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ACP-EU: Leading sustainable economic development for local communities

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EU MEPs and Members of the ACP call for sustainable economic development for the benefit of local communities.

At the 34th session of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), which brought together African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) and European Union (EU) countries, MEPs discussed the negative and short-term effects of mass tourism with Isabelle Durant, Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD. Sustainable tourism, respectful of the needs and traditions of local communities, must be encouraged as a vehicle for potentially significant economic development in ACP countries, said MEPs.

Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, ACP-EU members noted in an emergency resolution referring to the damage caused in September by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated several Caribbean islands. Members adopted an emergency resolution calling on the most vulnerable states to integrate climate change adaptation strategies into their sustainable development policies and for the EU to incorporate these efforts to build the resilience of local people into its programmes and projects.

Finally, the sustainable exploitation and processing of natural resources should be a source of economic and social development for the ACP and should benefit local communities, say Members. They call for action against the illegal exploitation of minerals.

Concerns about the resurgence of slavery practices

In the second emergency resolution, MPs from the ACP and EU countries also decided on an ad hoc delegation to Mauritania to observe all government parties and civil society on the continuing respect for the rule of law, human rights and the effective implementation of the roadmap for the eradication of slavery.

This practice was also strongly denounced during the debate on the situation of migrants and refugees in Libya. A statement by the co-chairs calls on all international bodies to provide the necessary assistance for the protection of migrants and welcomes the creation of a joint EU-AU-UN task force to save and protect the lives of migrants who suffer from insecurity and the consequences of the lack of a central government in Libya. The co-chairs still call for promoting legal migration channels and addressing the root causes of irregular migration.

Institutional situation in Catalonia and peaceful transition in Zimbabwe

Catalonia was the subject of a lively debate among ACP-EU Members. Some criticised the violence of the Spanish government’s reaction to the unilateral independence referendum organised by regional bodies and called on the EU to act more clearly in favour of respect for people’s freedom and human rights. Representatives of the European Commission and several MEPs recalled the non-constitutional nature of the referendum held, called for dialogue and hoped for a constructive outcome to the regional elections on 21 December, stressing that this was an internal Spanish issue.

MEPs and their ACP colleagues also referred to the recent change in Zimbabwe’s leadership after 37 years. Members called for a peaceful transition and the holding of free and open elections in July 2018. The European Parliament will address this issue at the plenary session in January 2018.

Three reports were approved at the voting session on Wednesday afternoon.

  • The blue economy, a source of economic activity around the seas and oceans, should be sustainable, take into account environmental concerns (pollution), the fragility of the marine environment (overexploitation of resources, mining exploration), the exhaustibility of available resources (overfishing control and the fight against illegal fishing) and aim to improve the livelihoods of coastal or island communities, underline the members.
  • There is a need to improve access to basic healthcare and medicines against infectious diseases, in particular by reducing the price of patented products for low-income countries and combating counterfeiting. Members call on the EU and ACP to invest more in healthcare systems for rapid deployment at the front line of public health emergencies (cholera, malaria, Ebola, hepatitis B) and overall improved access to care.
  • The interdependence between security and development in EU and ACP policies is widely recognised. Lack of security hinders development agendas, investment and job creation, while lack of development prospects and poverty fuel insecurity and terrorism. These various aspects should be integrated into the post-Cotonou negotiations to increase the impact of European instruments supporting security and development.

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Helping Armenia Thrive

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Despite being a landlocked country with few natural resources, Armenia has come a long way since independence in 1991, with all major socio-economic indicators drastically improved.

The Asian Development Bank now is supporting Armenia in its effort to expand its private sector, diversify its economy, cut red tape, and gain access to new markets, says Shane Rosenthal, Country Director for Armenia at the Asian Development Bank.

What is Armenia’s current state of the economy?

Since independence in 1991, Armenia has come a long way. Gross domestic product per capita has increased ten-fold in the country, in large part because of smart decisions about investment and because of good connections with its main trading partner, Russia.

We now have a country where the electricity is reliable, where most of the population has access to clean water, where business is beginning to thrive, not least because it is possible to register a business in a short amount of time. It’s possible to go to a bank and get a loan.

This economy needs to diversify into new products, into new markets. That may mean Europe, it may mean other Eurasian economic union members, and increasingly, it may mean looking eastward, toward Asia.

What role does ADB play in Armenia’s development?

ADB has focused on what it does best vis-a-vis other development partners in Armenia. And that, for us, means infrastructure.

Infrastructure in terms of connectivity, helping upgrade the national highway system so that cargo and people can reach neighboring countries more quickly, more reliably.

It means making the cities more livable with improved water supply.

How can the private sector support Armenia’s development?

Going forward it’s important to understand that Armenia’s growth can no longer depend on the public sector to play the leading role. The private sector needs to be the one that takes this country forward. And that means diversification. It means ease of doing business, and it means access to new markets.

ADB is going to focus increasingly on a balanced portfolio, between the public and private sectors. It’s clear that Armenia’s future will depend on the role that the private sector plays. And there, Armenia has many advantages: a strong financial system, a strong diaspora, with very good connections around the world, and a very strong educational base.

