Welcome to the Caspian Daily, where you will find the 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region. We appreciate ideas, reports, news and interesting articles. Send along to Caspian[at]moderndiplomacy.eu or on Twitter: @DGiannakopoulos
1In 2017, Astana, the capital city of my home country of Kazakhstan, will host the next Universal World Exposition, joining a long heritage that includes Shanghai’s extraordinary effort in 2010. EXPO-2017 is a national project that provides a great opportunity for the Republic of Kazakhstan to investigate new sources of energy and current developments in green technologies. We have set ambitious goals to ensure that this exhibition is held at the highest level, meeting the expectations and hopes of other countries. The president of Kazakhstan has set up some challenging objectives; we need to turn EXPO-2017 into the central point for the third industrial revolution, which includes the development of an alternative economy and the creation of new high-tech materials, sources of renewable power and a skilled workforce. The promotion of EXPO-2017 is gaining significant feedback from across the world” Rapil Zhoshybayev, first deputy minister of foreign affairs of Kazakhstan. [Global times]
2Mayor of Almaty replaced with fresh face: analysis. Kazakhstani political analysts Andrey Chebotarev and Dosym Satpayev talked to Tengrinews about the meaning of the new appointments. The first believes that both appointments are a sign of trust that the President put into the two men. The second thinks Yessimov was downgraded, and Baibek’s appointment was a way to encourage the younger generation of civil servants. Director of the Center of Topical Research Alternative Andrey Chebotarev contended that rotation of high-level officials was a normal occurrence. Yessimov had served as Akim (Mayor) of Almaty for quite a long time – since 2008. The expert believes that appointing Yessimov as head of the National Company Astana EXPO – 2017 was a sign of confidence that the President had in him.
3The Pluto of International Organizations: The Evolution of the SCO. “The SCO seems to be structured in a manner that undermines its own development, as IO evolution is understood by the scholarly community. The member states simultaneously support and undermine the organization via individualized micro-agendas because of their worries about the tricks each might play upon the other. Interestingly, what the literature does not do is question the legitimacy of the SCO. This is one of the main contentions here: membership of the SCO in the IO community should be questioned instead of simply de facto bestowed. Until now, its membership has always been a given” Dr. Matthew Crosston for Modern Diplomacy.
4Off the Coast of Iran, a High-Stakes Version of Spy Versus Spy. “In the skies and waters of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the two continue to constantly watch each other. American naval ships openly roam the waters along Iran’s 1,100-mile-long southern coastline, their radar trained on the Iranian shore and on Iranian ships leaving their harbors. Iranian fighter jets patrol the skies, keeping an eye on American combat planes that take off from an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf every time an Iranian jet comes close to their ship. “It’s a little bit of a game we play,” said Capt. Benjamin Hewlett, the commander of the air wing aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which is in the Persian Gulf keeping an eye on Iran right now. “When they launch, we launch. We consider this our sovereign territory, so we make sure they’re not unescorted in and around the aircraft carrier” Helene Cooper for New York Times.
5Enagás making investment in important gas pipeline connecting Azerbaijan with Europe. We are investing in an important gas pipeline connecting Azerbaijan with Europe, CEO of Enagás, Marcelino Oreja said while speaking about Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project in an interview with “European CEO” newspaper. He said that this gas pipeline would supply gas to the European Union.
6The “Azerbaijan: Land of Tolerance” exhibition will open its doors to all art lovers in Paris on August 18.World famous for his intrepid style of photographing the world’s most exotic places, Reza is putting on display a series of photographs on the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities cohabitating in Azerbaijan. All are driven by a deep commitment for sharing, mutual respect, and dialogue with each other. The exhibition, to be held between August 18 and September 10, highlights the millennial ties that all of these religious communities have forged with each other.
7The Russia-OPEC-America Nexus: Reimagining the Great Oil Game. “The most intriguing geopolitical connection with oil prices collapsing is the Western sanction regime on Russia. As inflation hit the Russian economy and protracted recession weighed on Russian morale, OPEC ramped up production. Similarly, Russia has (as of May 2015) produced more oil since the end of the Soviet era. Interestingly, this economic stand-off brought the two biggest oil-producing countries (Saudi Arabia and Russia) to the bargaining table as Russia considers closer ties to OPEC. This tantalizing prospect of a Russian-OPEC alliance has almost always been an illusion since OPEC’s formation and would drastically increase OPEC’s global power in determining oil prices. OPEC has never really trusted Russia and an alliance may only form out of dire necessity. But that is something the United States would staunchly oppose” Brian Hughes for Modern Diplomacy.
