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The Road to Addis Abeba : Financing Development

In July 2015, the international community will have the chance to change the future of finance development. Governments, civil society, trade unions and other actors will meet for the third UN conference on Financing for Development (Ffd) in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) to take concrete decisions for the future of development and how to finance it. In the run-up to this crucial meeting, two major reports have been released which are intended to inform the upcoming debates. We have had a report from the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Finance (ICESDF) and one from the Open Working Group (OWG) – a 30-member group nominated by the UN General Assembly to decide on the Sustainable Development Goals. Both reports should feed into future action. Disappointingly, both lack ambition and fail to present specific recommendations, something that CSOs - many in developing countries - and other actors have been calling for some time.

IMF and World Bank at 70: Many Happy Returns?

In July, the IMF and World Bank turned 70. Unlike previous anniversaries of their establishment at the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, this milestone passed with relatively little attention or criticism. This reduced interest is presumed by many commentators, supportive or critical, to reflect the waning leadership and even lost hegemony of the Bretton Woods institutions (BWIs). This perception has been emphasised by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa’s (BRICS) launching of their own New Development Bank (NDB) in July, widely seen as a rival to the BWIs (see Bulletin Feb 2014). The BRICS also announced a Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) explicitly designed to ensure they never again turn to the IMF for support. The CRA and NDB were announced just days before the 70th anniversary of the 1944 Bretton Woods conference.

The Great Rip Off

Global Witness, an international investigative and advocacy organization, today released a report, entitled “The Great Rip Off,” studying the use of anonymous U.S. companies for a wide range of illegal and otherwise fraudulent activities in the United States, and outlining the policy steps needed to curb this massive abuse of the incorporation system. Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington DC-based research and advocacy organization that has worked closely with Global Witness over the years, recommends the report as a welcome new resource on an important but often misunderstood issue.

Read the report


Last Updated on Saturday, 27 September 2014 14:38
How Did Leaders Respond to the People’s Climate March?

About 400,000 people went to the streets on September 21st to ask for real actions to address climate change. It was the greatest climate march in history. The UN Climate Summit organized by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon took place two days later with the participation of 100 heads of state and 800 leaders from business. How did this Summit react to the demands of the peoples climate march? Did it meet the expectations?

According to Ban Ki-Moon and other leaders, it was a success. To see if that is true, we should look at: 1) what science is telling us; 2) the previous commitments made by governments; and 3) how these commitments at the UN have improved in order to address the mismatch between what has to be done and what is being done.

Climate change and toxic assets

The assets of oil companies have a toxic effect. The irrational behaviour of markets has moved into the industry of non-renewable energy resources (oil, gas, coal), as accurately described in an article published in The Telegraph by Ambrose Evans-Prichard (1).

We must remember that, previous to the great crisis of central capitalism of 2008, the banks created the so-called financial bubbles, when they gave big loans to persons with little possibility of repayment. US banks, to increase the market, created high risk mortgages, known as “sub-prime” options, with the backing of the Community Reinvestment Act, a law that required the banks to loan to persons who lacked a good credit history. The risk was eluded systematically, which amplified the demand for real estate and hiked housing prices. This was the cause of the sudden growth of the real estate bubble, both in the United States and in Europe.

Climate Smart Agriculture: Clever name, Losing game?

With the impacts of climate change being felt on food systems around the world, and the contribution of agriculture to global emissions also gaining attention, agriculture is one of the issues at the heart of climate change concerns. The concept of ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ was developed by the FAO and the World Bank. The concept of ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ was developed by the FAO and the World Bank, claiming that ‘triple wins’ in agriculture could be achieved in mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation (supporting crops to grow in changing climate conditions), and increasing crop yields. But there is growing confusion and debate over what the term really means, what it can achieve, what is new about it, and whether it really can benefit food systems in the face of climate change.

Increasingly, civil society and farmer organisations are expressing concerns that the term can be used to green-wash agricultural practices that will harm future food production, such as industrial agriculture practices or soil carbon offsetting.

Read the Action Aid Report

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 01:45
Is Globalization making a U-turn?

Not long ago, executives at the Dutch multinational Royal DSM, a globe-girdling maker of nutritional supplements and high-tech materials, used to require a battery of internal studies to decide where to do a deal or locate a new manufacturing plant.

But today, “we won’t even do the study,” Stephan B. Tanda, the managing board member with responsibility for the Americas, told me. “It’s clear it will be the United States.”

Migration's Hall of Mirror

On both sides of the Atlantic, anti-immigrant politics are undermining democracies and damaging lives. Far-right nationalist parties are gaining traction in Europe, while millions of undocumented migrants suffer in the shadows. In the United States, President Barack Obama, concerned about his party’s ability to retain control of the Senate, has decided to put off immigration reform until after the election in November.

Yet that may be the wrong approach. A new public-opinion survey by the German Marshall Fund (GMF) reveals that anti-immigrant sentiment stems largely from misinformation, not entrenched animus.

Africa's Dividing Farmland A Threat to Food Security

When Kiprui Kibet pictures his future as a maize farmer in the fertile Uasin Gishu county in Kenya’s Rift Valley region, all he sees is the ever-decreasing plot of land that he has to farm on.

“I used to farm on 40 hectares but now I only have 0.8 hectares. My father had 10 sons and we all wanted to own a piece of the farmland. Subdivision … ate into the actual farmland,” Kibet tells IPS. “From 3,200 bags a harvest, now I only produce 20 bags, at times even less.”

Experts say that Africa’s extensive land subdivision is emerging as a significant threat to food security.

The cost of corruption

“Whenever corruption is allowed to thrive, it inhibits private investment, reduces economic growth, increases the cost of doing business, and can lead to political instability. But in developing countries, corruption is a killer,” a report on the findings, released Wednesday, states.

“When governments are deprived of their own resources to invest in health care, food security or essential infrastructure, it costs lives, and the biggest toll is on children.”

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