Very interesting new report on tax avoidance from SOMO
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed fears last month that increases in humanitarian aid to thousands of refugees invading Europe could result in sharp cuts on development aid by Western donors.
Confirming those fears, a new report by CONCORD, the European confederation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) representing all 28 European Union (EU) members, points out aid budgets are increasingly being used to cover refugee and asylum seekers costs: the Netherlands at 145%; Italy 107%; Cyprus 65%; and Portugal 38%.
And despite repeated promises, the EU, as a whole, did not deliver on its commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) as official development assistance (ODA) by 2015.
More worryingly, says the report, there is an emerging trend in EU countries to divert aid budgets from sustainable development to domestic costs associated with hosting refugees and asylum seekers.
For some, it is a big victory, for others, an epic failure ...
A new study attempts the first tally of those driving the peculiarly American strain of climate change denial.
The American public has turned away from outright denial of climate change. Sixty-three percent of adults describe the problem as "serious" in the latest opinion poll from the Washington Post and ABC News, a dip from the 69 percent who held that view in June. The minority who remain skeptical of climate science—a group that includes presidential hopefuls and powerful lawmakers—can count on a dedicated network of several thousand professional supporters.
A new report from Global Financial Integrity finds that developing and emerging economies lost US$7.8 trillion in illicit financial flows from 2004 through 2013, with illicit outflows increasing at an average rate of 6.5 percent per year—nearly twice as fast as global GDP.
This study is GFI’s 2015 annual global update on illicit financial flows from developing economies, and it is the sixth annual update of GFI’s groundbreaking 2008 report, “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries 2002-2006.” This is the first report to include estimates of illicit financial flows from developing countries in 2013—which the study pegs at US$1.1 trillion.
The world is congregating in Paris for CoP21 with objective to securing a new climate deal. This is expected to provide the much needed framework for actualizing the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders just 3 months ago. This event comes just in time following the launch of the 2015 Emissions Gap Report which concludes that the INDC pledges by countries are far from enough and put the world on track for warming of around 3-3.50C by 2100 despite the global target for a below 20C scenario.
The implication is Africa’s adaptation costs could soar to $50 – 100 billion by 2050. How funds will be raised to ensure adaptation as well as keep temperatures from rising to dangerous levels is critical to the realization of the Agenda 2030 in Africa and beyond. Notwithstanding that international climate financing is expected to be among key items to be addressed by the Paris deal, there is consensus in the global community that financing development and especially the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development will require trillions of dollars, and public financing alone is inadequate. Continentally, this consensus is captured in a number of continental blue prints including the key AU Agenda 2063, and recent AMCEN Cairo declaration and the 2015 second Africa Adaptation Gap report (AAGR2).
For the last few decades, increasing globalization of the world economy and waves of deregulation and privatization have facilitated the emergence and increased the power of private actors, particularly of large transnational corporations. However, it is not only “big business” but also “big philanthropy” that has an increasing influence in global (development) policy, particularly large philanthropic foundations. They have become influential actors in international policy debates, including, most importantly, how to address poverty eradication, sustainable development, climate change and the protection of human rights. The scope of their influence in both past and present discourse and decision-making processes is fully equal to and in some cases goes beyond that of other private actors. Through the sheer size of their grant-making, personal networking and active advocacy, large global foundations, most notably the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have played an increasingly active role in shaping the agenda-setting and funding priorities of international organizations and governments. So far, there has been a fairly willing belief among governments and international organizations in the positive role of philanthropy in global development.
Warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased and as a result the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the impacts are being felt in particular by developing countries. According to the latest science, the emissions gap with respect to the 2 degree or 1.5 degree goal is not closing.
Although developing countries have the least responsibility for climate change, they are the hardest hit and least able to respond.
The implementation of existing commitments under the Convention is of crucial importance. The COP provides an opportunity every year for the Parties to assess the progress made in the implementation of the Convention. In this regard, we need to use the COP to do introspection on the lessons learnt, as we are at the threshold of adopting a new universal agreement under the Convention that is set to catalyse the achievement of its objective.
From a climate perspective, not all investment is equal. Desirable investment in clean energy needs encouragement and protection, while undesirable investment in fossil fuels needs clear policy signals to avoid further investment in destructive activities and stranding more assets. In this paper, evidence is presented on how foreign investor protection provisions in trade and investment agreements tilt the playing field in favor of entrenched incumbents and against urgent action on climate; on the potential for a massive expansion of investor-state litigation and risks to climate policy in proposed trade deals; and on key flaws in recent European Commission proposals to reform investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).
As the United Nations continues its intense search for trillions of dollars needed to finance 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders last September, there is one rich source that remains unexplored: world military budgets.
Addressing the SDG summit, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan was one of the few – or perhaps the only – head of state who urged every UN member state to contribute 1.0 per cent of its military budget towards the funding of SDGs.
But there has been little or no response to the appeal – particularly at a time when rising terrorist attacks in Europe and the Middle East are likely to force countries to increase– not decrease– their arms spending.
In the next few days in Paris, the world will decide the fate of our planet. I hope the climate conference that begins there today will produce an agreement that restores the balance between ecology and economy — between our inheritance and our obligation to the future.
The conference will also, I hope, reflect a collective global commitment balancing responsibilities and capabilities on one hand with aspirations and needs on the other. It should recognise that, while some face a choice between lifestyles and technologies, others stand between deprivation and hope.
Democratic India is among the world’s fastest-growing economies. We are striving to meet the aspirations of 1.25bn people, 300m more of whom will soon have access to modern sources of energy while 90m gain running water.