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Global OECD welcomes Colombia as its 37th Member

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Today Colombia has formally become an OECD Member, the 37th country to do so in the Organisation’s near 60-year history.

Colombia has now completed its domestic procedures for ratification of the OECD Convention and deposited its instrument of accession. This brings to a successful conclusion an accession process that began in 2013.

OECD Member countries formally invited Colombia to join the Organisation in May 2018, following a five-year accession process during which it underwent in-depth reviews by 23 OECD Committees and introduced major reforms to align its legislation, policies and practices to OECD standards. These spanned the breadth of policy fields including labour issues, reform of the justice system, corporate governance of state-owned enterprises, anti-bribery, trade and the establishment of a national policy on industrial chemicals and waste management.

Beyond the technical aspects, the accession process has served as a catalyst for Colombia to proceed to important reforms to improve the well-being of its citizens, such as the reduction of informality in the labour market, improving the quality and relevance of education and training as well as the long-term sustainability of the health system.

Welcoming the news, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said, “We are delighted to welcome Colombia as the 37th member of the OECD. Colombia’s accession is tangible proof of our commitment to bring together countries who strive for the highest standards in global public policy in order to improve the well-being and quality of life of their citizens. Given its recent history, Colombia can be rightly proud of what is truly an exceptional achievement.”

“The accession process has offered Colombia the opportunity to address major policy issues and challenges multilaterally and to learn from the experiences of fellow OECD countries. Engaging Colombia has also served to enrich the OECD’s knowledge and policy experience,” Mr Gurría said.

Colombia’s accession will extend the OECD’s membership to 37 countries. It will be the third Member country from the Latin America and Caribbean region to join following Mexico and Chile. A fourth, Costa Rica, is entering the final stages of its accession process to the Organisation.

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Finance

Deloitte reports FY2021 revenue

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Deloitte today reported aggregate global revenue of US$50.2 billion for the fiscal year ending 31 May 2021 (FY2021), a 5.5% increase in US dollars (USD).

“Events of this past year have had an unprecedented impact on the world and our organization. From the COVID-19 pandemic to more frequent, extreme climate events, and social upheavals, we are grateful that we’ve been able to continue to help clients and support our people as we all navigate through this challenging environment,” says Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO. “While the past year was difficult and defined by uncertainty, it has shown what can be achieved at speed and scale when businesses, governments, and society work together to tackle tough global challenges. This cooperative approach is a model that we must continue to build on.”

“Deloitte embraces the opportunity to lead by example, to drive change through cooperative efforts, and to find and invest in better solutions to business and societal challenges. Our focus during the past year has been on deploying our global capabilities to help clients respond, recover, and thrive during the pandemic; enabling mental and physical wellness for our professionals to perform at the highest levels; helping communities address the need for greater health equity and better educational opportunities; and prioritizing the environment as we move closer toward our net-zero target,” adds Renjen.

Staying resilient, responding to clients’ evolving needs

Deloitte successfully served clients, leveraging investments in technology that helped us stay connected, expand alliance relationships, invest in innovation, and serve the public interest. Deloitte’s success during the year reflects our commitment and our ability to adapt to meet the evolving needs of our clients.

Among the businesses, Financial Advisory grew fastest at 12.9% in USD, followed by Audit & Assurance, which grew 6.1% in USD. Government & Public Services was the fastest growing industry, followed by Technology, Media & Telecommunications. Financial Services clients contributed 27% of Deloitte’s total revenue. Among the regions, Asia Pacific (APAC) grew fastest at 14%, followed by Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA), which grew at 11.3% (both in USD). We also expanded our global alliance and ecosystem business by 24%. Additional business insights include:

Audit & Assurance continued to deliver consistently high-quality audits in line with our public interest role within the financial reporting ecosystem. We deployed our global audit platforms, Deloitte Omnia and Deloitte Levvia, to advance innovation in audit service delivery worldwide. Our Audit & Assurance professionals assisted clients and stakeholders in addressing ESG reporting needs as well. Assurance services continue to help clients thrive as they manage complexities and opportunities in the financial, regulatory, and operational landscape. Audit & Assurance revenue grew 6.1% in USD.

Consulting helped clients build organizational resilience and imagine different futures using its scale and vast industry and sector expertise, especially in areas most disrupted by the pandemic. Deloitte continued to develop cloud native software solutions to accelerate digital transformation and made significant investments in next-generation technologies—including cloud and edge computing, and artificial intelligence. Drawing on our alliances with 15 leading technology companies, we orchestrated ecosystems to deliver integrated technology solutions for clients in innovative ways. With the creation of the Deloitte Center for AI Computing and targeted strategic acquisitions, we advanced the development of new offerings and services. Consulting revenue grew 5% in USD.

