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48th Sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies

Women - 30. April 2018 - 12:32

The 48th sessions of the subsidiary bodies to the UNFCCC are expected to take place from 30 April – 10 May 2018, at the World Conference Center Bonn, located in Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.

Kategorien: english

Being accountable to people affected by armed conflicts

ODI - 18. April 2018 - 0:00
Join us as we discuss the challenges & opportunities for humanitarian agencies in better engaging with affected communities in armed conflicts & violence.
Kategorien: english

Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development 2018

Women - 13. April 2018 - 10:11

“The second meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development will take place in Santiago, from 18 to 20 April 2018. Prior to the meeting of the Forum, from 16 to 17 April, activities will be carried out by civil society representatives and other relevant actors.” More information here.

Kategorien: english

51st Session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD 51)

Women - 9. April 2018 - 12:28

“The 51st session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD 51) will convene under the theme, ‘Sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration’.” Read more here.

Local: New York City, US

Date: 9-13 April 2018



Kategorien: english

Fifth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development: Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies

Women - 28. März 2018 - 9:56

The Fifth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development will engage member States, United Nations bodies, other international organizations, major groups and other stakeholders in highlighting regional and subregional perspectives on the theme of the high-level political forum in 2018, “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”. More information here.

The Forum will be held from 28-30 March 2018, at the United Nations Conference Centre Bangkok, Thailand.

Kategorien: english

Urban humanitarian response: challenges and opportunities

ODI - 27. März 2018 - 0:00
Join us as we launch the latest Humanitarian Exchange where our panellists discuss the challenges of providing humanitarian assistance in urban settings.
Kategorien: english

At the crossroads: making Nairobi faster and safer

ODI - 26. März 2018 - 0:00
This public event discusses the road safety challenges and opportunities in Nairobi, based on new ODI research.
Kategorien: english

Digitalisation and the future of manufacturing in Africa

ODI - 23. März 2018 - 0:00
Growing digitalisation in the global economy will have a significant impact on Africa's growth trajectory. This panel discusses how, and what can be done.
Kategorien: english

At the crossroads: making Nairobi safer and more efficient

ODI - 23. März 2018 - 0:00
This public event discusses the road safety challenges and opportunities in Nairobi, based on new ODI research.
Kategorien: english

A Devex Conversation with David Beasley

Devex - vor 2 Stunden 12 Minuten
Kategorien: english

Satellites' Role in the Data Revolution

Devex - 21. März 2018 - 17:50
Kategorien: english

Join Us at the Final Conference of ILoNA and Discuss Innovative Logistics in Essen on 17 April

SCP-Centre - 21. März 2018 - 16:22

After 3 years of intense research on innovative logistic services and consumers’ lifestyles, multiple workshops, interviews and case studies, the ILoNa project comes to an end. This conference will be the closing event for this project, which produced pioneering work for science, industries and civil society.

The closing event of ILoNa project will be a unique opportunity for participants from businesses, scientific organisations and civil society to learn about the results and get hands on experience with the methods of the project. It offers plenty of room for inspiration and exchange of ideas, including a keynote by the Executive Director of the CSCP, Michael Kuhndt, followed by a panel discussion with logistic companies and consumers’ representatives. Participants will be able to participate in workshops and learn about future scenarios of logistic services, business models for regional food delivery and communication strategies for different consumer groups. During a speed dating event, participants can get to know the different scientifc tools applied in the project and get hands-on guidance as to how they could be applied to their own work. Finally, the participants will be able to vote on further recommendations for actions related to the logistics sector.

The CSCP has been responsible for analysing consumer attitutes towards logistic services and lifestyle trends that will determine innovative logistic for sustainable lifestyles in the future. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Join us on 17 April from 10am – 5pm

Location: Glaspavillion, Universiät Duisburg-Essen, Campus Essen

The event is free and in German.

To register please click, please send an email to VERANSTALTUNG@EFFIZIENZCLUSTER.DE by 04 April.

