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ESCAP and the Republic of Korea urge governments to adopt innovative financing measures to advance 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific

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A new report released today by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in partnership with the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) of the Republic of Korea, is calling for governments to adopt innovative financing models to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region.

While donor and philanthropic funds add up to billions of dollars, the cost of solving the world’s most critical development challenges runs into the trillions, with an estimated annual funding gap of $2.5 trillion to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

“It is imperative to implement innovations that can divert private capital towards development objectives to help bridge the SDG financing gap,” explains United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar. “The Innovative Financing for Development in Asia and the Pacific report aims to spark ideas and knowledge sharing to help stimulate further action to develop the innovative financing solutions urgently required for the advancement of the 2030 Agenda,” she added.

“Public policy plays a key role in enabling innovative financing for development by creating a favourable ecosystem where private capital pays more attention on SDGs,” pointed out Dr. Song, Jong Guk, President of STEPI, a leading Korean policy think-tank in the field of science, technology and innovation. “STEPI is very pleased to contribute to this flagship report to highlight the importance of innovative financing for the SDGs,” he added.

Since 2009, the Seoul metropolitan government has been implementing social economy policies to address growing inequalities, high youth unemployment rates and an aging society. These comprehensive policies have been highly successful and there are now 3500 social enterprises operating in the city, with sales volumes reaching 1.29 billion USD.

The success of the programme is based on four pillars: a cooperative governance model that encourages private and public stakeholder participation throughout the whole policy cycle, the localization of the social economy through the creation of social economy zones, fostering an ecosystem for the social economy, and expanding the public procurement of services and products offered by social enterprises to provide them with business opportunities.

The report analyses this and other innovative financing mechanisms in five core areas, namely: strategic leadership models that promote impact investing; policies that unlock corporate investment for development; private sector financing products for development; innovative public financing models for science, technology and innovation; and systemic approaches to finance and innovation as means for development.

It also features a range of other case studies from around the region and offers valuable guidelines for policymakers looking to introduce similar mechanisms. Examples include the India Impact Investment Council, the Thai Social Investment Taskforce, India’s Corporate Social Responsibility Law and Singapore’s Women’s Livelihood Bond, the problem-solving R and D programme of the Republic of Korea and the Social Outcomes Fund in Malaysia.

Key recommendations for governments include developing an impact investing strategic road map to guide the development of an innovative financing movement. The report also underlines the need for governments to provide incentives for the private sector (for example through public procurement or tax incentives) to move from economic-driven investments to impact investments that generate social, environmental and financial returns.

The report is part of ESCAP’s efforts to support its Member States in promoting social enterprises and impact investment.

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Guterres: Korean nuclear crisis, Middle East quagmire eroding global security

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“Conflicts are becoming more and more interrelated and more and more related to a set of a new global terrorism threat  to all of us,” Mr. Guterres said in his keynote address at the opening ceremony on Friday of the Munich Security Conference.

For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the world is facing the threat of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which he called “a development made in total contradiction to the will of the international community and in clear violation of several resolutions of the Security Council.”

He said that it was essential to maintain “meaningful pressure over North Korea” to create an opportunity for diplomatic engagement on the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula within a regional framework.

“The two key stakeholders in relation to this crisis, the United States and [DPRK]” must be able to “come together and have a meaningful discussion on these issues,” he said, adding that it is “important not to miss the opportunity of a peaceful resolution through diplomatic engagement as a military solution would be a disaster with catastrophic consequences that we cannot even be able to imagine.”

The situation in the broader Middle East, which the UN chief said had become a “Gordian knot,” was also eroding global security, with that are crises that are “crossing each other and interconnected.”

Pointing to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya, among others, Mr. Guterres said the entire Middle East has “became a mess,” with varied and intersecting fault lines.

He warned of the absence of a common vision in the region and said that even if interests are contradictory, the threats these conflicts represent would justify some efforts to come together.

Turning to cyber-security, Mr. Guterres called for a serious discussion about the international legal framework in which cyberwars take place.

