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Thailand and World Bank to collaborate on promotion of digital economy

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Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) and the World Bank today agreed to jointly undertake activities that will promote awareness of the Internet of Things (IoT) in Thailand and adopt digital transformation in public and private sectors.

The announcement was made during a seminar attended by more than 150 representatives from the Thai government, international organizations, businesses, NGOs and the media, to launch the recent World Bank report, The Internet of Things: The New Government-to-Business Platform.

“Internet of Things plays a key role in our daily lives. Recognizing the importance of IoT in creating digital innovation that will boost productivity and improve individual lives, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) has endeavored to promote the development of the IoT in Thailand through various initiatives, said H.E. Dr. Pichet Durongkaveroj, Minister, MDES.

“The Internet of Things is not just a hype. We view it as one of the most exciting pieces of technology of the decade, which will help catalyze digital transformation in public and private sectors in Thailand. Therefore, we need to raise awareness of IoT in all sectors by providing a networking forum so we all can meet and discuss opportunities offered by this technology as well as ways to allow IoT work for Thais.” said Dr. Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, the President and CEO of DEPA Thailand.

DEPA, an operating arm of the MDES, aims to promote the development of digital industry and innovation as well as the adoption of digital technology in all sectors in Thailand. It is entrusted to establish the IoT Institute which will help create a healthy IoT ecosystem in the country. Through this seminar, the Institute marks its first step in promoting the development and adoption of this exciting technology.

“It is a pleasure for the World Bank to partner with Thailand on making digital technologies and Internet of Things work for the benefit of all,” said Shabih A. Mohib, the Bank’s Program Leader for Equitable Growth, Finance & Institutions, in Thailand.

“IoT has significant potential, but it requires systematic, informed work by the government, private sector, and civil society. I hope this study will help examine the progress made in Thailand and encourage further thinking and discussions among policymakers and the private sector on the social and economic impacts of leveraging IoT applications,” said Prasanna Lal Das, lead author of the report.

IoT refers to a digital system involving connected devices that gather data through sensors, transmit it over networks, and generate analytics; in some cases, adapting behavior and responses based on local conditions. Examples of IoT are Global Positioning System (GPS) devices that track and provide real-time transit updates; sensors mounted on lampposts that measure and share pollution data; and smart thermostats, which adjust home temperatures based on people’s routine, helping cut heating and cooling bills.

According to the report – the first to examine the progress made by governments incorporating Internet of Things (or IoT) within their functions – many governments are eager to use IoT to better serve people, despite the obstacles of taking initiatives beyond the pilot stage. The business models to sustain IoT infrastructure could be developed further, and the policy landscape could be improved. Policy recommendations include:

  • Improving the knowledge and familiarity of most government agencies of IoT and its relevance to their immediate functions;
    • Translating “hype to reality” and preparing ‘toolkits’ on how to implement initiatives that include IoT components;
    • Disseminating “lessons” from peers, as many agencies are keen to learn about initiatives in other countries, and what had worked or had not.
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UN forum to explore use of outer space to improve lives, protect planet

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Marking 50 years since the world first came together to discuss the peaceful uses of outer space, government leaders, policy makers, civil society representatives and space experts will gather at a United Nations forum in Vienna from Monday to explore the future course of global space cooperation for the benefit of humankind.

Dubbed UNISPACE+50, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1968 UN Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the event will be the first global UN space summit of the twenty-first century.

Simonetta Di Pippo, the Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), which is organizing UNISPACE+50, has said that the forum’s priority will be to find ways to use space “to improve lives around the world and protect the planet.”

Since humankind entered the space age with the launch of Sputnik-1, the first artificial satellite, incredible progress has been made in the use of space technology. Many ideas that seemed “science fiction” just years ago are now a reality.

From helping us use GPS (Global Positioning Systems) to find our way home, or calling friends in faraway places, applications of space technology have made our lives easier and our world more connected.

Space tech is also helping track endangered species like rhinoceroses and keeping them safe from poachers, providing vital data to famers and improving crop yields, and enabling humanitarian workers reach and assist millions around the world.

Both directly and indirectly, use of space technology is strengthening the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the global development agenda agreed by all UN Member States in 2015.

Highlighting the importance of space for all of humankind, Ms. Di Pippo urged greater global cooperation in the future of space activities.

“Space is an invaluable tool for achieving sustainable development across the globe, and so it is important that everyone can access and enjoy the benefits that space brings to us all,” she said.

Also joining UNSIPACE+50 will be senior UN officials, as well as former US astronaut Scott Kelly, who was appointed the UN Champion for Space in 2016. Mr. Kelly holds the record for the most cumulative number of days spent in space by an American astronaut on board the International Space Station.

Being held from 18-21 June, UNISPACE+50 will include a symposium (18-19 June) and a high-level segment (20-21 June). On 22 June, the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will resume its regular session.