Financial Advisory served as a trusted advisor on thousands of distressed and COVID-related mandates. Additionally, Deloitte’s market-leading M&A practices advised on thousands of transactions during the merger wave of 2020, and our Turnaround and Restructuring teams assisted governments around the world to administer pandemic-related funding for businesses and individuals. Deloitte also participated in government-sponsored COVID-19 task forces, advising on distressed sectors. The Deloitte Center for ESG Solutions supplied decarbonization, hydrogen, electricity, and other quantitative energy models to support major sustainable energy transformation projects. Financial Advisory revenue grew 12.9% in USD.

Risk Advisory supported clients to build trust, demonstrate resilience, and strengthen their security. With cyberattacks on the rise, Deloitte’s 22,000 cyber professionals helped organizations identify cyber risks, prepare for and detect threats, strengthen and secure their environments and, most importantly, respond and recover quickly. Our professionals worked with clients to digitally transform their compliance and internal control systems while these organizations navigated virtual work environments and evolving regulations. We also accelerated our clients’ journey to net-zero, delivering a portfolio of services globally. Risk Advisory revenue grew 5.6% in USD.

Tax & Legal supported clients navigating the ongoing complexity caused by the pandemic as they developed plans for recovery and growth. The acceleration of new business models is challenging the tax function in fundamental ways and driving demand for transformative tax operating models including outsourcing and co-sourcing of routine compliance and reporting activities. As a result, clients are seeking advisory services to embed resilience and innovate through technology, and fueling growth in areas like major tax policy reforms, digitization of tax, M&A, supply chain, employment and mobility, and sustainability reporting. Deloitte Legal responded to changing demands from clients by transforming its core services, focusing on helping clients be resilient through the pandemic, becoming a leading digital legal service provider of choice, and building a thriving Legal Management Consulting practice. Tax & Legal revenue grew by 2.3% in USD.

Additionally, in FY2021, Deloitte intensified efforts to help clients advance their ESG and sustainability efforts. Employing innovative approaches, digital solutions, deep industry insights, and lessons learned from our own experiences, Deloitte worked with clients to develop their strategies and adapt their operations for success in a changing marketplace.

For the third consecutive year, Brand Finance recognized Deloitte as the strongest and most valuable commercial services brand in the world. And industry analysts continued to acknowledge Deloitte’s leadership in many service areas including cloud, cyber, strategy, and analytics.

Living our Purpose by making a positive impact for people and society 

As the world’s largest professional services organization, Deloitte is guided by its purpose to make an impact that matters. For Deloitte professionals, that means working to address the increasingly complex challenges society faces and creating a future where trust in institutions and systems is restored and progress is made on major societal challenges—including systemic racial injustice, social inequity, climate change, and economic inequality.

In FY2021, Deloitte made significant progress on ESG reporting; education; health equity; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); mental health; and the environment. Deloitte’s FY2021 societal impact investment was $223 million USD, bringing our five-year investment total to $1.15 billion USD.

ESG reporting: This year, the Deloitte Global Impact Report includes in-depth reporting of our impact on the environment and on society, as well as a more detailed look at the structures and processes of our organization. 

In FY2021, Deloitte began reporting against the World Economic Forum’s Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics. This effort builds on the critical work we are doing as part of the Forum’s International Business Council (IBC) to lead and promote the adoption of a common set of ESG reporting metrics. These metrics enable companies to measure value-creation factors, increase reporting transparency and comparability for stakeholders and drive action to achieve sustainable long-term performance.  

We also issued our first report following the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures detailing our processes for addressing climate change risks and opportunities in the areas of governance, strategy, risk management and metrics and targets. The report quantifies climate change impacts in financial terms and also examines risks and opportunities under two different climate scenarios.

Education and skills building: While the pandemic has accelerated trends such as reskilling and leveraging technology to improve educational outcomes, it has also exposed widening inequalities. Recognizing these challenges and the life-altering outcomes an education can provide, Deloitte doubled its commitment to supporting those being left behind in school and at work by increasing our WorldClass goal from 50 million to 100 million individuals reached by 2030. In FY2021, we reached 8.2 million individuals, and since 2017, we have reached 20 million individuals.

