment in the Area; the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); instruments adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); measures adopted by the International Maritime Organization; measures relating to intellectual property in the context of the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

At the regional level, the relevant measures include those adopted by regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements (RFMO/As) by regional seas organizations having competence beyond areas of national jurisdiction.

A range of non-binding instruments/mechanisms also provide policy guidance of relevance to the conservation and exploitation of marine biodiversity, including beyond areas of national jurisdiction. These include the resolutions of the UN General Assembly on oceans and the law of the sea and on sustainable fisheries, as well as the Rio Declaration and Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation adopted in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the outcome document of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, i.e. The future we want, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development).

However, despite the existence of the above regimes, the need for a legally binding multilateral instrument to govern the protection, sustainable utilisation and benefit sharing of BBNJ has been advocated by a range of interest groups for some time. A champion of this process has been Argentina.

The negotiation process. Smooth sailing or rough seas ahead?

The UN ad-hoc working group (WG) on BBNJ, established by the GA in 2004, in response to the demands of a majority of the international community, took over ten years to finalise its recommendations in February 2015. Initially, the WG made little progress and was running the risk of being terminated.

Since 2010, it was co-chaired by Sri Lanka (Ambassador Dr Palitha Kohona) and the Netherlands (Dr Liesbeth Lijnzard). While the subject was not easy, and many delegations were only beginning to grasp its complexities, curious coalitions began to form. The Group of 77 (G77) and the European Union (EU) formed a common and a powerful front for different reasons.

Many strategic negotiating approaches were discussed behind the scenes and effectively deployed by these two unlikely allies resulting in a successful outcome to the work of the WG. Basically, the G77 wanted the future exploitation of BBNJ regulated globally so that the anticipated benefits would be distributed more equitably and marine technology transferred consistent with the commitments made under the UNCLOS.

Already significant numbers of patents based on biological specimens, including microorganisms (12,998 genetic sequences), retrieved from the oceans, many from hydrothermal vents, have been registered. (11% of all patent sequences are from specimens recovered from the ocean). 98 per cent of patents based on marine species were owned by institutions in 10 countries.

The German pharmaceutical giant, BASF, alone has registered 47% of the patented sequences. The financial bonanza that was expected from the commercialisation of these patents was hugely tempting. It is estimated that by 2025, the global market for marine biotechnological products will exceed $6.4 billion and was likely to grow further.

The EU, for its part, wanted to reserve large areas of the oceans for marine protected areas for conservation purposes. Conservation in this manner would result in providing space for genetic material to replenish itself naturally. The goals of the two groups were not necessarily contradictory.

The reservations on the need for a global legally binding regulatory mechanism for BBNJ were expressed mainly by the US, Japan, Norway and the Republic of Korea. Their interest was in preserving the unhindered freedom of private corporations to exploit biological specimens to conduct research and produce new materials, including drugs, biofuels and chemicals for commercial purposes.

These corporations needed the assurance that the billions that they were expending on research would produce financially attractive results. The difficulties involved in identifying the sources from where the specimens were recovered (whether beyond national jurisdiction or within), the costs usually associated with a discovery and bringing a commercially viable product into the market place, the actual need for a legally binding instrument in the current circumstances, the possibility of achieving the same goals through a non binding instrument, etc, were some of the concerns articulated.

These concerns are expected to be raised during the treaty negotiations as well. The US which held out to the bitter end preventing consensus at the WG is not even a party to the UNCLOS. A Preparatory Committee established by the UNGA to make recommendations on the elements of a draft of an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine BBNJ under UNCLOS, prior to holding an international conference met in four sessions in 2016 and 2017. Treaty negotiations began in September 2018 following the organizational session (in April 2018) and the conclusion of the fourth and concluding session of the Preparatory Committee.

It could be expected that the US and the like-minded group, reflecting a recognisable private enterprise oriented policy bias, would continue to raise objections affecting the smooth progress of the negotiations. The Trump administration, which has made it a habit of distancing itself from compacts to which the US had solemnly subscribed cannot be expected to be more sympathetic to the BBNJ aspirations of the G77 and the EU any more than the Obama administration.

Deposit with the UN Secretary-General

The Secretary-General is the depositary of over 550 multilateral treaties, mostly negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations. The UNCLOS and its two implementing agreements are examples. These are customarily deposited with the SG due to the recognition that he enjoys in the international community as a high level independent global authority.

The proposed treaty on BBNJ would in all likelihood, be deposited with the UN SG, when concluded. The day to day management of activity relating to these multilateral treaties is the responsibility of the Treaty Section of the UN Office of Legal Affairs, a function which dates back to the early days of the creation of the UN. Exceptionally, a major multilateral treaty may be deposited elsewhere.

For example, the NPT is deposited with the governments of the US, UK and Russia. Under Article 102 of the UN Charter all treaties, both multilateral and bilateral are required to be registered with the UN. The UN is the custodian of over 55,000 bilateral treaties so registered, currently available on line.

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Dr Palitha Kohona is former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations & former co-Chair of the UN Adhoc Working Group on Biological Diversity Beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction

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Great Recession, greater illusionshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/great-recession-greater-illusions/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=great-recession-greater-illusions http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/great-recession-greater-illusions/#comments Tue, 11 Sep 2018 08:01:04 +0000 Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157551 In 2009, the world economy contracted by -2.2%. Growth in all developing countries declined from around 8% in 2007 to 2.6% in 2009 as the developed world contracted by -3.8% in 2009. The collapse of the Lehmann Brothers investment bank in September 2008 symbolized the US financial crisis that triggered the Great Recession of 2008-2009. […]

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By Anis Chowdhury and Jomo Kwame Sundaram
SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Sep 11 2018 (IPS)

In 2009, the world economy contracted by -2.2%. Growth in all developing countries declined from around 8% in 2007 to 2.6% in 2009 as the developed world contracted by -3.8% in 2009. The collapse of the Lehmann Brothers investment bank in September 2008 symbolized the US financial crisis that triggered the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

Demonstrations against austerity measures in Athens (May, 2010). Credit: Nikos Pilos/IPS

Demise of Keynesian consensus
In its immediate aftermath, a new consensus reversed the neoliberal Washington Consensus of the last two decades of the 20th century. Proclaimed by the G20’s London Summit of 2 April 2009, it envisaged return to Keynesian macroeconomic policies, including large-scale fiscal stimulus, supported by expansionary monetary policy.

The new policies were largely successful in tempering the recession, although much more should have been done. But with modest recovery, public debt, not economic stagnation, was soon sold as public enemy number one again.

G20 leaders at the June 2010 Toronto Summit turned to ‘fiscal consolidation’, with monetary policy accommodation to ‘contain’ its contractionary consequences, and ‘structural’ (mainly labour market) reforms, ostensibly to boost growth, especially in advanced economies. Meanwhile, despite G20 leaders’ pledges eschewing protectionism, trade restrictions grew.

