Sie sind hier


Megatrends and conflict dynamics in Africa: multipolarity and delegation in foreign interventions

GDI Briefing - 23. Dezember 2022 - 12:51

Megatrends such as climate change, digitalisation, and urbanisation are transforming all aspects of politics, economics and society in Africa. Consequently, they are also affecting conflict dynamics. This Working Paper focuses specifically on how megatrends are altering patterns of foreign intervention in African conflicts. Two aspects stand out: the range of intervening powers is widening, and they are intervening increasingly at arm’s length by delegating to human or technical surrogates.

Kategorien: english

Climate action, one recipe at a time

UN #SDG News - 22. Dezember 2022 - 13:00
Renowned chefs such as UN World Food Programme (WFP) Goodwill Ambassador Chef Manal Al Alem, and Chef José Andres, as well as indigenous home cooks and farmers from around the world, have contributed to a new cookbook that includes recipes that are delicious and climate friendly. 
Kategorien: english

Our weiter_wirken Project Launches a Community of Practice to Increase Impact

SCP-Centre - 22. Dezember 2022 - 10:51

During the past two years, through our weiter_wirken project we accompanied more than 40 representatives of German civil society organisations (CSOs) and supported them in increasing the effectiveness of their projects. Based on insights from behavioural and communication sciences, the participants were trained to design and communicate behavioural interventions to achieve greater sustainability.

Looking back at two successful rounds of weiter_wirken, one participant noted: “By applying the content to our own practical project, we gained an intuitive approach to knowledge.”, while another emphasized that “Through this training, my project and I have grown and we are now repositioning ourselves in the organisation.”

In order to build a long-term network that enables ongoing collaboration, in November 2022 a weiter_wirken Community of Practice was launched. This way, former participants of the weiter_wirken project can continue to exchange best practices and generate new knowledge on topics of interest.

During the launch event, participants had the opportunity to exchange on the topic of “Transformative Education and Social Change”. Marie Heitfeld, policy advisor in education for sustainable development at Germanwatch e.V., presented the handprint perspective. On this topic, the CSCP and its partners have previously developed The Handprint, a tool for measuring positive sustainability impacts. Further training as part of the weiter_wirken Community of Practice will be organised by the Foundation Environment and Development North Rhine-Westphalia, a project partner.

weiter_wirken is a cooperation project between the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), ecosign / Akademie für Gestaltung and the Stiftung Umwelt und Entwicklung Nordrhein-Westfalen.

For further questions, please contact Jennifer Wiegard.

The post Our weiter_wirken Project Launches a Community of Practice to Increase Impact appeared first on CSCP gGmbH.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Kenneth Kabagambe

Devex - 22. Dezember 2022 - 9:37
Kategorien: english

Do People Like Having US Military Bases in their Country? New Public Opinion Research

UN Dispatch - 22. Dezember 2022 - 4:00

The United States has several hundred military bases scattered across the world. But how do citizens within countries hosting US troops feel about those bases and US military personnel? 

In this episode, we are joined by Carla Martinez Machain, who conducted groundbreaking public opinion research on how exposure to a US military presence in an allied country impacts attitudes towards the US government, military and Americans more generally. 

Carla Martinez Machain is a professor of political science at the University of Buffalo and is co-author of the new book “Beyond the Wire: US Military Deployments and Host Country Public” Opinion, with Michael A Allen, Michael E Flynn, and Andrew Stravers. 

We discuss the sheer scope of US basing around the world before having a broader conversation about the relationship between US bases, public opinion, and foreign policy. 

Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  | Podcast Addict  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public 


The post Do People Like Having US Military Bases in their Country? New Public Opinion Research appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Kenneth Kabagambe

Devex - 21. Dezember 2022 - 18:41
Kategorien: english

Inclusion instead of discrimination

D+C - 21. Dezember 2022 - 17:59
Around the world, persons with disabilities are discriminated against, though they could be empowered to fully participate in society

Discrimination of people with handicaps is common around the world. However, their lives tend to be particularly tough in developing countries and emerging markets, where infrastructure is often poor and social protection systems are weak. When governments lack funding, people with disabilities rarely get the kind of empowering support they deserve.

Traditional mindsets matter too. In many developing countries and emerging markets, too many people still believe that impairments result from curses. Fortunately, attitudes change over time. In Togo, a man with a disability has won a seat in parliamentary elections. Samir Abi, who works for Visons Solidaires, a civil-society organisation, wrote about him on our platform, emphasising the great relevance of inclusive schools.