Find the programme of the conference here.

We are looking forward to seeing you there! Please Contact Rosa Strube for further information.

Der Beitrag Join Us at the Final Conference of ILoNA and Discuss Innovative Logistics in Essen on 17 April erschien zuerst auf CSCP gGmbH.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

The IMF in insecure fragile states: why being absent should no longer be an option

ODI - 21. März 2018 - 0:00
It is time for the IMF to stand up to its global responsibilities and play its part in ensuring no country is left behind.
Kategorien: english

Reading Paul Raskin’s Journey to Earthland

DEVELOPMENT - 21. März 2018 - 0:00

This discussion of Paul Raskin’s Journey to Earthland focuses on the tasks of an emerging ‘Global Citizen Movement’ to pave the way towards sustainability.

A Dangerous Alliance? The Relationship Between Ecuador and China

DEVELOPMENT - 21. März 2018 - 0:00

The aim of this article is to outline the relationship between Ecuador and China, highlighting its main threats to the development of the Ecuadorian Republic, and in particular how the implementation of the buen vivir economic paradigm which Ecuador is experimenting with may be affected if it does not change the terms of engagement with the Asian giant. The article is structured as follows: in the introduction, we present an overview of the historical framework of the Chinese relationship with Ecuador. There follows an analysis supported by data on the commercial situation between the two countries and its implications for the development of the Latin-American state. In our final remarks, we present the possible routes that Ecuador could follow to secure its path to development, while highlighting possible conditions under which Ecuador could cooperate with China while avoiding a state of dependency.

UN rural development agency invests in power and potential of women

UN ECOSOC - 20. März 2018 - 21:36
Although rural women make up one-fifth of the global population and around 43 per cent of all agricultural workers, inequality restricts their access to land, markets or even the training and technology that could improve their lives and livelihoods, according to the United Nations agency fighting to stamp out hunger and poverty.
Kategorien: english

Smallholder Farmers’ Rights are Women’s Rights

Global Policy Watch - 20. März 2018 - 21:29

By Barbara Adams

Download this briefing (pdf version).

Most farms in developing and least developed countries are small, generally plots of less than two hectares of land. Smallholder farmers manage over 80% of the world’s estimated 500 million small farms and provide over 80% of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, contributing significantly to poverty reduction and food security. As much as 75% of global seed diversity in staple food crops is held and actively used by smallholder farms. However, despite their vital role in the global agricultural community, the participation and priorities of smallholder farmers – most of whom are women – are often neglected. Effective mechanisms giving smallholder farmers a voice in policymaking are imperative to address their needs and interests, to promote the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources and more broadly, to ensure food security.

The crucial role of smallholder farmers is acknowledged in myriad international agreements. Most recently, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Goal 2, commits Member States to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” and includes a comprehensive target on the rights of small-scale food producers:

SDG Target 2.3: “By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous people, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment.”

The rights of small-scale producers, alongside the integrally related rights of rural women and girls, which is the priority theme for the 2018 session of the Commission on the Status of Women, have been long-standing issues on the UN agenda and the subject of numerous resolutions.

In his December 2017 report (E/CN.6/2018/3) to the Economic and Social Council, on challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls, the Secretary-General stated that “in the 2030 Agenda, in particular Goal 2, Member States addressed the structural barriers that place rural women and girls at a disadvantage in their realization of food security and nutrition”. He went on to say:

“A recent assessment of progress indicates, however, that it is unlikely that hunger and malnutrition will be eradicated by 2030 unless more coordinated efforts and greater investments are made to respond effectively to food crises around the world. Doing so would entail expanding decent work and social protection in rural areas, increasing agricultural productivity and smallholder incomes, supporting smallholder sustainable agriculture and food production systems and conserving and equitably sharing the benefits of agricultural biodiversity. It would also entail negotiating trade rules that protect domestic policy space for agricultural development and food security, while prioritizing women’s empowerment and gender equality.”

