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Suicide on the rise

D+C - 25. September 2019 - 15:34
People who suffer from depression need better care in Malawi

The police in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe has recorded 128 cases of suicide between September 2018 and June 2019. Moreover, there were five cases of attempted suicide. Out of the 133 people who killed themselves or tried to do that, only five were women.

“Men are more likely to kill themselves because of our culture,” explains Chaweza Bandawe, a psychologist at the College of Medicine in Blantyre. Women can express their emotions, including grief and anger, openly, he says – but men cannot.

According to Franklin Kilembe, who runs a private clinic in Lilongwe where he counsels people with mental-health problems, men mostly commit suicide because of economic hardship. “In our cultural setup, a man is supposed to be the breadwinner of the family. When the man loses his job, his economic lifeline is cut, and he becomes depressed. As a result, he thinks of hanging himself,” says Kilembe. Because of Malawi’s bad economy, more companies are expected to lay off workers, which probably means more suicides, he warns.

Job problems are not the only reason for someone wanting to end his life, of course. Kilembe also mentions family problems, for instance if a spouse is unfaithful. He calls for better care for people who suffer from depression in order to avoid suicides (in regard to psychiatric problems in Africa, also see Samir Abi in D+C/E+Z e-Paper 2019/06, Focus section).

Mzimba district in the northern region of Malawi has one of the highest suicide rates. Chief Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa V blames the rise on increasing gender-based violence, among other reasons. He says domestic violence affects men and women alike. However: “Men suffer in silence and do not want to complain,” he says. Suicide might then seem the only solution. Malawi’s Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare concedes that despite all the efforts by the government and other stakeholders to fight gender-based violence, no progress has been achieved so far.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that close to 800,000 people commit suicide every year. That is one person every 40 seconds. It further notes that there are indications that for each adult who dies by suicide, there may be more than 20 others attempting suicide. According to the WHO, “effective and evidence-based interventions can be implemented at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts.” Such interventions are urgently needed in Malawi.

Raphael Mweninguwe is a freelance journalist based in Malawi.
raphael.mweninguwe@hotmail.com

 

Link
World Health Organization: Suicide data.
https://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/

 

Kategorien: english

A day at the Global Climate Strike

SCP-Centre - 25. September 2019 - 12:20

We need to be a part of the conversation about climate change now, as so many world leaders are making key decisions that pave the way forward to meet or not meet our climate targets. The CSCP team took the day off to join the Global Climate Strike demonstrations in the cities of Wuppertal, Cologne, Berlin, Essen, Düsseldorf and Heidelberg to demonstrate for climate action and support the Fridays for Future movement.

Over the course of a year, Greta Turnberg’s #FridaysforFuture has slowly become a global movement with the youth stepping in to demonstrate and raise awareness on the topic of climate change. This is an important topic for the CSCP, as it aligns with our vision of a good life for all and our work towards that of mainstreaming sustainable consumption and production.

Some with colourful handmade banners, the team members of the CSCP along with their colleagues, children, spouses, and friends joined the demonstrations in different German cities. This is a cause that is not only important for us as an organisation but essential for the future of our lives and the lives of the next generations.

5000 people in the street in Wuppertal! I cannot recall any previous protest of this size. However, positive mood and good weather did not hide the concern and seriousness of many, especially young, participants.’’ Stephan Schallar, Senior Consultant shared from Wuppertal where other colleagues were gathered as well, like Mariana Nicolau, Project Manager “The atmosphere in streets of Wuppertal was amazing! Full of people from different backgrounds and ages gathered around a common purpose.”

Michael Kuhndt, Executive Director of the CSCP was busy supporting the path of the demonstration over the B7 in Wuppertal as well as meeting up with our local community of partners and friends.The CSCP team joined the climate strike in different cities — and the fight for climate and environmental justice — for a better future for the generations to come. I am looking forward to collaborating with others on the front line fighting against climate change. We need to engage policy makers, business and communities further in order to accelerate the required changes in consumption and production patterns.’’

