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Global Businesses Launch Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality

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An ambitious new global partnership to accelerate inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people – the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality – was announced today at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity not only violates universal basic human rights, it also adversely impacts the long-term economic prospects of individuals, businesses and countries. A 2017 UNAIDS study estimated the global cost of LGBTI discrimination at $100 billion per year. Businesses have an important role to play in respecting and protecting human rights through fostering workplace inclusion for LGBTI people.

To advance this agenda, a consortium of leading multinational companies (Accenture, Deutsche Bank, EY, Mastercard, Microsoft, Omnicom, Salesforce), in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, is launching a global multistakeholder initiative to help business accelerate the inclusion of LGBTI people globally.

The United Nations LGBTI Standards of Conduct establishes the human rights and policy operating model framework for companies. To help business leaders realize LGBTI equality and inclusion for their global workforces, the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality will operationalize the United Nations LGBTI Standards. By 2020, the project will:

  • Enlist 50-100 companies from World Economic Forum members and beyond to join the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality to implement UN LGBTI Standards
  • Create a due-diligence framework for corporations to use in assessing the alignment of their policies with the Standards and to better understand the practical impact of their policies on LGBTI people.
  • Develop a repository of LGBTI best practices and case studies from companies across multiple sectors, sharing insights and information on effective strategies, policies and processes for gathering the information needed to ensure LGBTI people are not being discriminated against when it comes to hiring, retaining and promoting employees.
  • Encourage new cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaborations.

View from the C-Suite:

“The companies involved in this initiative are leading by example when it comes to the rights of LGBTQ people in the context of employment, and I support their efforts to extend the initiative to a greater number of private sector actors, as well as to engage with civil society”—Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

“LGBTI inclusion is not only the right thing to do from an interpersonal point of view, it is also a business imperative because CEO’s recognize that a culture of equality creates trust, innovation and therefore business growth. As business leaders we need to set the right tone at the top and combine this with concrete actions to stimulate LGBTI grass roots networks in our companies and policies that ensure equality across the entire organization. Twenty-five percent of our people at Accenture are now active, visible and vocal allies to the LGBTI community – but we cannot effect change on our own. Now, more than ever, is the time for business to step up! – Sander van ‘t Noordende, Group Chief Executive Products at Accenture.

“Deutsche Bank congratulates the World Economic Forum for making LGBTI issues part of their agenda. We are proud to support this work. We believe that if we take an inclusive approach to different perspectives and identities, we become more meritocratic, attract and retain a rich diversity of talent, and make better business decisions. While we recognize there is more work to do across businesses, institutions and communities, we are steadfast in our commitment to doing our part. The focus of the WEF on LGBTI issues will underline the value to the global economy of a more inclusive society.” – Karl Von Rohr, President, Member of the Management Board, Deutsche Bank AG

“EY is honored to be one of the founding members of this initiative and commends the World Economic Forum for making LGBTI equality and economic inclusion a top priority. When you have an inclusive culture where everyone is valued equally and feels they can be the best version of themselves, you can fuel innovation, solve complex challenges and achieve better results. By advancing this agenda in our global workplaces, multinationals can create a ripple effect that promotes societal change.” – Beth Brooke-Marciniak, EY Global Vice Chair – Public Policy

“At Mastercard, we are laser focused on creating a culture of decency, inclusion and belonging where employees feel valued and respected because of their diversity – not in spite of it. When done right, it inspires a passion and pride that drives innovation and better business results. This partnership shines an important spotlight to help others realize that acceptance matters to their people, their businesses and the world.” – Randall Tucker, Chief Inclusion Officer, Mastercard

“For more than 30 years, Microsoft has actively worked on LGBTI issues on behalf of our employees worldwide. We applaud the World Economic Forum’s new Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality and look forward to putting our commitment into action to advance equality everywhere we work and live.”– Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft

“Omnicom is committed to fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces where all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, feel comfortable and confident in bringing their whole selves to work. Across our global network of communications and marketing consultancies, we promote awareness, acceptance and advocacy of the LGBTI community by engaging the community and its allies and creating opportunities for leadership, visibility, community involvement, networking and business development. It’s an honor to serve as a founding member of this important initiative to lay the groundwork for worldwide acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTI community in the global workforce.”—Tiffany R. Warren, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for Omnicom Group

“Salesforce is committed to advocating for equality in the communities we serve and believe that business is a powerful platform for social change. We have and will continue to use our voice to advocate for LGBTQ rights, and are inspired by the potential lasting impact of this multi-stakeholder partnership. We are proud of WEF for their leadership, and of our founding partners for making this a priority. Together, we will build a more inclusive society and drive equality for all.” – Tony Prophet, Chief Equality Officer, Salesforce

“According to the Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, open, inclusive and diverse societies are also more innovative, which in turn leads to greater economic growth. Through this project we aim to provide a platform for leaders from the private sector to accelerate process towards LGBTI inclusion globally,”—Saadia Zahidi, Member of the Managing Board and Head of the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the New Economy and Society.