The Secretary-General’s report to the General Assembly (A/72/207) on the situation of women and girls in rural areas echoed the importance of Goal 2, adding that “the implementation of the framework constitutes an unrivalled opportunity to achieve gender equality and realize the rights and empowerment of women and girls in rural areas.”  (A/72/207 Paragraph 11).

CSW – policy directions

In preparation for the 2018 session of the CSW, UN Women convened together with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP), an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on the primary theme, “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”.

The analysis and recommendations of the EGM were comprehensive, addressing the enabling environment needed to facilitate a just and equitable transition towards a sustainable future for rural women and the obstacles to be overcome to achieve this. The recommendations include actions to be taken by Member States and international development stakeholders to:

  • Support global tax cooperation through establishment of a Global Tax body which facilitates global tax cooperation in tax and financial transfers data, works to close tax havens and establishes a global corporate tax floor to end tax competition;
  • Take measures to establish inter-regional tax cooperation;
  • Build and strengthen existing public-public partnerships (PuPs) based on the principle of solidarity and with the purpose of public good, rather than profit;
  • Support the transition to energy, water and resource democracy within the transition to universally available renewable, clean energies.
The Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on the CSW 62 Priority Theme Recommendations

1. Implement land tenure reforms in a gender-equitable manner, ensuring that women have recognized equal rights with men on private or household lands, and that on communal and collective lands, communities have recognized security of tenure and women have representation in community decision-making bodies for such lands;

2. Recognize, guarantee, and protect women’s land rights by law, including in plural legal systems, whether or not they are recognized by customary or religious systems, by family members, by a woman’s community and its leaders and ensure rural women’s access to justice without discrimination, including in official bodies, courts, and other relevant dispute resolution bodies, such as customary institutions, and to gender-responsive dispute resolution processes that are available, accessible, affordable;

3. Ensure women’s full and meaningful participation in decision-making, management and governance, and dispute resolution bodies addressing land and natural resources and respect rural women’s right to exercise free prior and informed consent (FPIC) as per CEDAW General Recommendation 34;

4. Regulate international financial markets and foreign trade agreements to protect against land and water grabbing by foreign corporations and individuals and prevent land and food speculation;

5. Ensure adequate investment in the collection of sex-disaggregated data and analysis for the implementation and monitoring of SDG indicators on secure tenure rights (1.4.2., 5.a.1 and 5.a.2), and other land related indicators at the country level with collaboration of CSOs and other stakeholders;

6. Recognize customary water tenure and protect water resources to realize women’s human rights to health, food and an adequate standard of living;

7. Invest in water infrastructure, including the existing community-based water infrastructure investments for multiple uses and their water resource sharing arrangements as common property, developed with the full and meaningful participation of rural women;

8. Transition to renewable, clean, safe, predictable sources of energy that rural women can affordably access and participate in the distribution and control of energy;

9. Implement The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (the Voluntary Guidelines) adopted by the UN Committee on Food Security (CFS) and Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (PRAI) more rigorously, particularly those guidelines pertaining to women’s land rights.

Women and small farmers’ rights to participate in decision-making

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) was adopted in 2001 and came into effect in 2004. Article 9.2 (c) states that “each Contracting Party should, as appropriate, and subject to its national legislation, take measures to protect and promote Farmers’ Rights, including:

  • protection of traditional knowledge relevant to plant genetic resources for food and Agriculture;
  • the right to equitably participate in sharing benefits arising from the utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture; and
  • the right to participate in making decisions, at the national level, on matters related to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.”