Limited state capacities, however, normally mean very little government support for the needy. Karim Okanla, a media scholar from Benin, assessed matters in his country, where persons with impaired eyesight do not get targeted support and often live on the fringes of society. He found inspiring the example of a Catholic priest, who is serving the blind and is blind himself.

When a crisis rocks a country, persons with disabilities tend to suffer in particular. That was the case in the Covid-19 pandemic, for example. Ika Ningtyas, a journalist, elaborated for D+C/E+Z how persons with disabilities struggled to get reliable health information in Indonesia. In particular, she pointed out that digitised information was hardly available. On the other hand, civil-society organisations such as the Institute for Inclusion and Advocacy of Persons with Disabilities inspire hope in her country.

The vicious cycle of poverty and disability

There normally are rather few job opportunities for people with disabilities, so many are at great risk of poverty. No or little income, in turn, means limited access to healthcare, which further increases risks of physical or mental impairment.

Rainer Brockhaus of CBM (Christoffel-Blindenmission / Christian Blind Mission) discussed this vicious cycle in his D+C/E+Z contribution. According to him, development projects and humanitarian aid must pay more attention to persons with disabilities. He is in favour of a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, every development programme must take this particular target group into account. On the other hand, special measures are needed to improve opportunities for the persons concerned and to prevent them from falling even further behind.

The human right to take part in society

Including people with disabilities in society is not merely an ethical duty, but also a legal obligation. In a second article, Rainer Brockhaus listed relevant international agreements, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals. Two important slogans of the latter are "leave no one behind" and "reach the furthest behind first". For the international community to live up to these promises, much must yet happen.

In 2007, Bangladesh was one of the first countries to sign the CRPD. In far too many places, its infrastructure is nonetheless still not appropriate for people with special needs. Things are similar in many other countries. Sharlin Akther of the Bangladesh Business & Disability Network reported for us from Dhaka. According to her, discrimination typically begins in childhood. On the upside, government agencies and civil-society organisations are striving to improve things.

Physical and mental disabilities have various causes. War and violent strife are among them. Whether a body has been wounded, is easy to see, but mental trauma is often less obvious. It can result from various kinds of violence, and is often denied for a long time. Vilma Duque, a psychologist, told my colleague Sabine Balk about how psychosocial work is making a difference in Guatemala.

Should you want to read more about trauma, check out the most recent issue of our Digital Monthly. The topic of the focus section is collective trauma. If you like, download the PDF here.

Better inclusion of persons with disabilities

Sports can contribute to better inclusion. Friedhelm Julius Beucher, who chairs the National Paralympic Committee Germany, shared his experience with me in an interview, elaborating how his association is cooperating with partners in developing countries and emerging markets. Among other things, he told me why he found the Olympic Winter games in Beijing disappointing.

My colleague Sabine Balk summed up important insights in a comment. She pointed out two things:

- Society as a whole stays poorer when people with disabilities are excluded from gainful employment. Inclusion at the work-place level, by contrast, means more income and more tax revenues.

- There is a gender dimension because women do most of the care work internationally. When mothers, sisters and daughters spend a lot of time to ensure the wellbeing of relatives with disabilities, their own opportunities to earn money and take part in social life are reduced. They too become marginalised.

Her comment served as editorial in our Digital Monthly 2022/09.

Jörg Döbereiner is a member of D+C/E+Z‘s editorial team.


Kategorien: english

How to improve the G20 Common Framework for Debt Treatment

D+C - 21. Dezember 2022 - 15:19
For all countries to become able to rise to the challenges of the current polycrisis, debt-restructuring is needed

Responding to the pandemic shock in 2020, the G20 (group of 20 largest economies) implemented the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) in support of low-income countries. From May 2020 to December 2021, the 73 eligible countries neither paid interest nor repaid their debt. In total, the suspended payments amounted to $ 12.9 billion.

The DSSI was quite helpful, but it did not solve longer-term problems. In 2022, the world’s poorest countries had to afford $ 35 billion in debt-service payments, according to the World Bank. They owed the money to multilateral, governmental and private institutions. More than 40 % was owed to China, now the world’s largest bilateral creditor.