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Three steps to end discrimination of migrant workers and improve their health

Afsar Syed Mohammad

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Authors: Afsar Syed Mohammad and Margherita Licata

When migrant workers leave their home, many encounter abuse and violence on their journey and discrimination once they arrive. This can be because of their status as migrants but also because of their ethnicity, sex, religion, and HIV status.

They often struggle to find decent work, which means they can end up in poor living and working conditions, which in turn affects their health. Female migrants are more likely to be vulnerable to exploitation and violence, which exposes them to the risk of HIV and other health issues.

Research has shown that migrant workers – particularly those who are in an irregular situation – often fail to access health services because of poverty, language and cultural barriers, lack of health insurance, as well as fear of job loss and deportation. It means that by the time they see a doctor, their illness has become all too serious.

Against this background, a newly launched ILO publication looks at the interplay between migration policies and those relating to broader health goals in countries of origin, transit and destination. Its key recommendation is that HIV and health policies should be integrated into the entire labour migration process.

So what can be done to ensure that migrant workers have better access to decent work, health and HIV services? The report recommends a three-pronged approach.

1) End discriminatory practices

Migrants face obstacles in accessing decent work, health as well as social protection. Whenever migrants are denied their rights, they tend to live and work in the shadows.  They become vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation and marginalization.

Discriminatory practices such as mandatory HIV testing of migrants for employment have proved to be ineffective. On the contrary, it is a violation of their rights. It disrupts access to health care and increases migrants’ vulnerability to HIV infection.

2) Set up an integrated response

It is essential to develop a response that does not just pile up ad-hoc policies one after another. Instead there needs to be an integrated and coordinated response that leads to decent work and health outcomes for migrants, including more effective HIV responses.

Right to entry does not mean the right to work for women in many countries. In such cases, women are left with no option but irregular migration which further exposes them to various forms of abuse, exploitation and risks such as HIV.

Gender-responsive migration policies would help address existing inequalities between men and women migrants, while at the same time improve their health.

3) Focus on migrant workers’ rights

There are no quick-fix solutions but discrimination and inequalities relating to HIV and health can be reduced if we focus on migrants’ rights and if we take a global approach. The report especially insists on the following priorities:

  • There is a need to target different groups of migrant workers for HIV prevention, care and treatment, depending on the specific risks that they face. For example, risks are different depending on whether they are low skilled or high skilled workers.
  • Effective responses to HIV for migrant workers should be integrated into fair recruitment initiatives, encouraging fair business practices to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination, and equal access to health services.
  • Health programmes and HIV prevention for migrants must be disassociated from immigration enforcement.
  • Inclusion, participation and freedom of association among migrant workers are essential pillars for effective actions on migration, health and HIV.
  • Migration and health policies and practices, in particular those relating to HIV and AIDS, should address inequalities between women and men. A gender analysis is needed from the start for all policies and practices relevant to migration and health.

*Margherita Licata, Technical Specialist Gender, Equality and Diversity and ILOAIDS Branch

Source: ILO

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Mexico officially joins IEA: First member in Latin America

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Mexico officially became the International Energy Agency’s 30th member country on 17 February 2018, and its first member in Latin America. The membership came after the signed IEA treaty (the IEP Agreement) was deposited with the government of Belgium, which serves as the depository state, following ratification by the Mexican Senate.

Mexico’s accession is a cornerstone of the IEA’s on-going modernization strategy, including “opening the doors” of the IEA to engage more deeply with emerging economies and the key energy players of Latin America, Asia and Africa, towards a secure, sustainable and affordable energy future.

The IEA Family of 30 Member countries and seven Association countries now accounts for more than 70% of global energy consumption, up from less than 40% in 2015.

“With this final step, Mexico enters the most important energy forum in the world,” said Joaquín Coldwell, Mexico’s Secretary of Energy. “We will take our part in setting the world’s energy policies, receive experienced advisory in best international practices, and participate in emergency response exercises.”

“It is a historic day because we welcome our first Latin American member country, with more than 120 million inhabitants, an important oil producer, and a weighty voice in global energy,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “The ambitious and successful energy reforms of recent years have put Mexico firmly on the global energy policy map.”

At the last IEA Ministerial Meeting, held in Paris in November 2017, ministers representing the IEA’s member countries unanimously endorsed the rapid steps Mexico was taking to become the next member of the IEA, providing a major boost for global energy governance.

They recognized that Mexico had taken all necessary steps in record time to meet international membership requirements since its initial expression of interest in November 2015. In December, the Mexican Senate ratified the IEP Agreement paving the way for the deposit of the accession instrument and for membership to take effect.

Mexico is the world’s 15th-largest economy and 12th-largest oil producer, and has some of the world’s best renewable energy resources. The IEA family will benefit greatly from Mexico’s contribution on discussion about the world’s energy challenges. The IEA is delighted to continue supporting implementation of Mexico’s energy reform with technical expertise, and further intensifying the fruitful bilateral dialogue of energy policy best practice exchange.

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