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ILO welcomes COVID-19 seafarers’ rights agreement

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The International Labour Organization has expressed support for new international measures to protect the rights of seafarers, stranded at sea because of the COVID-19 crisis .

It welcomed a joint statement  signed by more than a dozen countries that gives seafarers enhanced rights as key workers. The new measures, also supported by other UN agencies and international organizations, enable seafarers to be repatriated and move more freely during the pandemic.

“I welcome the coordinated efforts undertaken by social partners and the international community to respond to the crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic in the maritime sector, and call on all member States to support the implementation of this joint statement,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

The joint statement was signed during a virtual International Maritime Summit, hosted by the United Kingdom government, which discussed the global crew change crisis that has left more than 200,000 seafarers stranded at sea due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some have been confined to vessels for months because of restrictions on international travel and measures to contain the virus.

The agreement will lead to the opening of foreign borders for seafarers and to an increase in the number of commercial flights, which will speed up repatriation efforts.

Seafarers have been among the hardest hit from the fall-out of the pandemic, said Corinne Vargha, Director of the ILO’s International Labour Standards Department.

While delivering a key service to society, they face safety and health risks, and, increasingly now, physical and mental exhaustion, due to their inability to return home or to join their ships because of measures taken to stop the spread of the virus.

“The ILO therefore thanks UK Secretary of State Grant Shapps and UK Minister for Aviation, Maritime and Security Kelly Tolhurst for this timely initiative and for giving the ILO an opportunity to share its perspective on the way forward.”

The ILO has urged governments to recognize seafarers as ‘key workers’ who ensure the flow of trade and the movement of vital medical supplies, safety equipment, food and other critical goods during the pandemic.

Using the guidance of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 , the ILO has been working with its social partners – governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations – as well as a number of international bodies to solve the issue. These include the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Maritime Organization (IMO), World Health Organization (WHO), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), European Union and various governments.

“The ILO expresses its support for the joint statement, which provides useful, practical and timely commitments to actions that will help solve this pressing problem and expedite crew changes,” Vargha said. “We are committed to providing support to our constituents in addressing the issue of crew change, including through the implementation of this initiative.”

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UN ‘actively assisting’ in response to huge explosions at Beirut port

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The United Nations has said that it is “actively assisting” in the response to the horrific explosions that ripped through the port area of Beirut on Tuesday, reportedly leaving dozens dead and thousands wounded, among them some UN naval peacekeepers.

A statement from a UN spokesperson  said Secretary-General António Guterres  expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the people and Government of Lebanon, following the horrific explosions in the capital.

The UN chief wished a speedy recovery to the injured, including several UN personnel working in Lebanon.

News reports suggest that along with dozens of deaths, perhaps several thousand people were injured in the massive blasts, which sent shockwaves across the bustling city of Beirut, bursting out windows and shaking buildings. The cause of the explosions has not yet been confirmed.

“The United Nations remains committed to supporting Lebanon at this difficult time and is actively assisting in the response to this incident,” Mr. Guterres said.

Separately, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the President of the UN General Assembly, also extended his deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the explosion in Beirut today and wished a speedy recovery for the injured.

“Mr. Muhammad-Bande would like to reiterate his solidarity with Lebanon during this time,” said the Assembly President’s Spokesperson.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said that as a result of a huge explosion, a ship from its Maritime Task Force docked in the port was damaged, leaving some UNIFIL naval peacekeepers injured – some of them seriously.

“UNIFIL is transporting the injured peacekeepers to the nearest hospitals for medical treatment. UNIFIL is currently assessing the situation, including the scale of the impact on UNIFIL personnel,” said a statement from the operation, which was set up in 1978 initially to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon, as well as to ensure the area returned to Beirut’s control.

UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Del Col said: “We are with the people and the Government of Lebanon during this difficult time and stand ready to help and provide any assistance and support.”

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AfDB presents findings of the Angola Green Mini-Grid Market Assessment

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The African Development Bank hosted a webinar to present the findings and recommendations of the Angola Green Mini-Grid Market Assessment report, implemented through the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa.

The assessment was conducted with the technical assistance of Carbon Trust, in collaboration with the Government of Angola, and in consultation with key stakeholders such as development partners and private sector representatives. The report assesses key enabling factors required for large scale mini-grid development, as well as the overall potential of the mini-grid market in Angola, in alignment with the country’s energy sector development strategy.

