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10 questions for prospective MEPs

ODI - 3. Mai 2019 - 0:00
Ahead of the European Parliament elections, we should question parties about their commitment to sustainable development, safe migration, and other issues.
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FROM THE FIELD: New sensors protect vulnerable Malawians against deadly lightning

UN ECOSOC - 2. Mai 2019 - 17:09
The deadly threat of lightning strikes, as well as their damaging impact on a country’s development, has been recognized in a new project supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). 
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“How to Fix Democracy,” with Michael Ignatieff

UN Dispatch - 2. Mai 2019 - 16:31

What happens when voters in a democracy elect an illiberal politician? And what if that politician uses legal means to obliterate the political opposition, consolidate power and undermine pillars of a free and open society? Can democracy, in any recognizable form survive?

We are seeing this questions play out in real time in Hungary today, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban has systematically upended years of democratic consolidation with a decidedly authoritarian approach to politics.

Michael Ignatieff has had a grounds-eye view of Hungary’s transformation under Orban. He is a former Canadian politician and author who now serves as the president and rector of the Central European University. This is a Budapest-based graduate school founded by George Soros that has been vilified by Orban and his supporters. The Hungarian government has sought to shut down this university

Today’s episode of Global Dispatches podcast is a cross over with the new show How to Fix Democracy. It features Michael Igantieff in interview with the writer Andrew Keen.  In this episode, Ignatieff discusses the challenge to democracy posed by illiberal “democrats” like Viktor Orban.

How to Fix Democracy is an interview series in which prominent thinkers, writers, politicians, technologists, and business leaders discuss some fundamental questions about the fate and trajectory of democracy today.  The series is presented by the Bertelsmann Foundation, in partnership with Humanity in Action. 

 

Get the Global Dispatches Podcast ​iTunes  |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Google Play Music​  | Radio Public

 

The post “How to Fix Democracy,” with Michael Ignatieff appeared first on UN Dispatch.

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5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue

UNSDN - 2. Mai 2019 - 16:23
2-3 May 2019, Baku, Azerbaijan “Building dialogue into action against discrimination, inequality and violent conflict”

The global community is constantly and rapidly changing, implying effective responses to new occurrences.

Against this challenging global context, the Government of Azerbaijan in partnership with UNESCO, UNAOC, UNWTO, the Council of Europe and ISESCO will host the 5th World Forum on Intercultural  Dialogue under the motto of “Building dialogue into action against discrimination, inequality and violent conflict” on 2-3 May, 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. The 5th World Forum will examine the critical role of Intercultural Dialogue as an actionable strategy for building human solidarity and helping localities counter the violence and discrimination in diverse communities.

Moreover, the 2nd High Level Panel of the Heads of International Organizations  and the Ministerial Panel will also be held within the Forum in order to build synergy and partnership among political, economic, financial, military, humanitarian and social organizations along with other stakeholders to elaborate a common roadmap for assisting public, private and third sector organizations in building inclusive and sustainable societies through promoting intercultural dialogue and human dignity.

Launched in 2008, the Baku Process has for 10 years worked to create a positive platform for an open and respectful exchange of views between individuals and groups with different ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds, living on different continents, on the basis of mutual understanding and respect.

Recognising the success of the Baku Process to date, the UN Secretary-General’s Annual Report (2017) to the UN General Assembly on intercultural and interreligious dialogue and a culture of peace (A/72/488) contained a reference to the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, as a key global platform for promoting intercultural dialogue. One of the two corresponding resolutions (A/RES/72/136) also emphasized the importance of the Baku Forum.

Convened every two years, the Baku Process’s seminal event is the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue. Throughout the first four editions of the Forum, organized by the Government of Azerbaijan in partnership with UNESCO, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, UNWTO, the Council of Europe, ISESCO, and, in 2017 the UNFAO, participants sought to understand how dialogue within diverse communities has the potential to create tension – such as when mistrust and misunderstanding is exposed – but also to build understanding. In exploring this, and related themes, previous Forums have sought to strengthen and broaden the conceptual basis and operational definition of ICD in order to achieve a real sense of global application, moving from a suggested Euro-centricity or ‘Western’ focus to embrace wider socio-cultural contexts and genuinely universal values.