The Common Framework for Debt Treatment

In view of mounting problems, the G20 launched the Common Framework for Debt Treatment (CF) to reach beyond the DSSI. It is the only multilateral mechanism for forgiving and restructuring sovereign debt. An international mechanism to deal systematically with sovereign insolvency would be better, and Germany’s Federal Government deserves praise for endorsing the idea.

So far, however, the CF is what we have. It has not achieved much. Only three countries – Chad, Ethiopia and Zambia – have applied for debt treatment under the CF, and none has accomplished debt restructuring.

More must obviously happen. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), 60 % of low-income countries were deemed to be at risk of – or already in – debt distress at the start of 2022. That was twice the level of 2015. Rising interest rates, moreover, are further reducing governments’ fiscal space (see André de Mello e Souza on

The implication is that the governments concerned cannot respond assertively to the polycrisis that humankind must rise to. Failure to act fast, however, means more difficult and more expensive action will become necessary in the future. The CF is not the problem-solving mechanism the international community needs today – it mostly remains a vague promise.

The way forward

It would make sense to enlarge the scope of the CF. Many middle-income countries are struggling with debt problems too. They must not suffer protracted liquidity problems or even insolvency.

So far, moreover, both DSSI and the CF only deal with governmental bilateral claims. This is insufficient as loans from private-sector creditors matter very much. Private financiers must be involved in debt restructuring. Otherwise, burdens will not be shared fairly and the temptation to “free ride” will stay strong, with relevant players trying to benefit from joint action without contributing to it.

Clear guidelines are also needed for the CF’s cooperation with international financial institutions. It would be useful, for example, if the IMF declared that its emergency lending to  governments in arrears regarding private and bilateral loans will continue even when those governments ask for restructuring and start good-faith negotiations with the CF and other creditors.

Involving the private sector

In such a setting, moreover, the G20 could recommend generalised debt-service suspension while restructuring negotiations are going on. That would apply to private-sector loans too and thus serve as incentive for broad-based participation in the process.

A strong point of the CF is that it unites members of the Paris Club with other creditors, especially China. The Paris Club is an organisation in which established donor governments coordinate their response to sovereign debt problems. So far, Brazil is its only emerging-market member. It would be good if all G20 members that are engaged in lending to foreign governments joined the Paris Club.

The CF could then become a mechanism for involving and coordinating the entire range of creditors in the restructuring processes, including private-sector financiers in particular. Unfortunately, the CF still lacks a mechanism to stimulate their participation.

This lack is counter-productive, since all creditors, and not only CF members, deserve equal treatment. The CF also lacks proper methods for comparing various creditors’ claims and obligations.

Comparability and transparency

Assessing comparability is a challenging task. The range of creditors that lend to sovereign governments is very broad. It includes governmental, semi-governmental and private lenders. They operate according to different laws and use a broad variety of instruments. There is a great variety of contractual agreements. Moreover, some credits are granted at market rates while others are concessional.

Compounding the problems, not all contracts are disclosed to the public. Efficient sovereign debt-restructuring has to surmount a complex chain of hurdles to ensure the burden is shared equitably.

The current scenario is not transparent, however, which makes coordination of creditors very difficult. Holdouts have plenty of opportunities for obstruction, and free riding is hard to prevent.

More debt transparency is therefore needed. Debtors as well as creditors should have the obligation to disclose all relevant information to a trustworthy international agency, which might be hosted by an international institution like the IMF. The information would include all loans and cover amounts, terms, guarantees, assurances et cetera.

Improved transparency would support sound practices in public debt management. Making the information available to the public in general would have even stronger beneficial impact on governance, fiscal discipline and adequate risk management.

The better the CF manages to provide transparency, the more lending policies will improve in the long run. In the short run, transparency is needed to restructure debts in an equitable manner.

What the G7 should do

The G7 (Group of leading high-income countries) should provide leadership. It can facilitate equitable burden sharing and discourage non-cooperative attitudes. In particular, G7 members’ national legislation could evolve in a coordinated manner that makes free-riding more difficult and reduces opportunities to obstruct multilateral debt restructuring.

A good example was the Debt Relief Act 2010, which the United Kingdom adopted in 2010. It forced British-based private creditors to take part in the multilateral arrangements to provide debt relief to HIPCs (heavily indebted poor countries).

Another example was how the US and the UK made it illegal to file claims during Iraq’s debt restructuring. They used the UN Security Council Resolution 1483 of 2003 as the blueprint.

