Connect with us

Development

MENA: Global Action is Urgently Needed to Reverse Damaging Jumps in Extreme Poverty

Published

on

For the second time, the rate of extreme poverty in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region jumped again, nearly doubling between 2015 and 2018, according to a new World Bank report.

The World Bank’s biennial Poverty and Shared Prosperity report finds that the rate of extreme poverty in the MENA region rose from 3.8% in 2015 to 7.2% in 2018 — the latest year for which data is available. This followed another rise in poverty in the region from 2.3% to the levels in 2015. According to the report, the latest jump in poverty in MENA was driven largely by the effects of ongoing conflict in Syria and Yemen, but this does not fully account for the economic downturn in Lebanon.

These sobering new figures are a wakeup call for how significantly conflict, climate change, poor governance — and now the COVID-19 pandemic — combine to devastate lives, livelihoods, and region-wide prosperity,” said Ferid Belhaj, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa. “We are continuing to help MENA countries stop the spread of the disease and protect and care for their people. At the same time, we are committed to helping the people of MENA build a new social contract, where transparency, governance, the rule of law and regional integration can alleviate poverty and give everyone, in every country, a chance to achieve their aspirations.

The report also estimates that the current poverty level in the MENA region is, depending on the scenario, up to 7.9%, as the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic compounds the forces of conflict and climate change. As the pandemic intensifies the rise in poverty in the region, it threatens to push at least an additional 3 million people into extreme poverty. Recent projections indicate that, in the short run, the rise in poverty may be much worse — potentially even doubling, for certain countries, the number of poor.

The pandemic is creating a group of new poor who had previously been relatively spared: Those in urban areas and small and informal business owners are particularly impacted,” said Nadir Mohammed, the World Bank’s Regional Director for Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions for the Middle East and North Africa. “Unemployment, already exceptionally high before the COVID-19 pandemic, has worsened and reduced the already very limited job prospects for the region’s youth and women. Phone surveys show that families are depleting their savings and that food insecurity is on the rise.

The dual shocks of the pandemic and the collapse in oil prices have exacerbated MENA’s underlying structural issues and affected all aspects of MENA’s economies. The pandemic has deepened pre-existing inequalities in the region, exposing vulnerabilities in social, political, and economic systems, which are, in turn, amplifying the impacts of the pandemic itself. The expected costs are about 3.7% of the region’s 2019 GDP — roughly $100 billion.

The World Bank’s multi-phased response in MENA is aligned with the Bank’s global COVID response framework and regional strategy. Under the first phase, the Bank is supporting public health and emergency social assistance across the entire region to procure essential supplies, strengthen surveillance, and boost public health capacity. Across the region, the World Bank has provided almost $700 million in emergency support to help with the most urgent public health needs, including seven new operations and redirected funding from 10 existing projects.

The World Bank is also supporting individuals and helping countries expand social safety nets, including cash transfers for the most vulnerable, as well as supporting small businesses. This is critical, given the dual nature of MENA’s labor market, with many informal workers that have limited job security and social protection.

As part of an effort to facilitate economic recovery and longer-term sustainable development, the World Bank is supporting governments to expand the scope and targeting of cash transfer programs to direct funds to the most vulnerable households and those that may have lost their jobs or sources of income. World Bank teams are working with country authorities on the preparation of cash transfer programs in Lebanon, Morocco, Djibouti and Yemen. These programs are in addition to the Bank’s support for cash transfer programs during the past fiscal year in Egypt and Jordan.

Continue Reading
Comments

Development

Iraq and the World Bank to Boost Iraqi Women’s Economic Empowerment

Published

on

photo: © UNICEF/Wathiq Khuzaie

A new plan to remove constraints and create more economic opportunities for women was launched today by the government of Iraq, with support from the World Bank Group.

The Women’s Economic Empowerment Plan for 2021-2022 outlines the government’s priorities in line with its reform program. The plan follows extensive consultations with key stakeholders and is supported by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning, the Women’s Empowerment Directorate in the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, and the High Council for Women’s Affairs in Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

The World Bank Group provided technical support and advice to the government to develop the plan. Key pillars include building capacity for a more gender responsive budget, developing women’s skills in the digital and agriculture sectors; boosting access to finance for women; increasing data related to women in the private and informal sectors; implementing legislative reforms to reduce gender gaps; and strengthening knowledge and capacity around access to childcare.

The plan also includes a special focus on supporting vulnerable groups of women and targeting internally displaced women and returnees to areas liberated from ISIS.

On the launch of the plan, Dr. Yussra Kareem, National Coordinator of the MGF in Iraq and Director General for Women’s Empowerment Directorate at the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, said: “Women’s economic empowerment is one of the most important pillars focused on by the general policy for women’s empowerment, and it comes in the context of women’s rights to equality and social justice, and the 2030 sustainable development plan. In light of this, the Advisory Committee for Women’s Economic Empowerment, in cooperation with the World Bank, developed the National Action Plan for 2021-2022 for women’s economic empowerment and identified its six priorities.”

