Getting the right balance between public and private sector roles and responsibilities in the Financing for Development and Post-2015 process will be fundamental to prospects for sustainable, inclusive development. Yet early evidence suggests this balance is already awry, skewed far in favour of private interests. Are we seeing a process of outsourcing the international agenda?
There’s no question that businesses around the world are sources of growth and employment. But they are also the source of the most serious threats to sustainable development—from pollution to illicit financial flows that undermine prospects for public resources.
It is clear that traditional official development assistance will not be enough to finance the SDGs. It will continue to play a key role in the poorest countries and in countries destabilized by strife and conflicts. Alliance Sud is therefore calling for at least half the development budgets of donor countries to go towards the poorest countries. Should development aid budgets remain just as big – or small – as hitherto, greater concentration on the poorest countries would nonetheless create big losers as well. In middle-income countries, current development assistance programmes and projects would have to be abandoned. Total expenditure would need to be increased substantially if this is to be avoided. The old demand for 0.7 per cent of gross national income to be allocated to development aid has therefore lost none of its urgency.
Below is a statement presented by Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre, during the 2015 Social Forum of the United Nations Human Rights Council which took place from 18 to 20 February 2015 in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.
The 2015 Social Forum was held in accordance with paragraph 6 of Human Rights Council resolution 26/28 entitled “The Social Forum”. It focused on "access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including best practices in this regard ".
Access to medicines, even if a person is too poor to afford it, is a cornerstone to the realization of the right to health and life. There has been significant progress in new and better medicines. However prices of the medicines are often priced so high so as to be out of reach of the poor or even the middle classes in many countries, not only in developing but also in developed countries.
The post-2015 development agenda aspires to global transformation. Its content so far, including the set of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) agreed in last year’s Open Working Group, affirms that aim through an unprecedented commitment to inclusion, sustainability and universality. This suggests that the world might finally move beyond current imbalanced patterns of consumption and production that have left wide swathes of human deprivation and pushed the limits of planetary boundaries.
Yet the main question, after the most recent intergovernmental negotiations on the agenda in March in New York, is: will the political process live up to the agenda’s promise? It is still early days in forging global consensus, but given the stakes at hand, momentum is critical. Will governments and all other actors exercise the kind of visionary leadership and risk-taking that transformation demands? Or will they fall back on protecting familiar vested interests and avoid risk by seeking easier, quicker agreement? Does the calculation of political risk overwhelm the very urgent imperative to take serious action on urgent issues—namely, the long-term survival of people and the planet?
It appears that IMF governance reform is heading towards a near certain crisis. 2015 should mark the completion of the Fifteenth review of IMF quotas, which affect the voting share of IMF members. However, the Fourteenth Review has not yet been ratified, as the US Congress has blocked it – the US’s 16.85% voting share gives it a de facto veto on any decisions requiring an 85% majority of votes. It seems highly unlikely that anything will change to alter this scenario, and 2015 will end with the Fourteenth review unratified.
Can a new quota reform with any credibility really be agreed in this environment? We should also remember that quota reforms have traditionally been highly political affairs with states taking positions on the basis of how changes will affect their voting shares. Even if a reform is agreed, is there any likelihood that it will be ratified?
There is a new scramble for Africa, with ordinary people facing displacement by the affluent and the powerful as huge tracts of land on the continent are grabbed by a minority, rights activists here say.
“Our forefathers cried foul during colonialism when their land was grabbed by colonialists more than a century ago, but today history repeats itself, with our own political leaders and wealthy countrymen looting land,” Claris Madhuku, director of the Platform for Youth Development (PYD), a democracy lobby group in Zimbabwe, told IPS.
Declaration published at the World Social forum in Tunis:
The declaration calls for binding tax and transparency rules that ensure multinational corporations pay their fair share of taxes, and contends that global decision-making on tax should be taken out of the hands of the exclusive OECD and handed to a UN body that ensures developing countries have an equal seat at the table. It also calls for tax laws to incorporate the rights of women and redress the gender imbalances that run through many tax systems.
Over a decade ago, Dollars & Sense published the article “Genetic Engineering and the Privatization of Seeds,” by Anuradha Mittal and Peter Rossett, on genetic modification and its impact on the world food system (March/April 2001). In it, the authors asked, “will biotechnology feed the world?” while providing an overview of the landscape of corporate control, widening inequality, private property claims, and growing farmers’ resistance around the world. This article acts as a follow-up, highlighting some of the key developments in recent years.
For most of history, farmers have had control over their seeds: saving, sharing, and replanting them with freedom. Developments in the course of the 20th century, however, have greatly eroded this autonomy. Legal changes, ranging from the Plant Variety Protection Act (1970) in the United States to the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), have systematically eroded farmers’ rights to save seeds for future use. By the end of 2012, Monsanto had sued 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses in the United States for patent infringement, winning over $23 million in settlements. Here, we describe some of the key developments further intensifying corporate control over the food system. It is not, however, all bleak news. Civil society groups are using everything from grassroots protest to open-source licensing to ensure that the enclosure and privatization of seeds comes to an end.
Increasingly, development money is being channelled through third parties such as banks or private equity funds.
The world’s leading proponent of this financing model, the International Finance Corporation, spent $36 billion this way in just the four years leading up to June 2013.
But what does this ‘hands-off’ form of development financing mean for people? Are the risks to communities and their livelihoods just too high given the weaker social and environmental protections entailed?
This report tells the human story behind the high finance and statistics, and asks whether reforms to this model of lending have gone far enough to protect communities.
Dr. Fanwell Kenala Bokosi, Executive Director of The African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) -- a civil society organisation that advocates for debt cancellation, has described Africa’s rising debt as “unsustainable”.
“Accumulating debt is not the way forward, and the rate at which it is building up is unsustainable. Firstly, when you acquire debt you have to pay more than you get because it comes with interest; and secondly, debt makes it difficult for you to do the things you want,” he said.
An interesting report named “Illicit financial flows, human rights and the post-2015 development agenda” has been submitted to the Human Rights Council on 9 March 2015 under the agenda item “Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, in political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development”.
The report outlines how illicit financial flows undermine the enjoyment of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights and emphasizes the need for political action.