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Crowd-Sourcing the SDGs: New Open-Source Digital Platform to Unlock Ideas and Spur Funding

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The World Economic Forum today announces the launch of UpLink, a new, open-source digital platform to foster mass participation from entrepreneurs, community groups and other interested parties or individuals to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

UpLink is the product of a one-year collaboration between the Forum and launch partners Deloitte, Microsoft and Salesforce. It is being developed as a tool for crowd engagement, providing a means for entrepreneurs, experts and other citizens – including Generation Z and Millennials – who might not typically have access to working closely with the World Economic Forum, to promote sustainable development.

As a realization of the proposals put forward by the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation that was convened in 2018 by UN Secretary-General, UpLink’s open-source nature will publicly share insights from leaders of international organizations, governments, research institutions and other experts on the major challenges and roadblocks to implementing the SDGs.

In addition to providing a platform for crowd-sourcing ideas and innovations to advance the Goals, a fund is envisaged to finance the best ideas and innovations.

“By pairing the World Economic Forum’s unrivalled ability to convene leaders from across all stakeholder groups with UpLink’s potential for massive, open-source participation, we have created a unique formula for catalysing the knowledge, ideas and actions necessary to solve our world’s greatest development challenges,” said Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

“I have been incredibly inspired watching the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, and activists as they mobilize to save our planet,” said Marc Benioff, Chairman and Co-CEO at Salesforce. “We’re proud to partner with the World Economic Forum to empower these leaders to drive us toward achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”.

“As an organization deeply committed to making a positive impact in the world, Deloitte is delighted to play a lead role in helping bring the World Economic Forum’s vision for UpLink to life, as a first-of-its-kind platform to help accelerate action towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Deloitte will contribute its deep technology expertise and execution capabilities to developing a Salesforce solution for the platform that enables entrepreneurs, experts, mentors and investors to connect and work together on our most significant global challenges,” said Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte Global.

“Microsoft’s partnership with the World Economic Forum on UpLink is a unique opportunity to unlock participation by entrepreneurs, experts and the world’s next generation of leaders to help promote and achieve the SDGs,” said Kate Behncken, Vice President and Lead of Microsoft Philanthropies.

UpLink will launch formally at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 21-24 January. The first platform will focus on Sustainable Development Goal 14 related to life under water. Other platforms will be launched in time for the UN’s Oceans Conference in Lisbon in June 2020, followed by the Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2020 in September. All 17 platforms are set to be launched by January 2021.

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ADB Project to Improve Fiscal Management, Develop Capital Markets in Armenia

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $40 million-equivalent policy-based loan attached to reforms that help strengthen fiscal sustainability and develop the financial and capital markets in Armenia. These are crucial enablers of private sector development.

Armenia’s economic growth over the last few years has been hampered by low levels of investment, both foreign and domestic, given the high costs of local currency finance and related constraints in the financial system. Efficiency-promoting upgrades in public investment and fiscal management are also needed to ensure sustained improvements in fiscal outlook and sovereign risk pricing.

“Financial markets remain nascent in Armenia, which limits the development of the country’s private sector and the banking industry,” said ADB Senior Financial Sector Economist for Central and West Asia Mr. João Farinha Fernandes. “This also constrains public finance and fiscal management, while exposing the economy to financial stability risks. ADB’s assistance is intended to help ensure that Armenia develops a conducive fiscal and financial intermediation environment where private sector players, both big and small, can contribute to growth and development.”

ADB approved a $50 million policy-based loan in November 2018 as part of an ongoing programmatic engagement on financial reforms to strengthen public debt and fiscal risk management, and to develop financial markets in Armenia.

The Second Public Efficiency and Financial Markets Program continues these reforms by strengthening the effectiveness of the government’s fiscal risk management function; promoting the development of fiscally responsible public–private partnerships; and enhancing market transparency and predictability in public debt management. The program will also improve the infrastructure of the government securities market and money market infrastructure, enhancing the sustainability and resilience of Armenia’s finance sector.

