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Anaemic economic growth in some regions hampers progress on Global Goals

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] O [/yt_dropcap]ver the last six months, global economic progress has predictably picked up, but low-level growth in some regions has tempered efforts to meet globally agreed development goals, according to a new United Nations report launched today in New York.

In a statement on themed-2017 UN World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report, Lenni Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, underscored the “need to reinvigorate global commitments to international policy coordination to achieve a balanced and sustained revival of global growth, ensuring that no regions are left behind.”

The WESP report identified revived global trade, citing a tentative recovery in world industrial production driven by rising import demand from East Asia. However, economic recovery in South America is emerging more slowly than anticipated, and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is declining or stagnant in several parts of Africa.

According to the report, firmer growth in many economies, both developed and in transition, underpin global economic recovery – with East and South Asia remaining the world’s most dynamic regions.

During a press conference at UN Headquarters, Diana Alarcón, Chief of the Global Economic Monitoring Unit told journalists the report “confirms that at the global level, economic growth has strengthened in recent months in line with the forecast presented in January.”

She said “industrial production has picked up, world trade is reviving, and economic sentiment has generally improved. World Gross Product is expected to expand by 2.7 percent in 2017 and 2.9 percent in 2018.”

However, she said, “the modest strengthening of economic activity has not been evenly spread across countries” as “recovery remains insufficient in many regions for rapid progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Forecasts for GDP growth in some of the least developed countries (LDCs) have been revised downward since January, with growth in the group as a whole projected to remain well below the SDG target of at least seven per cent. The report notes that under the current growth trajectory and assuming no decline in income inequality, nearly 35 per cent of the population in LDCs may remain in extreme poverty by 2030.

Additional policy efforts are needed to foster an environment that will accelerate medium-term growth and tackle poverty through policies that address inequalities in income and opportunity.

The report points to a combination of short-term policies supporting consumption among the most deprived and longer-term policies, including improved healthcare and education access and rural infrastructure investment.

According to the report, inflation dynamics in developed economies have reached a turning point, largely dissipating risks of prolonged deflation. By contrast, inflationary pressures have eased in many large emerging markets, allowing interest rates to come down.

The report stresses heightened uncertainty over international policy, hindering a global rebound in private investment. In many emerging economies, corporate sectors are vulnerable to sudden changes in financial conditions and destabilizing capital outflows, which could be triggered by faster-than-expected interest rate hikes in the United States.

At the same time, the WESP report highlights positive developments surrounding environmental sustainability. For three consecutive years, global carbon emissions have stalled – positively reflecting renewable power growth, energy efficiency improvements, transitions from coal to natural gas and slower economic growth in some major emitters. But, the report also warns against waning commitments going forward.

Looking ahead, the report advocates for renewed global commitments to deeper international policy coordination in key areas, including aligning the multilateral trading system with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; expanding official development aid; supporting climate finance and clean technology transfer; and addressing the challenges posed by large movements of refugees and migrants.

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Environment

Greenpeace Africa reacts to DRC President’s decision to suspend illegal logging concessions

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The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, ordered on Friday, October 15th, the suspension of all dubious logging concessions, including the 6 granted in September 2020. Greenpeace Africa, one of the civil society organizations that denounced these concessions, applauds the decision taken by the Head of State and encourages him to remain vigilant and ensure its effective execution by Deputy Prime Minister Ms. Eve Bazaiba.

Greenpeace Africa reiterates its call for maintaining the moratorium on new industrial logging concessions to prevent a human rights and climate catastrophe. This logging sector, characterized by bad governance, favors corruption and remains out of touch with the socio-economic needs of the Congolese people and the climate crisis we live in.

Irène Wabiwa Betoko, Head of the International Congo Basin Forest Project of Greenpeace: “The decision of H.E. President Tshisekedi against the illegal actions of former Minister Nyamugabo sends an important message to the Congolese people and their government. It is also a red light for the plans of Ms. Ève Bazaiba, current Minister of the Environment, to open a highway to deforestation by multinational logging companies through lifting the moratorium on new industrial concessions.”

The President asks to “Suspend all questionable contracts pending the outcome of an audit and report them to the government at the next cabinet meeting.” Greenpeace Africa maintains that the review of illegalities in the forest sector must be transparent, independent, and open to comments from civil society organizations.