Synchronized fiscal consolidation precipitated some Eurozone sovereign debt crises. Soon, several Eurozone countries experienced double dip recessions, as unemployment in Greece and Spain rose well over 25% following punitive policies required to qualify for European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) funding which mainly went to creditors.

Economists’ complicity
Misleading, ideologically-driven empirical analyses claimed to support the new policy reversal. Alesina and his associates promoted the idea of ‘expansionary fiscal consolidation’, that contractionary government expenditure cuts would be more than offset by private spending expansion due to boosted investor confidence.

Then, Reinhart and Rogoff exaggerated the dangers of domestic debt accumulation. Although soon exposed for major methodological flaws and suppressing relevant information, these studies had served their purpose.

The IMF Fiscal Monitor ahead of the June 2010 G20 Summit grossly exaggerated public debt’s destabilizing effects, advocating rapid fiscal consolidation instead. Later, the IMF admitted it had underestimated the fiscal multiplier and hence potential growth from such debt!
Faltering recovery and rising unemployment in the Eurozone caused the public debt-GDP ratio to rise instead. Meanwhile, supposedly unavoidable short-term pain caused prolonged suffering for millions without the promised medium- and long-term gains.

UN ahead of the curve
Besides the Bank of International Settlements’ legendary William White, the United Nations was ahead of the curve, not only in warning of the impending crisis, but also by providing appropriate policy advice, albeit largely ignored.

For example, the United Nations 2006 and 2007 World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) warned of instability and growth slowdowns due to disorderly adjustment of growing macroeconomic imbalances among major world economies. WESP warned that falling US house prices could cause defaults to spike, triggering bank crises.

The IMF and the OECD simply ignored such warnings, projecting rosy futures, and a ‘soft landing’ at worst. The April 2007 IMF World Economic Outlook (WEO) emphatically dismissed widely held concerns about disorderly unwinding of global imbalances, claiming economic risks had subsided. The July 2007 issue claimed: “The strong global expansion is continuing, and projections for global growth in both 2007 and 2008 have been revised up”.

The OECD June 2007 Economic Outlook insisted that the US slowdown was not heralding a period of worldwide economic weakness. “Rather, a ‘smooth’ rebalancing was to be expected, with Europe taking over the baton from the United States in driving OECD growth… Indeed, the current economic situation is in many ways better than what we have experienced in years.”

Although the IMF’s November 2008 WEO belatedly acknowledged the crisis’ severity, it forecast global recovery of 2.2% in 2009, suggesting the worst was over, thus supporting the reversal from fiscal expansion to consolidation. Depicting the ‘green shoots’ of recovery as self-sustaining, fiscal stimulus was abandoned after selective financial bailouts.

The IMF and OECD recommendations of structural reforms and fiscal consolidation have since failed to provide the long awaited, sustained global economic recovery.

The President of the UN General Assembly set up a commission led by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz to study the crisis’ impact, especially for development, and recommend policies to prevent future crises. Yet, most remain unaware of its wide-ranging findings and policy recommendations, including international financial architecture reforms and reregulating finance to better serve the real economy.

The UN Secretary-General proposed a Global Green New Deal in 2009 to accelerate economic recovery and job creation while addressing sustainable development, climate change and food security. It envisioned massive, multilateral, cross-subsidized public investments in renewable energy and smallholder food production in developing countries.

The UN also consistently advocated policy coordination and warned against prematurely ending recovery efforts.

Missed opportunity, heightened vulnerability
With UN and similar policy advice largely ignored, global economic recovery has remained tepid for the last decade. This has prompted the ‘secular stagnation’ thesis obscuring the role of political and policy failures and missed opportunities.

Unconventional monetary policy, e.g., ‘quantitative easing’, has also widened income and wealth gaps besides fuelling financial asset bubbles. Earlier capital inflows are now exiting following monetary policy normalization in the West and new fears of emerging market vulnerabilities.

Having failed to ensure robust recovery despite accumulating more debt, both developed and developing countries have less policy and fiscal space to address the looming problems threatening them.

Meanwhile, the redistributive potential of fiscal policy has been weakened by reducing progressive direct taxes and increasing regressive indirect taxes, while cutting social expenditure. Also, powerful vested interests have blocked attempts to limit obscene executive remuneration and enforce minimum wages, arguing that such measures discourage business and job creation.

Also, the hyped notion of ‘inclusive inequality’ has served to justify rising economic disparities, by arguing that deregulation has enabled wealth accumulation and middle class expansion.

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UN Begins Talks on World’s First Treaty to Regulate High Seashttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-begins-talks-worlds-first-treaty-regulate-high-seas/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-begins-talks-worlds-first-treaty-regulate-high-seas http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-begins-talks-worlds-first-treaty-regulate-high-seas/#comments Fri, 07 Sep 2018 10:22:21 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157498 After several years of preliminary discussions, the United Nations has begun its first round of inter-governmental negotiations to draft the world’s first legally binding treaty to protect and regulate the “high seas”—which, by definition, extend beyond 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) and are considered “international waters” shared globally. “The high seas cover half our planet […]

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A trawler in Johnstone Strait, BC, Canada. Human activities such as pollution, overfishing, mining, geo-engineering and climate change have made an international agreement to protect the high seas more critical than ever. Credit: Winky/cc by 2.0

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 7 2018 (IPS)

After several years of preliminary discussions, the United Nations has begun its first round of inter-governmental negotiations to draft the world’s first legally binding treaty to protect and regulate the “high seas”—which, by definition, extend beyond 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) and are considered “international waters” shared globally.

“The high seas cover half our planet and are vital to the functioning of the whole ocean and all life on Earth. The current high seas governance system is weak, fragmented and unfit to address the threats we now face in the 21stt century from climate change, illegal and overfishing, plastics pollution and habitat loss”, says Peggy Kalas, Coordinator of the High Seas Alliance, a partnership of 40+ non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“This is an historic opportunity to protect the biodiversity and functions of the high seas through legally binding commitments” she added.

The two-week Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), which concludes 17 September, is described as the first in a series of four negotiating sessions which are expected to continue through 2020.

Asked about the contentious issues facing negotiators, Dr Veronica Frank, Political Advisor at Greenpeace International, told IPS “although it is still early, we can expect that some of the potential issues that will require attention include the relationship between the new Global Ocean Treaty and existing legal instruments and bodies.”

These will include those who regulate activities such as fishing and mining, and what role
these other organizations will play in the management of activities that may impact on the marine environment in future ocean sanctuaries on the high seas.

“Also tricky is the issue of marine genetic resources, especially how to ensure the access and sharing of benefits from their use,” Dr Frank said.

Asked how different the proposed treaty would be from the historic 1994 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Essam Yassin Mohammed, Principal Researcher on Oceans and Environmental Economics at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), told IPS: “This new treaty is particularly significant because it is the first time the high seas will be governed.”

