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Leading Platform Companies Commit to Principles on Good Platform Work

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Leading platform companies – Cabify, Deliveroo, Grab, MBO Partners, Postmates and Uber – have partnered through the World Economic Forum platform to create principles for the quality of the work that they facilitate.

The companies have agreed on The Charter of Principles for Good Platform Work, released today, which outlines eight key areas to address: diversity and inclusion; safety and wellbeing; flexibility and fair conditions; reasonable pay and fees; social protection; learning and development; voice and participation; and data management. The World Economic Forum has also released the white paper, The Promise of Platform Work: Understanding the Ecosystem, which outlines the different categories of digital work/service platforms, the opportunities and challenges they pose for workers and existing examples of good practice by platform companies in the areas covered by the Charter.

Companies operating digital platforms for individuals to hire out their services to businesses or consumers have experienced rapid growth in recent years and disrupted a range of sectors. Around 0.5% to 2% of the workforce in advanced economies is engaged in platform work, and the platform economy is growing, with global spending up 43% in 2018. These platforms range from ride-hailing apps to professional services.

Digital work/service platforms can offer affordable services to consumers, allow companies and clients greater opportunities to access talent, and provide flexible opportunities for earning income. But the rapid adoption of technology, innovation in business models and the diverse ways in which people work through platforms poses challenges for the current rules and laws governing work and safety nets.

A comprehensive approach is required that provides clarity and legal certainty, and empowers platform workers, promoting their dignity and wellbeing, while supporting flexibility, innovation and the value offered by the platform economy to users and clients. Platform operators should set strong standards to support those providing services through their platforms, and The Charter of Principles for Good Platform Work is a ground-breaking initiative by leading companies in the sector to collectively identify and commit to key principles that in their view should underpin good platform work.

“In an era of stakeholder capitalism, platform companies have come together to show leadership on improving outcomes for workers. The solutions to the challenges posed by the platform economy for working standards will come from a combination of policy changes, improved practice by platform companies themselves and dialogue between government, platform companies and workers’ representatives. These will be the next steps for this project at the World Economic Forum,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, New Economy and Society at the Forum.

The next stage of work will engage with a wider community including policy-makers and civil society stakeholders to discuss the practical measures required to support implementation of the principles for good platform work.

What the Leaders Are Saying

“Platform business represents an urgent challenge for regulation of labour markets to ensure formal work with rights, health and safety, minimum living wages or income along with the freedom to organize and bargain collectively and universal social protection. In the absence of Government action, it is pleasing to see this industry discussion. This initiative had its origins in an idea generated during a discussion with leading trade union organizations at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2018 in Davos-Klosters. It represents an important start to the search for solutions for platform workers. While our position on the issues addressed in the Charter may differ in important respects from the principles that it sets out, we appreciate the acknowledgement of responsibility to promote good work and look forward to dialogue over the coming year,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.

“Our industry should view this Charter as the baseline for good platform work, for the action we all must take to ensure the wellbeing of those who contribute to our businesses,” said Bastian Lehmann, Co-founder and CEO of Postmates. “These Charter principles serve as an important reminder that conversations about the future of work are about the upward mobility of those who power our economy, day in and day out. Postmates is proud to sign this Charter as yet another signal of our commitment to fighting for pro-worker, pro-innovation policies. We hope that every on-demand company will join us.”

“We are proud to contribute to the Platform Work Charter and continue the important work of advancing the next way of working for current and future generations. As we have observed in our now 10th year of collecting data on the independent workforce, self-employment is here to stay, with more than half of all adults in the US predicted to experience independent work at some point in their careers. The World Economic Forum is the platform that will help inform and motivate government and industry to take note and adopt policies designed to support this fast-growing, satisfied, and highly influential portion of the workforce,” said Gene Zaino, Founder and Executive Chairman of MBO Partners.

“Everyone has the right to benefit from the digital economy – to earn more, to choose flexible work, and to learn new skills. Over 20% of our driver-partners did not work before joining Grab. They’ve learnt to use a digital platform to find work, and many can now afford to send their children to school. In a developing region like Southeast Asia, giving people access to digital platforms can improve the quality of life significantly for the next generation. We hope to continue collaborating with governments and industry partners to create innovative benefits that look after even the smallest micro-entrepreneur or business,” said Anthony Tan, Group Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Grab.

Will Shu, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Deliveroo, said: “We know that riders want to balance flexibility and security. Riders who choose to work with us tell us that they want the freedom to choose when, where and whether to work, balanced with security. Deliveroo was the first platform to give riders free insurance to protect them in case something goes wrong while on the road and we have long argued that changes are needed to enable platforms such as ours to go further to give more benefits to self-employed riders. This Charter is an important piece of work to move that debate forward.”

Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society

The Charter of Principles for Good Platform Work and The Promise of Platform Work report are part of the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society. The Platform provides the opportunity to advancing prosperous, inclusive and equitable economies and societies. It focuses on co-creating a new vision in three interconnected areas: growth and competitiveness; education, skills and work; and equality and inclusion. Working together, stakeholders deepen their understanding of complex issues, shape new models and standards and drive scalable, collaborative action for systemic change.