However, as noted in a 2016 working paper of the Association for Plant Breeding for the Benefit of Society (APBREBES), “Farmers’ Right to Participate in Decision-making”, the operationalization of Article 9.2(c) at the national, regional and international levels is severely lacking. Farmers face considerable challenges in exercising their right to participate at all these levels, with the consequence that legal and policy decisions not only ignore their needs, but also adversely affect their freedom to operate and in some cases criminalize farmers’ right to freely use, save, exchange and sell farm saved seed/propagating material.1

The right to participate in decision-making is also protected in several human rights treaties, including CEDAW, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Moreover, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)’s March 2016 General Recommendation 34 on the rights of rural women recommends that State Parties “ensure that rural women and their organizations can influence policy formulation, implementation and monitoring at all levels and in all areas that affect them” and ensure rural women and their representatives are able “to participate directly in the assessment, analysis, planning, design, budgeting, financing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all agricultural and rural development strategies”. Additionally, the Human Rights Council is currently drafting a new UN declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.

In adopting the Beijing Platform, Member States committed to “implement policies and programmes that enhance the access of women agricultural and fisheries producers (including subsistence farmers and producers), to extend financial, technical, extension and marketing services; provide access to and control of land, appropriate infrastructure and technology in order to increase women’s incomes and promote household food security, especially in rural areas and, where appropriate, encourage the development of producer-owned, market-based cooperatives.”

Farmer organizations could use the UN Human Rights Council accountability mechansim, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR),2 to support implementation of Article 9.2(c), in particular its operationalization through a legal framework at the national level.  At the same time, CEDAW and women’s rights processes and mechanisms can be powerful tools for farmers’ rights realization, the starting point being the activation of the right to participate in drafting national and regional laws.

The trade and investment regime – a key impediment to farmers’ rights

A major obstacle to ensuring the rights of women farmers is the intellectual property and related protections contained in many trade agreements. As highlighted in the report of the EGM, “States and UN treaty bodies have recognized the detrimental impact that the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) can have on rural women’s human rights”; several trade agreements include intellectual property protections that go beyond the requirements of the World Trade Organization’s agreement on TRIPS.

One of the most concerning elements of trade agreements is Investor State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), which allow corporations to sue governments in specifically convened tribunals. This mechanism essentially allows for the protection of investors over and above the human rights of community members – often rural women – working to prohibit extractive industries in their communities or to seek remedies and clean-up of their environments. UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, states that “far from contributing to human rights and development, ISDS has compromised the State’s regulatory functions and resulted in growing inequality among States and within them.”

A second feature of the trade regime which contributes to undermining farmers’ rights is the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV Convention)3 Recent trade agreements, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP), require that States parties sign the UPOV Convention (UPOV 91).4 UPOV 91 grants and protects plant breeders’ rights, resulting in monopoly rights over ‘the sale, reproduction, import, and export of new varieties of plants’. By providing protections for agri-food companies – both through plant breeder rights restrictions and patent protections – the Convention inhibits farmers’ abilities to save and exchange seeds.

Civil society organizations (CSOs) have repeatedly raised concerns that both UPOV programming and the constituencies consulted tend to represent the industry interests, in particular the interests of multinational corporations involved in industrialized agriculture, with hardly any representation of organizations of small farmers or those that champion women rights.5

Another critical issue faced by small farmers is regional seed policy harmonization, the process of creating common standards for a particular regional economic bloc. Harmonization processes center on three core aspects: variety testing, registration and release; seed certification; and phytosanitary measures. High costs, intensive labour demands, and stringent international standards make it difficult to certify and trade farmers’ varieties. There are no mechanisms for redress by and compensation to farmers in the event that a variety fails to perform. Seed laws – whether regional or national – make it unlawful to market and trade seed that is uncertified, thereby effectively criminalizing the sale and exchange of farmers’ varieties, and eroding farmers’ seed sovereignty.