8An Azerbaijani delegation will attend the international forum of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to be held in Tbilisi on August 23-25. The event will bring together government and state officials, economists, experts from 57 countries. The forum will focus on the activity of AIIB, investment in infrastructure projects in partner countries of AIIB, as well as economic cooperation. AIIB is newly created bank that is expected to be established by the end of this year for the purpose of providing loans for infrastructure projects in developing countries in Asia.
9An Iranian official says Iran and Azerbaijan have been talking on transiting gas to Europe. Azerbaijani and Iranian officials have in recent weeks discussed in Tehran ways to export Iran’s gas to Europe via Azerbaijan, the Fars news agency quoted an unnamed official as saying Aug. 18. Recently, on Aug. 4, an Azerbaijani delegation headed by Economy and Industry Minister Shahin Mustafayev traveled to Iran and met with Iranian top officials, including Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.“Azerbaijani delegation offered their Iranian counterparts to cooperate in the gas export to Europe via Azerbaijan, as Iran’s involvement will leave no concern in terms of providing Europe with gas,” the source said.According to the report, the two parties stressed that the Iranian gas export to Europe through Azerbaijan is easier than its direct export to the West. The head of Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR, Rovnag Abdullayev said in April that Iran is interested in purchasing a stake in the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP).
10North Korea’s Balancing Act in the Persian Gulf. “In March 2015, Saudi Arabia signed a deal with South Korea to build two small and medium-sized nuclear reactors. This move grabbed the attention of the White House, as it symbolized Saudi dissatisfaction with U.S. attempts to forge a nuclear deal with Iran. The synchronized timing of North Korea’s missile shipments to Yemen and the North Korean regime’s defiant rejection of Iran-style nuclear talks with the U.S. is therefore intriguing. Pyongyang’s extension of assistance to Yemen could be its way of retaliating against Saudi nuclear cooperation with South Korea, which will probably increase should the US Congress ratify the Iran deal” Samuel Ramani for The Huffington Post.
Knowledge Exchange Program between World Bank and Parliamentarians of Nepal
Members of the Federal Parliament in Nepal and officials from the World Bank held consultations and development policy dialogue at a knowledge exchange program held today. Over 40 members of the Parliamentary Finance Committee and the Parliamentary Secretariat took part in the program.
“These engagements with the representatives of the people of Nepal are a key part of our role and responsibility as trusted partners in Nepal. They allow us to exchange ideas, and to better understand the vision of the Nepali people in reducing extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. It also allows us to share experiences on development narratives from the rest of the world.” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, “The country’s path of nation-building and sustainable development relies on sound policies and institutions, and the Parliament is key in ensuring that these are both in place.”
During the program supported by the World Bank and facilitated by the Parliament Secretariat, the Country Manager Faris H. Hadad-Zervos introduced the World Bank Group operations in Nepal, its instruments, country partnership framework and areas of development support. This was followed by a synopsis of the Bank’s analysis of latest macroeconomic and development updates, presented by World Bank Senior Country Economist Kene Ezemenari. Xiaoping Wang and Rabin Shrestha, Senior Energy Specialists from the World Bank then presented on the current scenario of the power sector in Nepal.
“The program was a great opportunity to understand the World Bank Group operations and explore avenues of cooperation and support in the days to come,” said Krishna Prasad Dahal, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, “Extensive sharing of data, information and practical knowledge will help pinpoint the direction of future policies and refine our responsibilities as lawmakers.”
The World Bank is engaging the Nepali Parliament in various ways. Through the Integrated Public Financial Management (PFM) Project supported by the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (financed by Australia, Switzerland, DFID, EU, Norway and USAID), The World Bank is currently supporting the Parliament of Nepal through strengthening of the PFM capacity of technical staff in the Secretariat. Knowledge exchange opportunities will be provided to MPs within this program. Provincial Parliaments will also be progressively targeted since they can benefit from the expertise of the Federal Parliament to build their own.