It has, moreover, proven useful to insist on the inclusion of collective action clauses (CACs) in loan contracts. Binding commitments of this kind prevent creditors from opting out of restructuring talks.

IFI leadership would be welcome too

Leadership from international financial institutions (IFIs) would be welcome too. The World Bank, for instance, could create a guarantee facility which would boost creditors’ faith in restructured debt.

The IMF has an especially important role to play. It should update its system for Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) and align it to climate targets as well as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in general. Moreover, its programmes should assure creditors of the viability of economic policies. The point is that debt relief must not trigger the next round of excessive borrowing.

A clever proposal was made by Anna Gelpern, Sean Hagan and Adnan Mazarei (2020). They want the G20 to establish a Sovereign Debt Coordination Group, which would consist of representatives from the official and private creditor community. Even without legal authority, the authors argued, this group could convene creditors, collect and disseminate information and facilitate negotiations.

Lessons of the past

In the past, several debt-relief initiatives have been successfully executed. They relied on joint criteria for many parties. Typically, these initiatives were improvised ad hoc, but they set precedents and helped to build institutions such as the Paris Club.

History shows, however, that these successful initiatives were often preceded by half-hearted and unsuccessful ones. Far too often, debt problems were only considered to be issues of liquidity rather than solvency. In our era of multiple crises, we cannot afford to lose time.

Gelpern, A., Hagan, S., and Mazarei, A., 2020: Debt standstills can help vulnerable governments manage the COVID-19 crisis. Washington, Peterson Institute for International Economics.


José Siaba Serrate is an economist at the University of Buenos Aires and at the University of the Centre for Macroeconomic Study (UCEMA), a private university in Buenos Aires. He is also a member of the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI).



Kategorien: english

Why central banks must pay attention to ecological risks

D+C - 21. Dezember 2022 - 14:47
Climate change and nature loss can undermine both macroeconomic and financial stability

The impacts of global heating and nature loss can subvert both macroeconomic stability (stable output growth and stable prices) and financial stability (the effective and reliable functioning of the financial sector). While high-income countries have contributed most to causing the global environmental crisis, its consequences are particularly painful in emerging markets and developing countries. Accordingly, central banks and financial regulators (CBFRs) in low and middle-income countries are now facing the challenge of addressing related risks and impacts.

Many CBFRs, moreover, want to support national mitigation and adaptation efforts. They have thus started to explore how to nudge the financial sector towards more sustainable investments.

Five reasons

There are at least five reasons why CBFRs should be concerned with climate change, the loss of eco-systems and the related dwindling of biodiversity:

  • The impacts affect CBFRs’ core mandate of safeguarding macroeconomic and financial stability. It is now widely recognised that the impacts of the global ecological crisis create financial risks that need to be mitigated. Moreover, it is increasingly well-documented that they can threaten macroeconomic and price stability. CBFRs must therefore understand these issues and deal with them appropriately.
  • Central banks must consider the impact of climate- and nature-related risks on their own balance sheet. Central banks do not only use interest rates to control inflation, they also manage money supply by buying and selling financial assets. Their investment policies and collateral frameworks should thus take account of ecological risks, so they avoid purchasing hazardous assets. That approach will not only protect their own portfolio, but also provide useful incentives for the financial sector and the real economy. The reason is that an asset is more valuable and more attractive if financial institutions can use it in operations with the central bank.
  • As all organisations must, CBFRs have to consider the potential impact of their own actions on the environment. This is particularly relevant in places where CBFRs are expected to support governments’ environmental policies.
  • CBFRs contribute to shaping markets. For example, their prudential policies define what commercial banks must take into account when granting loans, issuing bonds or reporting to shareholders. CBFRs can oblige them to disclose climate and nature-related risks as well as account for potential impacts in their lending and investments. The inclusion of environmental dimensions in such requirements can help to make the financial system support the transition to environmental sustainability.
  • CBFRs should lead by example. Therefore, they must themselves adhere to all standards they want others to observe.

Of course, government action remains crucially important. Government policies matter most, and CBFRs must support them. To what extent they can deliver, depends on their institutional mandates and the specific country context. However, CBFRs certainly have a role of their own in “greening” both the financial system and the real economy.