Marius Mertens, Consultant reported from Cologne: ‘’The Global Climate Strike organised by #FridaysforFuture created a wonderful atmosphere in the streets of Cologne. There were about 70.000 people from all generations. The strike showed, that climate change has already arrived and is in the center of the German society. It was beautiful to see, what this young generation is capable of. Eva Rudolf, Creative Designer also joined in Cologne: ‘’I went with the elementary-school of my son (7) to the strike in Cologne. We were about 150 kids plus teachers and parents. I think it was a very valuable experience for everyone – to learn that everyone can stand up for a good future for all of us.’’

Nikola Berger, Head of Design and Comunication at the CSCP went to the strike in Berlin on her day off with the Kindergarten of her daughter. ‘The atmosphere in Berlin was peaceful and positive. It was a great day for us to take the chance to speak to our small children about the reasons for the strike. We also met a lot of teenagers who were thrilled that the next generation is joining in the movement that they have started.”

While the images display the joy we all felt to come together for a common purpose, we want to continue the conversation that so many people have started on that day with their banners and posters, conveying wishes, demands, fears and hopes. To add to Michael’s statement from above — our team is looking forward to collaborate with you on all we can do to fight climate change and support a good life for all!

Der Beitrag A day at the Global Climate Strike erschien zuerst auf CSCP gGmbH.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Playing with religious identity

D+C - 25. September 2019 - 10:21
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro won the election thanks to the votes of conservative Christians

During the presidential election last year, Bolsonaro’s approval ratings were much higher among members of Brazil’s free and Pentecostal churches than among the general population. Catholics were also drawn to the right-wing populist, though to a far lesser degree. Bolsonaro won the second-round vote with a good 55 % against Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party.

Bolsonaro was raised a Catholic, and is registered as such with the Superior Electoral Court, but he later had himself baptised by a Pentecostal church whose services he also regularly attends. His wife and children are Evangelicals too.

Bolsonaro’s victory cannot simply be explained by his religious affiliations. He was also elected by a large majority of people in the south and of the educated and higher-earning people. Even about 30 % of LGBTI people, who diverge from heterosexual norms, and almost half of Afro-Brazilians voted for Bolsonaro, even though he vilifies both sexual and ethnic minorities.

Moreover, an analysis of the distribution of votes must take into account the crisis that the country is experiencing. It has permeated society as a whole. The people attribute this crisis to corruption and previous administrations headed by the Workers’ Party. During the campaign, Bolsonaro managed to position himself as the antithesis to the “old politics”.

Nevertheless, the support of the Pentecostal churches is important (see my contribution in D+C/E+Z 2013/05), and Bolsonaro has always had them on his radar. In speeches, for example, he regularly quotes from the Bible. Three years ago, he and his three sons, Flavio, Carlos and Eduardo, had themselves baptised in the waters of the Jordan River in north-eastern Israel. The sons play important roles in politics.

For sociologist Christina Vital of the Fluminense Federal University (Universidade Federal Fluminense – UFF), this baptism was not simply an expression of Evangelical conversion. She recognises it as an attempt by the Bolsonaros to create an ambiguous religious identity for themselves. She says that the president presents “himself as a Catholic, but is married to an Evangelical and was baptised in the waters of the Jordan”. In Vital’s eyes, the head of state is claiming a “divine mission” because he was able to achieve such prominence despite his declared personal “insignificance”.

In a recently published study, Vital showed that, there was an increase of candidates who are officially Catholic but received major support from evangelicals in the latest elections. She calls these politicians “allies of Evangelicals” (Aliados dos Evangélicos – ADE). In addition to Bolsonaro, this group includes the governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel.

Experts estimate that Evangelicals now make up over 30 % of Brazil’s population. According to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, their share was a mere 6.6 % in 1980. It had grown to 15.4 % by 2000 and to 22.2 % by 2010. The next census is scheduled for 2020.

According to Vital, the steady growth of Evangelical churches is a phenomenon that extends beyond religion: “It is expanding simultaneously in society and in centres of power like the media and among politicians at the federal, state and municipal level.” The next step, she says, will be to reconfigure the judiciary to conform with Evangelical ideas. “That is not a vision for the future. It is happening now,” Vital argues.