These negotiations are an opportunity, not just to protect the health of the oceans, but also to make sure all countries ― not just the wealthy few ― can benefit from the ocean’s resources in a sustainable way, he pointed out.

“As important as The Law of the Sea is, it only covers the band of water up to 200 miles from the coast. It does not cover the use and sustainable management of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction,” he added.

While this was acceptable in an era when the technological capacities that enabled people to venture beyond this area were limited, rapid innovation and technological advancement has changed this. Increasingly, economic activities are taking place in the high seas, he noted.

Most are unregulated and pose a major threat to marine biodiversity. It is more urgent than ever to fill this governance gap and monitor and regulate any activity in the high seas and make sure they benefit everyone ― particularly the poorest countries, he argued.

According to the High Seas Alliance, the ocean’s key role in mitigating climate change, which includes absorbing 90% of the extra heat and 26% of the excess carbon dioxide created by human sources, has had a devastating effect on the ocean itself.

Managing the multitude of other anthropogenic stressors exerted on it will increase its resilience to climate change and ocean acidification and protect unique marine ecosystems, many of which are still unexplored and undiscovered. Because these are international waters, the conservation measures needed can only be put into place via a global treaty, the Alliance said.

Dr Frank said the new treaty must create a global process for the designation and effective implementation of highly protected sanctuaries in areas beyond national borders.

Such global process must include the following elements: (a) a clear objective and a duty to cooperate to protect, maintain, and restore ocean health and resilience through a global network of marine protected areas, in particular highly protected marine reserves, and (b) the identification of potential areas that meet the conservation objective.

Asked about the existing law of the sea treaty, she said UNCLOS, which is the constitution of the ocean, sets the jurisdictional framework, ie general rights and obligations of Parties in different maritime zones, including some general obligations to cooperate and protect marine life and marine living resources that also apply to waters beyond national borders.

However, the Convention doesn’t spell out what these obligations entail in practice and puts much more emphasis on the traditional freedoms to use the high seas.

The Convention does not even mention the term biodiversity, she said, pointing out that
the treaty under negotiation will be the third so-called “Implementing Agreement” under UNCLOS – after the agreement for the implementation of Part XI on seabed minerals and one on fish stocks – and it will implement, specify and operationalise UNCLOS broad environmental provisions in relation to the protection of the global oceans.

Dr Frank said this is the first time in history that governments are negotiating rules that will bring UNCLOS in line with modern principles of environmental governance and provide effective protection to global oceans.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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Culture of Peace Embedded in Every Word on the UN Charterhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/culture-peace-embedded-every-word-un-charter/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=culture-peace-embedded-every-word-un-charter http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/culture-peace-embedded-every-word-un-charter/#respond Wed, 05 Sep 2018 18:44:06 +0000 Miroslav http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157477 Miroslav Lajčák, President of the current 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, in his address to the Forum on a Culture of Peace

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Miroslav Lajčák, President of the current 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, in his address to the Forum on a Culture of Peace

By Miroslav Lajčák
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 5 2018 (IPS)

As we open this Forum, I will make three main points. First, I want to ask: what does a culture of peace actually mean?

And, frankly it might be different for every person in this room. But I will share some elements, which have stuck with me.

Miroslav Lajčák

The first is time. Peace takes a lot of time.

It cannot be installed. It cannot be erected,

It must be built up – block after block, layer after layer. And this must be done, not by the hands of internationals– but by the people on the ground; the people who were there – in their countries, and in their villages – when peace was not.

Cultures do not come about in a day or a week. And neither does peace. A second element is simplicity. “The culture of peace”.

This is a very simple phrase. It can be easily translated into different languages. And it can be understood – even without a degree in philosophy, or years of experience at the United Nations.

Because we all have some idea of culture.

It is around us, every day. It’s in what we do…where we go…how we speak. And if peace is not a part of these everyday habits – then we simply do not have a culture of peace.

And, thirdly, another element is hope. Let’s be frank: a culture of peace is not, yet, a reality.

Conflicts rage on, across the world. International terrorism poses as grave a threat as ever. And political and religious intolerance is rising.

But we have chosen not to accept this, as our fate. In fact, through this resolution – and this Forum – we are saying no.

We are recommitting to the very ideals of the United Nations Charter. We are showing that it is in our power, to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. Not in some places in the world – but in all.

And that is a powerful message of hope. This brings me to my second point – on the United Nations Charter.

The document doesn’t specifically mention a “culture of peace”. But I believe it is embedded in every word.

And I think we are closer now – than we have ever been – to an international system, which can support and promote a culture of peace.

In the past, our tools and mechanisms were designed to react to conflict. They jumped into action when there was an outbreak in violence, or when a peace treaty was signed.

Now we are opening our eyes. We are asking ourselves the question: what can we do, proactively, to build peace, from the ground up, and to make sure it won’t go anywhere, in the future?

So, we have moved from reactive to proactive; from response to prevention; from concentrating on the effects of conflict to exploring the accelerators of peace.

And central to that has been a renewed focus on conflict prevention and peacebuilding – which are all part of a larger cycle of Sustaining Peace.

Not just in theory. But also, in practice. And here’s the thing: We are doing this. Now.

We are reforming the United Nations’ peace and security pillar.

We are investing more in mediation and peacebuilding capacities.

We are reviewing the way our peacekeeping operations work on the ground.

And we are looking at how our efforts for Sustainable Development and human rights have a direct impact on prospects for peace.

Last April, we all met in this hall. We listened to leaders, policy makers and activists give their take on this new approach to peace. And what we heard was very exciting.

Commitments to preventive diplomacy. Calls for a “quantum leap” in peacebuilding finance. Discussions on coherence and partnerships. And success stories from the ground.

So, it is happening. In this hall. In offices nearby. And in UN country teams and peace operations all over the world.

We are moving our international system towards a culture of peace.

But, as my third point, I want to highlight that, to get there, we need to widen our approach.

We cannot achieve a culture of peace from a hall like this. We need to take action on the ground. And we need new approaches. In some cases, that means a complete re-set.

For example, students all over the world are studying peace theory in university. But maybe we need to start much sooner. Maybe young children should not, only, be learning lessons in maths and history – but also in humanity and peace.

Also, we are seeing some exciting initiatives, which bring all three pillars of the United Nations together. For example, the UN’s Peace and Development Advisers – who are deployed in the field. Now, we need to scale these best practices up – and bring all areas of the United Nations’ work together, for a cultural shift.

And we must remember: culture includes– not just some – but everyone.

So, gender equality is crucial. Every time a woman is denied her voice, her rights, or her place in society – we are taking a step away from a culture of peace. Also, if young people continue to be excluded from our decisions and processes, we won’t get very far.