“Iraqi women have proved to be strong and resilient throughout decades of economic and security challenges. Increasing the participation of Iraqi women in the policy-making process and in leading roles is key to promote peacebuilding and social development.” said Saroj Kumar Jha, the World Bank’s Mashreq Regional Director. “The World Bank Group stands ready to support Iraq in strengthening the enabling environment for women’s economic participation and improving women’s access to economic opportunities.”

More women in the Iraqi workforce means more growth and less poverty. IFC is working with the private sector to help remove barriers that hold women back from joining the workforce,” said Abdullah Jefri, IFC’s Manager for the Levant.

Building a resilient economic recovery and ensuring inclusive long-term growth requires the full and equal participation of women in the economy. Canada continues to support Iraq in their efforts to strengthen women’s economic empowerment and welcomes the launch of this workplan under the Mashreq Gender Facility to help address the barriers to women’s participation in the labour force and enhance their opportunities to succeed,” said H.E Ulric Shannon, Ambassador of Canada to Iraq.

Sustainable development in any country cannot be achieved if women are not included in economic life and in political decision-making bodies. To ensure women participation in the labour market is smart economics, and this requires active and tireless efforts over time. The launch of the Woman Economic Empowerment Workplan 2021-2022 today is a step in the right direction, and Norway is proud to support the Mashreq Gender Facility in these vital efforts,” said H.E Erik Burger Husem, Chargè d’affaires at the Norwegian Embassy in Iraq.

The new plan will be implemented with support from national and international civil society organizations, and the private sector, in close coordination with the World Bank Group and international development partners.

The plan is a joint effort between the government of Iraq and the World Bank Group under the Mashreq Gender Facility (MGF), launched in January 2019 by the World Bank Group with  financial support from the governments of Canada and Norway. The facility provides technical support to Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to boost women’s economic participation and drive inclusive growth. Under the MGF, Iraq set the target of increasing female labor force participation of 5 percentage point by 2024.

Continue Reading

Development

Demand for Circular Economy Solutions Prompts Business and Government Changes

Published

on

To truly tackle climate goals, the world must transform how it makes and consumes. To support this effort, circular economy initiative Scale360° has expanded its reach from 2 countries to 20 in 2021, taking its unique approach to circular innovation and collaboration to cities, regions and countries around the world, triggering key changes for businesses and governments in how circularity is prioritised and managed.

Scale360°, established in 2019, leverages innovation ‘hubs’ to bring together leaders in science, policy and business to trigger circular change. They use Scale360°’s unique, tested methodology – the Scale360° Circular Innovation Playbook – to deploy Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to rethink consumption and production, helping to transform the pipeline of future innovations.

The rapid growth of Scale360° demonstrates the growing demand for guidance on how to enable circular change and collaboration. Highlights from 2021 include:

● Circular Shapers: This initiative, launched this year, mobilised young change-makers in 12 countries to transform their cities into centres of circular economy innovation. Circular Shapers are competitively selected from the Global Shapers Community, a network of young volunteers in 448 city-based hubs around the world.

● Germany: Scale360° Germany is designing a consumer campaign to educate consumers on the environmental impact of ‘white goods’ (e.g., washing machines, etc.) and empower consumers to lengthen the lifespan of their appliances. This project has been developed in collaboration with Kearney and the Circular Valley.

● Singapore: This new program will improve the conditions for circular scalability in Singapore by engaging Singapore’s Deep Tech community and accelerating circular innovation collaborations between startups and corporates. Launched September 2021, this program was developed in collaboration with SGInnovate, a government-backed Deep Tech ecosystem builder and investor.

● Kenya, Bangladesh and India: In these countries, the 2030 Water Resources Group is leveraging Scale360° methodologies, tools and partnerships for scaling up circular economy solutions to improve water resource management in urban, industrial and agricultural sectors. 2030 Water Resources Group is a public-private-civil society partnership hosted by the World Bank Group.

● Argentina: McKinsey.org’s flagship initiative Rethinking Recycling – in partnership with Red de Innovación Local (RIL), a network of 200+ Argentine cities’ municipal decision-makers – will apply tools from Scale360°’s Circular Innovation Playbook to transform Argentine cities’ municipal waste management at scale, aiming to deliver substantive volumes of recyclables and compostables to industry, while also enhancing job opportunities and cost savings for cities.

This momentum comes in addition to the continued evolution of existing programmes. This year, the UAE established a dedicated UAE Circular Economy Council comprising ministers and C-level representatives across public and private sectors. The newly formed cross-ministerial council aims to ensure circular thinking across government is prioritised not only within the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, but also across the Cabinet, the Ministry of Economy, the Artificial Intelligence Office and local government entities in each emirate. The council serves as a board of advisors for Scale360° in the UAE, and provides a platform for government, business and civil society leaders to share best practices in circular innovation.