Emerging consensus

An international consensus has emerged that CBFRs need to consider the environment in the design of monetary policy and financial supervision. Doing so is part of their general mandate of safeguarding macroeconomic and financial stability (see Hans Dembowski on This is acknowledged by the 121 CBFRs that belong to the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS).

The tasks of mitigating ecological risks and scaling up sustainable finance are closely interrelated. The latter task supports the former. To address ecological risks, prices must be set appropriately, which has implications for the allocation of credit. Lending to environmentally harmful activities must be reduced, while  more lending to sustainable economic activities will help to reduce long-term physical risks. Indeed, CBFRs can make economies more resilient by supporting the financial sector’s alignment with climate and nature.

The toolbox at the disposal of CBFRs is potentially large. As a starting point, it includes standards, taxonomies and metrics that are used for disclosure rules and compliance obligations. By defining these well, CBFRs help the financial sector to identify, assess and tackle crucial environmental risks and impacts – and as a result, more capital will be invested in sustainable ways.

Moreover, CBFRs can promote the development of new green market segments. For example, they can create a regulatory environment that supports the issuance of – and trade in – bonds that meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria (on the difficulties of adopting international standards see Kathrin Berensmann on

Important new stress tests 

CBFRs have also started to conduct climate and nature stress tests. These tests are meant to assess the vulnerability of financial institutions and the financial system in general. If a financial institution is found to be vulnerable to environmental shocks, it can be required:

  • to enhance its environmental risk management practices,
  • to assess and disclose such risks and/or
  • to hold additional capital.

Such obligations make high-risk activities less attractive in financial terms. If, moreover, a commercial bank is systemically important, such rules can be tightened. For example, that institution can be required to build additional capital buffers. Rules designed to ensure the viability of a single bank are called “microprudential” and those that go further to safeguard the entire system are called “macroprudential”.

Central banks’ monetary policy should take environmental issues into account too. As argued above, central banks can exclude asset classes that harm sustainability from their collateral frameworks. Another option is to accept problematic assets at a below-market rate. Such central bank policies send strong signals, especially as commercial banks prefer assets that the central bank is willing to accept in principle. Furthermore, central banks can introduce special refinancing lines that make it easier for commercial banks to grant loans to low-carbon or otherwise sustainable projects.

It bears repetition that CBFRs should do what they preach. By disclosing climate or nature-related risks in own portfolios they will set good examples. That is also true when they adopt responsible investment principles for portfolio management.

Moreover, CBFRs can support the broader sustainability agenda through sustainable finance roadmaps or by providing advice to their government. They can also support related capacity building efforts in the financial sector, raising awareness of how environmental risks can harm macroeconomic and financial stability.

Particular urgency in developing countries

All CBFRs must ultimately rise to the multi-layered challenges of environmental, macroeconomic and financial stability. While the need to act is universal, the sense of urgency is strongest in developing countries and emerging markets.

  • They are more exposed to the detrimental impacts of the global environmental crisis.
  • Their investment needs are larger, while their financial systems are less developed.

Unsurprisingly, CBFRs in poorer world regions were among the first seeking to address environmental risks. Leaders include Bangladesh, Brazil, China and Lebanon.

That fits the pattern of CBFRs there typically playing a broader role in supporting government policies and development priorities. They have often taken a “developmental” stance. Accordingly, many of them are now tackling the financial and macroeconomic implications of the global environmental crisis in a pragmatic, hands-on way.

Many CBFRs in the global south have creatively adopted eco-friendly instruments and policies that may seem unorthodox to their counterparts in high-income countries. With the worsening global environment crisis causing stronger impacts, more CBFSs are likely to gear  their policies and instruments to sustainability. Going forward, CBFRs will have to more systematically assess the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of adopted measures. Doing so is part of their duty to safeguard macroeconomic and financial stability. It also serves to ensure that clearly defined policy goals are met while unwanted distortions are avoided.

Ulrich Volz is a professor of economics and directs the Centre for Sustainable Finance at SOAS, University of London.




Kategorien: english

Waste separation – policy implications

GDI Briefing - 20. Dezember 2022 - 18:13

In a dialogue with Martin Kochan (GIZ), Anna Pegels outlines a step by step process to develop a recycling system which enables and motivates households to contribute, for example by separating their waste.