So, we need everyone involved. From heads of states and top United Nations officials, to the people who work, for the United Nations, academic institutions or NGOs on the ground.

The late Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, delivered a Nobel Lecture, in 2001. During it, he said, “Peace must be made real and tangible in the daily existence of every individual in need”.

That is a simple message. But it is an important one. Peace should not be a theory. It should not be a principle, or an aim, or an outcome. It should not have a budget or a timeline.

Instead, peace should be something that we can touch, see, feel and experience – on a daily basis. It should be in the air around us or the ground we walk on. It should, in essence, be a culture.

And one that is here to stay.

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Excerpt:

Miroslav Lajčák, President of the current 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, in his address to the Forum on a Culture of Peace

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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.

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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.

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Can the U.S. and Russia Avert a New Arms Race?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/can-u-s-russia-avert-new-arms-race/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-u-s-russia-avert-new-arms-race http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/can-u-s-russia-avert-new-arms-race/#respond Tue, 04 Sep 2018 13:26:51 +0000 Daryl G. Kimball http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157452 Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association

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U.S. Air Force maintenance technicians assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work on a B-2 stealth bomber at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. on March 19, 2011. The unit maintains aircraft tasked with strategic nuclear deterrence and global strike operations. Credit: Kenny Holston/U.S. Air Force

By Daryl G. Kimball
WASHINGTON DC, Sep 4 2018 (IPS)

Five long years have passed since U.S. President Barack Obama proposed and Russian President Vladimir Putin unfortunately rejected negotiations designed to cut their excessive nuclear stockpiles by one-third below the limits set by the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

Since Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, U.S.-Russian relations have deteriorated dramatically. A Russian violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty has put that treaty at risk and the nuclear arms reduction dialogue remains stalled. As a result, each side still can deploy a whopping 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads, as allowed by New START.

Reliance on outdated launch-under-attack policies means that either leader at any moment can launch as many as 800 city-destroying nuclear weapons within about 20 minutes of a “go” order. Each side would have hundreds more nuclear weapons available in reserve for counterstrikes. The result would be a global catastrophe.

Clearly, it is vital that the world’s two largest nuclear-armed powers pursue further measures to reduce their bloated stockpiles and the risk of a nuclear confrontation. Yet, Moscow’s brazen effort to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections on behalf of the Trump campaign and suspicions that then-candidate Donald Trump encouraged that effort have further complicated the bilateral relationship and cast doubt on Trump’s ability to deal with Putin.

Meanwhile, a qualitative nuclear arms race is underway, and a quantitative nuclear arms race may be just around the corner. The United States and Russia are rushing forward with costly, ambitious plans to upgrade their Cold War nuclear arsenals and develop new types of destabilizing nuclear weapons.

In little more than two years, on Feb. 5, 2021, New START is scheduled to expire. Without a decision to extend the treaty, which is allowable under Article XIV, there will be no legally binding limits on the world’s two largest arsenals for the first time since 1972. The risk of unconstrained U.S.-Russian nuclear competition and even more fraught relations would grow.

In a March interview with NBC News, Putin voiced interest in extending New START or possibly even making further cuts in warhead numbers. In April, the Trump administration announced it is conducting a “whole-of-government review” on whether to extend New START, an effort described as still in its early stages.

At the Helsinki summit in July, Putin presented several proposals “to work together further to interact on the disarmament agenda, military, and technical cooperation.” Afterward, Trump stated that “perhaps the most important issue we discussed at our meeting…was the reduction of nuclear weapons throughout the world.”

Unfortunately, the two leaders did not reach any agreements in Helsinki. Subsequently, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, following a Geneva meeting with Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev on Aug. 23, did not announce a date for talks on New START or on “strategic stability.”

There is no time for further delay. New START clearly serves U.S. and Russian security interests. Failure to extend the treaty would compromise U.S. intelligence on Russian nuclear forces, open the door to unconstrained nuclear competition, and undermine U.S. and allied security.

An extension of New START also would provide additional time for Trump or his successor to pursue negotiations on more far-reaching nuclear cuts involving strategic and tactical nuclear systems, an understanding about the limits of U.S. strategic missile defenses, and limitations on non-nuclear strategic strike weapons that both sides are beginning to develop.

Fortunately, the treaty can be extended by up to five years, to 2026, by a simple agreement by the two presidents without complex negotiations, without further approval from the U.S. Senate or Russian Duma, and without unwise concessions to Moscow.

Even the toughest Democratic critics of Trump’s Russia policies support New START extension. Legislation introduced in June by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) calls for extension of the treaty so long as Russia remains in compliance.

The compliance disputes involving the INF Treaty present a more complex problem. To move forward, Washington and Moscow should agree to reciprocal site visits by experts to examine the 9M729 missile that is in dispute.

If the disputed Russian missile is still believed to have a range that exceeds the 500-kilometer treaty limit, Russia could, as a confidence-building measure, modify the missile into compliance or, ideally, halt production and eliminate any such missiles.

To address Russian concerns about the possible conversion of U.S. missile interceptor systems in Europe to offensive purposes, the United States could agree to reciprocal site visits or perhaps even physical modifications of the launchers.

Despite their many disputes, it is vital that Washington and Moscow maintain a stable, predictable nuclear relationship and avoid direct military conflict.

To do so, Trump and Putin should relaunch the strategic stability dialogue and commit to reaching an early agreement to extend New START. If not, an even more dangerous phase in U.S.-Russian relations may emerge.

The post Can the U.S. and Russia Avert a New Arms Race? appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Daryl G. Kimball is Executive Director, Arms Control Association

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New Rules for High Seas Must Include Needs of Poorest Nationshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/new-rules-high-seas-must-include-needs-poorest-nations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-rules-high-seas-must-include-needs-poorest-nations http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/new-rules-high-seas-must-include-needs-poorest-nations/#respond Tue, 04 Sep 2018 12:52:23 +0000 Essam Yassin Mohammed http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157450 Essam Yassin Mohammed is Principal Researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

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Essam Yassin Mohammed is Principal Researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

By Essam Yassin Mohammed
LONDON, Sep 4 2018 (IPS)

Over-fishing, warming oceans and plastic pollution dominate the headlines when it comes to the state of the seas. Most of the efforts to protect the life of the ocean and the livelihoods of those who depend on it are limited to exclusive economic zones – the band of water up to 200 nautical miles from the coast.

Fishermen offloading tunas at the industrial fish port of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Credit: FAO/Sia Kambou

But to be truly effective, all of the ocean needs to be protected. The high-seas that lie beyond national jurisdictions ― two-thirds of the ocean’s surface ― remain largely ungoverned.

The world has a new opportunity this week to move a step closer to addressing these issues as UN members start negotiating an international legally binding treaty to protect the high seas. (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, 4-17 September). The first of four rounds of negotiations that will continue until 2020.