In early July, Bolsonaro invited Evangelical senators and representatives, who form their own cross-party block in Parliament, to a breakfast at the Planalto Palace, his official workplace. The meeting took place on the day after the first vote on pension reform, during which these senators and representatives demonstrated their full support of the president. At the breakfast, Bolsonaro promised to nominate a “super Evangelical” justice to the Supreme Court.

Widespread conservatism

Around 166 million of Brazil’s 210 million people claim to be religious. “Whether they are Catholic or Protestant, most religious people in Brazil are conservative,” says Vital. Not all conservatives support authoritarianism, she explains, but many long for a return to social norms, the loss of which they blame on a leftist social agenda of protecting minorities and promoting diversity. According to Evangelicals, this agenda contradicts family values.

Conservatives see Bolsonaro as a defender of traditional norms. But whereas, for example, the influential Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus – Iurd), with its founder, Edir Macedo, the owner of a media empire, at the head, openly appealed for support of Bolsonaro, the Catholic Conference of Brazilian Bishops (Conferência Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil – CNBB) did not take a clear position. Its former president, Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha, said in early 2018 that Catholics should not support any candidate “who promotes violence and calls for solutions that could further exacerbate conflicts in Brazil”. However, shortly thereafter the bishops published a declaration that made clear that the CNBB would not take a position on the presidential candidates.

On the other hand, Orani Tempesta, the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, received Bolsonaro in October of last year ten days before the second-round vote. At that meeting, the presidential candidate promised “to defend the family, the innocence of the child in the classroom and religious freedom”. He said he would fight against abortion and the legalisation of drugs.

That message was well received by conservative Catholics. The fact that he ultimately won a particularly large share of votes from this camp highlights the divisions within the Brazilian Catholic Church. The journalist Mauro Lopes wrote in an essay that the CNBB is maintaining a precarious balance: “Even though its leadership is oriented towards Pope Francis, it avoids any confrontation with powerful fundamentalists.” The Pope, originally from Argentina, is a champion of the poor and social justice. He has also addressed the global climate emergency, which Bolsonaro denies.

Lopes also points out that former President Lula da Silva is Catholic. “But so far no bishop or CNBB delegation has visited him in Curitiba prison.” He is serving a sentence for corruption. At the end of May, Pope Francis sent Lula a letter in which he wrote that, thanks to “the triumph of Jesus over death”, people should believe that “in the end, good will overcome evil, truth will overcome lies and salvation will overcome condemnation”.

At the beginning of May, Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, the Archbishop of Belo Horizonte, was selected to be the new president of the Conference of Brazilian Bishops. His election is seen as a repudiation of the CNBB’s widely anticipated shift to the right: the 65-year-old cardinal is considered a moderate and agrees with Pope Francis on many points.

The latter recently made himself unpopular among Bolsonaro supporters by convening a seminar to discuss the problems in the Amazon region. It is scheduled to take place from 6 to 27 October in Rome. According to a report by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the head of Brazil’s secret service (Agência Brasileira de Inteligência – Abin), General Augusto Heleno, described the Amazon synod as “an interference in the internal affairs of Brazil” and said that “some of the items on this agenda are matters of national security”. The government clearly feels that its national sovereignty in the region is under attack.

According to the same newspaper article, Heleno characterised the CNBB as a “potential opponent”. Members of the government believe that the Brazilian bishops who are planning to attend the meeting in the Vatican are left-wing. As early as 2018, Bolsonaro said that the CNBB belongs to the “rotten part of the Catholic Church”.

Carlos Albuquerque works for Deutsche Welle’s Brazilian programme and is based in Bonn.
carlos.albuquerque@gmx.de

Kategorien: english

Common ground

D+C - 25. September 2019 - 9:44
World religions share important principles, including peace, justice and charity

The first approach is dangerous and ultimately undemocratic, because it excludes anyone who does not belong to this particular faith. Moreover, it claims to be guided by something superior to democratic deliberation. The latter approach, by contrast, fits democratic principles. Its thrust is inclusive and typically prioritises the common good over special interests.