The EGM recognized that the harmonization of seed laws will favour the expansion of the formal seed system and the spread of corporate seed, while at the same time further neglecting and marginalizing farmer varieties and farmer-managed seed systems, thus threatening agricultural biodiversity. This will have major implications for the availability of seed and the future of food production across continents, as “rural women routinely save and share seeds as a way of ensuring sustainability, resilience, and biodiversity, and reducing input costs.” Considering rural women’s rights to food sovereignty and nutritional empowerment, the EGM urged Member States and international development stakeholders to: “Strengthen, conserve, and revive local and traditional sustainable food production and consumption practices through, inter alia, recognizing the importance of seed saving and refraining from acceding to conventions and agreements that make seeds subject to the rights of intellectual property rights holders and prevent women farmers from saving and sharing seeds.”6

The 2018 Status report on the Southern African Development Committee (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the East African Community (EAC) harmonized seed trade regulations notes: “Farmers require access to good quality seed in sufficient quantities at the right time, but it is questionable whether these harmonized formal systems, which tend to support large-scale seed corporations, are suitable or appropriate to the seed needs in the region. Currently, by far the majority of seed is provided through farmer seed networks, and it is therefore the farmer-managed seed systems that should be protected, strengthened and supported, including farmer-led quality control systems. All harmonization efforts currently underway should assure the rights of farmers, and particularly the rights of women farmers.”


In spite of fast urbanization, half of the women of the world still live in rural areas and of them two thirds in developing countries. To fully implement the rights of rural women and girls, it is critical to effectively operationalize their rights to participate in decision-making processes and address barriers created by incoherent or unfair trade and investment policies.

Meaningful participation in decision-making is not just about online consultations and surveys, or even a few face-to-face meetings that purport to seek views and inputs which have little or no bearing on the outcomes and decisions. A fundamental principle of rights to public participation is that they encompass the right to be consulted at each phase of legislative drafting and policy-making, to voice opinions and criticism, and to submit proposals. This entails a long-term and genuine commitment to engage in processes of intensive dialogue. Since actual decision-making remains the prerogative of the State, essential to the right to participation is also the right to seek a review of a decision and redress/remedies if it results in adverse effects on the individual or group concerned. Access to justice with appropriate administrative and judicial procedures and the right to participate are thus inextricably linked.

As it works to protect and promote the rights of rural women, a priority for CSW62 should include attention to the full implementation of treaties that guarantee the rights of small farmers, the majority of whom are women, and to be a rigorous part of their monitoring and accountability. Policy recommendations should include addressing obstacles, such as agricultural trade rules, seed patenting, and policies that protect big corporate investors over women farmers.


1 Farmers’ Right to Participate in Decision-making – implementing Article 9.2 (c) of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Working Paper, APBREBES, September 2016, by Chee Yoke Ling and Barbara Adams with contributions from Sangeeta Shashikant and Laurent Gaberell. Published by the Association for Plant Breeding for the Benefit of Society (APBREBES) and its member organisations: Development Fund, Public Eye, SEARICE and Third World Network. 2 The UPR was established when the Human Rights Council was created on 15 March 2006 by the UN General Assembly in resolution 60/251. This mandated the Council to “undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfilment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States”. 3 The International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (“UPOV Convention”) was adopted on December 2, 1961 and came into force on August 10, 1968. It established the International Union for Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), an intergovernmental organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, whose stated mission is to “provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society.” 4 This provision was retained in the just-signed Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) 5 See, for example, the 2015 report by Third World Network, “International Contradictions on Farmers’ Rights” 6 Report of the Expert Group Meeting on the CSW 62 Priority Theme: Challenges and Opportunities in Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls, 20-22 September 2017
Kategorien: english, Ticker

The Robot, Unemployment and Immigrants

SID - 20. März 2018 - 18:35

ROME, Feb 19 2018  -Since a few days, Amazon has started Amazon Go. The idea is simple: a shop where you go in, take whatever you want from the shelves, and the cost goes automatically to a magnetic card that you carry. Going out, you swipe the card, which goes to your bank account or to a credit card, and that it is. No ques, no cashiers, fast and easy. The first shop, in Seattle, has a roaring success. Nobody is in charge with restocking the items. An automatic system does that. And soon two robots will replace the items on the shelves, now done by two employees. Even the cleaning of the floor is being done by a robot. The goal is to have a totally automatic shop, where no human can make mistakes, get ill, go on strike, take holidays, or bring into the work personal problems.

