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The Agenda of G20 Summit 2017

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Amid clashes between police and protesters, the top advanced nations known as Group of 20, or simply ‘G-20’ summit is getting underway on 7-8 July in the German port city of Hamburg with terrorism, global trade and climate change among the major issues on the agenda. From Paris Climate Accord to North Korean Nuclear threat, US-Russian ties to Indo-China strain, this G20 summit will witness the global superpowers in their worst, trying to make their best.

Germany’s G20 Presidency with three main focuses: Ensuring stability; improving viability for the future and Accepting responsibility.

 The city of Hamburg has boosted its police with reinforcements from around the country and has 20,000police officers on hand to patrol Hamburg’s streets, skies and waterways. The meeting follows skirmishes between police and protesters elsewhere in Germany’s second-biggest city. Police said that at least 76 officers were hurt, one of whom had to be taken to a hospital with an eye injury after a firework exploded in front of him. On Friday morning, dozens of protesters attempted to block cars from accessing the summit, being held at the trade fair grounds in downtown Hamburg, but they were quickly thwarted by police. Further away in the city’s Altona district, police said people set several parked cars alight and attacked a police station, though the situation quickly calmed down.

 The G-20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, France, Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Also attending the summit are the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Guinea, Senegal, Singapore and Vietnam.

 The G20 is the main forum for international cooperation among the 20 leading industrialized nations and emerging economies in the fields of finance and economics. The G20 nations are together home to almost two thirds of the world’s population, as well as generating more than four fifths of global GDP, and accounting for three quarters of global trade.

 The host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, says she hopes to find “compromises and answers” on a range of issues at the two-day meeting of leading industrial and developing nations. The G20 finance ministers will be focusing on achieving progress on the stricter regulation of financial markets, especially in the field of shadow banking.

In the run up to the G20 summit, numerous line minister meetings were held, in order to explore individual G20 issues in greater depth. Between January and May 2017, ministers responsible for finance, foreign affairs, labor affairs, health, agriculture and digital policy met. As was the case during the G7 Presidency, Angela Merkel met with representatives of civil society between March and June 2017; several dialogues took place, including events for the business community (Business20), non-governmental organisations (Civil20), trade unions (Labour20), the science and research community (Science20), think tanks (Think20), women (Women20) and youth (Youth20). The civil society organisations themselves are responsible for these meeting as well as for recommendations for Presidency, which will pick up on relevant G20 issues.

The G20 Summit, being hosted this year on July 7 and July 8 in Germany, which will see the coming together of 20 of the World’s biggest economies to discuss, debate and resolve various issue of global and continental importance. Many of the G20 nations have developed differences ranging from environmental issues to prevailing tensions or war-like situations, and are expected to use this platform to at least find a resolution acceptable to all.

While main issues to focus, given the global-political scenario, can be broadly divided into two general categories, primarily as Environmental and Political, here we will look at these in a bit detailed fashion. While the G20 Summit in its definition aims to strengthen the resilience of the global financial system and proper regulation of all financial markets, it also organizes bilateral talks among the members to discuss and if needed resolve differences, at the disposal of the two nations involved. The first meeting was hosted by Germany as well after the formation of the group in 1999.

Among the nations which are expected to directly take part in this metaphorical intervention of President Trump are British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. While May will reportedly express Britain’s full commitment towards the Paris agreement and in her one-on-one talks with him will stress how the accord should not be renegotiated, Chancellor Merkel who said that the US’s withdrawal from the agreement was ‘extraordinarily regrettable’ said that her sentiments will remain similar to what it was during her last meet with Trump.

The decision to exit the European Union is irreversible now and it has been accepted by all, citizens of Britain and the European Union alike. Given that this decision to exit the Union by Britain, popularly called BREXIT, will have obvious impact upon the economical set-up and future of both Britain and the Union, G20, which is primarily an economic platform might resolve a few issues which they may encounter. While it is true that the main focus might not be upon the BREXIT phenomenon, but ignoring the economic decisions might not be possible for either of the parties here.