We are living in turbulent times. Right-wing populists have been gaining ground around the world. Often, though not always, they manipulate religious sentiments. Prominent examples include Narendra Modi in India and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. Claiming to have a divine mandate, of course, makes it easier to do away with constitutional rules and conventions. Even US President Donald Trump, who is not known to observe Christian values, cultivates his ties to his Evangelical base.

It is fascinating to contrast how the populists act with the attitude of Pope Francis. His demeanour is humble rather than overly assertive. His attitude is one of acceptance, not of division. His message is based on the Bible, but is argued in such a reasonable way that it makes sense to people even if they do not belong to his church.

Faith leaders of many denominations take similar approaches. Political leaders can do so too. In India’s independence struggle, Mahatma Gandhi, a devout Hindu, rallied people with an inclusive message of non-violent action. His less prominent ally was Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Pashtun Muslim. When the Camp David Peace Accords were signed in 1978, US President Jimmy Carter, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egypt’s President Anwar el-Sadat were all inspired by their respective faith. Carter is Protestant, Begin was Jew and Sadat Muslim. Indeed, all major faiths preach peace. They also foster ideas of justice and charity. Around the world, faith-based organisations are promoting literacy. Self-moderation is a common tenet, and yes, environmental sustainability requires us all to live within our means.

In past decades, international development agencies largely shied away from religion. To some extent, they cooperated with faith-based organisations, but they were basically guided by a misconception of secularism. The idea was that public agencies should stay completely clear of non-scientific belief systems. A healthier understanding is to keep an equidistance to belief systems. The point is that their ethical foundations have much in common. In attempts to bring about social change, it does not help to circumvent people’s worldviews.

Religion shapes lives, and that is particularly so in developing countries. All religions can be used for identity politics. On the other hand, it does not make anyone cooperative ot their faith rejected, whereas referring to a religion’s ethical  principles can be quite effecitve. It therefore makes sense for development agencies such as Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development to reach out systematically to faith-based organisations and emphasise shared values. 

We live on a small planet. If we want to live in peace, we must cooperate, and that includes faith communities. The motto of the Sustainable Development Goals resonates among them. It is to leave no one behind.

Hans Dembowski is editor in chief of D+C Development and Cooperation / E+Z Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit
euz.editor@dandc.eu
 

Kategorien: english

Getting specific to leave no one behind

INCLUDE Platform - 25. September 2019 - 9:23

World leaders are gathering in New York this week to attend the first major stocktaking summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). When the SDGs were agreed by all countries in 2015, they were intended to help countries accelerate their transition to more sustainable paths by 2030, with sustainability understood to include economic, environmental, and social issues. As part of this, all countries committed to “leave no one behind” (LNOB), a broad promise to address the pervasive and damaging problems of inequality and exclusion. The 2015 SDG agreement even doubled down on this commitment through a pledge to “reach the furthest behind first.”

All good as words, but much harder to deliver in practice. In the sphere of global development cooperation and poverty reduction, governments and official agencies often deploy the rhetoric of LNOB but revert to traditional development strategies in their programming. To make LNOB into a practical agenda, this tendency must be confronted. This is why we, together with colleagues at the Japan International Cooperation Agency and other partners, collaborated on a new edited volume, Leave No One Behind: Time for Specifics on the Sustainable Development Goals. We thought it time to showcase ideas that could help shift LNOB from admirable slogan to practical approach.

Considerable progress has been made on raising average living standards for much of humanity, but tackling inequality and exclusion is no small task and there are fewer big success stories to draw upon. Inclusion requires addressing complex drivers of social outcomes. It demands attention on the underlying reasons why highly marginalized people are being left behind in the first place. It suggests a shift from big picture thinking about national or regional trends to much more precise thinking about the challenges faced by individual people in the communities where they live.