The American petrol industry calculates that will reduce within three years the staff required at each well, from 20 to five. Small hotels within three years will have a fully automated reception. You will arrive, swipe your credit card, a key for your room will come out, and you are done. If you need anything, you call a central office, where people will answer your questions and do what all the eliminated receptionists were doing. We are already accustomed to automated telephone for bookings and reservations: and to do ourselves tasks at an airport which were done before by clerks. Immigration officers will be reduced to a small team, which will intervene only if called by the immigration’s machines. Contrary to what we think, self-driving vehicle are coming fast: car makers think they will be on the market by 2021.

In the United States, according to ABI research institute, the number of industrial robots will jump nearly 300 percent, in less than a decade. And the National Economic Research Bureau, found out that for every industrial robot introduced unto the workforce, six jobs are eliminated. After the auto industry, the strongest user is the pharmaceutical sector. Robots can perform toxic operation, without any protection.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), released a “policy brief”, indicating what would bring this robot revolution, in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. “If robots are considered a form of capital that is a close substitute for low-skilled jobs, then their growing use reduces the share of human labour in production costs. Adverse effects for developing countries may be significant” the report states. In May 2016, the World Bank’s Digital Dividend Report, calculated that the substitution with robots of low-skilled workers, in developing countries, concerned two thirds if the jobs. China is going to be the biggest user of robots. The large reserve of cheap labour, coming from the rural area, is dwindling. China plans to become a high technology world leader. The time of cheap imitations is gone. Now China registers more patents than US. Foxconn, a large industrial producer, reduced, last year, its employ strength, from 110.000 to 50.000 in Kunshan, as an example, thanks to the introductions of robots.

The economists call this wave of automatization, the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The first started, at the end of the 18thcentury, with the introduction of machines to do the handicraft work, like in textiles. Its impact become visible In 1811, when the followers of a fictional Ned Ludd started to destroy textile equipment, because it left jobless thousands of individual weavers (who become the workers of the factories).  The second industrial revolution was in the middle of the same century, when science was applied to production, creating engines and other inventions, creating the real Industrial Revolution. That meant rural populations migrating to towns, to work in the factories. The Third revolution, in the middle of last century, is considered to be the introduction of the Net, which changed again the forms of production. Gone where the jobs of secretaries in companies, the job of Lino typist in newspapers, of accounting, in documentation, libraries, archives and other hundreds of professions made obsolete by the Net.

We see in our daily life, the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But is like climate. We all know.  We have all the data, every year the climate change is in front of our eyes: more hurricanes, glaciers disappearing, extreme weather, record hot summer since recording of temperatures.  Yet, the Paris Conference in Climate Change, is now geared to produce an increase of 3 grade centigrade, when it is a scientific unanimous assumption   that to go over 1.5 centigrade would be extremely dangerous. We even have a President of the United States, who withdrew from a non-binding Paris’ agreement, declaring that climate change is a “Chinese hoax”; and who appointed  a Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who says that global warming is “positive”.Is like  to put Dracula in charge of a blood bank.

The political approach to automation is similar, The World Economic Forum of Davos of 2016 was dedicated to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The founder and director of the Forum, the economist Klaus Schwalb, even took to the effort of writing a book on the subject, for the conference:  a book in which he expresses his concern. Previous industrial revolutions liberated humankind from animal power, made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people. This Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, fundamentally different. It is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human. We need to take a concerted approach in the world, to make the positive impacts overriding the negative ones. The theme was practically ignored at Davos 2016, because politicians discuss now only themes at a short term: what has to be treated during an electoral period. In particular, Schwab called for leaders and citizens to “together shape a future that works for all by putting people first, empowering them and constantly reminding ourselves that all of these new technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people. “Clearly, that goes against the tide of nationalism, the new vision for the US, India, Japan, China, Philippines, Hungary, Poland, Great Britain, Turkey and so on.

