The British novelist George Orwell’s “1984” characterized a dystopian society where people were restricted from independent thought and were victims of constant surveillance.
Published in 1949, it was a prophecy of the future with the underlying theme: “Big Brother is Watching You”
“Imagine that the land your family has worked for generations is suddenly stripped away from you, purchased by wealthy companies or governments to produce food or bio-fuels or simply as a profitable investment for other people, often far away. You watch on helplessly as vast tracts of land are cleared for mono-culture crops and rivers are polluted with run-off and chemicals.”
Public development banks have committed to ramp up action to tackle climate change, to protect biodiversity, to promote human rights, to align their investments with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, and to create spaces of dialogue with civil society, farmers, indigenous peoples, and communities affected by the projects that they, as banks, finance.
In a time when the world's scientific community sounds louder, and stronger than ever, the alarm about the fast growing climate crisis and its destructive impacts, governments still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030.
As the United Nations Climate Change Conference
, also known as COP26, approaches (31 October -12 November in Glasgow, Scotland), climate action is more urgent than ever. Yes, we need climate change mitigation.
An agreement between 136 countries aimed at forcing the world’s biggest companies to pay a fair share of tax has been condemned by critics who say it will benefit richer states at the expense of the global South.
Governments agree that saving the climate means saving forests – but ambition and action fall short of what’s required.
First the good news: one of the forest goals agreed by governments, businesses and civil society organizations has been met.
‘COVID 19 has multiplied hunger and malnutrition challenges. We need transformative action!’ The first speaker at the UN Committee on World Food Security’s (CFS) 49th Plenary Session, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, turned the spotlight on the disastrous impacts of the pandemic that have afflicted communities around the world for close to two years.
Last week’s annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and G20 finance ministers illustrated that despite a historic debt crisis sweeping across developing countries and their urgent need for external financing for health and economic recovery, global economic institutions governed by rich countries do not possess the political will to deliver meaningful solutions. The inadequacy of the G20’s debt relief framework, which has failed to restructure sovereign debt since its inception, stands without change or any fresh effort to mobilize private sector participation in debt relief.
The bogey of inflation has been revived. Dubious pre-pandemic economic progress, fiscal constraints and vaccine apartheid were bad enough. Now, ostensibly anti-inflationary measures also threaten recovery and sustainable development.
While more than a third of all purchased food is wasted in rich, mostly Western States, and a similar percentage is lost in poor countries due to the lack of appropriate harvesting, storage and transportation facilities, over three billion people --or some 40 percent of world population-- cannot afford a healthy diet.
Add to these figures --which were released by UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
on 16 October this year, marking the World Food Day
-- another dramatic fact.
In September 2021, children in the northern hemisphere returned to school after the summer break. For some, the end of the holidays signaled a return to normalcy and to the joys of learning after facing months of school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the majority of children in the Global South, however, the return to reality looked grimmer.
The guardians of the global economy convened in Washington this week to discuss their latest global growth forecasts. The World Bank-IMF Board of Governors meetings have been squarely focused on the global response to COVID-19, with economists warning of slowing momentum in wealthy nations and grossly uneven recoveries across the developing world.
“Now is the time for a stronger, more networked and inclusive multilateral system anchored in the United Nations,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his latest report “Our Common Agenda.” Indeed, there is a fork in the road: we can either choose to breakdown or to breakthrough.
Will the World Bank walk away with $100 Billion IDA20 replenishment without “Walking the Talk” on disability?
The World Bank Group’s (WBG) International Development Association (IDA), the Bank’s low-income lending arm, aspires to raise $100 billion for its early 20th replenishment (IDA20). IDA20’s focus includes “reducing barriers preventing …persons with disabilities…from achieving their full potential”.
Hunger, violent conflict and the visible impacts of climate change are all on the rise. World Food Day, October 16, is a reminder that we need to talk about the intricate ways that these challenges are connected—and how to tackle them together.
During the pandemic, we learnt a new word – at least I did: comorbidity. It means that one or more additional conditions co-occur (all happen at the same time for a person) alongside a primary condition – in this case the virus.
The world should now be more aware of likely COVID-19 devastation unless urgently checked. Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced an US$8 billion plan
to quickly vaccinate many more people to expedite ending the pandemic.
World Mental Health Day
was on October 10, 2021. The theme for this year was "Mental Health in an unequal World". This is an appropriate focus given the extreme inequities to access to mental health services
that exist in our society.
The theme of this year’s annual International Day of the Girl Child
, on October 11, “Digital generation. Our generation.”, recognizes the digital transformation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. But while the pandemic accelerated the transition to online learning, working and networking, it also accelerated women and girl's risk of being left behind.
This year’s International Day of the Girl theme, Digital Generation, Our Generation
, celebrates the potential of digital technologies while calling for the inclusion of all girls in accessing technology. The digital revolution will not be realized if girls without access to digital solutions are left behind. For years, advocates of technology for development have been repeating the mantra that technology is not a panacea
. Yet in racing to connect, catch up, and create greater access, we ignore at our own peril the inconsistent or non-existent household- and community-level access girls have to technologies. While digital solutions are available and evolving all the time, they should be accompanied by hybrid methods which include new ways to use analog technologies, so that existing local resources are reimagined and redistributed in ways that support more girls learning.