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MDBs Climate Finance Hit $66 Billion in 2020

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Climate finance committed by major multilateral development banks (MDBs) rose to a total of $66 billion last year from $61.6 billion in 2019, according to the 2020 Joint Report on Multilateral Development Banks’ Climate Finance, published today. Of this, 58%—or $38 billion—was committed to low- and middle-income economies.

The total climate cofinance committed during 2020 alongside MDB resources was $85 billion. Together, MDB climate finance and climate cofinance totalled more than $151 billion. The amount of private direct mobilization stood at $5.9 billion.

Accelerating the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies through climate finance is a key element of the MDBs’ effort to align their activities with the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep global warming well below 2°C, with efforts to limit it to 1.5°C, along climate-resilient development pathways. In the past 6 years, the MDBs have jointly committed a total of $257 billion in climate finance, of which $186 billion was directed at low- and middle-income economies.

The annual report is a key indicator on the progress MDBs are making on accelerating the delivery of climate finance, for which demand is clearly going to grow over time. This year’s report marks the end of the reporting period tracking individual climate finance pledges since 2015; for most, 2021 will mark the start of a new increase in ambition. In 2019, at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, MDBs announced their expected joint annual climate action finance to 2025. These include at least $65 billion, with $50 billion of MDB climate finance for low-income and middle-income countries; an increase in adaptation finance to $18 billion; and private direct mobilization of $40 billion.

“The MDBs will continue to improve their tracking and reporting of climate finance in the context of their commitments to ensure consistent financial flows to the countries’ long-term, low-carbon and climate-resilient development pathways, as established in…the Paris Agreement,” says the 2020 report, which is the 10th in the series.

Of the 2020 total of $66 billion, $63 billion came from the MDBs’ own accounts and almost $3 billion from external resources channelled through and managed by MDBs. These included the Climate Investment Funds, Green Climate Fund and climate-related funds under the Global Environment Facility, EU blending facilities and others.

The 2020 financing helped play a key role in supporting countries to embed green and climate-focused solutions as part of their recoveries from the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). While these programmes affected MDBs’ normal lending operations and thus the delivery of their climate finance targets, seeing the total commitments for low- and middle-income countries dip from 2019’s $41.5 billion, the 2020 report says interventions and support from the MDBs laid a solid foundation for “building back better” for a greener, more resilient, post-COVID-19 future.

“Climate action has never been more urgent than now. Speed, scale, and financing are critical to enable transition into low-carbon and climate-resilient development pathways and achieving the universally agreed goals of the Paris Agreement,” said ADB’s Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono. “ADB remains steadfast in providing financing and technical assistance for our developing member countries to make a green, resilient, and inclusive recovery from COVID-19, while aligning our own operations with the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Nearly $50 billion (76%) of total MDB climate finance in 2020 was associated with climate change mitigation investments that aim to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and slow down global warming. Of this, 50% went to low- and middle-income economies. More than $16 billion (24%) for climate change adaptation finance was invested in adaptation efforts to help countries build resilience to the mounting impacts of climate change, including worsening droughts and more extreme weather events, from flooding to rising sea levels. Of this, 83% was directed for low- and middle-income economies.

The 2020 MDB report, coordinated by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), combines data from the African Development Bank, ADB, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the EBRD, the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank Group, the Islamic Development Bank and the World Bank Group. AIIB data is fully incorporated for the first time. As part of the MDBs’ ambition to extend and enhance climate finance reporting, the 2020 report also summarises information on climate finance tracking from the New Development Bank, presented separately from the joint figures and not yet included in the MDB climate finance total.

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Post-COVID-19, regaining citizen’s trust should be a priority for governments

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coronavirus people

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated governments’ ability to respond to a major global crisis with extraordinary flexibility, innovation and determination. However, emerging evidence suggests that much more could have been done in advance to bolster resilience and many actions may have undermined trust and transparency between governments and their citizens, according to a new OECD report.

Government at a Glance 2021 says that one of the biggest lessons of the pandemic is that governments will need to respond to future crises at speed and scale while safeguarding trust and transparency. “Looking forward, we must focus simultaneously on promoting the economic recovery and avoiding democratic decline” said OECD Director of Public Governance Elsa Pilichowski. “Reinforcing democracy should be one of our highest priorities.”

 Countries have introduced thousands of emergency regulations, often on a fast track. Some alleviation of standards is inevitable in an emergency, but must be limited in scope and time to avoid damaging citizen perceptions of the competence, openness, transparency, and fairness of government.

 Governments should step up their efforts in three areas to boost trust and transparency and reinforce democracy:

 Tackling misinformation is key. Even with a boost in trust in government sparked by the pandemic in 2020, on average only 51% of people in OECD countries for which data is available trusted their government. There is a risk that some people and groups may be dissociating themselves from traditional democratic processes.

 It is crucial to enhance representation and participation in a fair and transparent manner. Governments must seek to promote inclusion and diversity, support the representation of young people, women and other under-represented groups in public life and policy consultation. Fine-tuning consultation and engagement practices could improve transparency and trust in public institutions, says the report. Governments must also level the playing field in lobbying. Less than half of countries have transparency requirements covering most of the actors that regularly engage in lobbying.

 Strengthening governance must be prioritised to tackle global challenges while harnessing the potential of new technologies. In 2018, only half of OECD countries had a specific government institution tasked with identifying novel, unforeseen or complex crises. To be fit for the future, and secure the foundations of democracy, governments must be ready to act at speed and scale while safeguarding trust and transparency.