Africa Industrialization Day 2018 celebrated in Côte d’Ivoiren
On the occasion of Africa Industrialization Day’s (AID) worldwide celebrations, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and SME Promotion organized an event to discuss the importance of industrialization for the development of Africa with a particular focus on Côte d’Ivoire.
“Industrialization represents the best means to create more employment and to improve the living conditions of the population,” said Souleymane Diarrassouba, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Trade, Industry and SME Promotion, during his welcome speech. “The government of Côte d’Ivoire, in collaboration with the financial and technical partners, is engaged in promoting the industrialization of the country.”
After reading a Joint Statement of the African Union Commission, the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa and UNIDO on the occasion of the AID event held in Vienna, Tidiane Boye, UNIDO’s Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, quoted UNIDO’s Director General, LI Yong: “AID 2018 represents an important occasion to raise awareness of the importance of a concerted programmatic approach to the promotion of rapid and inclusive industrialization in Africa.” Boye also paid tribute to H.E. Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, for his engagement as Champion of the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa.
The event was an opportunity to present the main findings of UNIDO’s Industrial Development Report 2018 – which focuses on the importance of demand as a driver of industrial development – and perspectives on the development of the pharmaceutical global value chain in Africa.
Nicola Cantore, UNIDO Research and Industrial Policy Officer, pointed out that under the right set of conditions, the consumption of manufactures can set in motion a virtuous circle of industrial development – comprising income creation, demand diversification and massification of consumption – but that this virtuous circle often requires specific policy measures to attain socially inclusive or environmentally sustainable industrialization.
”For Côte d’Ivoire, a gap still needs to be filled in terms of increasing the share of manufacturing exports in total exports and the technological contents of exports, which are still too dependent on primary goods,” Cantore said.
The social dimension of industrialization was well-captured by the presentation of Assane Coulibaly, UNIDO’s Lead ECOWAS Coordinator for Pharmaceuticals GMP Roadmap Initiative, who explained how the development of local capabilities in the pharmaceutical industry is a key step to ensure affordability and availability of medicines essential to the development of an effective health system.
The event was attended by representatives of the government and the private sector.
World Bank Group Announces $50 billion over Five Years for Climate Adaptation and Resilience
The World Bank Group today launched its Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience. Under the plan, the World Bank Group will ramp up direct adaptation climate finance to reach $50 billion over FY21–25. This financing level—an average of $10 billion a year—is more than double what was achieved during FY15-18. The World Bank Group will also pilot new approaches to increasing private finance for adaptation and resilience.
“Our new plan will put climate resilience on an equal footing with our investment in a low carbon future for the first time. We do this because, simply put, the climate is changing so we must mitigate and adapt at the same time,” said World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva. “We will ramp up our funding to help people build a more resilient future, especially the poorest and most vulnerable who are most affected.”
The increase in adaptation financing will support activities that include:
- Delivering higher quality forecasts, early warning systems and climate information services to better prepare 250 million people in at least 30 countries for climate risks;
- Supporting 100 river basins with climate-informed management plans and/or improved river basin management governance;
- Building more climate-responsive social protection systems; and
- Supporting efforts in at least 20 countries to respond early to, and recover faster from, climate and disaster shocks through additional financial protection instruments.
In addition to boosting finance, the Plan will also support countries to mainstream approaches to systematically manage climate risks at every phase of policy planning, investment design, and implementation.
“This Action Plan is a welcome step from the World Bank,” said Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and co-chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation. “The world’s poorest and most climate vulnerable countries stand to benefit from its increased finance and support for longer term policy change.”
The Action Plan builds on the link between adaptation and development by promoting effective and early actions that also provide positive development outcomes. For example, investing in mangrove replanting may protect a local community against sea level rise and storm surges, while also creating new opportunities for eco-tourism and fisheries. Early and proactive adaptation and resilience-building actions are more cost-effective than addressing impacts after they occur.
The Action Plan also includes the development of a new rating system to create incentives for, and improve the tracking of, global progress on adaptation and resilience. The new system will be piloted by the World Bank in FY19-20 and rolled out to projects in relevant sectors by FY21.
The Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience forms part of the World Bank Group’s 2025 Targets to Step Up Climate Action which were launched in December 2018, during the UN’s COP24 in Poland.
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