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ADB Boosts Support to Governments to Combat Money Laundering in Asia

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is ramping up its efforts to help countries in the Asia and Pacific region combat money laundering and terrorism financing, which is key to achieving inclusive and sustainable development, according to ADB’s Office of Anticorruption and Integrity (OAI) 2017 Annual Report released today.

ADB’s support in anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) include a $2 million technical assistance grant approved in December 2016, as well as steps to improve the countries’ overall compliance to anti-money laundering policies through closer coordination between relevant parties, such as banks and financial institutions, and governments.

“ADB remains a steadfast partner of countries in the Asia and Pacific region in fighting corruption and money laundering, and improving governance,” said John Versantvoort, Head of OAI. “All of us at ADB are committed to helping our developing member countries better position themselves to achieve more inclusive and sustainable development.”

The report highlights some of the efforts ADB—through OAI—has implemented over the past year, particularly in increasing its knowledge sharing activities. In 2017, ADB helped the Philippines strengthen regulations to combat money laundering, which now include casinos under the Anti-Money Laundering Law. ADB also held a training session for local officials to better understand money laundering and terrorism financing in the casino sector. In Mongolia, ADB is helping the government roll out a program that would support local banks, money service businesses such as pawnshops and remittance companies, as well as real estate agents develop anti-money laundering and customer due diligence programs. It is also supporting the Financial Regulatory Commission’s efforts to develop operating procedures for its new anti-money laundering unit and anti-money laundering regulations for non-bank financial institutions.

In addition, ADB is helping Bhutan and Papua New Guinea address vulnerabilities in AML/CFT, strengthen both countries’ policies, and improve their implementation.

ADB’s anticorruption and integrity drive—both on enforcement and prevention—remained robust last year, according to the report, with 30 firms and 22 individuals debarred for integrity violations, along with cross-debarment for 153 firms and 36 individuals. ADB also submitted 3 firms and 4 individuals for cross-debarment to other multilateral development banks and provided integrity due diligence advice on 777 entities involved in sovereign and nonsovereign transactions to ensure that integrity, money laundering, and terrorist financing risks are identified and mitigated.

Last year, ADB also increased outreach to the broader public about its anticorruption efforts, conducting 41 training sessions for audit institutions, anticorruption commissions, executing and implementing agencies, money service businesses, nonbank financial institutions, civil society, and the private sector.

As part of its efforts to champion integrity within ADB, OAI launched a mandatory e-learning course, called Anticorruption and Respect at Work, for ADB staff in May 2017, while conducting 68 staff training sessions with 1,436 participants last year. It also conducted 474 pre-employment screenings of potential candidates for staff positions in ADB and strengthened internal controls on employment.

ADB’s Respectful Workplace Unit provided 47 advisories and assessed 20 complaints about concerns of bullying and harassment, misconduct, and sexual harassment. It also conducted 51 training sessions to improve ADB’s working environment.

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Digital Technology Will Help Djibouti Leap into the Future

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Digital technology will have a critical part to play in boosting Djibouti’s socio-economic development and meeting the ambitious goals set out in its national strategy, Vision Djibouti 2035. As a key step toward building a strong, inclusive digital economy, the Government of Djibouti and the World Bank are co-hosting a high-level event that will explore the potential benefits of digital development and propose a concrete roadmap of action.

“Disruptive technologies are creating new business models, opening up new markets, and giving consumers access to more products and services than ever before. It is hard to overstate the economic potential of these transformations,” said Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Djibouti’s Ministry of Economy and Finance. “In a country like ours, developing a high-performing digital ecosystem will provide a unique chance to stimulate the economy and create jobs. The Digital Economy conference starting today will bring us one step closer to this vision.”

“The digital sector will be key to improving the lives of Djiboutian people, expanding our economy, and strengthening our position as a logistics and commercial hub. With eight submarine cable landing on our shores, there is no doubt Djibouti has what it takes to become a digital leader in the region,” noted Abdi Youssouf Sougueh, Minister of Communications. “We are keen to bring in development partners like the World Bank to leverage this infrastructure to the fullest and reinforce all the other fundamentals that are necessary to nurture a vibrant digital economy.”

The conference will bring together a wide range of government representatives, technology pioneers, and development partners. Building on this uniquely diverse combination of knowledge and global perspectives, participants will assess Djibouti’s digital landscape, share international best practices, discuss how technology can help modernize all sectors of the economy, and outline a clear strategy and action plan for digital development in the country.

“Countries around the world are leveraging digital innovation to accelerate economic growth and build a better future for people, and Djibouti is very well positioned to gain from that approach,” said Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Digital Development. “I am confident this event will pave the way for close collaboration on digital development between the Word Bank, Djibouti, and countries across the Middle East and Africa.”

In addition to discussing Djibouti’s opportunities and challenges, the event will also highlight the need for bolder action on digital development engagement across the region.

Sessions will cover all key dimensions of digital development, with a focus on how to strengthen the five pillars of the digital economy: digital infrastructure; innovation and entrepreneurship; digital financial services and identification; digital platforms; and digital literacy and skills.

“Technological innovation holds great promise for Djibouti. By harnessing the full power of the digital economy, the country could see significant GDP growth, create a future-proof labor market, and raise living standards for all segments of the population. We stand ready to work hand in hand with Djibouti on this journey, to help create the right conditions for a thriving digital sector,” said Atou Seck, World Bank Resident Representative in Djibouti.

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The first shopping tourism project in Mexico

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Municipality of León (Guanajuato, Mexico) have signed an agreement to carry out the country’s first project to develop Shopping Tourism, with the support of the Ministry of Tourism of the State of Guanajuato.

The project is expected to serve as an international reference point and as a showcase at major tourism forums.

The Tourism Observatory of the State of Guanajuato has been a member of the UNWTO International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories since 2014. At the World Tourism Organization’s General Assembly held in Medellín, Colombia, in September 2015, Guanajuato expressed its interest in being one of the destinations to develop a project on shopping tourism, and León was the selected destination in light of the fact that 27% of its tourists visit the city to go shopping.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

The project will help León (Guanajuato, Mexico) to develop innovative shopping tourism offerings that link the public and private sectors and that highlight the destination’s tourism attractions and products as well as tourism’s contribution to socio-economic development, which includes the creation of jobs directly in the tourism sector and in the many activities related to the sector.

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Smart city matchmaking in Barcelona

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This year’s Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC), Europe’s biggest Smart City related event, takes place from 13 to 15 November in Barcelona and will, like previous editions,  attract several thousand stakeholders.

During the congress, on November 14, the Smart Cities Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities (EIP-SCC) will organise its next matchmaking event, seeking to bring projects and investors together to stimulate action. It is especially tailored to match individual projects with financing.

To take part, stakeholders must register on the matchmaking platform where they will join other cities, industry and financial players. Registered users need to submit short descriptions of their upcoming projects. A dedicated team will then process and match them with financiers’ interests, leading to one-to-one meetings, organised specifically and individually for them and their projects.

Should participation in above-mentioned event not be possible, the matchmaking platform will remain available also after the Barcelona congress, as the EIP-SCC will organise further matchmaking events in the future.

In addition, there will be an exhibition stand, where interested stakeholders can meet any of the 12 Horizon 2020 Lighthouse projects (representing € 270 million of EU funding), experts from the EIP-SCC, the Smart Cities Information System, as well as the European Commission.

Finally, there will be a number of sessions organised at the mentioned exhibition stand as part of the SCEWC programme covering a wide range of Smart City related topics. The full programme is available at http://www.smartcityexpo.com/en/agenda-2018.

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