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Islamic Finance Has an Essential Role in Post-Covid-19 Economic Recovery

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Under the auspices of H.E. Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) President and Chairman of the IsDB Group, the 15th IsDB Global Forum on Islamic Finance convened on Saturday, 28 August 2021.

The high-level webinar under the theme: “The Role of Islamic Finance in Post-COVID19 Economic Recovery of IsDB MCs” brought together senior development practitioners and private sector experts from the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mauritania, IsDB Group, Asian Development Bank, and the World Bank.

In his opening speech, H.E. Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated poverty and stalled human development, saying that countries and development partners must come together to identify strategies for achieving a sustainable recovery.

“Human development is a crucial goal of IsDB to maintain and promote human dignity in its Member Countries. Achieving this goal starts with reducing all forms of poverty, particularly in health and education, which are essential for building human capital,” he said.

Underlining the significance of infrastructure investments for developing economies, H.E. Dr. Al Jasser stated that the growing Islamic finance industry can serve as an essential source of finance for infrastructure development in developing countries and emerging markets. “We welcome the joint World Bank – IsDB effort to develop the Islamic Finance for Infrastructure PPP Projects reference Guide which aims to shed light on the essential aspects of Islamic finance related to infrastructure public-private partnerships,” he elaborated.

H.E. Dr. Al Jasser also congratulated the winners of the IsDB Prize for Impactful Achievement in Islamic Economics for 2021, who received their awards during the forum. He added that the “prize attests to IsDB’s continuing support for innovation and progress in Islamic Economics and Finance to realise its potential for socio-economic development.”

Following the President’s speech, the Acting Director General of IsDB Institute, Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, conducted the virtual presentation of certificates to the winners of the prize. Two crowdfunding platforms, LaunchGood and Seed Out, won the prestigious prize for their innovative and impactful roles in funding projects that advance the principles of Islamic economics.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, Dr. Al-Suwailem thanked H.E. Dr. Al Jasser and the participants of the forum. Dr. Al-Suwailem added that “the forum this year aimed to integrate the principles of Islamic finance with the search for solutions for economic challenges facing the IsDB member countries.”

The forum also saw keynote speeches delivered by Dr. Bambang Susantono, Vice President at the Asian Development Bank, and Mr. Imad Fakhoury, Global Director, Infrastructure Finance, PPP and Guarantees (IPG) Group, World Bank. Dr. Susantono spoke on how Islamic finance can help in filling the financing gap required to kickstart the economic recovery post-COVID-19. For his part, Mr. Fakhoury focused on promoting public-private partnerships for infrastructure financing in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Following the keynote speeches, two panel sessions were held. The first session highlighted the extent of multidimensional poverty in IsDB MCs and the adverse impacts of COVID-19 while the second session focused on Islamic finance public-private partnerships as a tool to mobilize resources to support Member Countries’ economic recovery efforts.

The second panel discussed unleashing the potential of Islamic finance to revive IsDB Member Countries’ economies and address extreme poverty in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Development

Spain’s PM Speaks with Global CEOs on Strategic Priorities in Post-Pandemic Era

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The World Economic Forum today hosted a “Country Strategy Dialogue on Spain with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez” for its partners, chaired by Børge Brende, President of the Forum. The session gave CEOs from around the world an opportunity to hear directly from Sánchez on the factors behind Spain’s remarkable resilience to the economic shocks of the pandemic and its post-COVID-19 recovery strategy.

In the virtual session, Sánchez explained his government’s policy priorities and answered questions from CEOs on promoting innovation, a digital economy, a green transition and social justice in Spain, and on improving the enabling environment for long-term investors.

“After deploying unprecedented economic, financial and social measures to protect our economies, Spain is experiencing strong recovery. We want to build the economy of the future, and to do it in an inclusive way, leaving no one behind. We want to attract top talent and quality, innovation-centric investments. In summary, we want to transform the Spanish economy and we want to do it together with the private sector,” he said.

“The world economy is again growing. Spain is on track to be one of the fastest-growing economies among G20 countries. With Spain being among the key stakeholders in the European Union recovery fund, Prime Minister Sánchez and his government have provided important leadership on how to use the current momentum for a truly transformative agenda, for Spain, but also for Europe.” said Brende.

More than 80 partners of the World Economic Forum from around the world participated in the virtual session.

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The Indigenous peoples of the North in Russia have got extra support

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The largest metal producer, Norilsk Nickel, has decided to provide additional funding to the indigenous people of the Russian Arctic – living on the Taimyr Peninsula, the company said in a press release.