Through WorldClass, and throughout the pandemic, Deloitte has invested in programs to help students keep learning, including educating children in remote villages in India and virtual mentoring through Strive for College in the United States to help students who face financial need navigate getting into and through college and starting their career. To achieve our WorldClass goals, in May 2021 Deloitte launched The WorldClass Education Challenge, an initiative inviting educators, entrepreneurs, and innovators to work alongside Deloitte professionals and the World Economic Forum’s UpLink platform to identify and advance solutions that support access to a quality education for more of the world’s students.

Health equity: COVID-19 challenged us all—public and private sector alike—to rethink the status quo to rebuild and reinvest in more equitable and affordable health care infrastructure.

In FY2021, Deloitte piloted an initiative with the Government of Haryana state in India that offers a potential remedy to underinvestment in public health infrastructure. Together with state government and medical professionals, Deloitte developed a uniquely Indian approach that leveraged local resources to deliver support and home care to those in the Karnal district with mild to moderate COVID-19, freeing up local hospitals to care for the most critically ill patients. Deloitte’s program is being expanded to Africa, Brazil and Southeast Asia.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and mental health: We want our people to feel accepted as they are, engaged in our organization, and empowered to succeed. That commitment is reflected in Deloitte’s ALLIN global diversity and inclusion strategy. The foundation of our strategy is our emphasis on respect and inclusion, which focuses on all aspects of diversity. Built upon this foundation are three pillars—working toward gender balance, fostering LGBT+ inclusion, and supporting mental health—that advance all of our interventions and actions.

The events of FY2021 highlighted the growing recognition of mental health as a critical component of overall well-being. To meet the needs of our people, we established a mental health baseline for measuring well-being factors, made a global commitment to mental health within our organization and in society at large, and became a Founding Partner of the Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace and facilitate the adoption of best practices that enable employees to thrive in the workplace.

Expanding our commitment to the environment

Deloitte believes deeply that climate change is one of the defining global challenges of our time. Through Deloitte’s WorldClimate strategy, we are driving responsible climate choices within our organization and beyond.

  • We’re empowering our more than 345,000 professionals to take individual and collective climate action alongside clients and communities. In collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), we developed a climate learning program for all Deloitte professionals.
  • As part of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen joined over 70 CEOs in an open letter urging world leaders to support “bold and courageous commitments, policies and actions.”
  • In recognition of Deloitte’s environmental commitment, Deloitte’s greenhouse gas reduction goals were validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Additionally, Deloitte committed to all three Climate Group initiatives supporting 100% renewable electricity (RE100), 100% electric vehicles adoption (EV100), and energy efficiency/productivity (EP100) within our organization globally. We made great progress towards these targets during FY2021, reducing absolute carbon emissions by 41% and carbon emissions per FTE by 44% from our base year of FY2019. 

“While the pandemic and disruptions of the past year have exposed considerable inequities in our society, they have also provided us with an opportunity to build resilience into our global economy, rebuild trust in our systems and businesses, and foster a better future for more of the world’s people,”adds Renjen. “Our future is not preordained. We can create a better world for future generations. To thrive tomorrow, it is imperative for everyone—governments, businesses, and individuals—to put people and our environment first, and act now to create a more resilient world that is prepared for and adaptable to the next set of challenges.”

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Development

Lebanon crisis: More international assistance needed urgently

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Photo: Marten Bjork/Unsplash

Lebanon’s enduring economic crisis risks reversing decades of gains in people’s wellbeing, the head of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.    

Speaking from the capital, Beirut, at the end of a two-day visit to the beleaguered Mediterranean country, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described finding shortages of “basic and essential medicines”. 

Although the WHO has done what it can to fill gaps in healthcare there for the last 15 years, the WHO Director-General said that the situation had become “very dire” and that international support was needed immediately.  

“It’s not just COVID, almost all services are being affected,” he said. “We visited two hospitals today… they told us that you know, they had, patients, cancer patients or other patients, but a shortage of medicines and those who cannot afford not having access to, they can’t have medicine, so meaning other services are being disrupted, and this is life, life, life and death.” 

Lebanon’s unprecedented political and economic crisis has been made worse by the COVID pandemic and last August’s port explosion. 

Fuel and power shortages

Tedros said that when he went to meet top Government officials, a power cut interrupted their encounter. 

Similar fuel shortages have left hospitals functioning at 50 per cent capacity, the WHO Director-General said, adding that he had agreed to send a team of health experts to Lebanon to offer technical support as soon as possible. 

