Stories written by Jomo Kwame Sundaram
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, was United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.

More Progressive Taxation Needed for Social Progress

Governments must innovatively develop progressive means to finance the large-scale social spending needed to improve lives and livelihoods, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. More egalitarian tax reforms should enable governments to equitably mobilize desperately needed revenue to advance sustainable development for all.

Greed-Driven Pandemic Still Killing Millions

Failure to vaccinate most in poor countries sustains the COVID-19 pandemic. Rich country greed and patent monopolies block developing countries from affordably making the means to protect themselves. Mutant menace The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been mutating as it replicates. Numerous replications in hundreds of millions of hosts have generated many variants. Some mutations are more resilient than others, and better able to overcome human defences.

Climate Change: Adapt for the Future, Not the Past

Funding for developing countries to address global warming is grossly inadequate. Very little finance is for adaptation to climate change, the urgent need of countries most adversely affected. Also, adaptation needs to be forward-looking rather than only addressing accumulated problems.

Profiting from the Carbon Offset Distraction

Carbon offset markets allow the rich to emit as financial intermediaries profit. By fostering the fiction that others can be paid to cut greenhouse gases (GHGs) instead, it undermines efforts to do so.

Climate Injustice at Glasgow Cop-Out

The planet is already 1.1°C warmer than in pre-industrial times. July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded in 142 years. Despite the pandemic slowdown, 2020 was the hottest year so far, ending the warmest decade (2011-2020) ever. Betrayal in Glasgow Summing up widespread views of the recently concluded Glasgow climate summit, former Irish President Mary Robinson observed, “People will see this as a historically shameful dereliction of duty,… nowhere near enough to avoid climate disaster”.

WTO Finished Without TRIPS Waiver

Quickly enabling greater and more affordable production of and access to COVID-19 medical needs is urgently needed in the South. Such progress will also foster much needed goodwill for international cooperation, multilateralism and sustainable development.

Carbon Tax Over-Rated

Addressing global warming requires cutting carbon emissions by almost half by 2030! For the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, emissions must fall by 45% below 2010 levels by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5°C, instead of the 2.7°C now expected.

Will Glasgow Fix Broken Climate Finance Promises?

Current climate mitigation plans will result in a catastrophic 2.7°C world temperature rise. US$1.6–3.8 trillion is needed annually to avoid global warming exceeding 1.5°C.

Bleak Prospects for Least Developed Countries

“The outlook for LDCs is grim”. The latest United Nations (UN) assessment of prospects for the least developed countries (LDCs) notes recent setbacks without finding any silver lining on the horizon. Promises unkept Half a century ago, LDCs were first officially recognised by a UN General Assembly resolution. It built on research, analysis and advocacy by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Inflation Bogey Blocking Recovery

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.

Better Late than Never, but Act Now

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.

Stop New Washington Putsch

As finance ministers and central bank governors gather next week for the IMF-World Bank annual meetings in the US capital, the first shots of a new putsch against multilateralism have been fired. The target: Kristalina Georgieva, Fund Managing Director (MD) since 2019.

Biden Disappoints, Must Do More, Not Less

US President Biden’s earlier support for a vaccine patent waiver raised hopes for his summit last week. However, it proved disappointing, not only for efforts to end the pandemic, but also for US leadership in these challenging times.

Progressive Taxation for Our Times

As developing countries struggle to cope with the pandemic, they risk being set back further by restrictive fiscal policies. These were imposed by rich countries who no longer practice them if they ever did. Instead, the global South urgently needs bold policies to ensure adequate relief, recovery and reform.

Food Systems Summit’s Scientistic Threat

Timely interventions by civil society, including concerned scientists, have prevented many likely abuses of next week’s UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS). The Secretary General (UNSG) must now prevent UN endorsement of what remains of its prime movers’ corporate agenda.

End Vaccine Apartheid

Vaccine costs have pushed many developing countries to the end of the COVID-19 vaccination queue, with most low-income ones not even lining up. Worse, less vaccinated poor nations cannot afford fiscal efforts to provide relief or stimulate recovery, let alone achieve Agenda 2030.

Allow Least Developed Countries to Develop

The pandemic is pushing back the world’s poorest countries with the least means to finance economic recovery and contagion containment efforts. Without international solidarity, economic gaps will grow again as COVID-19 threatens humanity for years to come.

Prioritising Profits Reversed Health Progress

Instead of a health system striving to provide universal healthcare, a fragmented, profit-driven market ‘non-system’ has emerged. The 1980s’ neo-liberal counter-revolution against the historic 1978 Alma-Ata Declaration is responsible.

Privatised Health Services Worsen Pandemic

Decades of public health cuts have quietly taken a huge human toll, now even more pronounced with the pandemic. Austerity programmes, by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, have forced countries to cut public spending, including health provisioning.

Central Banks Must Address Pandemic Challenges

Hopes for an inclusive global economic recovery are fast fading. As rich countries have done little to ensure poor countries’ access to vaccines and fiscal resources, North-South “fault lines” will certainly widen. Enhancing relief, recovery, transformation While the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised rich countries’ recovery prospects upward, the United Nations (UN) notes formidable challenges, especially for developing countries, due to the pandemic.

Beware UN Food Systems Summit Trojan Horse

Undoubtedly, the world needs to reform existing food systems to better serve humanity and sustainable development. But the United Nations World Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) must be consistent with UN-led multilateralism. For the first time ever, the World Economic Forum (WEF), a partnership of some of the world’s most powerful corporations, is partnering the UN in launching the Summit, now scheduled for September, with its ‘Pre-Summit’ beginning today.

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