“With these changes in place, we can create truly resilient systems that strengthen economies while pursuing the latest innovations,” said His Excellency Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Chair of the UAE Circular Economy Council.

Chile’s SOFOFA hub, with the support of the country’s Ministry of Environment, is convening the country’s largest industry groups together to accelerate circularity by integrating value chains within sectors such as mining, energy, pulp and paper, food and beverages and more. Additionally, entrepreneurs, innovators and civil society members are actively working together to collaborate and build new circular business models at this critical time for the environment and economies.

“Circularity as a concept is still relatively nascent in this region, despite the critical role it plays in helping us achieve our sustainability targets. This is something we hope to change as part of the global Scale360° network, by integrating circular innovation into our mission of building Singapore’s Deep Tech economy,” said Dr Lim Jui, CEO, SGInnovate.

Such efforts pave the way for collaborations between cities, countries and regions and much-needed system-wide change. “System-wide change requires a system-wide re-thinking of collaboration,” said Shannon Bouton, President and CEO, McKinsey.org. “We are always partnering with those who are best placed to drive and scale change for maximum efficiency and impact.”

The wider adoption of Scale360° principles sets the stage for a more circular future as leaders rethink innovation. Added Scale360°’s Global Lead, Helen Burdett: “With every city, country and region, we are building a flywheel for change.”

Continue Reading

Development

Lighthouse Partnerships Gain Momentum on Social Justice

Published

on

Crises in climate, health and inequality are compelling organizations to align business strategies with equity and social justice values.

In a new whitepaper, Lighthouse Action on Social Justice Through Stakeholder Inclusion, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and Laudes Foundation, shines a light on emerging corporate momentum supporting stakeholder inclusion and social justice.

Through the case studies of nine “lighthouse examples,” the report chronicles how the following companies and coalitions are establishing stakeholder inclusion models and best business practices in three key areas:

Making investments targeting impacted communities in value chains and ecosystems:

– The Resilience Fund for Women in Global Value Chains (UN Foundation, BSR, Women Win/Win-Win, Gap Foundation, PVH Foundation, H&M Foundation, the VF Foundation, and the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation)

– In Solidarity Program (Mastercard)

– Replenish Africa Initiative (The Coca-Cola Foundation)

Influencing public policy and speaking out as corporate citizens:

– Open for Business Coalition (39 major corporations)

– Racial Equality and Justice Task Force (Salesforce)

Applying rigorous accountability practices and sharing power with workers in supply chains and communities:

– Unilever’s Living Wage commitment (Unilever)

– Farmer Income Lab (Mars, ABinBev, Danone, Oxfam, IDH, Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming, UNDP)

– Amul Supplier Cooperative Ownership (Amul)

– Patagonia’s Implementation of Regenerative Organic Certified Standards in its Apparel Supply Chain (Patagonia)

The whitepaper outlines successes and pain points as these leading lighthouse partnerships between business and civil society strive for more meaningful participation with communities most impacted by systemic injustices. Each business is unique in its culture and path to long-term value creation, but all are committed to the belief that stakeholder primacy leads to optimal outcomes.

The time to move forward with these ideals is now, and the conclusion is clear in that, “…the crises of pandemic, protest and social disruption have created an inflection point for many companies to evaluate their corporate sustainability strategies,” said David Sangokoya, Head, Civil Society and Social Justice, World Economic Forum. “Stakeholder inclusion must be at the centre of any corporate action on equity and social justice in our unequal world…positioning business on the path towards redesigning business models that shift power and value towards stakeholder primacy.”

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Americas2 mins ago

Rare-earth elements between the United States and China

The “rare-earth elements”, also called rare-earth metals or rare-earth oxides, or lanthanides are a set of 17 white soft heavy...

Americas3 hours ago

Is the US mainstream media the spying arm of the Biden Administration?

The US mainstream media is biased. We’ve all heard this before. There is a reason why so many have turned...

jakarta indonesia jakarta indonesia
Southeast Asia6 hours ago

Impunity for desertion of the Constitution

A collection of scratches depicting the nuances of “totalitarianism” (repressive actions of state stakeholders tend to be authoritarian) and “radicalism”...

Tech News11 hours ago

Lighthouses boost sustainability with Fourth Industrial Revolution transformation

The World Economic Forum announces today the addition of 21 new sites to its Global Lighthouse Network, a community of...

Joe Biden Joe Biden
Southeast Asia13 hours ago

The Race of Supremacy in the Indo-Pacific Region

Amid the growing US-China rivalry for the supremacy, the geopolitics has been altered to gain favour for oneself and outsmart...

Reports15 hours ago

Study of Diversity Shows Scale of Opportunity in Media and Entertainment Industries

The World Economic Forum’s Power of Media Initiative has compiled a first-of-its-kind compilation of the state of diversity and representation...

South Asia18 hours ago

Afghanistan and the Quest for Democracy Promotion: Symptoms of Post-Cold War Malaise

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan should be the first step in a reduced American overseas force posture. Democracy promotion in...

Trending