The UN health agency has also provided “Band-Aid” assistance to the country’s medical sector, Tedros added. 

This includes the purchase of essential medicines for 450,000 patients with acute and chronic conditions last year and this year. 

But Dr Iman Shankiti, WHO Representative in Lebanon, told journalists that the caseload is now increasing and that demand is growing for medications to treat cancer, dialysis and emergency patients. 

“At one point in time we were able to support 2,000 cancer paediatric cases and we were able to support 17,000 persons with catastrophic medications, but this is not enough,” she said. “I cannot say that we have filled the gap, we have closed the shortage. The needs are huge….It needs a whole-of-Government approach (to solving the shortages)”. 

Regional insecurity risk 

While in Beirut, Tedros visited several health facilities, including the newly renovated Central Drug Warehouse that had been destroyed by the Beirut port blast.

Accompanying him, Dr Ahmed Al Mandhari, Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, highlighted the threat to regional instability if Lebanon’s health sector was not propped up.

The country was rapidly losing its longstanding status as a key provider of medical professionals, he warned, as its youngsters left the country to seek work elsewhere.

Lebanon’s strong vaccination and immunisation system was also under threat, said Dr Al Mandhari, noting that it had “protected the children of Lebanon and all those living in Lebanon, which helped us in the region and beyond to control communicable diseases like for example polio, measles and other communicable diseases that affect adults and children. So, if there is a break or a weakness in this expanded programme of immunisation in the country it will definitely hit other countries in the region.”

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Development

77 million children have spent 18 months out of class

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The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says the world is facing an education crisis due to the COVID pandemic, that has left nearly 77 million children shut out of the classroom for the past 18 months.  

This Thursday, the UN agency is closing down its social media channels for the next 18 hours to send one message to the world: #ReopenSchools for in-person learning as soon as possible. 

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is joining UNICEF, together with the World Bank, the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Commission Humanitarian Aid operation, the LEGO Foundation and the WEF Global Shapers community of world youth.  

Right to education 

For UNICEF, the right to go to school is central to every child’s development, safety and well-being. Yet in too many countries, classrooms remain closed while social gatherings continue to take place in restaurants, salons and gyms. 

The agency believes “this generation of children and youth, cannot afford any more disruptions to their education.” 

New numbers from UNESCO, released this Thursday, show that schools are now fully open in 117 countries, with 539 million students back in class, ranging from pre-primary to secondary levels. 

This represents 35 per cent of the total student population across the world, compared to 16% who returned to school in September 2020, when schools were only open, or partially-open, in 94 countries. 

Around 117 million students, representing 7.5 per cent of the total, are still affected by complete school closures in 18 countries. The number of countries with partly open schools, has declined from 52 to 41 over the same period.  

In all countries that had prolonged full school closures, education was provided through a combination of online classes, printed modules, as well as tuition through TV and radio networks. 

Schools can reopen safely 

UNESCO and its Global Education Coalition partners have been advocating for the safe reopening of schools, urging full closures to be used as a measure of last resort. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, schools were completely closed for an average of 18 weeks (4.5 months) worldwide. If partial closures are accounted for, the average duration of closures represents 34 weeks (8.5 months) worldwide, or nearly a full academic year. 

For UNESCO, the past two academic years have resulted in learning losses and increased drop-out rates, impacting the most vulnerable students disproportionately.  

Schools in most countries have adopted some forms of sanitation protocol such as wearing masks, using hand sanitizers, improving ventilation and social distancing, which were also key to re-opening schools last year. 

Some countries have also introduced large scale testing as well as temporary classroom and school closures when the virus is detected.  

Vaccination key 

Rising vaccination rates among both general population and teaching staff, has also been a key factor in reopening schools. 

The vaccination of teachers has been prioritized in around 80 countries, allowing for the inoculation of some 42 million teachers. In a handful of countries, the vaccination of students aged 12 and over, is an important factor in determining the full re-opening of schools. 

Action to accelerate the recovery of learning losses remains an essential component of national COVID-19 education responses. For that, UNESCO says teachers and educators need adequate support and preparation. 

Connectivity and bridging the digital divide also remain key priorities in building the resilience of education systems and providing hybrid learning opportunities. 

For that reason, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank have partnered in an initiative called Mission: Recovering Education 2021, that supports governments in bringing all learners back to school, run programmes to help them catch up on lost learning, and prepare teachers to address learning losses and incorporate new digital technology.

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