This initiative forms part of the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the New Economy and Society in collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s Civil Society team.

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Human Rights

UNSC calls for ‘immediate reversal’ of Turkish and Turkish Cypriot decision on Varosha

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The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) controls the buffer zone between the opposing sides. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The Security Council said in a statement released on Friday that settling any part of the abandoned Cypriot suburb of Varosha, “by people other than its inhabitants, is “inadmissible”. 

The presidential statement approved by all 15 Security Council members, upheld that “no actions should be carried out in relation to Varosha, that are not in accordance with its resolutions”. 

“The Security Council condemns the announcement in Cyprus by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot leaders on 20 July 2021 on the further reopening of part of the fenced-off area of Varosha”, the statement continued. 

‘Deep regret’ 

“The Security Council expresses its deep regret regarding these unilateral actions that run contrary to its previous resolutions and statements.” 

The statement calls for “the immediate reversal of this course of action and the reversal of all steps taken on Varosha since October 2020.” 

The statement followed a closed-door briefing earlier in the day by the outgoing UN Special Representative, Elizabeth Spehar

The Mediterranean island has been divided between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities for 47 years, and a Security Council resolution of 1964 recommended the establishment of a peacekeeping force to maintain law and order and help end inter-communal strife.  

According to news reports, on Wednesday, Greek Cypriot leaders appealed to the Council over plans by Turkish Cypriot authorities to revert a 1.35 square-mile section of Varosha, from military to civilian control, and open it for potential resettlement. 

The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is backed by Turkey, made the initial announcement a day earlier, that part of the suburb would come under civilian control.  

Guterres statement 

On Wednesday, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his deep concern over Wednesday’s announcements by Turkey and Turkish-Cypriot leaders, on re-opening Varosha, and said that the UN’s position “remains unchanged and is guided by the relevant Security Council resolutions”.  

In a statement issued by his Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, Mr. Guterres called on all sides “to refrain from any unhelpful actions and to engage in dialogue to bring peace and prosperity to the island through a comprehensive settlement”. 

“The Secretary-General has repeatedly called on all parties to refrain from unilateral actions that provoke tensions and may compromise the ongoing efforts to seek common ground between the parties towards a lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue”. 

‘Just settlement’ 

The Security Council statement concluded with a reaffirmation of its commitment “to an enduring, comprehensive and just settlement, in accordance with the wishes of the Cypriot people, and based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation, with political equality”. 

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Africa Today

Partnership with Private Sector is Key in Closing Rwanda’s Infrastructure Gap

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The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has pushed the Rwandan economy into recession in 2020 for the first time since 1994, according to the World Bank’s latest Rwanda Economic Update.

The 17th edition of the Rwanda Economic Update: The Role of the Private Sector in Closing the Infrastructure Gap, says that the economy shrank by 3.7 percent in 2020, as measures implemented to limit the spread of the coronavirus and ease pressures on health systems brought economic activity to a near standstill in many sectors. Although the economy is set to recover in 2021, the report notes the growth is projected to remain below the pre-pandemic average through 2023.

Declining economic activity has also reduced the government’s ability to collect revenue amid increased fiscal needs, worsening the fiscal situation. Public debt reached 71 percent of GDP in 2020, and is projected to peak at 84 percent of GDP in 2023. Against this backdrop, the report underlines the importance of the government’s commitment to implement a fiscal consolidation plan once the crisis abates to reduce the country’s vulnerability to external shocks and liquidity pressures.

“Narrowing fiscal space calls for a progressive shift in Rwanda’s development model away from the public sector towards a predominantly private sector driven model, while also stepping up efforts to improve  the efficiency of public investment,” said Calvin Djiofack, World Bank’s Senior Economist for Rwanda.

According to the Update, private sector financing, either through public-private partnerships or pure private investment, will be essential for Rwanda to continue investing in critical infrastructure needed to achieve its development goals. The analysis underscores the need to capitalize further on Rwanda’s foreign direct investment (FDI) regulatory framework, considered one of the best in the continent, to attract and retain more FDI; to foster domestic private capital mobilization through risk sharing facilities that would absorb a percentage of the losses on loans made to private projects; and to avoid unsolicited proposals  of public–private partnership (PPP) initiatives; as well as to build a robust, multisector PPP project pipeline, targeting sectors with clearly identified service needs such as transport, water and sanitation, waste management, irrigation, and housing.