Well, like it or not, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is here. Today automatization accounts already for the 17% of production and services. It will account for 40% in 15 yes, according to the World Bank projections. But we should also take into account the surprising seed of development of the Artificial intelligence (AI, also machine intelligence, MI) is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans and other animals. We have already robots which can be reprogrammed, and change their functions. We have no space here to look into the vitally important relation between AI and societies. Suffice to say that the most vibrant debate today is how our economy is mutating into an economy of algorithms and data and how this is impacting politics. The Austrian economist and thinker Karl Polany, saw all this coming, when he made a simple observation: capitalism, without controls and regulations, does not create a market economy, but a market society where whatever is necessary for survival has a price, and that is submitted to the laws of the market. In that kind of society, the state has no alternative, but to sustain the system with laws, courts and police who protect private property, to secure the good functioning of the market. The explosion of social injustice, the privatization of common goods, the fiscal support to the richest, are all consequences of Polany analysis. Add to this how monopolizations of data in a few giant companies, like Facebook or Amazon, and their impact in the social, cultural and economic sphere, and you can see where we are going. We have become data ourselves, and we are on the market. The 4thIndustrial revolution will further reduce the centrality of the human, who was before the centre of society, and has already been substituted by the market, since the fall of the Berlin Wall…

All his opens another crucial debate, for which we have no space either. Labour was considered an important factor of cost in production. And it was how much the workers had rights to the resulting benefits, that sparked the creation of trade unions, the modern left, and the adoption of universal values, like social justice, transparency, participation, basis of the modern international relations. The machine’s relations with the distribution of the benefits of production, has inspired several thinkers, philosophers and economists over the last centuries. It was generally assumed that a time would come, in which machines would eventually do all the production, and humankind would be free of work, maintained by the profits generated by the machines. This, of course, was more a dream than a political theory. Yet today, all managers of Artificial Intelligence and Robot’s production, maintain that the superior productivity of robots will reduce costs, therefore enabling more consummation of good and services, that will generate new jobs, who will easily absorb those displaced by the machines. The data we have do not show that at all. The Economic Report of the President of the US, say that there is an 83% chance that those who earn 20 dollars an hour, could have their job replaced by robots. This proportion goes to 31% for those who make 40 dollars per hour. The new economy is an intelligence economy, based on technical knowledge.  You have a future, if you are able to adapt to that kind of society, for which new generations are much more attuned. But what will do a taxi driver, who did not have a technical education, to recycle himself? The statistics show that today, when somebody lose his job at a certain age, if he finds a new one, it will be almost always at an inferior remuneration. So robotization will affect, above all, the lower middle class, with a new generational divide.

A number of economist and influential people, over the years have come out with the idea of a Universal Basic Income. It is time to cushion the society from tensions, instability and unemployment by giving to every citizen a fix income, so to give him a dignified life:  and by spending its UBI, he would generate wealth and increase demand, which would stimulate therefore growth, and make a society just and stable. Martin Luther King was an early proponent, like the neoliberal economist Milton Friedman. Now the billionaires from Silicon Valley, like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, the venture capitalist Mark Andreessen, the democrat senator Bernie Sanders, have all expressed support to the idea of a UBI. And in the coming presidential American elections, a New York tech executive, will run with UBI as his political platform. He observes that Trump did particularly well in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states which have lost four million jobs because of automatization. “Higher the concentration of robots, higher the number of disgruntled people wo vote for Trump.” He plans to cover the two trillion dollars that UBI would cost (half of the US budget), with a new Vat tax, and taxation on the companies who profit from automation. Of course, in the US the idea that people who do not work receive public money, is the closest thing to communism, and UBI faces formidable cultural obstacles. But Andrew Yang, the candidate, says we will have otherwise in a few years “riots in the streets: just think to the one million of truck drivers, who are 94% males, with an average education of high school, suddenly all jobless…”

This bring us, to conclude an article where is more what is left out that what is in, to make two political consideration and a concrete proposal, for the sake of thinking positive.