Despite the common perception that the high seas are too remote to matter to coastal communities, strong scientific evidence shows the ocean is a highly interconnected ecosystem. For example, a number of fish species use the high seas at different stages of their lifecycle for feeding and spawning, which is why protecting it is critically important to coastal communities’ livelihoods and economies.

For these negotiations to be effective and fair, it is crucial the people living in coastal communities in the least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS) are listened to and have an active role in protecting and sustainably managing the ocean. They are among those most affected by the impacts of how the ocean is used and protected, from fishing to conservation measures.

Any measure to govern these waters must make sure that any activity in these waters benefits everyone ― particularly the poorest countries.

The ocean as a whole is recognised by international law as a common heritage of mankind ― it belongs to everyone, now and forever. But most developing countries do not have the financial or technological means to share the benefits it provides.

To make sure they have equal access, it is crucial this treaty establishes a mechanism that enables them to share its benefits. Monetary benefits can be best shared by establishing a trust fund.

This, as is the case with such governing bodies as the International Seabed Authority, would enable coastal communities to build their capacities and become involved in monitoring the environmental health of the seas.

And they would be able to participate proactively in research and development, and sustainably use the high seas as a source for medicines, science and other genetic resources.

It could be financed from a percentage of the profits that wealthier countries make through economic activities on the high seas whether from extraction of marine genetic resources or any other activity.

The equitable distribution of benefits from conservation of the high seas should also be at the core of the negotiations. It is important that any new global agreement recognises that when protected areas are designated they consider how they will affect coastal communities across the global south.

These areas linking territorial waters to the high seas are critical both for protecting marine species and helping to restore coastal fisheries, which are vital to sustaining the livelihoods of people in poor coastal communities.

One of the biggest threats to marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction is overfishing. Studies show that fishing in the high seas is unprofitable and are only economically viable because governments subsidies large fishing fleets. It is important that in this first round of talks, governments agree clear steps to end all harmful subsidies.

Instead, these subsidies should be directed towards activities that deliver positive social and environmental results. By providing support for monitoring and surveillance of marine protected areas, giving incentives to fishers for not using damaging fishing practices, and enhancing access to markets and services including by providing support for storage facilities, poor coastal communities and fishers will be able to benefit from ocean-friendly investment.

We cannot afford to keep the status quo. These negotiations are an opportunity to establish a new legally binding treaty that is fair and equitable for everyone. This is about sustainably sharing 50 per cent of the planet with 100 per cent of the world’s population.

It is crucial the needs of the poor are heard at every stage of this process to make sure they are not left behind in the drive to govern the life of the oceans.

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Excerpt:

Essam Yassin Mohammed is Principal Researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

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Striking the Right Note: a History of Paper Moneyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/striking-the-right-note-a-history-of-paper-money/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=striking-the-right-note-a-history-of-paper-money http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/striking-the-right-note-a-history-of-paper-money/#respond Wed, 29 Aug 2018 10:18:18 +0000 Tadeusz Galeza and James Chan http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157388 TADEUSZ GALEZA is a research officer in the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets Department. JAMES CHAN is a senior information management assistant in the IMF’s Statistics Department.

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TADEUSZ GALEZA is a research officer in the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets Department. JAMES CHAN is a senior information management assistant in the IMF’s Statistics Department.

By Tadeusz Galeza and James Chan
WASHINGTON DC, Aug 29 2018 (IPS)

From strings of shells in the Solomon Islands to large stone disks on the Micronesian isle of Yap or wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in Italy, money has taken many forms throughout history.

Striking the Right Note: a History of Paper MoneyToday, banknotes are an artistic expression of national sovereignty, with many countries choosing to immortalize famous authors and activists, local wildlife, and iconic national landmarks. In other words, modern paper money represents the essence, history, beauty, and ideals to which each country aspires.

To see this diversity in action, we need look no further than the 189 member countries of the IMF that churn out 136 unique national currencies and form four currency unions.

Standouts include the Malawian kwacha, the smallest banknote in our study at about 87 percent the size of the US dollar bill. At the other end of the spectrum are the Brunei and the Singapore dollars, the largest banknotes in circulation, each with a total area of more than 150 percent of the US dollar bill—calling for a really deep wallet.

Banknotes across the world are rectangular, but most are wider rather than they are tall. Swiss francs, for example, tend to be very slender, while British pounds and Kenyan shillings are more square.

Yet despite the variations in design, the properties that define currency are the same: they are a unit of measure, a store of value, and a medium of exchange. Paper bills, or “fiat” money, also have no intrinsic value; their worth is determined solely through supply and demand, and they are declared legal tender by government decree.

The most important element that separates one national currency from another is its value. Central banks decide what the largest note in circulation should be, and its nominal value is determined by the number of zeros—this indicates the purchasing power of the note within the country.

Currently, the largest bills changing hands range from 20 Bahrain dinars to 500,000 Vietnamese dong. Historically, because of hyperinflation, many countries printed banknotes with a cartoonish number of zeros: Yugoslavia issued a 500 billion dinar bill in 1991, and Zimbabwe a 100 trillion dollar bill in 2009.

 

Striking the Right Note: a History of Paper Money

 

Today, a hundred units of currency (for example, 100 US dollars) is most commonly the highest available banknote in each country. But the real value (proxied here by its worth in US dollars) is where the rubber hits the road.

On average, the largest banknote in circulation across countries is equivalent to 33 US dollars, but the difference in real value from country to country could not be more stark. It takes three 100 South Sudanese pound notes (their largest in circulation) to purchase a medium coffee at Starbucks. At the opposite end, it takes only two of Brunei’s largest bills—10,000 dollar notes—to buy a 2018 Toyota Yaris sedan.

Striking the Right Note: a History of Paper MoneyCash, nevertheless, may not be king forever.

With digital currencies and online transactions gaining steam worldwide, the future of paper money may be in jeopardy. What was once valued precisely because of its physicality is giving way to a new global economy where more and more transactions—big and small—are processed electronically.

Perhaps one day countries will design and issue banknotes of the virtual kind, embedded with even richer features to celebrate all they hold dear. Until then, however, paper banknotes will retain an undeniable appeal.

The link to the original article follows:  http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2018/06/value-of-paper-money-around-the-world/currency.htm?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

PHOTO CREDITS: ISTOCK.COM/BENEDEK, MICHAEL BURRELL, YEVGENROMANENKO, ALAMY.COM/CHRISTOPH RUEEGG, CHRONICLE

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect IMF policy.

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Excerpt:

TADEUSZ GALEZA is a research officer in the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets Department. JAMES CHAN is a senior information management assistant in the IMF’s Statistics Department.

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Shared Humanity our Only Hope Against Hatredhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/mother-theresa-shared-humanity-hope-hatred/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mother-theresa-shared-humanity-hope-hatred http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/mother-theresa-shared-humanity-hope-hatred/#respond Sun, 26 Aug 2018 01:07:19 +0000 Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157341 Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya and was born in the city that was Mother Teresa’s home- Calcutta, India.

