Connect with us

Newsdesk

Embracing New Tech, Innovation, China Poised to Thrive in Fourth Industrial Revolution

Newsroom

Published

on

The World Economic Forum’s 12th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, held in the city of Tianjin, closed on a note of resounding optimism on Wednesday. The three-day meeting broke several records this year, drawing some 2,500 participants from more than 111 countries to discuss the theme: Shaping Innovative Societies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In China – a country that has experienced exponential economic growth, lifting millions of people out of poverty in the last decade – the meeting generated productive discussions on fuelling innovation and productivity, and reconciling the drive to harness new technology and ensure robust GDP growth.

“Over the past three days New Champions from all over the world have gathered here, sharing illuminating thoughts and wisdom in brainstorming sessions. We are making development plans in advancing forth these ideas,” noted Zhang Guoqing, Mayor of Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, “In the discussions here, friendships have been forged, ideas and inspiration shared. Even mountains and seas cannot distance people with common aspirations.”

Since the first Annual Meeting of the New Champions was held in China 12 years ago, the country has managed to double its GDP output. The World Economic Forum platform, added Mayor Guoqing, “triggers outbursts of wisdom and inspiration” to address our greatest challenges.

In the past year, China has created 13 million new jobs but as technological advances accelerate, business leaders and industry experts emphasized, there is an urgent need to invest in education and focus on reskilling labour to adapt to the transformational change the Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring.

“In China, we emphasize education and this is improving progressively; there is a rising number of undergraduates, master’s and PhD students,” noted Chen Lei, Chief Executive Officer of Xunlei, People’s Republic of China, “But we also need to think about educating people in rural areas.”

Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, echoed the sentiment: “The education system is one of the slowest moving parts of society; it takes decades to implement real change, from the first grade to universities,” he remarked, adding that computer science should be adopted as early as elementary school.

Addressing the tension at the heart of the challenge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Hua Fung Teh, Group Chief Financial Officer and Chairman, Greater China, ONE Championship, Singapore, stressed the role of governments, particularly when it comes to reskilling. Singapore’s successful transition from a manufacturing economy to one based on services was due to the government’s role in incentivizing the right types of industries and growth, he said.

“In the future, we are going to see entire workforces being wiped out by new technologies,” remarked Teh, “The government has a very important role to play here in retraining, not by themselves but in partnership with the private sector … China is uniquely positioned to lead the way on this because of the fact that it is a relatively centrally governed economy.”

While industry experts debated the “democratization of data” and concerns over privacy, some argued that fears about technology overtaking jobs might be misplaced.

“People misunderstand the tension between technology and traditional sectors. Related to this theme, I think the word ‘revolution’ is really more about ‘evolution’,” noted Zhang Lu, Founding and Managing Partner of Fusion Fund, USA. “New technology is there to increase the efficiency of the workforce, not to replace all human beings.”

Taking part in the closing ceremony, Lu Lin, Executive Vice-Mayor of Dalian, People’s Republic of China, hailed the World Economic Forum’s meeting in China, commenting that it allows “China’s voice to be heard”. Dalian, where the meeting is held every second year, he said, is making full use of the Forum’s platform to spur reform and growth.

Børge Brende, President and Member of the Managing Board at the World Economic Forum, outlined the key outcomes achieved over the three-day meeting.

Tangible outcomes include:

The World Economic Forum announced it would open a Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Beijing, becoming the third centre in its global network. The centre will collaborate on common issues and join projects with its other centres in San Francisco and Tokyo.

The World Economic Forum announced that it will partner with the UK government to develop the first artificial intelligence procurement policy.

The Forum formally launched a new community of Lighthouses – super-advanced factories of the future that have agreed to open their doors and help peers in industry master the complexities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Forum launched a Chinese version of its strategic intelligence tool, the Transformation Maps, to encourage multistakeholder collaboration on some of the world’s key issues and challenges.

The first set of “Green Investment Principles” was jointly drafted by the Forum, the Green Finance Committee of China Society for Finance and the Banking and the Green Finance Initiative of the City of London. Work has begun to mobilize business support to promote and implement these principles.

A multistakeholder project to address the issue of global energy poverty has been launched. The project will be led by State Grid Corporation of China on the Forum’s platform.

A new global multistakeholder effort will accelerate the impact of the internet of things (IoT) by making it easier for businesses and governments to procure and deploy solutions.

A consensus was reached among government and private-sector leaders on a global agile governance framework to help cities prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

A model was established for a body of global councils on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These councils will convene their first meeting at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

Continue Reading
Comments

Newsdesk

Most countries failing to protect women from COVID-19 economic and social fallout

Newsroom

Published

on

Photo: ILO

The COVID-19 pandemic is “hitting women hard”, but most nations are failing to provide sufficient social and economic protection for them, the head of the UN gender empowerment agency said on Monday.