The first consideration is that Trump, and all the other politicians who want to restore a past glorious future, are totally ignoring this debate (unfortunately, is not in any political debate) To restore jobs in mines and fossils, for example ignores that the technological development has already shed many jobs, and will continue to do so.  The data of the petrol companies are definitive, So ,to rally disgruntled people, as was the case in Europe with Brexit, is a consequence of the poverty of the political debate, where traditional political parties(especially on the left),  instead of explaining clearly the world in which we are, and the one in which we are going, are trying to piggy back the feeling of the victims of the neoliberal globalization, taking often the banners of the nationalists. The coming elections in Italy are a good example. The centre-left party of Matteo Renzi looks to get the least number of votes, because of its confuse identity, which is difficult to distinguish from the other parties.

The second political consideration is that migration have become a major theme in elections. Trump was elected on a strong anti-immigrant’s platform, which continues in his government. Governments in Hungary, Austria, Poland Chekia, Slovakia, are based on refusal of immigrants. All over Europe, from the Nordic countries to France, Nederland’s and Germany, anti-immigrant feelings are conditioning the governments. In the Italian election, the old fox of Berlusconi, to take votes away from the xenophobe Salvini (who is the Italian counterpart of the international nationalist, with Putin in Europe and Trump in the world as  leaders), has promised that he will expel 600.000 immigrants,  if he wins the election. Renzi government is presenting the reduction of immigrants by sea, as one example of his good governance (little mention that this was done by distributing money to all Libyan factions and to the immigrant’ s smugglers). The fear is that immigrants are stealing jobs and resources to the legitimate European citizens. The statistics from the European Union tell us that the total number of non-EU citizens living in Europe (some for a long time), is now  35 million people. Of those about 8 million were Africans, and seven million Arabs. Those figures included also illegal immigrants. That, in a population of 400 million. All statistics point out that more than 97% of the immigrants are totally integrated, that they pay in average more taxes than the locals (of course, they worry about their future), and up now those who do not have a job are about 2.3 million people, who are still waiting about their juridical situation. There is not a single study who claims that immigrants have taken the jobs of European in any significant way. It was the same story against the entry of woman in the labour market. An increasing proportion of women have joined the labour force over the last 30 years, but these increases have not coincided with falling employment rates for men. A study on Brexit proves that immigrants helped to increase the National Gross Product, and the increase in productivity meant a global increase of employment. But we have reached a point where nobody any longer listens to facts, unless they are convenient…

And now the concrete proposal. It is clear that the real threat to employment for the large majority of citizens comes from robotization, not immigration. No employed person has been fired to be substituted by an immigrant, unless we talk of non-qualified jobs, that Europeans do not want anyhow. Truck drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, school drivers, to take the most imminent example, do not fear immigration for their job. Well, in very few years, their job will become obsolete, and there will be no plans or preparation for that. When the problem will blow up, politics will start to look at it. M<y be would be a more responsible thing to do, that instead of stoking fear with populism and xenophobia, we start to face the real problems that our society is facing: automatization. And here is a simple proposal: somebody who takes a robot, is making money because of its superior productivity, and he is firing somebody. He is therefore, after having paid the robot during usually a couple of years, have a 100 per cent benefit from the firing of a human. Well, he will not have 100%, but a 60%, because he will continue to pay the social costs of the human fired:  its pension, taxes and health insurance.

That is not as costly as the UBI, is easy to organize and administer, and will be a way to realize partly the old utopian dream: that machines work for humankind. Can we start a political debate?

* The article first appeared on Other News

Photo: Giant Robot by Harvey Finch/Flickr

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