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Bangladesh Can Boost its Exports with Better Logistics

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To meet the needs of its growing economy and to boost export growth, Bangladesh needs to improve its transport and logistics systems, says a new World Bank report launched today. 

The report Moving Forward: Connectivity and Logistics to Sustain Bangladesh’s Success, finds that by making logistics more efficient, Bangladesh can significantly boost export growth, maintain its position as a leading ready-made-garments and textile producer, and create more jobs. The report notes that congestion on roads and in seaports, high logistics costs, inadequate infrastructure, distorted logistics service markets, and fragmented governance hamper manufacturing and freight, further eroding Bangladesh’s competitive edge and putting its robust growth path at risk. 

“Bangladesh’s congested transportation and often unsophisticated logistics systems impose high costs to the economy,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan. “By making its logistics more efficient, Bangladesh can significantly optimize its connectivity, business environment, and competitiveness, putting the country on the right path to become a dynamic upper-middle-income country.”

Efficient logistics, the report argues, has become one of the main drivers for global trade competitiveness and export growth and diversification. For Bangladesh, improving its logistics performance provides an opportunity to increase its world market share in garments and textiles, which account for 84 percent of its total exports, expand into new markets, and diversify its manufacturing and agriculture into high-value products. 

The report notes that improving Bangladesh’s logistics requires a system-wide approach based on greater coordination among all public institutions involved in logistics and with the private sector, increasing the effective capacity of core infrastructure, and removing distortions in logistics service markets to reduce costs and improve quality. At a regional level, harmonizing its logistics systems and aligning its customs with that of its neighbors could turn Bangladesh into an important node for regional freight flows and further boost its trade. 

“There’s no doubt that reforms and investments for better transport and logistics will yield Bangladesh substantial economic benefits and strengthen its competitive advantage,” said Matías Herrera Dappe, Senior Economist at the World Bank and author of the report. “But the solution to logistics is not just to invest more but to invest better, by focusing on the service gap, and creating the incentives for high quality and competitive logistics services.”

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New development models to drive growth and employment for youth in Africa

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The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today launched the Global Environment Outlook-6 (GEO-6) for Youth in Africa report on the margins of the 17th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN).

The report analyses the economic opportunities that Africa’s natural resources can provide for job creation and sustainable development. It also provides a package of solutions to tackle Africa’s youth unemployment through the Green Economy.

“This Publication is anchored substantively in the UNEP’s sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6) Regional Assessment for Africa,” said Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, Director of UNEP’s Regional Office for Africa. “This Assessment has a very clear message; Africa has an opportunity to use its large young population to drive its growth.”

Africa’s youth remains the most hit by unemployment. One-third of Africa’s 420 million youth aged 15 to 35 are unemployed. Of these, 35 per cent are vulnerably employed and 19 per cent are inactive. These numbers will increase dramatically unless urgent actions are not taken.

The report recommends that Africa’s natural capital should be managed sustainably to enhance the livelihoods of African young population, create more sustainable and decent jobs as well as increase social and economic cohesion.

“The Green Economy calls for a paradigm shift in the way that we produce and consume. If young people are the centre of such a shift, they will secure a sustainable future replete with sustainable livelihoods,” said Professor Lee White, Minister for Environment, Forest and Oceans of Gabon and outgoing President of AMCEN. “The Global Environment Outlook-6 for Youth, Africa: A Wealth of Green Opportunities digs deep into that future and shows young people how they can secure their livelihoods through green jobs.”

Natural resources remain a key source of employment in Africa. Eight out of ten people’s employment on the continent are supported by natural resources. Nearly six million Africans are employed in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, ten million people work in the wildlife sector and an average of 54 per cent in the agricultural sector.

The report includes case studies and success stories on African youth who have invested in natural resources to develop entrepreneurship, improve their knowledge and skills as well as create jobs and sustain their livelihoods.

The report calls on governments to encourage youth to invest in green economy through creating platforms for innovation in sustainable development. While confirming the potential of youth in leading green growth in Africa, the report strongly establishes the correlation between green economy and decent jobs.

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