While the report findings establish clearly the gains of public infrastructure development for the country as whole, it also stressed that these gains tend to benefit urban and richer households most.

 “Rwanda will need to rebalance its investment strategy from prioritizing large strategic capital-intensive projects toward projects critical for broad-based social returns to boost the potential of public infrastructure to reduce inequality and poverty,” said Rolande Pryce, World Bank Country Manager for Rwanda. “Any step toward the Malabo Declaration to allocate 10 percent of future infrastructure investment to agriculture, allied activities, and rural infrastructure, will go a long way to achieving this goal.

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Development

10 new cities chosen for World Economic Forum circular economy initiative

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The World Economic Forum’s Scale360° initiative announced today the 10 city-based hubs joining its Circular Shapers programme.

Scale360° leverages innovation hubs in cities, countries and regions worldwide, bringing together leaders in science, policy and business to trigger circular change. Circular Shapers engage with local public, private, and civil society stakeholders to design, organise, and deliver circular economy projects tailored to local needs.

Circular Shapers are competitively selected from the Global Shapers Community, a network of committed and energized young volunteers in 448 city-based hubs around the world. These changemakers have the energy, skill, networks and commitment needed to transform their cities into centres of circular economy innovation.

The latest Circular Shaper cohort hails from four continents and includes: Ankara, Asuncion, Auckland, Beijing, Bucharest, Lahore, Manama, Milan, Morelia, and Thimphu.

The cities selected to the latest cohort will apply Scale360°’s tested methodology – the Scale360° Circular Innovation Playbook – to fast-track Fourth Industrial Revolution impact to keep more goods in use. Their initiatives will explore ways to apply circular design principles, improve reuse, and to eliminate waste, all while strengthening economies and boosting job growth.

These join the successful pilot cohort which included four Global Shapers hubs in Mexico City, Brussels, Turin and Bangkok and ran from February to July 2021.

In just a few months, those pilot cities built critical relationships with leaders in government, the private sector, and NGOs, making critical early steps towards driving circular innovation. Specific achievements include:

Bangkok: Mobilized a range of partners from researchers to advertising agencies to popularize solutions to air pollution and plastics. Solutions included: assembling a catalogue to help businesses choose alternatives to single-use plastics in food packaging and a social media campaign to build momentum for clean air regulation.

Brussels: Partnered with local NGOs on its “Eat, Play, Live Circular” initiatives to create bottom-up solutions for more circular lifestyles. Initiatives included an ‘Idea-thon’ for food and packaging waste solutions and a series of experiments with the public to make one Brussels public space more circular.

Mexico City: Trained public, private and government stakeholders in Scale360° methodology to bridge circular economy knowledge gaps and drive the circular transition through focusing early conversations. 

Turin: Built critical relationships with stakeholders from 14 organizations including regional policy makers, members of the private sector, academia, and existing networks to help foster and support much-needed discussions and collaboration on circular needs and priorities.


The Circular Shapers tap into World Economic Forum networks of experts and leaders in civil society, government, industry global organizations, including the Platform for Accelerating Circular Economy (PACE). 

“It’s powerful to see how Scale360° methodology has spread so rapidly and empowered Global Shapers to become leaders driving circular innovation in their cities. Now in 14 hubs around the world, Circular Shapers is one of the largest cross-hub collaborations in the Global Shapers Community,” said Katie Hoeflinger, Specialist, Climate and Environment, Global Shapers Community.

The United Arab Emirates, a key supporter of Scale360°’s approaches, agrees that these new hubs will play an important role in building circular innovation. “The UAE supports Scale360° in driving the transition to circular economy locally and globally,” said his Excellency Dr. Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment. “This program will go a long way in fostering innovations that have the potential to fast-track the implementation of the circular economy principles around the world.”

These efforts can also fuel a just transition, noted Head of Global Opportunities for Sustainable Development Goals (GO4SDGs), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Adriana Zacarias Farah. “Jobs and skills are central to getting the political buy-in for the transformation from linear to circular. UNEP through the initiative Global Opportunities for SDGS (GO4SDGS) is happy to collaborate with the Forum and Scale360° on circular cities and the just transition narrative.”

Building circular capabilities can help meet critical climate goals. “Scaling up circular business models and solutions is vital for environmental reasons and needs to happen fast,” said Carsten Gerhardt, Partner at Kearney and Founder at Circular Valley (leading partners of Scale360° Germany).

With new Circular Shaper hubs in place, momentum for circular innovation can build further. Added Scale360°’s Global Lead, Helen Burdett: “This latest cohort is another example of local action for global impact on the circular economy transition.”

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