The report estimates that 9.9 million people, representing 32% of Angola’s total population, and 47% of the non-electrified population, could be best served by mini-grid solutions. It also highlighted the regulatory gaps that exist in the mini-grid market, including insufficient incentives for private sector participation. Overall, the assessment recommends that addressing the gaps could unlock an estimated demand for mini-grids of approximately $252.5 million in Angola, based on the average annual electricity expenditure per capita, in rural areas.

The webinar held on 23 July 2020, provided a platform for over 100 participants to discuss opportunities and challenges relating to the development of green mini-grids in Angola, as well as enhanced coordination and partnerships towards the advancement of sustainable expansion of clean energy in the Southern African country.

Among participants were representatives of the government, from the Ministry of Energy and Water, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Environment, and the Ministry of Economy and Planning.  Development partners, private sector actors, and national and regional associations in the sector also took part.

In his opening remarks, the African Development Bank Country Manager for Angola, Joseph Ribeiro, noted that the energy sector plays a vital role in national efforts towards poverty reduction and sustainable socio-economic development, as per the country’s economic diversification agenda.

Angola’s National Director for Rural Electrification in the water and energy ministry, Serafim Silveira, underscored the importance of mini-grids to the government’s rural electrification objectives. The other speakers were Executive Director of the Lusophone Renewable Energy Association, Isabel Abreu, and the representative of the Establishment Committee of the Angolan Renewable Energies Association, Pedro Torres.

The Bank’s Division Manager for Renewable Energy, João Cunha, said the report will inform the design of technical assistance by the Bank to the Angolan government in preparation for the rollout of a mini-grid scale-up program

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Ten Years to Midnight: Four urgent global crises and their strategic solutions

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The world has 10 years to solve its urgent challenges or it will be too late. In his new book, TEN YEARS TO MIDNIGHT: Four Urgent Global Crises and Their Strategic Solutions (August 4, 2020; Berret-Koehler), Blair Sheppard sets out why that timeline is so crucial, what the most urgent challenges are and the key elements of a solution.

He argues that the 70-year period of economic and social progress kicked off by the Marshall Plan has now unraveled. Instead of a steady story of progress, the world faces four crises:

  • A crisis of prosperity, with rising inequality, poor life choices for young people, the squeezed middle class and a mass of people on the brink of retirement but lacking the savings to sustain them;  
  • A crisis of technology, as our economic system drives innovation but fails to manage unintended negative consequences which pollute key elements of life support, from our atmosphere to our news;
  • A crisis of institutional legitimacy, as traditional institutions try to maintain their existing structures in the face of major global forces, and find themselves buckling and warping rather than adapting; and,
  • A crisis of leadership, as those who should help us manage these crises instead focus on narrow priorities rather than leading the world towards holistic solutions.

Drawing on new data and analysis conducted in Sheppard’s role as Global Leader for Strategy and Leadership for the PwC network, the author argues that businesses, governments and civil society should adopt a fundamentally different approach to the one that drove 20th Century economic development. He argues for greater emphasis on local economies (local first) as well as on scaling innovative solutions quickly (massive, fast), a fundamental reshaping of innovation policy to bake societal outcomes into technological development, greater use of public private partnerships with clear goals, and more inclusive measures of success.

Having worked with global leaders across a range of fields, Sheppard argues this change requires a new approach to leadership that embraces apparently contrasting elements – to be humanly and technologically savvy, heroic and humble, rooted in tradition as a ballast but also innovative.

The book began with a question: What are the world’s most pressing global concerns and how can they be solved together? What he and his team discovered is a new path to rebuilding and reinvigorating institutions, redefining what it means to be a nation or economy, forging shared cultural and social bonds, and rekindling innovation for social good instead of harm. To press these solutions forward as the clock ticks toward a global unwinding, Sheppard also calls for a new level of imagination, cooperation and urgency from the world’s leaders in every sector and every country.

For more information, please visit the book’s webpage.

Blair Sheppard is the Global Leader for Strategy and Leadership at PwC, a network of professional services firms committed to building trust in society and solving important problems. He is also the Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where he taught  for thirty-three years. He was the principal force behind opening Duke’s campus in China, and the founder and CEO of Duke Corporate Education. He was born in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) and lives in Durham, North Carolina (US).

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