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Towards More Inclusive Growth in Senegal

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The World Bank Group’s Board of Directors today discussed the Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for Senegal that lays out the World Bank Group program for FY20–FY24 and expressed broad support for the WBG’s engagement in Senegal’s structural reforms to achieve economic transformation and become an emerging economy by 2035.

The WBG will continue and deepen its support to implement Senegal’s ambitious  policy reform agenda. The Board acknowledged the transformational reforms to enable private sector driven growth in the energy sector and the digital economy and welcomes the commitment in the CPF to accelerate poverty reduction and address inequities by investing in human capital and enabling jobs and economic transformation.

According to World Bank Country Director Nathan Belete, “Senegal is approaching the third decade of the 21st century with tremendous promise and opportunities. This new partnership strategy will support the country to take advantage of its attributes and overcome persistent challenges to achieve transformational impact and emergence by 2035.”  

Senegal’s economic expansion has been accelerating and growing consistently above 6 percent per year since 2014. This high growth trajectory places Senegal among best performers in Sub-Saharan Africa and is reflective of incipient structural transformation, supported by reforms aimed at improving the investment climate, governance and investment in infrastructure, energy and agriculture. The growth outlook is favorable and projected to remain solid at about 6.8 percent in 2020, reflecting higher investment and exports. Growth could exceed 7 percent from 2021 onwards if fiscal vulnerabilities are contained and transformational reforms are implemented to crowd-in private sector investments.

“We are confident that the CPF will fully leverage IFC’s strategy, which foresees an ambitious upstream agenda of reforms to catalyze greater private investment in Senegal,” indicated Aliou Maiga, IFC’s Director for West and Central Africa.

“MIGA will focus on encouraging foreign investment through its political risk insurance instruments, including in the energy, water, and transport sectors, while also leveraging the engagement of IDA and IFC. In addition, MIGA will continue to explore opportunities to support public investments in these sectors through its credit-enhancement product,” said Hoda Atia Moustafa, MIGA’s Africa Regional Head based in Dakar.

Guided by the priorities of the government’s Plan Senegal Emergent and its second Priority Action Plan (2019-2023), and the recent Systematic Country Diagnostic of Senegal. The World Bank Group’s three areas of support are to:

Build human capital to enhance productivity: A child born today will achieve only 42 percent of his or her productivity potential if key health and education outcomes do not improve. Building on the gains of the social safety net and education and health projects, the world Bank will accelerate progress in establishing strong literacy and numeracy skills among primary and lower secondary school children; promoting employability for youth; and empowering adolescent girls and women to have more control over their childbearing and productivity.

Boost competitiveness and job creation: Investment climate in Senegal has improved, with Senegal jumping 35 ranks in its Doing Business ranking from 161 in 2015 to 123 in 2020 by improving access to credit information and streamlining tax administration for Small and Medium Enterprises through the eTax platform. The focus will now be on improving digital and physical connectivity at the national and regional levels; lowering energy costs and carbon footprint and optimizing the energy mix; promoting the service economy, including through financial; and boosting the productivity and competitiveness of agriculture and related value chains.

Building resilient institutions and communities: with the rapid urbanization and spatial inequalities in access to water and sanitation, the World Bank will focus on promoting and protecting, ecosystems, and infrastructure in the face of climate change; ensuring access to water and sanitation in marginal rural and peri-urban areas; and improving the efficiency and transparency of governance institutions and social protection systems.

The strategy will also promote digital technology particularly in education, agriculture, social protection, and finance to support Senegal’s leapfrogging into a modern economy. It also puts gender at the center of the strategy by focusing on girls and women’s empowerment and promotes resilience to climate change across   the various areas of focus.

Currently, Senegal the country has 18 projects receiving IDA financing amounting to $1.8 billion, and nine regional IDA projects for $346.5 million. IFC has a portfolio of about $140 million with significant investments in the power sector, financial sector and to local businesses in agro-processing. MIGA’s exposure in Senegal is $306.2 million, its 6th largest in Africa.

