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Fiji Issues First Developing Country Green Bond, Raising $50 Million for Climate Resilience

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Fiji has become the first emerging market to issue a sovereign green bond, raising 100 million Fijian dollars, or US$50 million, to support climate change mitigation and adaption.

Home to over 870,000 people, Fiji’s 300 volcanic islands include low-lying atolls that are highly susceptible to cyclones and floods. In 2016, Tropical Cyclone Winston—the most intense tropical cyclone in the Southern Hemisphere on record—passed directly over Fiji, causing economic losses that amounted to almost one third of the country’s GDP. Like all Pacific island states, Fiji is also highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change: close to 20 percent of the region’s 10 million people could be displaced due to climate change by 2050.

Green bonds are fixed income, liquid financial instruments that are used to raise funds dedicated to climate-mitigation, adaptation, and other environment-friendly projects. This provides investors an attractive investment proposition as well as an opportunity to support environmentally sound projects.

At the request of Fiji’s Reserve Bank, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group focusing on private sector, provided technical assistance to assist the government in issuing a sovereign green bond. This collaboration took place under a broader, three-year Capital Markets Development Project supported by the Australian Government. Through this partnership, Australia and IFC are helping stimulate private sector investment, promote sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty in the Pacific.

Projects financed from the Fiji green bond will follow the internationally developed Green Bond Principles, and will focus primarily on investments that build resilience against the impacts of climate change. Sustainalytics US (Sustainalytics), a provider of environmental, social and governance research and analysis, evaluated Fiji Sovereign’s green bond transaction and its alignment with the Green Bond Principles. Fiji will also use bond proceeds for projects supporting its commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy and reduce its CO2 emissions in the energy sector by 30% by 2030.

Fijian Prime Minister and President of COP23 Frank Bainimarama said: “The Fijian people, along with every Pacific Islander, live on the front lines of climate change. The rising seas, changing weather patterns and severe weather events are threatening our development, our security and the Fijian way of life, along with the very existence of some of our low-lying neighbors. I have made access to climate finance a key pillar of our upcoming COP23 Presidency, and we are proud to set an example to other climate-vulnerable nations by issuing this green bond to fund our work to boost climate resilience across Fiji. By issuing the first emerging country green bond , we are also sending a clear signal to other nations that we can be creative and innovative in mobilizing funds and create win-win outcomes for countries and investors in adapting to the serious effects of climate change.”

“With this bond, Fiji has demonstrated that green capital markets can be created in emerging economies, and that all countries, big and small, have an important role to play in facilitating climate solutions,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “As it takes the helm of COP23, Fiji is uniquely positioned to inspire other countries to meet their respective targets and build resilience against climate change.”

The World Bank and IFC are among the pioneers of the green bond market. The World Bank issued the first green bond in 2008. Since then, both institutions have provided leadership by issuing green bonds across a range of currencies, tenors and volumes; helping to define best practice for reporting and standards; and working with countries to facilitate the development of domestic green bond markets. The global green bond market is expected to reach US$134.9 billion in 2017.

The Government of Fiji will chair the 23rd Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany from November 6-17, 2017. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has given high priority to COP23 and aims to continue the momentum for action since the entry into force of the Paris Climate Change Agreement last year.

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Bangladesh Economy Continues Robust Growth with Rising Exports and Remittances

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The Bangladesh economy sustains strong growth in FY19 led by rising exports and record remittances, says a new World Bank report, “Bangladesh Development Update October 2019: Tertiary Education and Job Skills,” launched today.

Remittances grew by 9.8 percent, reaching a record $16.4 billion in FY19. The contribution of net export growth was positive, supported by a diversion of garment export orders from China and a decline in imports. Agricultural and pharmaceutical exports led non-RMG export growth. However, leather and leather product exports declined by 6 percent.

Net foreign direct investment (FDI) increased by 42.9 percent from a low baseline with investments in the power, food, and textile sectors. Private consumption grew by 5.4 percent. Private sector credit growth was weak and bank liquidity remains constrained. Non-performing loans continued to rise in the banking sector.

The report warns about an uncertain global outlook and domestic risks in the financial sector. Exchange rate appreciation is also a challenge for Bangladesh’s trade competitiveness. Reforms in the financial sector, including revenue mobilization and doing business, will be essential for progress. The report also urges closing the infrastructure gap and timely implementation of the Annual Development Plan.

Bangladesh’s economy is projected to maintain strong growth backed by sound macroeconomic fundamentals and progress in structural reforms,” said Mercy Miyang Tembon, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan. “To achieve its growth vision, Bangladesh will need a high-productivity economy. Human capital development that is responsive to labor market demand for higher-level skills and to rapid technological advancements will be crucial.”

Bangladesh needs to create quality jobs for about two million young people entering the labor force every year. To harness the benefits of this growing labor supply, investments in human capital are required. The country needs to invest significantly in teaching, learning and ICT facilities, among other areas, to create a competitive workforce.

Higher labor productivity will be essential to diversify the economy beyond garment exports and remittances. Growing sectors—such as export-oriented manufacturing, light engineering, shipbuilding, agribusiness, information and communication technology (ICT), and pharmaceuticals—will require skilled professionals in managerial, technical, and leadership positions.