 Governments must also learn to spend better, according to Government at a Glance 2021. OECD countries are providing large amounts of support to citizens and businesses during this crisis: measures ongoing or announced as of March 2021 represented, roughly, 16.4% of GDP in additional spending or foregone revenues, and up to 10.5% of GDP via other means. Governments will need to review public spending to increase efficiency, ensure that spending priorities match people’s needs, and improve the quality of public services.

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Sweden: Invest in skills and the digital economy to bolster the recovery from COVID-19

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Sweden’s economy is on the road to recovery from the shock of the COVID-19 crisis, yet risks remain. Moving ahead with a labour reform to facilitate adaptation in a fast-changing economic environment, and investing in digital skills and infrastructure, will be crucial to revive employment and build a sustainable recovery, according to the latest OECD Economic Survey of Sweden.

The pandemic triggered a severe recession in Sweden, despite mild distancing measures and swift government action to protect people and businesses. GDP fell by less than in many other European economies in 2020, thanks to reinforced short-time work, compensation to firms for lost revenue and measures to prop up the financial system, but unemployment still rose sharply. Solid public finances provided room for further stimulus in 2021 to buttress the recovery.

 The Survey recommends maintaining targeted support to people and firms until the pandemic subsides, then focusing on strengthening vocational training and skills and increasing investment in areas like high-speed internet and low-carbon transport. Addressing regional inequality, which is low but rising, should also be a priority as the recovery takes hold.

 The Survey shows that Sweden has been among the most resilient OECD countries in the face of a historic shock. Yet, like other economies, it faces challenges from demographic changes and the shift to green, digital economies. Investments in education and training, and labour reforms along the lines negotiated by the social partners, will support job creation and strengthen economic resilience. Building on Sweden’s leadership in digital innovation and diffusion will also be key for driving productivity.

 After a 3% contraction in 2020, interrupting several years of growth, the Survey projects a rebound in activity with 3.9% growth in 2021 and 3.4% in 2022 as industrial production resumes and exports recover. The recovery in world trade is bolstering the Swedish economy, however the country remains vulnerable to potential disruptions in global value chains.  

The pandemic has aggravated a mismatch in Sweden’s job market, with unfilled vacancies for highly qualified workers coinciding with high unemployment for low-skilled workers and immigrants. The public employment service needs strengthening to provide better support to jobseekers, including immigrants and women, and labour policies should strike the right balance between supporting businesses and workers and supporting transitions away from declining businesses towards growing sectors.

A rising share of youths and older people in the population, especially in remote areas, is affecting the finances of local governments, which provide the bulk of welfare services. Strengthening local government budgets and ensuring equal welfare provision across the country will require providing tax income to poorer regions more efficiently and raising the economic growth potential across regions through investments in innovation. Improving coordination between government entities and reinforcing the role of universities in local economic networks would help achieve that aim.

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Fewer women than men will regain work during COVID-19 recovery

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Generations of progress stands to be lost on women and girls' empowerment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: ILO

Fewer women will regain jobs lost to the COVID-19 pandemic during the recovery period, than men, according to a new study released on Monday by the UN’s labour agency.  

In Building Forward Fairer: Women’s rights to work and at work at the core of the COVID-19 recovery, the International Labour Organization (ILO) highlights that between 2019 and 2020, women’s employment declined by 4.2 per cent globally, representing 54 million jobs, while men suffered a three per cent decline, or 60 million jobs. 

This means that there will be 13 million fewer women in employment this year compared to 2019, but the number of men in work will likely recover to levels seen two years ago. 

This means that only 43 per cent of the world’s working-age women will be employed in 2021, compared to 69 per cent of their male counterparts. 

The ILO paper suggests that women have seen disproportionate job and income losses because they are over-represented in the sectors hit hardest by lockdowns, such as accommodation, food services and manufacturing. 

Regional differences 

Not all regions have been affected in the same way. For example, the study revealed that women’s employment was hit hardest in the Americas, falling by more than nine per cent.  

This was followed by the Arab States at just over four per cent, then Asia-Pacific at 3.8 per cent, Europe at 2.5 per cent and Central Asia at 1.9 per cent. 

In Africa, men’s employment dropped by just 0.1 per cent between 2019 and 2020, while women’s employment decreased by 1.9 per cent. 

Mitigation efforts 

Throughout the pandemic, women faired considerably better in countries that took measures to prevent them from losing their jobs and allowed them to get back into the workforce as early as possible. 

In Chile and Colombia, for example, wage subsidies were applied to new hires, with higher subsidy rates for women.  

And Colombia and Senegal were among those nations which created or strengthened support for women entrepreneurs.  

Meanwhile, in Mexico and Kenya quotas were established to guarantee that women benefited from public employment programmes. 

Building forward 

To address these imbalances, gender-responsive strategies must be at the core of recovery efforts, says the agency. 

It is essential to invest in the care economy because the health, social work and education sectors are important job generators, especially for women, according to ILO. 

Moreover, care leave policies and flexible working arrangements can also encourage a more even division of work at home between women and men. 

The current gender gap can also be tackled by working towards universal access to comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection. 

Promoting equal pay for work of equal value is also a potentially decisive and important step. 

Domestic violence and work-related gender-based violence and harassment has worsened during the pandemic – further undermining women’s ability to be in the workforce – and the report highlights the need to eliminate the scourge immediately. 

Promoting women’s participation in decision-making bodies, and more effective social dialogue, would also make a major difference, said ILO. 

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