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Mother Teresa at Mji wa Huruma Elders' Home when she visited Nairobi in August 1981. Photo courtesy: The Standard.

Mother Teresa at Mji wa Huruma Elders' Home when she visited Nairobi in August 1981. Photo courtesy: The Standard.

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Aug 26 2018 (IPS)

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”   This profound statement was made by the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa, who was born on this day, August 26, 1910. An icon of love, tolerance, generosity and tremendous integrity and spirituality.

Recently, Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in America’s National Catholic Register: “The reason the church names anger as one of the ‘seven deadly sins’ is because it’s simultaneously so poisonous, so delicious and so addictive. Anger congeals quite comfortably into hatred.”

Where ideas used to take years – and sometimes centuries – to spread around the globe, they now do so in seconds, thanks to the new communication technologies. While this is a force for good in countless ways, it has also facilitated and strengthened the rise of movements that are based on hatred rooted not in nation or state identity, but in extremist ideologies based on rancorous opposition to a particular faith or race, sexual orientation or to liberal democracy in general.

Across the world, politics of division and rhetoric of intolerance are targeting gender, racial, ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, and migrants and refugees. From anti-Semitism to attacks on hijab-wearing women, racism to sexual assault, we are witnessing what words of fear and loathing can do, and the damaging consequences.

If we need proof that it often takes surprisingly what seems like simple gestures to reduce the levels of polarising animus in society, we only need to look at how the ‘handshake’ between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Honourable Raila Odinga has brought political reconciliation to levels that nobody would have predicted.

 

A handshake says a thousand words- President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader, Hon Raila Odinga at Harambee House on March 9, 2018. /Jack Owuor - “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” This profound statement was made by the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa, who was born on this day, August 26, 1910. An icon of love, tolerance, generosity and tremendous integrity and spirituality.

A handshake says a thousand words- President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader, Hon Raila Odinga at Harambee House on March 9, 2018. /Jack Owuor.

 

From just under a year ago, when political partisanship gridlocked this country and seemed destined to polarize Kenyans, we are now witnessing an important and urgent discourse on vital issues such as the fight against corruption.

These are hopeful signs; this is a demonstration of true leadership.  One must not, however, underestimate the challenge of combating hatred. If hatred is an epidemic, then we need to treat it as such and plan to contain and reverse it.  

So, what is the antidote to the rise of chauvinism, xenophobia, racism, bigotry and misogyny?

The human spirit is strong, and never stronger than when joining forces for justice. Around the world hatred has been met with purposeful love, and with actions engineered to counter the hatred. From the Women’s March in the United States to demonstrations against discrimination in many European countries, people have joined hands to fight hatred and discrimination.

First, incendiary speeches driving bigotry against any group based on religion, race, gender or sexuality must be reined in.

Second, citizens standing up against hate must continue to use and expand all available avenues to engage with others across the world who share their concerns and bolster their ability to affect change.

Third, meaningful change often comes from the bottom up, thus citizens must be educated on how they can change their leadership by voting with their conscience –in national, state, municipal and civic body elections.

Fourth, it is the duty of elected officials to reflect the will of the electorate. They must therefore support their citizens with actions and not merely words in the pursuit of social justice.

Fifth, the voices of moral and thought leaders from around the world who espouse tolerance must be amplified. The lessons of acceptance and mutual respect and equality must be heard, especially by the young, because if we teach them that it is unacceptable to hate and that it is their responsibility to speak up or stop hatred from spreading, we have the odds in favour of justice prevailing in the future.

To Kenya’s advantage, the growth of social media as an established influential platform used ubiquitously by the youth could be a persuasive avenue for mobilising them against all forms of intolerance.

There is a chance to change the world here – to counter hatred with love, anger with joy, and bigotry with acceptance – but it requires the deliberate coming together of concerned people around the world. It requires the understanding that, despite our different realities, we have common hopes for ourselves and for our children, as well as common destinies.

The UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres has said, “Diversity enriches us.  But if we want diversity to be a success, we need to invest in social cohesion.”

Despite the forces of pessimism that have at times painted a picture of gloom, I am convinced that Kenya can harness the reality of a shared humanity, that they can overcome the fraying forces and bridge the chasms that nurture intolerance. And serve as a beacon of hope for the world.

That would be a real tribute to the memory of Mother Teresa.

 

The post Shared Humanity our Only Hope Against Hatred appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya and was born in the city that was Mother Teresa’s home- Calcutta, India.

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Kofi Annan Strengthened the U.N.’s Dignity with the Help of Two Brazilianshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/kofi-annan-strengthened-u-n-s-dignity-help-two-brazilians/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kofi-annan-strengthened-u-n-s-dignity-help-two-brazilians http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/kofi-annan-strengthened-u-n-s-dignity-help-two-brazilians/#respond Tue, 21 Aug 2018 22:30:31 +0000 Mario Osava http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157305 Kofi Annan’s stature as a global leader grew after he finished his second term as United Nations Secretary-General in 2006. Time confirmed his excellence in defending the principles and values of multilateralism, which is currently on the decline and subject to all kinds of attacks. Some of the crucial actions carried out by Annan, who […]

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Kofi Annan, U.N. Secretary General from 1997 to 2007 and 2001 Nobel Peace Prize-winner, who died on Aug. 18, seen together with Brazilian diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello (left), one of his right-hand men and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, who died in Baghdad in 2003. Credit: Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation

Kofi Annan, U.N. Secretary General from 1997 to 2007 and 2001 Nobel Peace Prize-winner, who died on Aug. 18, seen together with Brazilian diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello (left), one of his right-hand men and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, who died in Baghdad in 2003. Credit: Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation

By Mario Osava
RÍO DE JANEIRO, Aug 21 2018 (IPS)

Kofi Annan’s stature as a global leader grew after he finished his second term as United Nations Secretary-General in 2006. Time confirmed his excellence in defending the principles and values of multilateralism, which is currently on the decline and subject to all kinds of attacks.

Some of the crucial actions carried out by Annan, who died on Aug. 18, such as condemning the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, had the key backing of two Brazilian diplomats.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, who died in Baghdad on Aug. 19, 2003, was U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and Annan’s right-hand man in dealing with conflicts and rebuilding shattered nations.

He was sent to Iraq as the secretary-general’s special representative in May 2003, two months after the invasion, a spectacle of violence and bombings instantly reported by the global media.

A truck bomb destroyed the Canal Hotel used as a U.N. office in Baghdad.

Vieira and 21 other U.N. officials were killed in the suicide attack by the Al-Zarqawi organisation, the seed of what would later call itself the Islamic State (IS), according to Carolina Larriera, Vieira’s Argentine widow and a member of his team who survived in the rubble.