 Top Issues likely to dominate Geopolitics at Hamburg would be as follows:

Stability of the global economy

Germany is happy to assume the G20 Presidency as of 1 December, and to host the G20 summit in July, declared Chancellor Angela Merkel in a video podcast on the German G20 Presidency. She cited the stability of the global economy as the “top issue”. a number of issues “related to development” will be given a very high profile, in particular fighting pandemics.

Ensuring stable and resilient national economies

The first pillar involves strengthening stable environments for the global economy and the financial system, but also promoting dynamic economic growth. Structural reforms are the lynchpin here. Germany’s G20 Presidency will continue cooperation on international financial and fiscal issues, employment, and trade and investment. The aim is to strengthen free and fair trade around the globe. The German government will also be working for sustainable global supply chains.

Fit for the future

Germany not only aims to ensure the stability of the global economy, but also, and this is the second pillar, to make it more fit for the future. One main concern is to make progress on realising the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

It is every bit as important to discuss viable energy and climate strategies for the future. And the growing importance of digitalization for the global economy will play a prominent part in the discussions of the G20. To be fit for the future will also mean improving health care. The worldwide fight against antimicrobial resistance is part of this, as are efforts to put in place the mechanisms to prevent the outbreak of pandemics. And empowering women in the economy, in particular improving the quality of women’s jobs, is on the agenda. Angela Merkel will be working to give women in developing countries easier access to information and communication technologies.

Accepting responsibility – especially for Africa

Germany also intends to strengthen the G20 as a community of responsibility – and that is the third pillar. A priority concern is to achieve sustainable economic progress in Africa. German Presidency aims to take concrete steps to improve people’s living conditions in the long term and to put in place a stable environment for investment. And it aims to promote infrastructure development on the African continent. In June a separate conference entitled “Partnership with Africa” will be held in Berlin. The G20 also aims to accept responsibility in other fields. Migration and refugee movements, the fight against terrorism, money laundering and corruption will also be addressed during Germany’s G20 Presidency.

The beef over Syria, North Korea and climate

 The issues which we can expect the nations to touch upon in this meet are the US pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, Britain’s drift from the European Union, Syria, North Korea nuclear tensions and although off the table, but possible mentions of the rising tension between India and China.

 The long standing issue of Syria and its future, threatened by, on one hand the Assad regime and its alleged atrocities on the people and the rebels on the other, and worsened by the presence of the Islamic State terrorists. While primarily it has been speculated and confirmed by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that US President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will seek to find a common ground over Syria, the most important decision both countries may arrive could be regarding establishing no-fly zones and on the ground ceasefire norms.

The G20 and world at large looked at the decision of US President Donald Trump with an expression of predictable horror, when he declared that the USA will no longer be part of the Paris Climate agreement. While his decision was censured by citizens of the US and other nations alike, this G20 platform will be reportedly used by a couple of nations to show President Trump that in this issue, the USA is isolated from the rest and as Greenpeace Director Jennifer Morgan would say,’ The only game in town.’

Indian Hindutva agenda of anti-beef issue would not even be mentioned in the summit although such grave issues that are detrimental to normalcy and prosperity of a nation need to be debated and such nations promoting fanaticism as their key ploy as policy should be warned against the dangerous drama just for majority votes. . 

Will G20 achieve anything?

Like UN, the G20 and other such forums only promote multilateral trade and do not think about the future of poor nations and poor populations in real terms. World Bank and IMF impose economic measures to weaken the poor people. They and all governments promote ah and help  the rich and MNCs, corporate lords and their  wealthy trade outfits.

With the global political dynamics changing over the period of one year severely and more so in the last few months, perhaps the Summit is well-timed to resolve the differences which have visibly surfaced within several members and non-members of the G20 nations.

No one is sure about the outcomes as the US led Syria war is in the minds of every leader attending the summit.  While there’s little disagreement on fighting terrorism, prospects of finding common ground on climate change and trade look uncertain.

The illegal war in Syria led by USA and joined by Russia must be stopped and the remaining Syrians must be saved as the first action priority of G20 and UNSC.  Israel and India must be brought to negotiating tables to discuss the burning issue of reestablishment of Palestine and Kashmir as soverign nations as they had existed before.