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As Businesses Embrace Sustainability, a Pathway to Economic Reset Emerges

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In the midst of a deep recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a growing consensus that the global economy is due for a reset. Business leaders are optimistic that rather than slide back into normality, as the leading economies did after the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the major social, political and climatological ruptures of recent years have driven a growing awareness that as the world emerges from the pandemic, it will not be business as usual.

The urgent need for far-reaching change, however, is matched by the enormity of the challenges. “What this pandemic has done so far is not really change the future yet, but it has very much revealed the present,” said Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“Our main measures of success remain solely financial,” said Alan Jope, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever. “It’s bizarre and it’s outdated.” He called for “21st-century tools for a 21st-century environment”, noting that: “The definition of success for a country, which is usually GDP, and all our traditional financial metrics are built on environmental degradation and growing inequality.”

Along with mandating non-financial reporting, Jope called for four other changes to the way business is done. “It’s really believing that operating to the benefit of multiple stakeholders works,” he said. “Serving customers properly, looking after employees, being fair with suppliers, and making a positive contribution to society and the health of the planet will lead to better financial returns.”

Anne Finucane, Vice-Chairman of Bank of America, echoed the assertion that companies can do well by doing good. “In recent years, there’s a fair amount of data that’s been put forward to demonstrate that if ESG is calculated into the behaviour of a company that the company itself does better – less bankruptcy, higher satisfaction with its clients and customers, and even sometimes higher multiples.”

“We are hearing our shareholders. We are hearing our stakeholders. They are broader than just economic. They are looking for us to be citizens of the world,” she said.

Noting that one of the changes likely to endure after the pandemic is the acceleration of reliance on digital technology, Bradley Smith, President of Microsoft, argued that while business will clearly continue to have an important role to play in upskilling and reskilling workers, governments have an important role to play in facilitating advanced training in technology. “If you look back at the last 20 years, after an upsurge in employer investments in employing skilling in the late 1990s we’ve seen 20 years of decline and stagnation by employers investing in the skilling of their employees,” Smith said. “We need to have a recovery that is led in part by small business. We’re going to need to help small businesses onboard new employees. We’re going to need to help small businesses invest in skilling of their employees, and this is a huge opportunity I think for governments to think anew about tax credits and other incentives they can provide.”

One of the biggest obstacles, participants agreed, is to dispel the idea that there is an either-or choice between delivering profits and growth, on the one hand, and on the other, giving primacy to the interests of stakeholders – employees, customers, communities, and the environment. Jope challenged that assumption. “We have to break that paradigm. We have to build the evidence that offering sustainable solutions to consumers, that conducting yourself with decency makes you an attractive employee, that treating suppliers well, that reducing your environmental footprint actually lowers costs – and all these things drive better financial performance,” he said. “Then there will be less suspicion that there will always be a tradeoff between the [sustainable goals] and better financial performance.”

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How environmental policy can drive gender equality

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Environmental degradation has gendered impacts which need to be properly assessed and monitored to understand and adopt gender-responsive strategies and policies. While designing these, it is essential that measures targeting gender equality and women’s empowerment are adequately formulated and mainstreamed.  

To facilitate experience sharing and learning from good practices, on the 9th of September, the UNECE hosted a webinar on Gender Mainstreaming in Environmental Policies and Strategies. Ms. Astrid Krumwiede, head of the unit in charge of the development and application of gender aspects in environmental policy in the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, shared experiences from Germany, which considers gender equality to be a cross cutting issue for all areas of environmental policy. On the national level, the Ministry for the Environment has sought to integrate gender equality in various ways, such as through dialogues, meetings, guidelines, education and policies. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has highlighted the fragility of progress made in gender equality, the Federal Government adopted an economic stimulus package that includes measures to provide financial assistance for women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Germany has also strived for the implementation of gender mainstreaming in environmental policy at the international level, which is especially true in the field of climate change in the context of measures and strategies concerning the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement.