Over 100 of the world’s leading companies and 100 international, civil society and academic organizations currently work through the Platform to: promote new approaches to competitiveness in the Fourth Industrial Revolution economy; deploy education and skills for tomorrow’s workforce; build a new pro-worker and pro-business agenda for jobs; and integrate equality and inclusion into the new economy, aiming to reach 1 billion people with better education, jobs, skills and economic opportunity by 2030.

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‘Concerted efforts’ needed to meet 2030 Global Goals in Asia-Pacific region

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Action to reverse the depletion and degradation of the environment across Asia and the Pacific is a top priority if the region is to stay on course to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to a new United Nations report launched online, for the first time, on Tuesday.

In the Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2020, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) draws attention to the region’s poor performance on most of the measurable environmental targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to determine where additional effort is needed and where momentum for future progress is building.

“Our analysis finds that the Asia-Pacific region has struggled the most with two Goals: advancing responsible consumption and production, and climate action”, observed UN Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.

The flagship report sounded the alarm for the Asia-Pacific region to “urgently” foster sustainable resource usages, improve waste management, increase natural disaster resilience and enact policies to adapt to climate change impacts.

For example, the report reveals that the region emits half of the world’s total greenhouse gases which add to carbon emissions – a number which has doubled since 2000. Around 35 per cent of countries there continue to lose areas of forest, and the share of renewable energy has dropped to 16 per cent, one of the lowest rates globally.

A ray of light

On a positive note, many countries are showing remarkable progress on SDG 4 by improving the quality of education, as well as on SDG 7 – providing access to affordable and clean energy – making these two Goals well within reach.

And according to the report, the region is also making good progress on economic targets, although the data for report pre-dates the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused a global economic slowdown.

It points out that in 2017, the real gross domestic product per capita growth in the region was more than double the world average, while at least 18 countries in the region were experiencing less income inequality.

Yet, to grow more sustainably and equitably, the current economic progress of the region must be aligned with human well-being and a healthy environment. 

The report reveals that progress has been far too slow in areas such as SDG 5, gender equality, and SDG 11, building sustainable cities and communities. 

Moreover, ESCAP warned that without concerted and extra efforts from all concerned, the region remains unlikely to meet any of the 17 SDGs by 2030.
“The region is not even moving in the right direction”, underscored Ms. Alisjahbana. 

Asia-Pacific subregions

Progress has also been uneven across the five subregions of Central, East, South, Southeast and Western Asia.

Singled out as areas where progress has been mixed, were SDG 10 to reduce inequalities; SDG 12 for responsible consumption and production; and SDG 16, which highlights the need for peace, justice and strong institutions.
However, steady improvement in electricity was a positive example of collective progress across the five subregions, particularly in rural areas. 

Gathering data 

While SDG data for each indicator has substantially increased in Asia and the Pacific -– from 25 per cent in 2017 to 42 per cent in 2020 -– it is still lacking in relation to half of the Global Goals indicators, especially those with slow progress. ESCAP flags that this highlights the urgent need to strengthen the policy-data nexus in the region. 

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Mongolia Poverty Update: Report

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The National Statistics Office of Mongolia (NSO) and the World Bank today launched a new joint poverty report, Mongolia Poverty Update, which draws on the 2018 Household Socio-Economic Survey (HSES).

According to the report, the pace of poverty reduction slowed down despite robust macroeconomic growth, indicating that Mongolia is struggling to translate the benefits of macroeconomic growth into improvements in household welfare, especially for the poor.

The report also highlights the uneven progress in poverty reduction between urban and rural areas during 2016-2018. Overall, these were good years for most rural herders as a result of higher livestock product prices. By contrast, urban residents in the poorest group were most negatively affected. Out of all the consumption classes, only the poorest urban households experienced negative real income growth (-1.0 percent, YoY) during this period due to sluggish wage and business income growth. Higher food price inflation also disproportionately affected urban poor and vulnerable households which spend a majority of income on food and purchase food items out of their own pockets. As a result, the rural poverty rate fell by 4.1 percentage points while the urban poverty rate was little changed from 2016 to 2018.

“This poverty report provides us with the latest updates of poverty status and profile of people in Mongolia and highlights the challenges and opportunities to tackle poverty reduction going forward,” said Ms. A. Ariunzaya, Chairperson of the National Statistics Office. “We strongly hope that the analysis and findings of this report shall serve as reference material not only for policy- and decision-makers, but also for researchers and a diverse range of audiences interested and working in poverty and socio-economic studies.”

The updated poverty profile shows that poverty is most prevalent among low-skilled wage workers, the unemployed and economically inactive individuals, large families and children. Important challenges are also seen in service delivery, particularly with regard to proper sanitation and reliable heating sources.