Remaining Palestinians and Kashmiris must be saved. Only Big powers can make the genuine dreams of Palestinians and Kashmiris a reality as quickly as possible. 

However, since the veto powers control everything including the UN and G20, no one is yet sure if the communique that would be drafted at G20 would sternly warn the colonialist and imperialist powers destroying peace in the world, destroying climate, destroying poor people in every country, destroying nations and people; These should be warned against the crimes they perpetrate against humanity by attacking and killing the native people living in them.  Apart from helping the poor and weak nation in economy and development programs, the G20 should also make suitable recommendations to arrest the climatic change taking place globally that would make many island nations disappear from the face of our earth.

Looking forward to the best possible outcomes from the G20 summit in Germany!

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Economy

Gender equality cannot wait in Asia and the Pacific

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

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Equal rights have been demanded and promised for generations, but last year a shift occurred in the women’s movement. Across Asia and the Pacific and around the world, women demonstrated to condemn a status quo which continues to deprive too many women and girls of respect and equal opportunity. This is a momentum we must maintain to achieve gender equality in Asia and the Pacific, an ambition which lies at the heart of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Education is key. It remains the passport to better jobs, higher incomes and improved life chances. Progress in our region has been made and rightly celebrated, but equal numbers of boys and girls enrolled in education belies high dropout rates and lower attendance and attainment levels for girls. This is particularly acute in rural areas, where in many countries only very few girls from poor households complete secondary education. Improving health care coverage, particularly sexual and reproductive health, is another imperative. Again, women living in rural and remote areas are particularly disadvantaged, contributing to high maternal mortality rates in parts of Asia and the Pacific and teenage pregnancies with enduring societal consequences.

This inequality of opportunity contributes to placing women at a considerable disadvantage in the labour market. Over the past thirty years, female labour market participation has declined in Asia and the Pacific, where only half of all women are economically active. This is in part because women are relied on to give up to six hours of unpaid care work a day, stifling careers and ambitions and undermining equal political representation. Corporate leadership positions remain the preserve of men. Today, for every ten men in work in the Asia-Pacific region there are only six women, the majority of whom are trapped in precarious, informal employment, characterised by low wages and hazardous working conditions.

With such considerable barriers remaining to gender equality, the United Nations Economic Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific is supporting a bold coordinated response, which must include gender responsive budgeting. This approach ensures the different needs of women and men are part of budgetary decisions for the public expenditure which underpins the design of government programmes and activities. This is particularly important in shaping the provision of social protection, education and health care and the design of infrastructure. By placing a greater focus on women’s needs, gender responsive budgeting has been shown to make a major contribution to reducing the burden of unpaid work and enhancing women’s opportunities for leadership in the workplace and in political and public life.

Gender responsive budgeting could also be used to create a more supportive environment for women entrepreneurs who are proven catalysts for change and a reliable means of increasing women’s share of the workforce. Women employ other women, who in turn, are known to spend more on their families, helping give children a healthy diet, a solid education and reliable health care. As potential GDP gains from gender equality in work and society are enormous in our region, up to eighteen percent in parts of South Asia, this is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.

Yet this entrepreneurial potential is currently frustrated by a lack of access to finance and ICT tools for business development. Seventy percent of women-owned micro, small and medium enterprises are underserved by financial institutions in developing countries. Women-owned enterprises are consistently smaller and concentrated in less profitable sectors. Innovative technology could be deployed to reduce gender barriers and promote digital inclusion. This requires support for businesswomen to mainstream ICT across business operations, make their financial management more robust and their outlook more responsive to new technologies.

Put simply, women’s empowerment requires action on all fronts. It begins with equal opportunity to education and health care services, delivered through targeted investments, better attuned to women’s needs. Supporting women entrepreneurs with better access to finance and ICT can then keep women in work, enabling their businesses to innovate, remain competitive and expand. These businesses are essential incubators for future generations of women’s leaders, but will also contribute to a more gender equal environment today. Women’s empowerment cannot wait in Asia and the Pacific.