WFID 2019 will seek to build on this solid foundation to help mobilise intercultural dialogue for concrete transformative action. It does so with the foundational belief that whilst the “super diversity” characterising contemporary communities represents a significant policy challenge, it also offers real benefits.

Whilst previous Forums gave a lot of attention to state-led, ‘top down’ leadership initiatives, WFID 2019 will seek to examine broader multi-level and multi-sectoral engagement with ICD, highlighting the critical role of local governance structures and individual actors. It will encourage more discussion of working within and between cultures to promote contact and exchange that reinforces the benefits of diversity and peaceful co-existence.

Source: Baku Process

The post 5th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue appeared first on UNSDN - United Nations Social Development Network.

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ADB Strategy 2030 advances corporate capture, not sustainable development in Asia Pacific

Reality of Aid - 2. Mai 2019 - 12:37

ADB’s newly-published Strategy 2030 is just a continuation and rehash of the failed Strategy 2020 released in 2008. After a decade of implementation, ADB acknowledges that the long-standing and new challenges and problems in the region have remained unaddressed, and are even getting worse. ADB refers to the remaining 326 million poor (measured by the USD 1.90 poverty line); the rising inequality amidst growth; and the negative impacts of globalisation on inequality.

Yet, ADB still insists on continuing the earlier Strategy’s neoliberal mantra that “integration with global markets has benefited the region” by stressing the importance of “market-oriented reforms”.

The Bank’s aggressive promotion of private sector-led growth is particularly concerning for poorworkers in the entire region as they are the ones forced to feed corporations’ insatiable hunger forprofit. In the context of poor and underdeveloped countries, private sector-led development means violation of labor standards, landgrabbing, internal displacements and even conflicts and war. ADB’s Strategy 2030, therefore, like its predecessor, cannot be expected to bring about sustainable development.

Strategy 2030’s strengthening of governance means “undertaking policy reforms and promoting private sector development.” It limits governments’ role in their own economies to the mere promotion of the market and businesses. It also professes to support “policy, regulatory, and tariff related reforms” to ensure that infrastructure and services are not only maintained but also made “financially sustainable.”

Learning from the development process in various countries in Asia and the Pacific, the role of ADB is to further strengthen funding support and technical assistance for corporations’ participation in development. While Strategy 2030 claims to commit support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with the target of accelerating development being ADB's mission, support will be far greater for giant state and trans/multinational corporations.

Such support for corporations has already proven to further magnify poverty and inequality. Various mega-projects carried out by corporations are "land hungry" - they grab farmers and indigenous peoples’ lands, damage people's agricultural systems, force mass evictions, inflict human rights violations and environmental destruction. This is further worsened by the proliferation of corruption and deterioration of democratic conditions in various countries.

The Bank’s priority of “fostering regional co-operation and integration” explicitly advocates for the further integration of developing countries into global value chains. This forwards the private sector agenda of entering developing country markets. ADB’s Strategy 2030, which outlines its engagement with developing countries until the year 2030, is nothing but a rehash of its previous approach to transferring natural wealth and public assets to private companies across the region.

In line with this, ADB implements a policy to accept the Country Safeguard System (CSS) for borrowing countries to accelerate funding support for both state and private corporations. The actual implementation of CSS is to eliminate barriers for borrowing countries to meet very high ADB standards, the Safeguard Policy Statement (SPS)1. With CSS, ADB's capital finance will roll out healthier and easier, and at the same time ADB can shift the basis of greater accountability to the government of recipient country. However, a process that is undemocratic, untransparent and unaccountable will only place the CSS as a simple formality to accelerate the issuance of debt. Profits will increasingly flow to the corporation, the state releases its responsibilities, but on the other hand the people bear all the adverse impacts of “development.”

This formula is also clearly reflected in ADB's implementation of development projects in the energy and infrastructure sectors. While Strategy 2030 claims to prioritize efforts to tackle climate change, it continues to expand funding for coal-fired power plants, promotes carbon trading schemes, and encourages the implementation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology which is increasing damage to the environment.

All of these show that ADB is very far from upholding the principles of development effectiveness to which it has committed. There is nothing in ADB’s Strategy 2030 that addresses the narrowing democratic spaces for civil society in development. Its promotion of the corporations is an endorsement of the various forms of attacks on human rights activists and CSOs.