Mongolia’s education attainment level, particularly among youth, is the highest in the East Asia region, but for women, having a university diploma does not necessarily mean that they can obtain a better-paying job. The gender gap in labor force participation has barely improved over the past decade. Furthermore, despite a great improvement of herders’ welfare level, they remain highly vulnerable to livestock price shocks and harsh winters, which could have a profound impact on their well-being without adequate safety nets.

Mongolia is one of the youngest countries in the region in terms of the demographic structure. To harness the upcoming demographic dividend opportunity for inclusive growth and poverty reduction, the report suggests that the country will need to create a sufficient number of job opportunities in a wide variety of productive sectors in order to absorb these new workers.

“Monitoring and analyzing quality and timely data from the household surveys will help to track progress to date as well as shed light on where support and policy interventions are most needed,” said Andrei Mikhnev, World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia. “To accelerate poverty reduction and promote shared and sustainable prosperity in Mongolia, investment in children and youth to improve their skillsets to meet labor market needs is crucial, as is promotion of fair and equitable labor force participation for women.”

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Wastewater A Resource that Can Pay Dividends for People, the Environment, and Economies

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The world’s wastewater – 80 percent of which is released into the environment without adequate treatment – is a valuable resource from which clean water, energy, nutrients, and other resources can be recovered, according to a World Bank report released today to mark World Water Day.

The report, Wastewater: From Waste to Resource, calls for smarter wastewater management, including reuse and resource recovery, and looks at wastewater projects around the world which have paid dividends for people, the environment, and economies in the short and long-term.

Efficiently investing in wastewater and other sanitation infrastructure is crucial to achieve public health benefits, improve the environment, and enhance quality of life. Safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services are an essential part of preventing disease and protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks, including the current COVID-19 pandemic.

At a time when 36 percent of the world’s population lives in water-scarce regions, wastewater treatment for reuse is part of the solution to water scarcity and pollution problems,” said Jennifer Sara, Global Director, World Bank Water Global Practice. “Once treated, it can be used to replace freshwater for irrigation, industrial processes, or recreational purposes. It can also be used to maintain the environmental flow and by-products from its treatment can generate energy and nutrients.”

Wastewater treatment offers a double value proposition, the report says. In addition to environmental and health benefits, wastewater treatment can bring economic benefits through reuse in different sectors. Its by-products, such as nutrients and biogas, can be used for agriculture and energy generation. And additional revenues generated from this process can help cover water utilities’ operational and maintenance costs.

In this sense, wastewater should not be considered a ‘waste’ anymore, but a resource. This is at the core of a circular economy, an economic system aimed at minimizing waste and making the most of resources. As cities continue to grow, future urban development requires approaches that minimize resource consumption and focus on resource recovery, following principles of the so-called circular economy,” said Diego Juan Rodriguez, the report’s author and a Senior Water Resources Management Specialist at the World Bank. “One of the key advantages of adopting circular economy principles in wastewater management is that resource recovery and reuse could transform sanitation from a costly service to one that is self-sustaining and adds value to the economy. This will help countries bridge the funding gap in sanitation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The report casts a light on wastewater management experiences in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, which are already reaping benefits. For example:

By using treated wastewater instead of groundwater, the San Luis Potosi power plant in Mexico cut costs by 33 percent, leading to US$18 million in savings over six years for the power utility. For the water utility, the additional revenue from selling treated wastewater helped cover operations and maintenance costs.

A wastewater treatment plant in Cusco, Peru, saves US$230,000 a year in transporting biosolids (nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of domestic sewage in a wastewater treatment facility) and landfill fees due to an agreement with the local compost producer. The compost produced with the plant’s biosolids is then used as part of the water management project to preserve the Piuray Lake.

The Brazil-based CAESB water and wastewater utility’s use of biosolids for corn production led to higher-than-average grain yields and was 21 percent more efficient than mineral fertilizers.

The operator of the La Farfana wastewater treatment plant in Santiago, Chile, after investing US$2.7 million to retrofit the plant, was able to sell biogas, accounting for an annual net profit of US$1 million for the business.

The report recommends incorporating wastewater interventions as part of river basin planning, and pairing them with policies, institutions and regulations that foster this paradigm shift. Wastewater treatment plants need to be gradually repurposed as water resource recovery facilities, while also exploring and supporting innovative financing and sustainable business models that leverage the potential revenue streams of resource recovery from wastewater.

Only 30 to 40 percent of the LAC region’s collected wastewater is treated, resulting in negative impacts on both human health and the environment.

The report shows what’s possible when governments at all levels apply circular economy principles to their wastewater challenges. For example, in the city of La Paz, Bolivia, the national and municipal governments, as well as the water utility, with support from the World Bank and other development partners, are working together to incorporate circular economy principles in the design of the La Paz wastewater treatment plant. The goal is to address water pollution and public health issues caused by low levels of wastewater treatment and unregulated use in agriculture.

We are happy to see that the necessary transformation is well under way – wastewater policies in many countries already include reuse and resource recovery, and we hope more countries will follow suit. Countries need to scale up action,” said Rodriguez.

The report was funded in part by the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) and the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF).

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