Simply put, an LNOB agenda is not necessarily synonymous with a national development agenda. To illustrate the point, consider the example of Canada. It is a country that has made huge achievements in its long-term national development, but still faces profound LNOB challenges, as one of us has shown elsewhere. Even if driven by overall good intentions, government systems may bolster average national progress while doing far too little for many groups and individuals.

The LNOB challenge is particularly salient when thinking about global efforts for the SDGs because so much international cooperation has traditionally been channeled through governments and elite-dominated social structures. The powers that be, whether governments or economic elites, often have vested interests in system inertia, either through inadvertent neglect of the disadvantaged or by intentionally using their position to further their own interests. Public distrust of government varies tremendously around the world and is a problem in many countries, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, especially in places like South Africa, Spain, and Brazil. A recent Pew Research Center poll also found that the share of people responding that the U.S. government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves has risen from 29 percent in 1964 to 76 percent in 2018.

Our book highlights the scale of the challenge for no one to be left behind. It shows that on indicators related to life and death and personal well-being, where there is reasonably comprehensive global data, progress is still far too slow to meet the SDGs and the scale of interventions needs to be sharply accelerated. In fact, as we have highlighted elsewhere, some 44 million lives are at stake and there is little evidence as yet that the rate of progress on development indicators is changing fast enough. Worryingly, the evidence on some key inputs into development, like the volume and cross-country allocation of aid, is actually getting worse. The neediest countries are getting less international support.

The need for specific development goals

At the same time, the global development community must also target its interventions better and be more specific about what outcomes are to be expected from any given project or program. We argue that the best way to put teeth into the LNOB agenda, both domestically and internationally, is to reframe the relevant SDG targets more precisely—on specific people facing specific problems in specific places. Our book is not comprehensive but suggests a way of designing the questions to be more actionable. How do we achieve gender equality by 2030; how do we improve the lot of the ultra-poor; what works for small-holder farmers; how to resolve problems faced by refugees and migrants; what leapfrogging opportunities are available to deliver quality education; are options for universal health care realistic; how to make sure women participate in new technologies for accessing financial services; what are the trade-offs in using domestic taxes to finance pro-poor transfers; can we identify poverty hotspots and develop better place-based policies; how should we manage approaches to fragile contexts; can we bring city leadership on board; and what can be done to redistribute power.

The book is not intended as a complete review of all the people, problems and places that need to be addressed to fulfill the LNOB pledge. But it does draw attention to the need for specific strategies and actions. That said, many of the chapter authors recognize the interdependence between success in one area and success in another. They point to the tension between solving specific problems and getting trapped into faulty policy and program segmentation. They also point to the difficulties in getting to specifics because of the dearth of adequately disaggregated data. Building a sound empirical foundation is essential for LNOB success.

Is it overly optimistic to think, in today’s fraught global context, that countries might cooperate on LNOB? Public opinion in many countries still supports the idea of expanding international collective efforts to alleviate suffering. Even amid the intense domestic debates across the United States, recent polling by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes shows a strong foundation of global compassion. Americans do not look to foreign aid to help themselves—for example in jobs or improved national security—but to solve specific problems for others who are less fortunate. When a concrete issue is presented with a price tag showing how the burden can be shared with other countries, Americans are very willing to spend more, even if it means their taxes would go up.

The general point seems to be that clear, crisp goals with specific outcomes and strategies for collective contributions can elicit strong and widespread support. These are key ingredients for shifting the LNOB mantra from words to results. It’s time to focus on specific people, living in specific places, facing specific problems. We hope that the U.N. Summit, and efforts like our book, will help move the agenda this way.

 

This blog post is a Brookings original Future Development blog post. The Future Development blog was by the World Bank in an effort to hold governments more accountable to poor people and offer solutions to the most prominent development challenges. Please visit the original blog post via this link. Related publication Upcoming: Leave No One Behind

Edited by Homi KharasJohn W. McArthur, and Izumi Ohno (2019)

Het bericht Getting specific to leave no one behind verscheen eerst op INCLUDE Platform.