ADB should re-orient its strategy such that it puts people's rights at the core of development and stop the handover of the development agenda and public resources to corporations. In supporting the private sector, it should deliver on its promise of supporting SMEs so that they may realize their full development potential on the one hand, and demand accountability from its partner corporations and governments for the adverse impacts of their development practices. We reiterate our call on them to genuinely uphold the principles of development effectiveness. We also voice our support for the struggles of the people and CSOs in various countries of Asia and the Pacific and the world, in demanding justice and people-centered, sustainable development.###

 

1 The Safeguard Policy Statement (SPS) describes common objectives of ADB's safeguards, lays out policy principles, and outlines the delivery process for ADB's safeguard policy. According to the ADB, SPS aims to promote sustainability of project outcomes by protecting the environment and people from projects' potential adverse impacts by avoiding adverse impacts of projects on the environment and affected people, where possible; minimizing, mitigating, and/or compensating for adverse project impacts on the environment and affected people when avoidance is not possible; and helping borrowers/clients to strengthen their safeguard systems and develop the capacity to manage environmental and social risks.

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More humility about what we think is good:

EADI Debating Development Research - 2. Mai 2019 - 9:38
Reflections on revising the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index By Sabina Alkire, Usha Kanagaratnam and Frank Vollmer In her Oxford University Press blog post, “Some value safety, others value risk”, Valerie Tiberius, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, invites the reader to reflect on how to value well-being and a good life. The blog …
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How the public sector can support sustainable business

OECD - 2. Mai 2019 - 9:30
By Frederique Mestre, Senior Legal Officer, UNIDROIT This blog is part of a special series exploring subjects at the core of the Human-Centred Business Model (HCBM). The HCMB seeks to develop an innovative – human-centred – business model based on a common, holistic and integrated set of economic, social, environmental and ethical rights-based principles. Read more about the HCBM here, … Continue reading How the public sector can support sustainable business
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FROM THE FIELD: Stopping aquatic hitchhikers to safeguard environments at sea

UN #SDG News - 1. Mai 2019 - 21:53
A plan to protect the global marine environment from the dangers of non-indigenous invasive aquatic species has been launched by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO).
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For the First Time Ever, a Malaria Vaccine is Being Rolled Out in Three African Countries. Can It Eliminate Malaria For Good?

UN Dispatch - 1. Mai 2019 - 17:09

Malaria is a major threat to human life.  Malaria has killed and debilitated humans for centuries.  Though malaria rates have reduced sharply in the last 20 years, it still sickens hundreds of millions of people and is a leading cause of death around the world. But now, the first-ever vaccine against malaria is being tested in three countries where malaria is a major public health hazard. The results of this vaccine campaign and trial will have a huge impact in how the world approaches malaria prevention in the race to reach a global target of reducing malaria illness and death by 90% by 2030.

The global burden of malaria is immense. There were 219 million cases of the disease, in 87 countries in 2017. 435,000 people died of malaria that year. Malaria is especially deadly to children and pregnant women — and even when it doesn’t kill, it debilitates. The disease causes severe pain and high fever, leading to extended absence from school, the workplace or home obligations. Its economic impact is high.

In addition to being a major threat to human life, malaria is extremely difficult to control. The unique medium of malarial infection – including both a parasite and the parasite’s mosquito host – makes it nearly impossible to eliminate. At present, malaria is controlled through a whole range of different measures, including insecticide-treated bednets, indoor spraying for mosquitoes, removing the breeding grounds for mosquitoes, preventative antimalarial drugs, and identifying and treating malarial infections as fast as possible to reduce the amount of time people can spread the disease.

Researchers are approaching the problem of malaria control from all angles, considering everything from entirely eliminating mosquitoes through genetic manipulation to attempting to develop a laser that zaps mosquitoes. There is also a constant need to develop new treatments for malaria, as the parasite that causes the disease constantly evolves resistance to existing drugs. Adding a vaccine to that suite of interventions has the potential to tip this challenging balance in favor of malaria control.