And women have often become victims of domestic violence “locked down with their abusers, as unpaid caregivers in families and communities, and as workers in jobs that lack social protection”, adds the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

New data released by gender agency and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) taken from the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker, reveal that most countries are not doing enough to protect women and girls from the economic and social fallout being caused by the virus.

Lacking support

The analysis signals that one-fifth of the 206 countries analyzed, or 42 States, had no gender-sensitive measures in place to respond to the pandemic.

And only 25 countries have introduced measures aimed at tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG), support unpaid care and strengthen women’s economic security. 

These may include helplines, shelters or legal support to counter the surge in violence; cash transfers directly targeted at women; or childcare services and paid sick leave.

“The COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity for countries to transform existing economic models towards a renewed social contract that prioritizes social justice and gender equality”, said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “This new gender response tracker can help accelerate policy reform by guiding on gaps in national efforts and funding and highlighting best practices”.

Breakdown

Across 135 countries, the tracker identified 704 measures to prevent and/or respond to VAWG. Of these, 63 per cent focused on strengthening essential services, such as shelters, helplines and other reporting mechanisms. 

However, only 48 countries, less than a quarter of those analyzed, treated VAWG-related services as an integral part of their national and local COVID-19 response plans – with very few adequately funding these measures.

At the same time, social protection, care crisis and jobs response has been largely blind to women’s needs, with only 177 measures in 85 countries explicitly aimed at strengthening women’s economic security, and just 60 taking action to support unpaid care and strengthen care services for children, older persons or persons with disabilities.

Varying responses

The tracker also shows that gender actions vary widely across countries and regions. 

According to the analysis, Europe is leading the response on addressing VAWG and unpaid care – accounting for almost 32 per cent of all violence measures and 49 per cent of all unpaid care measures. 

Meanwhile, the Americas has the largest number of measures aimed at strengthening women’s economic security, followed by Africa.

“The Global Tracker supports Governments in making the right policy decisions by sharing good practices and monitoring progress in care policies and measures to address violence against women”, said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. 

Continue Reading

Tech News

Technological Revolution Accelerated by Coronavirus Crisis in Latin America

Newsroom

Published

on

Latin America and the Caribbean is in the midst of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” of technological innovation which requires enhancing the productivity of the services sector, investing in human capital and rethinking labor regulations and social protection policies, according to a new World Bank report.

These policy priorities have become all the more urgent now that the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling the biggest contraction in economic activity since the great depression. Digitization has become more important to support economic activity at a time of social distancing and is accelerating this technological transformation, potentially putting jobs at risk across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

According to Going Viral: COVID-19 and the Accelerated Transformation of Jobs in Latin America and the Caribbean employment transformations that were already apparent in the last few decades are bound to deepen, and the question in this context is how to recover from the crisis and build back better.

We need to rethink the future and not just try to get back to where we were before the pandemic,” said World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean Carlos Felipe Jaramillo. “Governments need to find ways to support the creation of new jobs, train workers to be ready for these new jobs and support their citizens through this disruptive transformation.”

Premature deindustrialization and rapid technological innovation will require policies to support a smooth transformation of jobs that is socially acceptable. The region was already struggling with the end of the so-called “Golden Decade” (2003-2013) of rapid development and strong improvements in social indicators. Economic growth and poverty reduction had stalled. The pandemic has only made things worse.

While fears of mass “technological unemployment” are largely unfounded, many jobs are at risk due to lower external demand, a protracted period of quarantines and lockdowns, solvency problems for firms, and financial crises in some cases. In addition, the social unrest seen in 2019 is a warning. It is urgent to restore economic growth and create more and better jobs.

However, this “Fourth Industrial Revolution” of technological innovation means that further industrialization or re-industrialization will be limited in many developing countries. Low-paid, uneducated workers and those in high-contact activities typical of the informal sector are at highest risk of being replaced by machines. In addition, informal workers are harder to reach with essential social protection programs. The COVID-19 crisis could accelerate these changes, bringing the future much closer than anticipated.

With limited scope for employment growth in manufacturing, modernizing the services sector is a priority. This calls for  an emphasis on removing the distortions that prevent competition and innovation from occurring at a rapid pace.

Preparing workers for the changes is also fundamental. “Education offers the best insurance against the risks of automation,” said the report’s lead author Guillermo Beylis, Research Economist in the World Bank’s Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Workers will have to adapt to demand for cognitive or analytical skills, as well as interpersonal skills.”

Adult learning and re-training will be key as new automation technologies are adopted in LAC countries. The focus should be on policy reforms to increase productivity in the services sector, which already employs 60% of the workforce and will play an increasingly important role in the future.

