We know that most of our governments are not particularly keen on reaching an ambitious climate goal at the COPS 21 conference starting in Paris to-day. It looks as if once again the conference will fail to save humanity from the hardships of climate change. As they have also failed at the Copenhagen Conference in 2009. As they have failed with their ‘war on terrorism’. As they have failed with the ‘the war on poverty’. As they have failed with the financial crisis of 2008 …
It is true that all these different and fragmented goals are not easy to reach, particularly if climate and economic interests have to balanced, and if in the end financial interests are dominant …
Why do we accept this fragmented way of looking at things? We know that everything is linked to everything else, and if it is true that it can hinder to look at particularly urgent matters if we only adopt a birds’ eye view on problems, it can also help to get priorities right.
The migration of poor people from the countryside into cities fuels excessive rates of urbanization in many of the 48 LDCs, while many international migrants come from rural areas.
More than two thirds of the population of LDCs live in rural areas, and 60 per cent work in agriculture, highlighting the need for structural changes focused on the fight against poverty. This means developing the synergies between agricultural modernization and diversification of the rural economy.
UNCTAD recommends placing more importance on non-farm rural activities instead of primarily focusing on increasing agricultural productivity, as well as increasing the production of higher-value agricultural products.
Last week, I went to an expert group meeting to discuss a new framework being prepared by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) for monitoring and measuring flows that could be considered developmental but are not currently captured in Official Development Assistance (ODA, or ‘aid’). This new framework is provisionally called Total Official Support for Sustainable Development (TOSSD). The stated purpose of this framework is not to supplant ODA but to provide transparency on other financial flows that support the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN.
Now, I think this agenda has serious risks attached – it could undermine aid targets, incentivise the wrong kind of private investments, and give donors false credit for supporting global public goods. But last week I was challenged to think about what the positive side might be. I have two initial thoughts.
Although inequality has recently become one of the current topics “de jour” in the economics profession, Branko Milanovic is certainly not a newbie to this area. Indeed, the World Bank economist and development specialist (currently a visiting presidential professor at CUNY’s Graduate Center and a senior scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center), has been studying this particular field of economics since his days as a graduate student. One of his unique contributions has been to link this scholarship to prevailing financial conditions, providing substantial empirical evidence which illustrates how financial bubbles and the increasing financialisation of the global economy has played a key role in terms contributing to greater inequality.
This new report by Martin Myant – Senior Researcher at the European Trade Union Institute – describes why the negotiating parties want a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), what the agreement will contain and what trade liberalisation may lead to. It argues that TTIP offers no improvements in economic or social conditions for European citizens. On the contrary, the Partnership threatens a reduction in protection for employees and consumers and a substantial enhancement of the power of private business.
If the Partnership is to be continued at all, then it should do so with the exclusion of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement and with means to ensure there is no reduction in regulatory protections through attempts to achieve compatibility.
South-South cooperation is usually seen as a poor second fiddle to North-South aid in the world of development assistance. Indeed, developing countries’ policy makers themselves insist that South-South cooperation can only supplement but not replace North-South cooperation.
However, this widespread view received a jolt recently when China announced it was setting up two new funds totalling a massive 5.1 billion dollars to assist other developing countries.
A gathering of African leaders and European Union (EU) member-states in Malta has resulted in a proposed financial package of nearly $US4 billion which will ostensibly be utilized to halt the flow of migration from Africa to Europe.
European governments say they are willing to send funds to Africa so that people will not be interested in migrating to the continent. Such a program would in effect turn African presidents and prime ministers into the gatekeepers of Europe.
Two years into President Jim Yong Kim’s controversial reform process, is the World Bank better or worse at fighting poverty?
Bank management is still feeling the effects of internal turmoil and staff dissatisfaction after a $400 million cut in operational expenses and a controversial reorganization. But while these pieces of the reforms have claimed headlines, they are not the only story that can be told about the new shape of the world’s largest international financial institution.
Earlier this year, the United States faced a gut check moment when it comes to its leadership in the multilateral development banks (MDBs). In June, 56 countries, including important US allies like Germany, the UK, and Australia, joined the Chinese government in creating a new MDB, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
And while the United States was roundly criticized for its handling of this episode, I think much of that criticism was misguided in putting the focus on the short term bungling of diplomatic outreach, or Congress’s failure to pass IMF reform. Both are relevant, and I very much believe that action on the IMF quota package is critical in its own right, but the challenges to US leadership in the MDBs – institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank where the US is the largest shareholder – run deeper and are longer term in nature.
Over the eight years since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, the ranks of the unemployed have swollen to over 200 million worldwide. That number captures only a fraction of those who remain vulnerable and insecure, since more than four-fifths of the global workforce is outside the formal sector, with poor access to unemployment or other traditional social security benefits.
In order to survive in the absence of social protection, unemployment is not an option for most poor people in the world. Instead, their fate is more likely to be that of the working poor – of low incomes due to underemployment, low productivity or limited survival options. According to the latest estimates of the World Bank, the number of extreme poor (living on no more than $1.25 per capita a day) has declined from 1.93 billion in 1981 to 1.91 billion in 1990 and 1.01 billion in 2011, projected to 835.5 million in 2015.
Interesting report from 'Share the World Resources':
The Sustainable Development Goals – despite their positive and progressive rhetoric – by no means constitute a transformative agenda for meeting the basic needs of all people within the means of our shared planet. This report argues that we may never see an end to poverty “in all its forms everywhere” unless ordinary people unite in their millions and demand the universal realisation of fundamental human rights through huge, continuous and worldwide demonstrations for economic justice.