Kategorien: english

Time to pay up: UN summit to push for development finance breakthrough

UN #SDG News - 25. September 2019 - 4:15
A sustainable global economy – one that preserves the planet and improves lives everywhere – is also a huge opportunity to create new jobs and market opportunities worth trillions of dollars, says the UN. But to make it happen, the international community needs to rapidly scale up investment.
Kategorien: english

Time to pay up: UN summit to push for development finance breakthrough

UN ECOSOC - 25. September 2019 - 4:15
A sustainable global economy – one that preserves the planet and improves lives everywhere – is also a huge opportunity to create new jobs and market opportunities worth trillions of dollars, says the UN. But to make it happen, the international community needs to rapidly scale up investment.
Kategorien: english

Global Goals offer ‘special opportunity’ to change course of development, Bosnian leader tells General Assembly

UN #SDG News - 25. September 2019 - 2:45
The world now has “a special opportunity to change the course of development”, the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina told the UN General Assembly’s annual general debate on Tuesday. 
Kategorien: english

Three things Development Finance Institutions can do to help reduce poverty

ODI - 25. September 2019 - 0:00
Development Finance Institutions can help to reduce poverty by focusing more on job quality, developing a clear theory of change and getting better data.
Kategorien: english

How to finance the end of extreme poverty

ODI - 25. September 2019 - 0:00
This animation explains how donors and countries can finance the end of extreme poverty.
Kategorien: english

UNGA 2019: Building resilience in the Sahel

ODI - 25. September 2019 - 0:00
What steps can be taken to contribute to achieving resilience in the Sahel?
Kategorien: english

UNGA 2019 breakfast event: financing the end of extreme poverty

ODI - 25. September 2019 - 0:00
What actions do donors need to take in order to eradicate extreme poverty?
Kategorien: english

Sustainable Development Summit: ‘We must step up our efforts - now’, Guterres declares

UN #SDG News - 24. September 2019 - 22:32
“The 2030 Agenda is coming to life”, declared the UN chief on Tuesday, referring to the blueprint for a healthier planet and a more just world, as he launched the first Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit in New York. However, despite encouraging progress, António Guterres warned that much more needs to be done, and “we must step up our efforts. Now”.
Kategorien: english

Key Messages from the GPEDC to the HLFP in the margins of UNGA 74

Effective Co-operation - 24. September 2019 - 19:14
Photo Courtesy from the United Nations / 2019

Beginning today, Tuesday, 24 September, following the opening of the 74th General Debate, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will convene a meeting of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which will take place on the afternoon of 24 September and all day on 25 September.

At the HLPF, Heads of State and Government will gather at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to follow up and comprehensively review progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The event is the first UN summit on the SDGs since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015.

In preparation for this important occasion, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) wishes to fulfill its commitment to share important messages from the 2017-2019 programme of work, the 2019 monitoring results and the recent Senior-Level Meeting, to make clear the contribution of development effectiveness to the 2030 Agenda.
 
As such, find here some key ‘political messages’ that aim to do just this, along with the headline messages from Parts I and II of the monitoring report. Our hope is that all GPEDC stakeholders help us to convey these important messages, at the Summit and beyond; and demonstrate that the effectiveness principles, as a basis for more equal and empowered partnerships, are part of the path to inclusive, sustainable development.

Read the GPEDC’s key messages for the 2019 HLPF in the margins of the 2019 GA here.

Kategorien: english

Nigeria must act to stop housing crisis and forced evictions: UN rights expert

UN ECOSOC - 24. September 2019 - 19:13
In Nigeria, homeless and other vulnerable people are being “rounded up” by police, “persecuted” and evicted, amid a massive housing crisis, a UN-appointed independent rights expert said on Tuesday.
Kategorien: english

‘We need solutions’, not cynicism; UN Assembly President urges world leaders to do more to tackle global ills

UN #SDG News - 24. September 2019 - 19:11
The fact that world leaders have convened at United Nations Headquarters in New York is “a veritable testament to the primacy of this great multilateral body”, the General Assembly President said on Tuesday, opening the Organization’s annual General Debate.
Kategorien: english

It is not possible to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals without quality public services

Global Policy Watch - 24. September 2019 - 18:19

SDG Summit: 24-25 September 2019

SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation

24 September, New York: “Public infrastructure is the bedrock of our societies: it helps families thrive, and allows communities and businesses to grow”, says David Boys, from global trade union federation Public Services International.

