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Biomass policies are fuelling land-grabbing in the global South

A new report published today [1] by campaign group Biofuelwatch [2] shows that the growing demand for wood created by UK and EU biomass policies is fuelling land-grabs in Africa and South America. Despite finding that nearly all of the wood imported by the UK and other EU countries for bioenergy comes from North America and elsewhere in Europe, including Russia, the report shows that companies are taking advantage of the expectations raised by bioenergy policies in order to acquire large tracts of land in the global South.

Report author and Biofuelwatch co-Director Almuth Ernsting explained that: “Although there is no evidence for wood being supplied to UK power stations from countries in the global South at present, there is alarming evidence of UK and EU support for biomass electricity being used as an excuse for landgrabbing in Brazil, Ghana and elsewhere.”

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Stopping Boko Haram by curtailing illicit finance

Boko Haram developed from social unrest, poverty, and a strong disillusionment with the corruption of the Nigerian government. Today, the same factors make Boko Haram lethal.

Nigeria’s rampant corruption has left the nation unequipped to deal with security concerns, especially along porous borders through which Boko Haram receives immense support. A look at one of their videos reveals an immense amount of weaponry that is not only costly, but very difficult to obtain.

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On human rights and geopolitical equity

In order to consolidate the hemispheric commitments on human rights, reinforce the conditions for their realization and widen the reach for their fulfilment, the UNASUR countries have undertaken a process for strengthening the Inter-American System of Human Rights – IASHR – that includes, on the one hand, the consistency of content and methodology with the regional context, and on the other hand, universalization, that implies parity of the rules of the game for all the member countries.

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It is time to stop the privatization of the development agenda

In 2000, the United Nations announced eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce poverty worldwide.

As the goals “expire” next year, new goals are being defined in UN assemblies and corridors.

Some doors in the UN will be shut to public scrutiny but wide open to corporations.

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Aid increasing violence?

But isn't doing something better than doing nothing?

Sadly, not always.

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G7 Leaders reaffirm commitment to tackle illicit financial flows

G7 leaders meeting in Brussels reiterated their commitment to curtailing illicit financial flows stemming from crime, corruption, and tax evasion in a communiqué released today, as Global Financial Integrity (GFI) called on world leaders to push for an explicit illicit financial flows commitment in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The communiqué states that “We will continue to work to tackle tax evasion and illicit flows of finance, including by supporting developing countries to strengthen their tax base and help create stable and sustainable states.”

Read the communiqué

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G7 must act on transparency and corruption

As G7 leaders meet in Brussels, it’s worth reflecting for a moment on the changes that have occurred since last year’s summit. This year, the G8 will not meet against a backdrop of the Black Sea beaches of Sochi and Olympic glory, as planned. In fact, the G8 will not meet at all given international outrage over Russia’s action in Ukraine. Instead, the G7, sans Russia, will meet amid the medieval spires of Brussels.

The leaders’ agenda will doubtless focus on international crises. Tensions remain high in Ukraine following the Russian annexation of Crimea, and escalating terrorism impedes Nigeria’s path to development. In many ways, these crises are the by-products of corruption and the neglect of people’s fundamental rights, all of which have been allowed to fester in the global system.

In Ukraine, it turns out, the former president’s opulent private palace – a symbol of corruption in a poor country – is not, in fact, owned by Viktor Yanukovich at all, but by a UK-based anonymous shell company.

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Bad news for UNDP: lay-offs, salary cuts and demotions

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), one of the largest U.N. agencies with an estimated average annual budget of more than five billion dollars, is undergoing major structural changes – triggering large-scale staff layoffs, demotions, salary reductions and downgrading and abolition of existing senior-level jobs.

“If implemented as envisaged, it will be one of the largest mass-scale U.N. firings in living memory,” a senior U.N. staffer told IPS.

“We never had it so bad because all those staffers who lose their jobs and their G-4 visas will have to go back to their home countries,” he added.

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World Social Protection Report 2014

'Building economic recovery, inclusive development and social justice'

The ILO published its new Social Protection Report with the latest trends. It provides information on social protection systems, coverage, benefits and expenditures in more than 190 countries.

 
UNITED NATIONS: SDGs - A FEW STEPS FORWARD, A FEW STEPS BACKWARDS

With two more sessions left to go, work at the United Nations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) faces continuing challenges.

On Friday 9 May, the Co-Chairs of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) produced a narrative ‘chapeau' of two pages that will accompany the framework of the goals, sent to all Member States.

The 11th session of the OWG took place on 5-9 May at the UN headquarters in New York. The Co-Chairs are Ambassadors Macharia Kamau of Kenya and Csaba Korosi of Hungary.

Since the OWG started holding intergovernmental discussions in March 2013, developing countries in the Group of 77 and China (G77) have consistently called for a narrative to accompany the SDG framework.

The specific call was to extract the language of the narrative primarily from the Rio+20 Outcome Document, titled ‘The Future We Want.' This would prevent the risk of opening to re-negotiations the very language and principles that were agreed to less than two years ago in Rio.

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Will sinking Doing Business report drag World Bank with it?

In 2012, after repeated complaints from different stakeholders, including civil society and shareholders of the World Bank, the Bank's President Mr. Jim Kim appointed an Independent Panel ("the Panel"), chaired by Mr. Trevor Manuel, to review the Doing Business report. The appointment was scheduled to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the flagship publication, which despite the influence it came to have on benchmarking investment policies had, at that point, never been subject to peer-review by non-Bank experts.

Unexpectedly, and perhaps without deliberately planning to do so, the Panel's recommendations achieved the difficult feat of catalyzing a broad-based consensus on the necessary reforms. This was in evidence in the support that its recommendations received across governments, civil society and trade unions.

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