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The future we want depends on innovative policies and people-centred technology

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ILO Director-General Guy Ryder has urged global business leaders to work together with the United Nations to build a future of work that is equitable and harnesses technology to enhance people’s lives, especially those who are trapped in forced labour.

Speaking to over a 1,000 CEOs at The Consumer Goods Forum’s annual Global Summit in Singapore , Ryder said that “A major transformation of the workforce lies ahead of us. We can design the future of work we want, but there is general concern about what the future will bring. We should give people greater confidence in the future through good business conduct and public policies.”

The remarks come just after the release of a global call to action , affirming business’ commitment to strive to eradicate forced labour from global supply chains and not to tolerate forced labour within their operations. The call to action to end forced and unethical recruitment practices issued by The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), in alignment with the ILO and IOM, will raise awareness and help drive responsible business practices.

“Businesses have a central role to play in fighting the global scourge of forced labour. It is not just the right thing to do, it makes economic sense too. Value chains that are free of forced labour are much more productive and sustainable than those that cut costs and whose workers toil in conditions akin to slavery”, Ryder added, as he called on CGF members to implement the Priority Industry Principles on Forced Labour .

Leading into the Summit, the ILO launched a new Business Network on Forced Labour  that will help enterprises make progress on the elimination of forced labour and trafficking. The Forced Labour Network will contribute to Alliance 8.7 , a global partnership to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7, which calls for the elimination of child labour by 2025 and forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030.

Governments must also adhere to international conventions and introduce effective policies to combat forced labour. The 50forFreedom  campaign supports governmental efforts to ratify the Forced Labour Protocol  adopted by an overwhelming majority by the International Labour Conference in 2014 . The Protocol, reinforces the international legal framework for combating all forms of forced labour, including trafficking in persons, and calls on ratifying States to take measures to prevent forced labour, protect victims and ensure their access to remedies and compensation.

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MDB Climate Finance Hit Record High of $35.2 Billion in 2017

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Climate financing by the world’s six largest multilateral development banks (MDBs) rose to a 7-year high of $35.2 billion in 2017, up 28% from the previous year.

The MDBs’ latest joint report on climate financing said $27.9 billion, or 79% of the 2017 total, was devoted to climate mitigation projects that aim to reduce harmful emissions and slow down global warming.

The remaining 21%, or $7.4 billion, of financing for emerging and developing nations was invested in climate adaptation projects that help economies deal with the effects of climate change such as unusual levels of rain, worsening droughts, and extreme weather events.

In 2016, climate financing from the MDBs had totaled $27.4 billion.

The latest MDB climate finance figures are detailed in the 2017 Joint Report on Multilateral Development Banks’ Climate Finance, combining data from the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank Group and the World Bank Group (World Bank, IFC, and MIGA). These banks account for the vast majority of multilateral development finance. In October 2017, the Islamic Development Bank joined the MDB climate finance tracking groups, and its climate finance figures will be included in reports from 2018 onwards.

Climate funds such as the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund, the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF), the European Union’s funds for Climate Action, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and others have also played an important role in boosting MDB climate finance. As well as the $35.2 billion of multilateral development finance, the same adaptation and mitigation projects attracted an additional $51.7 billion from other sources of financing last year.

Of the 2017 total, 81% was provided as loans. Other types of financial instruments included policy-based lending, grants, guarantees, equity, and lines of credit.

Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and East Asia and the Pacific were the three major developing regions receiving the funds. The report contains a breakdown of climate finance by country.

The sharp increase came in response to the ever more pressing challenge of climate change. Calls to galvanize climate finance were at the heart of events such as the One Planet Summit in Paris in December 2017, 2 years after the historic Paris Agreement was adopted. Multilateral banks began publishing their climate investment in developing countries and emerging economies jointly in 2011, and in 2015, MDBs and the International Development Finance Club agreed joint principles for tracking climate adaptation and mitigation finance.

Climate finance addresses the specific financial flows for climate change mitigation and adaptation activities. These activities contribute to make MDB finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development, in line with the Paris Agreement. The MDBs are currently working on the development of more specific approaches to reporting their activities and how they are aligned with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

“ADB’s climate investments reached $4.5 billion last year, a 21% increase from 2016 and in line with our climate finance commitment to reach $6 billion by 2020. ADB will continue to deepen its collaboration with other MDBs while employing consistent and rigorous methodologies to track climate finance,” said ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Mr. Bambang Susantono. “ADB acknowledges the critical role of external funding and has accessed $265 million in concessional financing from the Green Climate Fund to date. It also continues to establish innovative financing facilities, such as the Asia Pacific Climate Finance Fund, which supports financial risk management products that can help unlock financing for climate investments in clean technologies and that build resilience to climate risks.”

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