For this reason it is impossible to build a resilient infrastructure, an aspect of SDG 9, without a firm foundation of human rights and universal access to quality public services, says David Boys, writing in Spotlight 2019*, published by the Civil Society Reflection Group, which analyses annual progress on the 17 SDGs.

Under-investment in public services results in lower growth and a rise in right-wing populism, where austerity and cuts in public services contribute to feelings of alienation and an increase in nationalism and xenophobia.

If big business paid their taxes, this would fund public services

“If corporations and the super-rich paid their fair share of taxes, rather than siphoning off this money, there would be enough to fund quality public services, end poverty and achieve the SDGs”, said Boys.

One stated reason for privatising state services is the shortage of public funds, but this has partly been the result of those companies which are now private ‘partners’ in state services stashing away the money they should have paid in tax havens – US$20 trillion is being held offshore.

Many failed privatised services brought back into public ownership – (remunicipalised)

Privatisation (also known as public-private partnerships) has been the Bretton Woods institutions’ official policy since the Thatcher-Reagan years. Multinational corporations have been able to capture monopoly public services as a condition of loans, imposed by the IMF, the World Bank and the regional development banks. This corporate capture has spread beyond governments to include the UN. Companies which provide services and financial and data management expertise are all lining up to profit from public services and public policies.

Despite the well-documented failures of austerity and privatisation in meeting the needs of the poor, the IMF continues to insist that countries cut public services and public spending, says Boys.

The UK has witnessed recent massive failures of privatisation. Global privateer Carillion collapsed in 2018, holding hundreds of privatisation contracts in the UK and overseas, forcing national and local governments to step in to save services and jobs. UK water utilities are well known to overcharge users, using the money to pay hefty profits to their overseas private equity owners, sheltered in tax havens. Rail transport is a mess, requiring billions in public bailouts.

The failures of privatisation are leading governments of all stripes to bring services back under public management, as shown by a report from Transnational Institute where from 2000 to 2017 at least 835 services such as water energy and health care were brought back in 45 countries.

Public services strengthen democracy

An under-appreciated aspect of strong public services is their ability to reinforce the link between people and their communities, says Boys. “When services are in the public domain, people have a closer link to how their money is spent and which services are provided, particularly at local level. Engaging people in democracy is part of the 2030 Agenda’s transformational vision”.

During the week of the UN Summits: 24-27 September, the Reflection Group will be commenting on progress to the SDGs. To find out more, please contact: Daphne Davies: Tel/WhatsApp (US) +1 917 291 3560 (UK) +447770230251, Daphnedoubled@gmail.com

To talk to David Boys of Public Service International, please contact: Marcelo Netto, marcelo.netto@world-psi.org

* To see Spotlight 2019 report on all 17 SDG: https://www.2030spotlight.org/en/book/1883/chapter/reshaping-governance-sustainability

The post It is not possible to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals without quality public services appeared first on Global Policy Watch.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg on How 5G Can Drive Sustainable Development

UN Dispatch - 24. September 2019 - 18:16

Around the United Nations you will often see CEOs of major companies participating in meetings and events around sustainability. Meaningful corporate participation is fairly commonplace at the United Nation these days. But this was certainly not the case ten years ago and more, when I’d regularly see Hans Vestberg around the United Nations as one of the very few corporate leaders engaging on development and sustainability issues.

Hans Vestberg is the CEO of Verizon and he is on the Global Dispatches podcast to discuss the role of 5G technologies in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.

We kick off with a discussion about what exactly 5G is, and how it can be used to advance sustainable development. We then have a discussion about his own commitment to sustainability issues and how Verizon has integrated the Sustainable Development Goals into its corporate strategies.