In memory of the victims, the U.N. General Assembly decided in 2008 to designate Aug. 19 as World Humanitarian Day, dedicated to all those who risk their lives to assist people affected by armed conflicts and other crises.

Vieira, a Brazilian who worked at the U.N. since he was 21, died at the age of 55 as a hero of humanitarian and peace operations in the most dangerous situations, in Bangladesh, Sudan, Cyprus, Mozambique, Peru and Iraq.

He mediated conflicts in Cambodia, Lebanon, Rwanda and other countries, while in Kosovo and East Timor he supported the “building of new nations.”

Between 1999 and 2002 he led the U.N. peacekeeping forces that oversaw the transition to independence of East Timor, a former Portuguese colony occupied by Indonesia since 1975.

The son of a Brazilian diplomat, Vieira rose through the ranks of the United Nations, occupying positions in its refugee and human rights agencies.

He reached the peak of his career in the missions commissioned by Annan, such as the operation in East Timor. Many even pointed to him as a possible successor to the secretary general because of his proven capacity and extensive experience.

“Annan was a giant at the United Nations,” the last great promoter of multilateralism, which has recently lost momentum, overtaken by the current wave of nationalism,” said Clóvis Brigagão, a political scientist who headed the Centre for the Study of the Americas at a university in Rio de Janeiro.

Born in Ghana 80 years ago, Annan was the first black U.N. secretary-general. He held the position from 1997 to 2006.

He was recognised as perhaps the last global head of state that the powers-that-be allowed the world and as a leader who promoted human rights as a priority and strengthened the mechanisms of peace, democratisation and development.

One of his triumphs was to achieve a consensus on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that set 17 targets to reduce poverty, hunger, child and maternal mortality, among other scourges of humanity, from 2000 to 2015.

Expanded and renewed, 169 targets now make up the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDOs), the heirs to the MDGs, seeking to promote social, human, environmental and economic advances by 2030.

For his work, Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the U.N. in 2001.

But it was the tragedy in Iraq that marked his two terms at the General Secretariat, as the first career staffer to be promoted to the top post in the U.N.

During that crisis, in addition to Vieira he also had the support of another Brazilian diplomat, José Mauricio Bustani, in adopting a position against the invasion by the U.S.-led coalition that also included Great Britain, Australia and Poland.

Bustani had led the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) since it was created in 1997 to enforce the international convention that seeks to eradicate these weapons worldwide.

His reports were key to the U.S. government’s decision to attack Iraq under George W. Bush (2001-2009), in what was known as the second Gulf War (2003-2011) after the one that took place between 1990 and 1991.

The pretext for the attack was the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction, mainly chemical weapons, in the hands of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

In 2001, Bustani was negotiating Iraq’s accession to the OPCW, which would allow for inspections and would prove, according to him, the absence of such weapons in the country.

This was a challenge to the U.S. government, which exerted pressure that led to Bustani’s removal from the organisation in 2002. A year later, Iraq was bombed under a justification that was never proven, which reinforced Annan’s condemnation of the Iraq war, which he deemed “illegal”.

Bustani shared his experience in the article “Brazil and OPCW: Diplomacy and Defence of the Multilateral System Under Attack,” published in late 2002, and continued his career, as Brazil’s ambassador to Britain and France, before retiring in 2015.

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Q&A: A New Leader with a Vision to Redefine Human Rightshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/qa-new-leader-vision-redefine-human-rights/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-new-leader-vision-redefine-human-rights http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/qa-new-leader-vision-redefine-human-rights/#respond Tue, 21 Aug 2018 20:42:57 +0000 IPS Correspondents http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157299 The human rights movement must be bigger, bolder, and more inclusive if we are to tackle today’s challenges, said Amnesty International’s first South African Secretary General. Laying out his ambitious goals for the organisation and the global human rights movement as a whole is Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s newest Secretary General. “In my first message […]

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The worst drought in 40 years has forced thousands in Sri Lanka to abandon their livelihoods and seek work in cities. Amnesty International says that they will be taking on climate change as a human rights issue. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

By IPS Correspondents
JOHANNESBURG/UNITED NATIONS, Aug 21 2018 (IPS)

The human rights movement must be bigger, bolder, and more inclusive if we are to tackle today’s challenges, said Amnesty International’s first South African Secretary General.

Laying out his ambitious goals for the organisation and the global human rights movement as a whole is Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s newest Secretary General.

“In my first message as Secretary General, I want to make clear that Amnesty International is now opening its arms wider than ever before to build a genuinely global community that stretches into all four corners of the world, especially in the global south,” Naidoo said as he took up his position.

“I want us to build a human rights movement that is more inclusive. We need to redefine what it means to be a human rights champion in 2018. An activist can come from all walks of life,” he continued.

Hailing from South Africa, Naidoo got his start in social justice while protesting apartheid in his home country and has since worked on issues of education, inequality, and climate change.

“Our world is facing complex problems that can only be tackled if we break away from old ideas that human rights are about some forms of injustice that people face, but not others. The patterns of oppression that we’re living through are interconnected,” said Naidoo.

IPS spoke to Naidoo about the importance of intersectionality, climate change, and his vision for one of the biggest human rights organisations in such divisive times.

Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s newest Secretary General, says climate change is a human rights issue that the organisation will now also focus on. Credit: Amantha Perera/IPS

IPS: Why is it so important for intersections and the coming together of human rights organisations, and how do you envision this happening?

Naidoo: Well firstly, I think people would be being somewhat delusional if they think individual organisations are going to deliver results. Part of whether Amnesty is able to be successful is that we depend upon the quality of the relationships and alliances that we build with organisations working on the ground.

The good thing is that because of Amnesty’s moving-to-the-ground strategy, which was to move more capacity from London to the different regions, means now we’ve got on-the-ground capacity so those partnerships can happen more easier.

But more than that, it is about the intersection of the agendas.

Say you are taking up the issue of gender equality, you can’t take up the issue of gender equality without understanding that economic exclusion of women is much greater so it brings in economic rights as well as gender rights.

So part of our success will depend on how good we are at making common cause with issues where they are intersecting.

Part of the problems in the past is that people only wanted to form an alliance if they agreed on everything, and that’s not what alliances are about and not what coalitions are about.

An example I use is when I was the chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty which IPS was part of. One of the big tensions there was how do you, in that broad movement keep the religious folks and the women’s movement together? The women’s movement wanted very explicit commitment by the Global Call to Action Against Poverty that we are committed to reproductive rights. And then the religious folks said if you put that there, then we are leaving the coalition.

So what we did was put them in the same room, and said come up with a solution. And at the end, they came up with language that said we support reproductive health. So it was less than what the feminist movement wanted, but it was more than what the religious movement wanted but they found a way to actually live with that.

Because on everything else—on women’s employment, on stopping violence against women and all of that—they had no disagreement.