Ms. Wabiwa adds that “Both the protection of the rights of Congolese peoples and the success of COP26 require that the moratorium on granting new forest titles be strengthened. We again call on President Tshisekedi to strengthen the 2005 presidential decree to extend the moratorium.”

Ms. Wabiwa concludes that “instead of allowing new avenues of destruction, the DRC needs a permanent forest protection plan, taking into account the management by the local and indigenous populations who live there and depend on them for their survival.”

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Tech News

Standards & Digital Transformation – Good Governance in a Digital Age

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In celebration of World Standards Day 2021, celebrated on 14 October every year, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is pleased to announce the launch of a brochure, “Standards and Digital Transformation: Good Governance in the Digital Age”.

In the spirit of this year’s World Standards Day theme “Shared Vision for a Better World”, the brochure provides insights into the key drivers of the digital transformation and its implications for sustainable development, particularly people, prosperity and planet. Noting the rapid pace of change of the digital transformation, with the COVID-19 pandemic serving as an unanticipated accelerator, the brochure highlights the role of standards in digital transformation governance. It further considers the principles necessary for guiding the collaborative development of standards in the digital technology landscape to ensure that the technologies remain human-centered and aligned to the goals of sustainability.

This year’s World Standards Day theme highlights the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) representing a shared vision for peace and prosperity, for people and planet. Every SDG is a call for action, but we can only get there if we work together, and international standards offer practical solutions we can all stand behind.

This brochure is a summary of a publication set to be released in November 2021.

Download it here.

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Human Rights

UN: Paraguay violated indigenous rights

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An indigenous community in Paraguay wait to receive their COVID-19 vaccination. WHO/PAHO

Paraguay’s failure to prevent the toxic contamination of indigenous people’s traditional lands by commercial farming violates their rights and their sense of “home”, the UN Human Rights Committee said in a landmark ruling on Wednesday. 

The Committee, which is made up of 18 independent experts from across the world, monitors countries’ adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  

Lands represent ‘home’ 

The decision on Paraguay (in Spanish) marked the first time it has affirmed that for indigenous people, “home” should be understood in the context of their special relationship with their territories, including their livestock, crops and way of life.  

“For indigenous peoples, their lands represent their home, culture and community. Serious environmental damages have severe impacts on indigenous people’s family life, tradition, identity and even lead to the disappearance of their community. It dramatically harms the existence of the culture of the group as a whole,” said Committee member Hélène Tigroudja. 

The decision stems from a complaint filed more than a decade ago on behalf of some 201 Ava Guarani people of the Campo Agua’e indigenous community, located in Curuguaty district in eastern Paraguay. 

The area where they live is surrounded by large commercial farms which produce genetically modified soybeans through fumigation, a process which involves the use of banned pesticides. 

Traditional life affected 

Fumigation occurred continuously for more than 10 years and affected the indigenous community’s whole way of life, including killing livestock, contaminating waterways and harming people’s health. 

The damage also had severe intangible repercussions, according to the UN committee.  The disappearance of natural resources needed for hunting, fishing and foraging resulted in the loss of traditional knowledge.  For example, ceremonial baptisms no longer take place as necessary materials no longer exist. 

“By halting such ceremonies, children are denied a rite crucial to strengthening their cultural identity,” the Committee said.  “Most alarmingly, the indigenous community structure is being eroded and disintegrated as families are forced to leave their land.” 

Toxic exposure 

The indigenous community brought the case to the Human Rights Committee after a lengthy and unsatisfactory administrative and judicial process in Paraguay’s courts. 

“More than 12 years after the victims filed their criminal complaint regarding the fumigation with toxic agrochemicals, to which they have continued to be exposed throughout this period, the investigations have not progressed in any meaningful way and the State party has not justified the delay,” the Committee said in its decision. 

Recommendations, reparations 

Members found Paraguay did not adequately monitor the fumigation and failed to prevent contamination, adding “this failure in its duty to provide protection made it possible for the large-scale, illegal fumigation to continue for many years, destroying all components of the indigenous people’s family life and home.”  

The Committee recommended that Paraguay complete the criminal and administrative proceedings against all parties responsible and make full reparation to the victims. 

The authorities are also urged to take all necessary measures, in close consultation with the indigenous community, to repair the environmental damage, and to work to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future. 

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