Tertiary graduates struggle to find jobs, indicating a major skills gap. Only 19 percent of college graduates are employed full-time or part-time. At the tertiary level, more than a third of graduates remain unemployed one or two years after graduation, while unemployment rates of female graduates are even higher.

“Labor market surveys repeatedly show that employers struggle to fill high-skill positions such as technicians and managers,” said Bernard Haven, World Bank Senior Economist, and co-author of the report. “To bridge the demand and supply gap, investments in skills training, equitable access for female and poor students, public funding mechanisms to develop market-relevant skills and an effective regulatory and accountability framework are needed.”

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Tackling obesity would boost economic and social well-being

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Obesity-related diseases will claim more than 90 million lives in OECD countries in the next 30 years, with life expectancy reduced by nearly 3 years. Obesity and its related conditions also reduce GDP by 3.3% in OECD countries and exact a heavy toll on personal budgets, amounting to USD 360 per capita per year, according to a new OECD report.

The OECD’s The Heavy Burden of Obesity – The Economics of Prevention says that more than half the population is now overweight in 34 out of 36 OECD countries and almost one in four people is obese. Average rates of adult obesity in OECD countries have increased from 21% in 2010 to 24% in 2016, meaning an additional 50 million people are now obese.


Children in particular are paying a high price for obesity. Children who are overweight do less well at school, are more likely to miss school, and, when they grow up, are less likely to complete higher education. They also show lower life satisfaction and are up to three times more likely to be bullied, which in turn may contribute to lower school performance.

Obese adults are at greater risk of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, and reduced life expectancy. In the EU28, women and men in the lowest income group are, respectively, 90% and 50% more likely to be obese, compared to those on the highest incomes, entrenching inequality. Individuals with at least one chronic disease associated with being overweight are 8% less likely to be employed the following year. When they have a job, they are up to 3.4% more likely to be absent or less productive.

“There is an urgent economic and social case to scale up investments to tackle obesity and promote healthy lifestyles,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “These findings clearly illustrate the need for better social, health and education policies that lead to better lives. By investing in prevention, policymakers can halt the rise in obesity for future generations, and benefit economies. There is no more excuse for inaction.”

OECD countries already spend 8.4% of their total health budget on treating obesity-related diseases. This is equivalent to about USD 311 billion or USD 209 per capita per year. Obesity is responsible for 70% of all treatment costs for diabetes, 23% for cardiovascular diseases and 9% for cancers.

New OECD analysis in the report finds that investing in initiatives like better labelling of food in shops or regulating the advertising of unhealthy foods to children can generate major savings. Every dollar invested in preventing obesity would generate an economic return of up to six dollars, according to the report.

Reducing by 20% the calorie content in energy-dense food, such as crisps and confectionery, could avoid more than 1 million cases of chronic disease per year, particularly heart disease. Initiatives targeting the whole population, such as food and menus displaying nutritional information and mass media campaigns, could lead to gains of  between 51,000 to 115,000 life years per year up to 2050 in the 36 countries included in the analysis. This would be equivalent to preventing all road deaths in EU28 and OECD countries respectively. Economic savings would also be significant, with menu labelling alone saving up to USD 13 billion between 2020 and 2050. The report, together with country notes for Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the United Kingdom, are available at http://www.oecd.org/health/the-heavy-burden-of-obesity-67450d67-en.htm.

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OECD leading multilateral efforts to address tax challenges from digitalisation of the economy

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Today the OECD Secretariat published a proposal to advance international negotiations to ensure large and highly profitable Multinational Enterprises, including digital companies, pay tax wherever they have significant consumer-facing activities and generate their profits.

The new OECD proposal brings together common elements of three competing proposals from member countries, and is based on the work of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS, which groups 134 countries and jurisdictions on an equal footing, for multilateral negotiation of international tax rules, making them fit for purpose for the global economy of the 21st Century.

The proposal, which is now open to a public consultation process, would re-allocate some profits and corresponding taxing rights to countries and jurisdictions where MNEs have their markets. It would ensure that MNEs conducting significant business in places where they do not have a physical presence, be taxed in such jurisdictions, through the creation of new rules stating (1) where tax should be paid (“nexus” rules) and (2) on what portion of profits they should be taxed (“profit allocation” rules). 

“We’re making real progress to address the tax challenges arising from digitalisation of the economy, and to continue advancing toward a consensus-based solution to overhaul the rules-based international tax system by 2020,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “This plan brings together common elements of existing competing proposals, involving over 130 countries, with input from governments, business, civil society, academia and the general public. It brings us closer to our ultimate goal: ensuring all MNEs pay their fair share.”

”Failure to reach agreement by 2020 would greatly increase the risk that countries will act unilaterally, with negative consequences on an already fragile global economy. We must not allow that to happen,” Mr Gurría said.

The Inclusive Framework’s tax work on the digitalisation of the economy is part of wider efforts to restore stability and certainty in the international tax system, address possible overlaps with existing rules and mitigate the risks of double taxation. Beyond the specific elements on reallocating taxing rights, a second pillar of the work aims to resolve remaining BEPS issues, ensuring a minimum corporate income tax on MNE profits. This will be discussed in a public consultation foreseen to take place in December 2019.

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