Get the Global Dispatches podcast Apple Podcasts  |  Spotify  |  Stitcher  | Google Play Music​  | Radio Public

The post Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg on How 5G Can Drive Sustainable Development appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Donald Trump’s Very Backwards-Looking United Nations Speech

UN Dispatch - 24. September 2019 - 17:43

In previous speeches to the United Nations General Assembly, Donald Trump has used the rostrum to backtrack from historic American commitments to human rights and collective security in favor of a worldview that promotes sovereignty over international cooperation.  In 2017, he used the General Assembly platform to threaten the annihilation of North Korea; and in 2018 his remarks focused on his America-first agenda. 

This year, Donald Trump’s tone was far more muted than in year’s past. But the substance of his remarks echoed a variation of the same antiquated notions that there is an inherent tension between national sovereignty and collective action in support of common goals.

“If you want democracy, hold onto your sovereignty”

Typically, it is the non-democratic countries at the United Nations, like China, that use appeals to national sovereignty as a way to deflect the criticism of how they conduct domestic affairs. Typically, the United States has been a counter-weight to those arguments and has promoted universal ideals like human rights and the right to self-determination. But under the Trump administration, those ideals have largely been abandoned, with Trump parroting arguments long favored by non-democratic regimes.

Even though this has become routine by now, it is still worth emphasizing how deviant these remarks are from a long tradition of American support for universal ideals, like freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and the rights of citizens to set their democratic futures. “If you want democracy, hold onto your sovereignty,” he said seemingly reversing the causal relationship between American support for democracy abroad and the advance of liberty around the world. The United States may fall short of living up to those ideals, but at least in rhetoric the US has been supportive of this worldview–at least until now.

To be sure, there were some exceptions to this invocation of sovereignty to the extent it suited the parochial interests of the moment. This includes slamming Iran for its human rights abuses, criticizing the Maduro regime in Venezuela and calling for China to respect the rights of the people of Hong Kong. But for the most part, his speech sought to create an artificial divide between people who support ideals of human rights and international action to confront global problems like climate change. “The future does not belong to globalists, it belongs to patriots,” he said.

A Speech Largely Aimed at a Domestic Audience

Every speech by every leader at the United Nations tends to balance domestic political priorities with a foreign policy message the speaker seeks to relay to the presidents and prime minsters in the audience. Donald Trump’s speech this year titled more heavily towards a domestic audience than in previous years. This includes touching on issues that animate some core domestic constituencies who have long targeted the UN’s work on reproductive health.

Over the last nearly twenty years, Republican presidents have sought to restrict US funding for agencies that support reproductive and sexual health, falsely asserting that these agencies support abortion. This has included restricting funding for the UN Population Fund. Like the George W. Bush administration, the Donald Trump administration refuses to provide any US funding for this agency. But unlike in previous Republican administrations, the Trump White House is taking additional steps behind the scenes to prevent the UN and UN documents from even mentioning reproductive and sexual health. At a United Nations  meeting on health care yesterday, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services railed against using “ambiguous” terms” like ‘reproductive health,’ which he see’s as code for “abortion.” (It’s not.)

In his UN speech today, echoed these sentiments. “Global bureaucrats have no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that want to protect life,” he said in a clear node to certain domestic constituencies in the United States. Trump similarly railed against the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which the NRA in particular has used as a key fundraising tool by falsely claiming that it is a threat to domestic gun laws in the United States. And, of course, much of the speech reflected Trump’s nativist policies of restricting the rights of asylum seekers at the southern US border. (One exception of Trump’s appeal to both sovereignty and conservative domestic constituents was his expressed support for LGBT rights abroad, including calling on countries to decriminalize same-sex relations.)

In all, the speech reflected a broad retreat from traditional American values that have helped create the United Nations 74 years ago as a platform to craft global solutions to global problems.  In a world in which American power is declining relative to the advancement of other global centers, a decision to spurn collective action in favor of atavistic appeals to sovereignty may prove to be shortsighted.

The post Donald Trump’s Very Backwards-Looking United Nations Speech appeared first on UN Dispatch.

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