This is the second tranche of the company allocated to the indigenous peoples living in the north of Russia this year. Earlier it was reported that Norilsk Nickel allocated 2 billion Russian rubles (25.9 million US dollars) for various humanitarian needs of the indigenous peoples of the Russian North – the Taimyr Peninsula.

 “Norilsk Nickel’s response to the needs of indigenous peoples is a confirmation of the company’s flexibility and systematic work with local communities. Our agreement is a demonstration of the desire for sustainable development of the peoples of Taimyr. We constantly monitor the needs of specific communities and, in contact with the company, change the parameters of individual clauses of our agreements. Moreover, most of the changes are an increase in the number of events with an increase in funding for the most important support programs,” said Grigory Dyukarev, Chairman of the Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the Taimyr Peninsula, Krasnoyarsk Territory.

The company clarifies that an additional tranche of financing will be directed to the production of special literature, support for the publication of newspapers in the languages of the indigenous peoples of the North, preparation of teaching materials for language learning and some other activities.

“Nornickel strives to fully comply with the UN sustainable development goals. The company’s actions towards indigenous peoples are not a tribute to fashion, not an attempt to appease, but an honest, transparent and conscious position, the course of which is the development of corporate ethnoculture. We don’t just fund critical indigenous livelihoods and management programs, our goal is to build partnerships with all stakeholders: associations and specific communities. We always strive to respond to requests for adjustments to our support programs based on an urgent agenda that indigenous peoples themselves understand better than we do. Especially when it comes to supporting indigenous languages, promoting and protecting them. After all, language is the main vehicle for preserving the historical memory of generations, “commented Andrey Grachev, Vice President for Federal and Regional Programmes at Nornickel.

The agreement was signed at a round-table discussion on the results of an ethnological expert review to study the drivers of indigenous peoples sustainable development on Taimyr. In the period from December 2020 to July 2021, large-scale scientific studies of changes in the original habitat of the indigenous peoples of the North living in the western part of the Taimyr Dolgan-Nenets municipal district of the Krasnoyarsk Territory and the socio-cultural situation. The scientific organisations that participated in the review included Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera), The Expert Center Project Office for Arctic Development and others. The representatives of the indigenous communities praised Nornickel’s openness and determination to remedy the damaging effects of the May 2020 incident on their habitats and livelihood, emphasizing the relevance and significance of the review not only for Taimyr, but also for many other Russian regions.

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Guterres: South-South cooperation ‘more essential than ever’

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India and Honduras have been working together on boosting the use of sustainable energy sources. UNDP Honduras

The UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) held a high-level virtual panel discussion on Friday focused on boosting solidarity “in support of a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable future”. 

Speaking at the event, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “as the world seeks to ramp up COVID-19 response and recovery and tackle the existential threat of climate change, South-South and triangular cooperation is more essential than ever.” 

The initiative comes just two days before the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, marked on 12 September.   

Challenge like no other 

António Guterres called the COVID-19 pandemic “the most complex immediate challenge facing our world and it is undermining hard won social, economic and environmental gains.” 

He said that, in such trying times, “the solidarity that underpins South-South cooperation has once again proven vital for developing countries.” 

“Throughout the pandemic, countries of the Global South have shared their knowledge and resources to support response and recovery efforts. But, together, we must do much more,” he said. 

For Mr. Guterres, the world needs deeper international cooperation to address the global health crisis, reduce poverty and inequality, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and avert climate catastrophe. 

The UN Chief explained “that means building inclusive and resilient societies, empowering women and youth, leveraging digital, greener and bluer initiatives, and expanding sustainable financing.” 

The countries of the South have contributed to more than half of the world’s growth in recent years. Intra-south trade is higher than ever, accounting for more than a quarter of all world trade. 

 “South-South and triangular cooperation offer concrete solutions to these shared challenges,” Mr. Guterres added. 

Recovering from the pandemic 

Speaking at the same event, the President of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, said the world needs “to do more to help these developing countries in recovering from COVID-19 pandemic and South-South cooperation plays an important role in that regard.” 

“I have a lengthy list of facts and figures about the impact on developing countries, on anything from income to inequality, from gender empowerment to access to social services. Suffice to say, these figures are not good. Years of development gains have been wiped away or are in jeopardy,” he said.  

He said that, in his travels, particularly in Central Asia and in the Caribbean, he saw that South-South and triangular cooperation are pivotal to addressing challenges, particularly those that cross borders and regions. For him, UN country and regional teams are well placed to promote and support these efforts.

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