Malaria is caused by parasites called plasmodium. There are five different types of plasmodium parasites that cause malaria in humans, and P. falciparum and P. vivax are the two that cause the most infections. Plasmodium does not spread directly from person to person. Instead, it is spread through the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Mosquitoes need blood to nurture their eggs; they bite humans and animals to get the blood they need. When they bite an animal infected with the plasmodium parasite, the parasites infect the mosquito. The parasites live in the mosquito, growing and multiplying. When the mosquito bites another human or animal, they pass along the infection. This lifecycle has two main implications. First, the parasite infection doesn’t seem to cause mosquitoes any great harm. They may be plasmodium hosts, but they don’t get malaria. Second, malaria has an animal reservoir. Even if you can eliminate it in the human population, they’ll always be at risk of a new zoonotic infection.

As a result, malaria control efforts focus on putting a whole set of malaria prevention interventions into place. There is no single effective anti-malaria technique – we can’t eliminate every animal that could be infected. Instead, you need a holistic set of activities – a toolbox with a whole collection of different tools to deploy as needed. Programs that substantially reduce the spread of malaria, such as Brazil’s Project for Control of Malaria in the Amazon Basin (PCMAM) take the broadest possible approach to malaria control. Brazil actually had to decentralize funding for malaria before it saw substantial reductions in malaria infections. PCMAM’s anti-malaria efforts included rapid diagnosis of malaria, preemptively treating all fevers with anti-malarial medications, controlling mosquitoes through spraying, eliminating the stagnant water they use to breed and strengthening malaria epidemiology and surveillance through collecting and reporting better data.

A vaccine for malaria is the holy grail of malaria control. Even a slightly effective vaccine could be the straw that breaks the back of malaria.

We may be seeing that happen. Right now, a malaria vaccine is being rolled out in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi in a four-year pilot program that will run through 2022. This is the pilot introduction test of a vaccine called RTS,S. Thirty years in development, the vaccine is manufactured by GSK. It was developed by a partnership of organizations that included GSK, PATH’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative (with funding from the Gates Foundation), and a network of African research centers at 11 sites in 7 countries.

RTS,S is not going to transform malaria control. It is only 39% effective against malaria. It has been found to be less cost-effective in malaria prevention than bednets in most situations. But it is one more tool in a toolbox that has never had enough options. Sub-Saharan Africa bears most of the burden of malaria – the WHO African region contains 92% of all malarial infections and 93% of all deaths. These countries desperately need one more prevention approach.

RTS,S will be administered to children in a range of malarial transmission settings as part of routine vaccine programs. In its Phase Three clinical trial (phase three determines effectiveness after Phase Two makes sure it is safe), it was found that children who received four doses of the vaccine had a significantly reduced risk of developing malaria, including severe malaria.

RTS,S is not intended to take the place of other malarial control interventions. It is meant to be that last malaria-controlling straw.

In addition to helping to protect approximately one million babies from malaria over four years, the pilot program will establish the feasibility of adding a four-dose vaccine to the routine immunization schedule in poor countries, provide large scale data on the role the vaccine can play in reducing child deaths, and identify lessons learned from routine administration of the vaccine. The timeline for vaccine introduction will be randomized by district, to help collect the most detailed impact data possible. The World Health Organization (WHO) will use the data from this pilot program to issue a broad policy recommendation on the RTS,S vaccine and its use.

RTS,S will not be a silver bullet. It is only effective against the P. falciparum malaria infections common to Africa, not the P. vivax infections found in malarial hotspots in Southeast Asia. It also protects only 39% of children who are vaccinated from malaria. However, reducing malaria infections in four of every ten children is meaningful reduction in death and suffering in its own right. That reduction will also increase the impact of prevention efforts by reducing the number of infected individuals available for mosquitoes to bite and then spread the disease.

Fighting malaria has always been a game of small steps that accrue into real impact. RTS,S is a small step with the potential to push all the other steps further.

The post For the First Time Ever, a Malaria Vaccine is Being Rolled Out in Three African Countries. Can It Eliminate Malaria For Good? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

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What does public procurement have to do with sustainability?

OECD - 30. April 2019 - 10:37
By Professor Barbara De Donno, LUISS Guido Carli, Dr Livia Ventura, LUISS Guido Carli, and Andrea De Maio, EPLO  This blog is part of a special series exploring subjects at the core of the Human-Centred Business Model (HCBM). The HCMB seeks to develop an innovative – human-centred – business model based on a common, holistic and integrated set of … Continue reading What does public procurement have to do with sustainability?
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