The Asia-Pacific region is at a crossroads today – to further breakdown or breakthrough to a greener, better, safer future.
Since the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) was established in 1947, the region has made extraordinary progress, emerging as a pacesetter of global economic growth that has lifted millions out of poverty.
Moscow’s decision to intervene militarily in Syria in 2015 effectively preserved the Assad regime in Damascus. Russian air power and intelligence support, along with Iranian-backed militias on the ground, allowed the regime to beat the opposition and brutally reassert its control over much of Syria.
While the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is shaking up the European security order, other parts of the world are being particularly affected by the war’s ‘side effects’.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine last February has triggered multiple crises in several fronts: the deaths of thousands of civilians, the destruction of heavily populated cities, the rise in military spending in Europe, a projected decline in development assistance to the world’s poorer nations; the demolition of schools and health-care facilities — and now the threat of hunger and starvation.
An entirely unnecessary and all too tangible nightmare continues to scourge Ukraine. Without doubt, one catastrophe after another still awaits. Much of Ukraine’s harvest, of paramount importance to global food supply, is at risk of being lost due to Vladimir Putin’s and the Russian army’s belligerent actions. Last year, Ukraine harvested a record of 106 million tonnes of grain – 25, or even 50 percent of this amount is currently feared to be lost during this year while most experts add that “this is an optimistic forecast.”
A joint UN Women and CARE report on the gender disparities in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis calls for donors and humanitarian partners to take greater care to promote the voices of women and marginalized communities in the humanitarian effort.
Mr. Vladimir Putin’s illegal War of Aggression in Ukraine, launched on February 24, 2022, brought into stark relief the fractured state of Global Peace and Security. Militarized conflicts, civilian deaths and forced migration in the tens of millions have been ongoing for decades, with little or no relief to the beleaguered victims.
The world is being pressed by financial interests to raise interest rates, ostensibly to check inflation. After the US Federal Reserve started raising interest rates, more central banks have been doing likewise.
Considering inflation’s contemporary causes, such ‘follow the leader’ central bank mimicry cannot check it except by slowing economies. Worse, this has meant taking on huge new risks, seriously damaging world economic prospects in the medium and long-term.
Conflicts in Northern Ethiopia’s regions of Afar, Amhara and Tigray, have pushed children and adolescents out of school and are fueling humanitarian needs in the region. In response to this crisis, Education Cannot Wait (ECW
) announced today a US$2 million First Emergency Response Grant that will reach more than 20,000 refugee and displaced, as well as host community children and adolescents. This brings ECW ongoing investments in Ethiopia
to over $30 million.
“I first think about my children. They are why we were forced to leave - because our children are always our first concern.”
These are the moving words of Victoria, who fled the brutal war in Ukraine with her two daughters. Her eyes welling up with tears, she recalled their dangerous journey from Ukraine. She and her two school-aged daughters were forced to leave behind everything they have ever known.
Alongside the devastation caused by bombs and bullets, the war in Ukraine has wrought another danger that can be as deadly as the violence itself: the disruption of access to health services for people who will not survive if cut off from health care.
Before the war, Ukraine's dream to become part of the EU was exactly that – a dream. But the new political reality could make it come true.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed and to some extent even destroyed the familiar international political reality. Up until 24 February, Russia had been integrated into the global economy, had excellent growth prospects, and the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was almost finished.
The Russian Federation, which invaded Ukraine last February killing scores of civilians and destroying entire cities, has been condemned, vilified and ostracized by the international community.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was emphatic last month when he remarked: “The use of force by one country against another is the repudiation of the principles that every country has committed to uphold. This applies to the present military offensive. It is wrong. It is against the Charter. It is unacceptable”.
Amidst a backdrop of rising food insecurity worldwide and a global food supply chain crisis, many countries are attempting to increase the level of food self-production. One improved input for farming which is receiving renewed attention is improved seed. The two most populous countries in the world, China and India, have recently made ground-breaking moves to improve their competitive position by developing new seeds which will improve their food production and increase resilience to climate change. So far, in 2022, new regulations on using biotechnology (genetic modification and gene editing
) have been put in place by both countries to ultimately allow smallholder farmers to benefit from these new seeds.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal war on Ukraine, along with his implied threats of nuclear weapons use against any who would interfere, has raised the specter of nuclear conflict.
Empowered by a global pandemic and the drum beats of war, the strongest despots are growing more despotic, and criminal cartels even more brazen in their violence. Extremists of various hues are also stepping out of the shadows.
Just when the world most needs press freedom to thrive, the liberties that societies only really treasure when they are emasculated are coming under more pressure from different directions, old and new.
Two months after the start of the war, on 24 February, the data on the substantial increase in the cost of food products, the rise in prices and shortages of fertilizers, the destruction of land and plantations in Ukraine, the sanctions, the difficulties with the transport of cereals from the world’s main granary, represented by Russia and Ukraine, and the massive migrations, especially from rural areas, are just a few aspects that confirm the pessimism that had been generated after the outbreak of the conflict.
It was a long, harrowing road for Freshta and Shabaneh, two mothers (their names are pseudonyms) who fled Kabul, Afghanistan, late last summer before eventually settling in the southern New Jersey township of Hamilton.
Soon after Russia invaded her country, Anastasiia Yeva Domani found herself forced to abandon the regime of vital medicines she was taking.
The transgender activist could no longer get hold of the hormone medicines she needed to regularly take in Ukraine as supply chains were disrupted and the vast majority of pharmacies were closed.
The breakout of the conflict in Ukraine and the following imposition of heavy Western sanctions
on Russia are causing sharp price increases
in food and energy commodities —of which both Ukraine and Russia represent key exporters — as well as disruptions to global supply chains, impacting the post-pandemic economic recovery.
I recently visited Abu Dhabi and my impressions became intermingled with worries about the war in Ukraine. I also happened to read Livy’s The Early History of Rome
, written around the beginning of CE, coming across these lines: