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Inclusive Globalization Must Work for All

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A more human-centred globalization is critical for our shared prosperity and sustainable future, agreed a roster of young panellists in the opening plenary of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

“We want to be future-oriented, and not just absorbed by crisis management,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, welcoming participants in his opening remarks, after a video presentation showcasing the polarities of globalization, from megacities to refugee camps, classrooms to space.

“Globalization is a fact,” underlined Schwab, but is distinct from globalism, the philosophy with which we promote globalization. “The World Economic Forum has never stood for unfettered globalism. We feel that Globalization 4.0 has to be more human-centred,” as well as more inclusive and sustainable.

He stressed the role of young social entrepreneurs and leaders in effecting this attitudinal change: “With half of the population below 27-years old, we have to listen to the young people.”

Six millennial Co-Chairs are shaping the discussion at this year’s Annual Meeting and shared their stories and insight as Global Shapers on stage.

Basima Abdulrahman started the first green building company in Iraq, designing structures to meet sustainability standards despite the dangers and destruction of ISIS. “I decided to go back to Iraq and do something positive and impactful,” said the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of KESK Green Building Consulting, calling on participants to “think collectively” beyond personal benefits, race and region.

“People are feeling that they are getting behind,” warned Juan David Aristizabal, President and Co-Founder of Colombian education non-profit Los Zúper, “and I think we can solve that. Machines are fast, but humans are creative; machines can tell us about the past, but as humans we can build the future.”

Noura Berrouba, Member of the Governing Body of the European Youth Parliament, challenged participants to imagine those outside the walls of Davos. “These are not threats; these are not problems,” she said. “These are change agents and opportunities, and if we want to create a world where we tackle our common challenges, we need to work with the people outside of these halls.”

“It’s time to be uncomfortable, and bold,” she closed. “The real success is not measured by the amount of meetings, but by the real impact on people on the ground.”

“Globalization 4.0 needs to start from localization,” commented Akira Sakano, Chair of the Board of Directors at Zero Waste Academy, who moved to a small town in Japan that commits to produce zero waste by 2020.

There are “deep-seated, systemic inequities” in the world, reminded Julia Luscombe, Director of Strategic Initiatives at sustainable food non-profit Feeding America. “We need to drive a more sustainable and equitable global architecture. That should be our priority. It’s the priority of the young people we are representing here today.”

Mohammed Hassan Mohamud decried conditions in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, where he has lived for over 20 years and now works as Zonal Chairman as well as being a Global Shaper. He told participants: “As you attend the meetings and as people discuss great lofty ideas, think about those of us who are on the sidelines, watching and not asking for much, just looking for a place to call home.”

The seventh Co-Chair, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, highlighted the core need for innovation in society. “This next phase of globalization needs to deliver economic growth but deliver it such that it is equitable growth” he said. “Let’s challenge the status quo with innovation and ingenuity.”

Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation and Federal Councillor of Finance of the Swiss Federal Department of Finance, also gave a special address, highlighting how “Globalization 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and our day-to-day lives are all influenced by the galloping pace of new technologies.”

“Multilateralism has helped to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But today we cannot afford any more to leave people behind,” concluded Schwab in his remarks. “We need a remobilization of globalization.”

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Development

Report Underlines Reforms to Support Fiscal Federalism, Green Growth in Nepal

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Nepal has made significant strides in implementing fiscal federalism while key reforms are needed to support fiscal sustainability and Nepal’s transition towards green, resilient, and inclusive development states the World Bank’s Public Expenditure Review (PER) Report on Fiscal Policy for Sustainable Development launched today.

With the country’s transition to federalism, expenditure responsibilities have been devolved to subnational governments that are predominantly financed through intergovernmental transfers and revenue sharing. These now account for between 8 and 9 percent of GDP per year (or close to 30 percent of the annual budget). While federalism is helping bring policymaking closer to the people, it has also increased fiscal spending and (exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic) led to a sharp rise in fiscal deficits and public debt, states the report.

“This report provides an analytical basis to inform our reform efforts to strengthen federalism and create fiscal space to support our new focus on a green, resilient, and inclusive development (GRID) model,” statedMr. Madhu Kumar Marasini, Finance Secretary. “This complements our ongoing efforts to refine the fiscal transfer system put in place the systems for monitoring and reporting for a more results oriented and accountable delivery of local services.”

The PER identifies key reforms to help Nepal strengthen fiscal sustainability and initiate a shift to a GRID pathway. It identifies the following five top priority reforms: (i) Encouraging the update of subnational spending responsibilities through the intergovernmental grants system; (ii) supporting exports and job creation through reforms to import duties; (iii) strengthening domestic revenue, for example by reviewing VAT exemptions; (iv) enhancing public capital spending by rolling out the National Project Bank; and (v) providing fiscal incentives for a green growth transition.