UN ESCAP

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Radical Markets- Workable Ideas

Osama Rizvi

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We are living in a very interesting age. Call it a phase. A phase; where long cherished ideas of globalization is coming under threat, where Xenophobic attitudes are taking hold, where the right-wing has gained a lot of wind under them and seems ready to fly. Trump’s election, Brexit and anti-immigrant hysteria, all point towards a disturbing trend which looks as if gaining popularity and acceptance. In such a phase the ideas and concepts, utterly novel in their nature and perfectly workable if implemented, presented in the book Radical Markets gives us a hope.

Let’s start with the monopoly problem of property. Private ownership of a property while have certain advantage still cause many problems. For instance, the example, that any single person can sabotage a project if he decides to value his property at exorbitant prices after knowing it comes under a government project, for instance Hyperloop, is very common. Commenting on the “allocative” and “investment” efficiencies of a property the writers present an elaborative system to optimize both of the above mentioned functions. Surprisingly abbreviating into a very apt name, COST, the Common Ownership Self-assessed Tax, provides us with an alternative to the normal, usual taxation system. Moreover, possessing a self-regulating mechanism COST assures that the person uses the property for the best purpose. Avoiding the intricate details here, one can consider it as a system where-in one’s property would be listed on a national/international database with its price along with the option of anyone able to buy it at a click. If the property is very important for a person he might keep the price at such a level so that nobody can easily buy it however, at the same time he will be paying a handsome amount of tax on the declared value (a detailed description regarding the basis of the taxation is given in the book) which should bring in the most optimal level of pricing. Too much of a price and he ends up paying a lot of tax, too little and someone else might get it.

Not only this but the above concept can also be applied to personal skills such as for doctors, engineers and others.

Other ideas include Visa for Individual Program (VIP) which might prove to be very useful to curb xenophobic attitudes. The proposal includes setting up such a system where-in an individual, for example from U.S., invites a computer scientist here in Pakistan, and vouchsafe for these immigrant while he works at the company that the person in U.S. was able to find and share his salary with this man. Such a win-win situation might help to address many questions and grievances of people from both side of the world.

One of my most favorite and a truly radical idea is that of Quadratic Voting. Democracy, of-late, is under threat all over the world. Populism is gaining momentum and rabble-rousers are seizing the opportunities. One of the major reasons is that somehow, at some point, like globalization, democracy has failed to deliver. Problems like “majoritarian cycling” make matters worse. At times, majority can trespass on the rights of minorities. To quote the example from the book let’s suppose there is a society that has a certain plant due to which the utility bills have reduced. However, there are some in that society who due to certain health problems suffer due to that very plant. In case of a traditional voting process i.e. 1 person, 1 vote (1p1v) the majority would easily win however, for that particular class of society it is a matter of life and hence immensely significant. Quadratic Voting focuses preference and intensity of preference instead of a for and against approach. In such cases a minority can win over a majority.

To conclude, all of us, especially policy-makers around the world should consider, brainstorm and try to implement these ideas, albeit, at smaller scale, for the sake of experimentation, deducing results, suggesting improvements and omitting errors, if any.

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Closing the Loop: Meet the Pioneers Turning our Global Economy Circular

MD Staff

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A remarkable transformation is taking place in the global economy, with more and more established and start-up businesses generating value from waste products that otherwise would end up in landfill or our oceans, rivers and lakes. This is the finding from the fifth annual Circulars award, which recognizes businesses, governments and individuals that use innovation and disruptive technologies to reduce waste, emissions and the use of harmful materials.

With the circular economy estimated to represent a potential $4.5 trillion growth opportunity for the global economy, this year’s awards saw an expansion in the scope and scale of successful circular solutions. In total, close to 450 applications were received from over 45 countries, a 50% increase on last year.

“More and more businesses understand that Closing the Loop isn’t just about stewardship of our natural resources, it’s about gaining a competitive edge. Companies that lack a circular strategy risk being left behind in the new economy of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, said Terri Toyota, Deputy Head of the Centre for Global Public Goods, World Economic Forum.