Despite progress made, there are still some long-standing barriers to implementing gender mainstreaming. These include a lack of political support, a lack of women in decision making and leadership positions, insufficient representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics related professions, and outdated stereotypes. Moving forward, capacity building and equality impact assessment trainings need to be gender responsive so that suitable incentives are provided which enable women to participate. Communication and promotion are of vital importance, especially in finding new ways to communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that gender equality remains a focal issue. Incorporating an intersectional approach to gender equality in environmental policy is also essential, since ignoring this in policymaking can create a system that creates and reinforces different forms of discrimination.

Looking to the future, in the words of Ms. Astrid Krumwiede, “it is time for tailor made environmental policies which reflect different needs and requirements for different people”.

The webinar was complemented by perspectives from UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews and the Protocol on Water and Health on the specific examples of gender mainstreaming in environmental reviews and water, sanitation and hygiene.

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Business World Now Able to ‘Walk the Talk’ on Stakeholder Capitalism

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The World Economic Forum today launched a set of metrics to measure stakeholder capitalism at the Sustainable Development Impact Summit. Calling on all companies to adopt the metrics to demonstrate their progress against environmental, social and governance (ESG) indicators Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, said: ‘With these metrics, the business world will finally be able to walk the talk on their commitment to ESG performance and the stakeholder capitalism principle.”

The set of 21 core and 34 expanded metrics is presented in a new report published today by the Forum, Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Towards Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation. The work is the culmination of a year of unprecedented collaboration between the world’s four largest accounting firms – Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC – under the leadership of the World Economic Forum.

The initiative goes beyond the traditional remit of ESG and aligns its indicators with the SDGs by embracing metrics across four pillars: Principles of Governance, Planet, People and Prosperity. The Forum’s International Business Council (IBC) sees this as not only good for society and the planet but also good for business. “It is proven that businesses that focus on all stakeholders and the planet over the long term do better,” said Punit Renjen, Global Chief Executive Officer of Deloitte at the livestreamed session today.

The project deliberately selected existing metrics from among the plethora of overlapping ESG standards and frameworks that currently exist – the “alphabet soup” of standards, as the session moderator Gillian Tett of the Financial Times put it. ‘We’re not trying to replace anything out there. We’re just trying to come up with a common set of metrics that companies can sign up to,” said Carmine Di Sibio, EY Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. These metrics will allow stakeholders to understand a company’s long-term value rather than the short-term view many current financial metrics show. “This is incredibly important for investors,” Di Sibio said.

According to Bill Thomas, Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of KPMG International, companies also have a more direct self-interest in adopting the metrics. “One of the biggest reasons to do it is… [for] attracting and retaining the very best people today,” he said. “They want to work for an organization that has a purpose beyond simply profits; they know that business has to play a role to build a better, more sustainable society.”

The Forum’s IBC sees this moment as an opportunity to take the lead in shaping the future development of non-financial reporting. “We’re trying to influence the regulators, the standard-setters, the rating agencies around the world and say, ‘these are the ones we truly believe as a business community are the right measures to start with.’ We’re not looking for perfection, we’re looking for progress. And we’d like some consistency to demonstrate both that progress and that comparability,” said Bob Moritz, Global Chairman of PwC.

He likened the IBC’s aspiration to the process that led to the acceptance of global accounting standards, saying: “The generally accepted [indicators] and those that are practiced influence the rules, the regulations, and then we can cascade and scale those rules and regulations for more alignment, more consistency and better comparability on a worldwide basis.”

At the session to launch the report, Brian Moynihan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America, and Chair of the IBC, said the metrics go some way to answering the following questions: “How do you align capitalism with the goals of society and how do you measure that in a way that can consolidate all these measurement systems into one set of metrics that the Big Four accounting firms can endorse and help companies publish, so that people can judge whether they’re making progress?”

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