“The World Bank will continue to support government reforms to improve fiscal sustainability and the implementation of fiscal federalism, drawing on the recommendations of the PER Report,” said Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. “This report complements our human development PER, both of which will help inform the design of World Bank support to Nepal, including through our ongoing support through our various Development Policy Credits.”

The report also stresses the importance of strengthening investment processes and fiscal policies for green growth, and fiscal policy reforms to enable Nepal to use its green electricity surplus to mitigate air pollution to protect the health of people and the economy.

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Development

Philippines: Boosting Private Sector Growth Can Strengthen Recovery, Create More Jobs

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Rebounding from a deep contraction in 2020, the Philippine economy is forecast to grow 5.3 percent this year before accelerating to an average of 5.8 percent in 2022-23 on the road to recovery, according to the Philippines Economic Update (PEU) titled Regaining Lost Ground, Revitalizing the Filipino Workforce, released today by the World Bank.

Government spending on infrastructure is expected to buoy growth, aided by the steady progress in vaccination leading to greater people mobility and the revival of businesses. Barring a new uptick in COVID-19 cases, household consumption is projected to recover, anchored on rising remittances and improving incomes as more people regain or find new jobs.

“The new variant has added a layer of uncertainty but economic reopening, along with progress in vaccination, is clearly strengthening domestic dynamism and market confidence,” said Ndiame Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. “As the recovery gains traction, it will be important to enhance private sector participation in the recovery by deepening current efforts to make the country’s business environment favorable to job creation while upskilling the workers so that they can benefit from new or emerging job opportunities.”

Reforms that open more sectors to foreign investments, streamline administrative procedures to facilitate market entry and encourage firms to adopt new technology are measures that can boost private sector growth, create more jobs, and strengthen recovery, Diop added.

The nearly two-year long pandemic, however, has forced the closures of many firms, leading to losses of jobs and incomes, alongside health insecurities and disruptions in children’s education.

The Philippines underwent two surges of COVID-19 infections this year, first in March-April and in August-September due to the more infectious Delta variant. In both instances, the authorities reinstated strict mobility restrictions in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, and key metropolitan areas.

Nonetheless, the recent surge and mobility restrictions have not severely hampered economic activity. As a result, the economy expanded by 4.9 percent in the first three quarters of 2021, rebounding from a 10.1 percent contraction over the same period in 2020.

In 2022, the phased economic reopening is expected to benefit the services sector especially transportation, domestic tourism, and wholesale and retail trade. Sustained public investment will continue to support construction activities.

The PEU flags that despite encouraging trends, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a major risk to the country’s growth prospects.

The report notes that even in countries with high vaccination rates, infections have continued to spread, albeit with greatly reduced severity of illness, hospitalization, and mortality. Variants of concern, breakthrough cases, and waning vaccine efficacy have highlighted the complexity of economic reopening.

“Speeding up vaccination especially in areas outside the National Capital Region and sustaining the observance of health protocols including masking and maintaining social distancing are measures that remain important as the country navigates the challenges of reviving the economy,” said Kevin Chua, Senior World Bank Economist.

Social protection measures, Chua added, including the country’s cash transfer programs remain important measures to mitigate the adverse impact of the pandemic on livelihoods, health, and education, especially among poor families.

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Africa Today

United States COVID-19 vaccine delivery to Mozambique

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In an effective effort to make tremendous and recognizable contributions to help fight the spread of coronavirus, the United States Embassy in Mozambique has announced the arrival of more than two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson coordinated through COVAX in Maputo, Mozambique.

This is the United States’ fourth and largest bi-lateral COVID-19 vaccine delivery to Mozambique, bringing the total number of U.S.-donated vaccines to nearly 3.5 million, and maintaining the United States as Mozambique’s largest bi-lateral vaccine donor.

“The United States remains committed to sharing vaccines equitably, around the world,” U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Dennis W. Hearne said. “No one is protected from COVID-19 until everyone is vaccinated. As more vaccines become available to all nations around the world, we have a shared interest in getting everyone who is eligible vaccinated.”

The U.S. Government has provided early and ongoing support for the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Mozambique, including assistance valued at $62.5 million. This assistance includes the recent donation of 60 oxygen cylinders and a PSA oxygen plant, 50 ventilators, personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, laboratory and oxygen equipment, training, and funding for increased medical staff, among other initiatives.

In close collaboration with the Government of the Republic of Mozambique, the U.S. Government provides more than $500 million in annual assistance to improve the quality of education and healthcare, promote economic prosperity, and support the overall development of the nation.

The Mozambican government’s target is to vaccinate about 16.8 million people. Excluded from the vaccination are pregnant women and children under 15 years of age. According to the latest figures from the Health Ministry, the number of people fully vaccinated against the disease now stands at 3,324,849, and 6,158,360 have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Mozambique shares borders with South Africa where a new COVID variant (B.1.1.529), renamed Omicron, is currently spreading. Travellers from the region are monitored. The United States, Europe and Asian States have restricted flights from southern African region, and that include Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

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