The winners received their awards at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. They are:

Award for Circular Economy Multinational: Schneider Electric (France) for integrating circular concepts throughout its business including prolonging product lifespan through leasing and pay-per-use; introducing take-back schemes into the supply chain and using recycled content and recyclable materials in their products; 12% of the firm’s revenues now come from circular activities and, between 2018 and 2020, about 100,000 tonnes of primary resource consumption will be avoided.

Award for Circular Economy SME: Lehigh Technologies (Atlanta, USA) for extracting resources from end-of-life tyres into new tyres and other materials. To date, the company has manufactured more than 500 million new tyres using its circular model.

People’s Choice Award: TriCiclos (Chile) for building and operating South America’s largest network of recycling stations. To date, the company has diverted 33,000 tons of recyclable material from landfills and saved over 140,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

Circular Economy Public Sector: The European Commission for their strategic leadership through the development and implementation of their international circular economy framework, ‘The Circular Economy Action Plan.’ This framework has assisted 24% of all EU SMEs in delivering circular products or services and has guided many Member State national governments to create their own circular economy strategies..

Circular Economy Investor: Impax Asset Management (United Kingdom) for encouraging circular investments by mainstream investors. Impax’s environmental markets classification system was adopted by the FTSE in 2007. Today, it invests around $8 billion in more than 100 listed companies.

Circular Economy Tech Disruptor: Winnow (United Kingdom) for helping the food industry cut waste. Winnow’s smart meters analyse what is put in bins, which in turn helps inform production processes. Winnow cut waste in half in thousands of kitchens globally and saved customers $25 million per year, the equivalent of 18 million meals per year or preventing one meal from going to waste every seven seconds.

Circular Economy Leadership: Flemming Besenbacher, Chairman of the Danish Government’s Advisory Board for Circular Economy, for leadership in driving the circular economy in Denmark and beyond including in his role as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Carlsberg.

In addition to the winners above, shortlisted companies include:

AB InBev (Belgium): For circular activities including upcycling spent grains into protein-rich drinks and working with customers and suppliers to improve recovery and return of packaging; 43% of the company’s volume is now packaged in returnable glass bottles

Cambrian Innovation (USA): For its EcoVolt technology, which allows the conversion of waste water from industrial processes into clean water and energy; with nine plants across the US, the company has treated more than 320 million litres of wastewater, recycling almost 95 million litres

Close the Loop (Australia): For keeping plastic out of landfill; by developing an asphalt additive, the company is able to use soft plastic and used printer toner cartridges to make high-performance road surfaces; every kilometre of road uses the equivalent of 530,000 plastic shopping bags and 12,500 printer cartridges

DyeCoo Textile Systems (Netherlands): For bringing the circular economy to the textile industry; its CO2-based technology eliminates the use of water and chemicals in the dyeing process; the impact of one dyeing machine eliminates the need for 32 million litres of water and 160,000 kilogrammes of processing chemicals per year

Enerkem (Canada): For making biofuels and renewable chemicals from waste; the company’s technology allows the carbon in non-recyclable waste to be recycled in five minutes and converted into biofuels and bio-renewable chemicals

HYLA (USA): For extending the lives of mobile phones and other devices; through its repurposing model, more than 50 million devices have been given a second life, creating $4 billion in value for their owners, keeping 6,500 tons of e-waste from landfills

Miniwiz (Taiwan, China): For turning consumer waste into high-quality building materials; its “Trashpresso” mobile upcycling plant enables recycling without shipping waste long distances; the company has saved 17 million kilogrammes of CO2 in construction projects alone

Tianjin Citymine (China): For pioneering the concept of “urban mining” using mobile recycling stations at waste sites to produce a reverse-logistics system of urban waste

“Consumers, employees, stakeholders and policymakers alike expect companies to lead with purpose around sustainability and are holding them accountable. Inaction or idleness can severely harm competitiveness, with a drop in stakeholder trust costing businesses globally $180 billion in potential revenues,” said Peter Lacy, Senior Managing Director, Accenture Strategy. “Moving to a circular economy delivers the disruptive change needed to secure a sustainable future, while enabling businesses to unlock innovation and growth. We are proud to recognize the individuals and organizations that are leading the circular movement, creating a thriving global economy.”

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