Finally, a rethinking of labor regulations and social protection policies is needed. This involves flexible regulation of the emerging forms of work in a way that encourages employment and supports formalization, thereby expanding the coverage of social protection to larger segments of the population.

Continue Reading

Newsdesk

Progress on Sudan political transition, but challenges remain

Newsroom

Published

on

UN peacekeepers from Pakistan engage the local population in North Darfur, Sudan. Photo: UNAMID

Political developments in Sudan continue to move along a positive trajectory, while planning for a UN mission to assist the transitional government is progressing, the UN Security Council heard on Friday. 

Ambassadors met in person in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber at UN Headquarters in New York, where they were briefed by UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo, and the head of UN Peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix. 

“As the Secretary-General highlights in his report, Sudan’s political transition continues to move in the right direction”, said Ms. DiCarlo, speaking via video link.  

Developments on the political front 

After nearly a year of talks, the transitional Government of Sudan and two key armed movements from Darfur – the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) alliance and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Minni Minnawi (SLM/MM) – initialed a peace agreement at the end of August.   

Signing is scheduled for 3 October, and the parties have agreed to a 39-month transitional period effective from that date.   

A faction from another group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), has also signed a declaration of principles agreement. 

Significant work ahead 

Ms. DiCarlo outlined other recent developments in Sudan, including the appointment of interim civilian governors in all 18 states, two of whom are women.   

She said the parties should be commended for persevering with the peace process, adding that “it is not too late” for others to join. 

“As we embrace the recent progress in the peace process, we are also mindful of the significant work ahead”, she cautioned.  

“The various accords and respective peace agreements on regional issues must be moulded into a single, coherent framework. Additionally, the parties and the Government must form a joint vision on the way forward and to uphold their respective commitments.” 

Goodwill into action 

For the UN’s peacekeeping chief, the initialling of the agreement marked an important milestone for Darfur, where years of brutal fighting have left some 300,000 people dead and millions of others displaced, according to UN estimates. 

Mr. Lacroix hoped the goodwill expressed by the parties will translate into lasting change on the ground, although some “key players” have yet to join the peace process.  

He urged the international community to work to bring all stakeholders on board. 

“Furthermore, the implementation phase which is now beginning will be just as crucial as the drafting of the agreement itself”, said Mr. Lacroix, who also briefed ambassadors via video-link. 

Among the key provisions is a 12,000-strong joint security force for Darfur, to be deployed within 90 days of the signing.  It will be made up of equal numbers of members of the Sudanese security forces and from the signatory armed groups. 

“As forces are deployed and resources are mobilized in support of the implementation, it is essential to ensure that local Darfuri communities feel ownership of the agreement and fully participate in the implementation,” he stressed. 

Progress on new UN mission 

Meanwhile, planning continues for the new UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), Ms. DiCarlo told the Council. 

UNITAMS will assist the political transition, and support implementation of peace accords in conflict areas, national-led peacebuilding efforts, and strengthening of human rights, among other tasks. 

“Gender issues are mainstreamed throughout the mandate of the mission, which will have dedicated gender expertise, including at the senior level, to implement our commitments to advance gender equality and the women, peace and security agenda”, said Ms. DiCarlo. 

UNITAMS is a follow-on to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).  The Security Council authorized the establishment of the new mission in June and the start-up team is set to deploy to Sudan next month. 

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

South Asia47 mins ago

Rohingya repatriation: Has the world forgotten about the Rohingya crisis?

In August 2017, the Myanmar army committed atrocities to the Rohingya people in Arakan state of Myanmar including rape, torture,...

Economy3 hours ago

Amirabad Port: The game changer in Indian foreign trade

Authors: Vahid Pourtajrishi & Mahdi Torabi Seaports have played undeniable role in international and even local trade environment. To demonstrate...

South Asia5 hours ago

A Way Forward – Neutralizing the Surge in Insurgency With Diplomatic Empathy in Kashmir

Nationalismis slowly losing its emancipatory value as the progressive inclusion of minority groups in public policy decision making has become...

Newsdesk7 hours ago

Most countries failing to protect women from COVID-19 economic and social fallout

The COVID-19 pandemic is “hitting women hard”, but most nations are failing to provide sufficient social and economic protection for...

South Asia9 hours ago

Regional Power politics and Pakistan foreign policy

“Under the shadow of Growing antagonism among Regional Powers, Pakistan needs to formulate  pragmatic foreign policy by staying between the...

Tech News11 hours ago

Technological Revolution Accelerated by Coronavirus Crisis in Latin America

Latin America and the Caribbean is in the midst of a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” of technological innovation which requires enhancing...

Newsdesk13 hours ago

Progress on Sudan political transition, but challenges remain

Political developments in Sudan continue to move along a positive trajectory, while planning for a UN mission to assist the...

Trending