“I can guarantee that the United Nations would be ready to be a platform in which different actors could come together and discuss the way forward, to find the adequate approaches to make sure that we are able to deal with the problem of cybersecurity,” he said, noting that artificial intelligence provides “enormous potential for economic development, social development and for the well-being for all of us.”

The Secretary-General said that Governments and others have been unable to manage human mobility. He warned that this had created mistrust and doubts about globalism and multilateralism.

“This is a reason why,” he said, “we need to be able to unite, we need to be able to affirm that global problems can only be addressed with global solutions and that multilateralism is today more necessary than ever.”

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Supporting tourism development in Africa through better measurement

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In an effort to better measure tourism growth and development in Africa, UNWTO signed a Cooperation Agreement with the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation for the Strengthening of the National Tourism Statistical System of Nigeria and the Development of a Tourism Satellite Account.

UNWTO is committed to developing tourism measurement for furthering knowledge of the sector, monitoring progress, evaluating impact, promoting results-focused management, and highlighting strategic issues for policy objectives.

On the occasion of the meeting between UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, and the Minister of Information and Culture of Nigeria, Mr. Lai Mohammed, the agreement to host the Sixty-First meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa and the Seminar on ‘Tourism Statistics: A Catalyst for Development’ in Nigerian capital, Abuja, from 4 to 6 June 2018, was signed.

The meetings will be open to the participation of UNWTO Member States and Affiliate Members, as well as invited delegations and representatives of the tourism and related sectors. Officials of immigration departments, national statistics bureaus, central banks and other relevant stakeholders will be invited to join.

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Causes of Rohingya refugee crisis originate in Myanmar- solutions must be found there

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“We are now in a race against time as a major new emergency looms,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told the Security Council via videolink from Geneva, Switzerland.

He said that the Kutupalong area in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar is now the largest refugee settlement in the world, and with the monsoon season to start in March, 107,000 refugees are estimated to be living in areas prone to flooding or landslides.

“The [Bangladeshi] Government is steering a massive emergency preparedness effort, but international support must be stepped up to avert a catastrophe,” he said, stressing that “as we have repeatedly said, resolving this crisis means finding solutions inside Myanmar.”

He said that conditions are not yet conducive to the voluntary repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

The refugee crisis erupted in late August when Myanmar armed forces launched a security operation in the north of Rakhine State, driving thousands of children, women and men to flee over the border to Bangladesh in search of safety.

“The causes of their flight have not been addressed, and we have yet to see substantive progress on addressing the exclusion and denial of rights that has deepened over the last decades, rooted in their lack of citizenship,” Mr. Grandi said.

“It is time to bring an end to this repeated, devastating cycle of violence, displacement and statelessness to invest in tangible, substantial measures that will start to overcome the profound exclusion that the Rohingya community have endured for far too long,” he added.

Also addressing the Council was UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenca, who said that while there has been certain progress on the three priorities laid out by the Secretary-General, not all have been implemented thus far.

Turning first to the need to end violence and improve the security situation, he said that although large-scale acts of violence have subsided, concerns about threats and intimidation against the remaining Rohingya population from Bamar and Rakhine communities, as well as from militia and security forces in Rakhine state, persist.

Second, the UN does not have sufficient access to make a meaningful assessment of the humanitarian or human rights situation in Rakhine.

As for the third point, which is voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of refugees and internally displaced people to their places of origin or choice, Mr. Jenca said the Government has taken some high-level steps to advance this process, including the convening of an Advisory Board, whose recommendations include the inclusion of the UN at an early stage, soonest full humanitarian access, wider media access, and the formation of an independent fact-finding commission.

Mr. Jenca called on the authorities in Myanmar to release the arrested two Reuters journalists and respect the right to freedom of expression and information.

Reuters has now published the story these journalists were working on, a deeply disturbing account of the execution of 10 Rohingya men in Inn Din village (Maungdaw) in northern Rakhine state,he said, while the Associated Press (AP) has also published a report of five mass graves in Gudar Pyin village (Buthidaung).

“These and other shocking reports of grave abuses demand our attention and action, for the sake of lasting peace and justice,” he said.

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