Let’s be honest the problem is so many fault lines and divisions that are emerging on religious ground, on race, class, migration and so on and unless we can create safer and more spaces for dialogue to talk about differences, and how do we manage difference, we will end up with more and more conflicts.

IPS: What does that mean for the Global South? You said that Amnesty is now on the ground in many countries. What does that mean for these regions and these people to see Amnesty International more on the ground?

Naidoo: What I hope it means is that Amnesty’s being on the ground means that it is more sensitive to on the ground knowledge, taking its lead from local people and being more humble in how it analyses and understands its own role.

For people on the ground, hopefully it means it gives them a great sense of confidence that a well-known organisation that has a long track record, has won the Nobel Peace Prize and all of that, is an ally that will strengthen their struggles.

And sadly, you know, I’ve seen it happen a thousand times, many of our leaders on the continent: if a local NGO says I want to meet with you about about A,B,C, they will say no. If some international organisation that is a big brand says they want to meet, they will get the meeting.

So part of what it hopefully means is we will help amplify the voices of the people that we partner with.

IPS: IPS has been covering climate change for decades. Could you tell us why climate change is a human rights issue to Amnesty?

Naidoo: Let’s put it in the words of Sharan Burrow, the first woman to lead the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). She and I were having a meeting with former Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, and we were waiting for him and so we swapped each other’s notes around. She was doing the climate change pitch and I did the labor and decent worker pitch. And you could see Ban Ki-moon looking at his [notes]—is this the Greenpeace person or is the labour person?

And [Burrow] said to him, “You know Mr. Secretary General, you must wonder why me as a trade unionist, where I supposed to fight for decent work and better working conditions, am so passionate about climate change?”

And she said, “it is because as a mother, as a human being, and as a worker leader, I recognise there are no jobs on a dead planet. And so if there are no jobs on a dead planet, there are no human beings on a dead planet. If there are no human beings on a dead planet, then there are no human rights on a dead planet.”

So I mean, there is no more important human right than the right to life, right?

And that is why I always say, our struggle is not to save the planet. The planet does not need saving. Because the end result is that if we continue on the path that we are, we warm the planet to a point where we become extinct. The planet will still be here. And in fact once we become extinct as a species, the forests will recover, the oceans will replenish themselves.

So the struggle we are engaged in is whether humanity can fashion a new way to mutually co-exist with nature in an interdependent relationship for centuries and centuries to come.

And that is why the human rights movement has to take climate change seriously.

*Interview has been edited for clarity and length

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If Vanuatu Can Ban Single-Use Plastics, so Can the Other Commonwealth Countries!http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/if-vanuatu-can-ban-single-use-plastics-so-can-the-other-commonwealth-countries/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=if-vanuatu-can-ban-single-use-plastics-so-can-the-other-commonwealth-countries http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/if-vanuatu-can-ban-single-use-plastics-so-can-the-other-commonwealth-countries/#respond Tue, 21 Aug 2018 16:14:52 +0000 Ralph Regenvanu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157297 Op-ed by Ralph Regenvanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vanuatu

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There are an estimated 13,000 pieces of plastic litter afloat every single square kilometer of ocean. Credit: Bo Eide Snemann/CC-BY-2.0

By Ralph Regenvanu
PORT VILA, Aug 21 2018 (IPS)

Cradled in the South Pacific, my home country Vanuatu is made mostly of ocean.  The Pacific covers 98 percent of the national jurisdiction. Here, some 280,000 Ni-Vanuatu like myself live simply off the land and sea.  We view the ocean as a living ‘bridge’ that connects islands and continents while sustaining life in all its forms. Where we come from, the ocean has a heartbeat.

So when scientists collected nearly 24,000 pieces of non-biodegradable trash on the beaches of the capital city Port Vila last August, it was a harsh reality check for us all. A tally of more than 4,400 plastic bags, 3,000 food wrappers, 4,400 plastic and foam packages, 2,600 beverage cans and 2,100 plastic drinking bottles showed that the addiction to cheap, convenient plastics had crept onto our shores and into our lives. The debris was choking marine life, slowly poisoning fish (and those who eat them) and negatively affecting tourism.

Ralph Regenvanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vanuatu

To save our oceans, the country had to take swift and decisive action.

Last month, Vanuatu became one of the first in the world to implement a ban on single use plastic bags, straws and polystyrene food containers. The Government announced the new rules in January, prohibiting the importation and manufacturing of certain non-biodegradable plastic products, followed by a six-month grace period so local businesses and manufacturers could use up supplies.

Alternatives were developed. Traditional natural fibre baskets took the place of plastic bags. Home-grown innovators such as Tom Yaken created community water taps using bamboo instead of the usual plastic pipes. We were guided by a National Ocean Policy for sustainable ocean management, framed around the traditional ‘Nakamal’ – the customary Ni-Vanuatu institution for governance.

A medium and long-term communication strategy is being put in place to begin the discussion on how to achieve lasting change in the age of plastic.

Looking at the region, I am proud that other Pacific ‘big ocean states’ are also rallying against the curse of marine plastic pollution. Samoa recently announced plans to ban all single-use plastic bags and straws by January 2019. New Zealand made a similar pledge to phase out single-use plastics over the next year. Meanwhile, island countries such as Palau, the Marshall Islands, Northern Marianas, Guam, and parts of the Federated States of Micronesia have all outlawed single use plastic shopping bags. Fiji and Tonga have levy systems in place to discourage plastic bag use.

But even beyond the Pacific, the momentum towards a major global transition has never before been so great.

In April, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, 53 countries made a joint commitment to preserve the health of the ocean, recognising its role in sustaining life on our planet.  Under the Commonwealth ‘Blue Charter’, Vanuatu and the United Kingdom stepped forward as ‘champion countries’ to tackle marine plastic pollution.

It is a pressing global issue – scientists predict that if current trends continue, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. Even now, the accumulation of trash floating in the Northern Pacific Ocean (commonly known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’) spans an area three times the size of France and is estimated to weigh 80,000 tonnes – equivalent to 500 jumbo jets. The effects are dire for marine ecosystems, ocean economies and human life, and demand a global response.

Fortunately, the vast majority of Commonwealth countries are island or coastal states (just seven are landlocked).  There is huge potential for resources and good practices to be shared, refined and scaled across the Commonwealth, and with the rest of the world.

My own hope is that all 53 leaders who signed on to the Commonwealth Blue Charter commit to concrete steps to address plastic waste in their countries. We have a remarkable opportunity to jointly make improvements to our planet, and it must not be missed.

Vanuatu’s journey so far has been instructive. I am confident that between traditional marine resource management practices and new knowledge and innovations, solutions to the plastic problem are available, or ready to be discovered. It just takes leadership.

Pacific Island countries like Vanuatu have already shown themselves to be ready and willing.

 

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Excerpt:

Op-ed by Ralph Regenvanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vanuatu

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