Kategorien: english

Creating a better environment for development as an objective of US policy

Brookings - 20. Dezember 2022 - 17:34

By David Dollar, Patricia M. Kim, Louison Sall, Jonathan Stromseth

Executive summary

If the global environment for development continues to decline, the acute security and economic challenges facing the United States will become increasingly difficult to resolve. To create a better environment, the United States must work closely with other prominent global actors, especially China. The two countries are key players in three main arenas shaping the landscape: climate change, trade architecture, and development finance. And how developments in these arenas affect each other will largely determine the long-term outcomes for growth and poverty reduction worldwide. Promoting a stable foundation for development will help reduce conflict and enable global economic growth.

What’s the problem?

After decades of steady decline, global poverty has risen since 2019. While several exceptional factors such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to this reversal, the fact remains that the global environment for development may continue to be poor for decades. The main structural factors already at work are (1) climate change, which contributes to more frequent and severe environmental disasters; (2) a fragmentation of the global trading system; and (3) a lack of development finance, which is needed for infrastructure and for addressing challenges such as the pandemic and its second- and third-order effects. If the poor environment for development continues, there will be more poor people, more instability and conflict in the developing world, insufficient progress on global carbon reduction, and more global health crises. As such, it is in America’s interest to devote more resources and policy attention to supporting development and to cooperate more fully with other major players, especially China, to address these looming global challenges.

Kategorien: english

Global problems require global solutions

D+C - 20. Dezember 2022 - 10:00
Why multilateral policymaking must improve and who can make it happen

Humankind must rise to daunting global challenges – including global heating, world hunger and disease control, to name only three. More generally speaking, the United Nations’ entire 2030 agenda of sustainable development goals depends on multilateral policy-making. Safeguarding peace may actually be the most important. Without it, international cooperation cannot succeed.

Nonetheless, populist forces have been agitating against the institutions of global governance in recent years, arguing that they thwart national sovereignty. Such propaganda, however, often serves the interests of the superrich. It does not help the angry people it tends to appeal to. Plutocrats, who benefit from tax havens and like to pit government against government, are keen on protecting their special interests. It means resisting global cooperation to protect the environment, reduce inequality and raise taxes. I spelled out why the term plutocrat populism makes sense in a comment.

To resist such forces, a better understanding of global governance is necessary.

Risk of global recession

Economies around the world are exposed to detrimental impacts of international crises. Multilateral cooperation is needed to mitigate the impacts and manage the crises. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and multilateral banks have a crucial role to play. As the Argentinian economist José Siaba Serrate elaborates, their effectiveness ultimately depends on superpowers cooperating responsibly.

In this difficult scenario, the G20 summit in Bali in November proved more encouraging than many expected. The good news was that the world’s leading national policymakers do not deny the host of problems our species is facing. According to the Indonesian economist Iwan J. Azis, the summit declaration adds up to many small steps in the right direction, though it does not offer a grand plan to solve all problems.

The G20, of course, is hamstrung by the fact that its members are adversaries and even enemies. Global cooperation requires peace, which cannot be said too often, especially after Russia invaded Ukraine, compounding many global problems.

Questions of peace

The most important global public good is arguably peace. The UN was established after World War II to ensure humankind would live in peace. It has neither been a complete failure, though the Ukraine war is the latest proof that it has not been a spectacular success either. Too often, it has proved unable to fully live up to its mandate. Anna-Katharina Hornidge of the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS) shared her insights with me in an interview.

In past decades, war between sovereign nations has become rare, while civil wars have rocked many countries. It would be a mistake, however, to believe that internal strife only affects the country where it erupts. The escalating security crisis in Western Africa is an example of how fragile statehood transcends borders – and why it deserves global attention. In an interview, Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS Africa), which has its head office in South Africa, told me about international and global ramifications of Islamist insurgencies in West Africa.

The UN is useful, but not useful enough

The typical pattern of the UN is that it does useful work, but more needs to happen. That is not only true in regard to safeguarding peace. As my colleague Jörg Döbereiner of D+C/E+Z argues, the UN climate summit in Sharm-el-Sheikh in November fits the picture too.

It will not come as a surprise that the UN Environment Programme is not entirely up to task either. David Mfitumkiza, a Ugandan climate scholar, discussed its shortcomings and how to improve matters on our platform.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is another example. It played a crucial role in containing the Covid-19 pandemic, but could have done more, had it had more authority and resources. Anton Sundberg and Andreas Wulf of medico international, a Frankfurt-based non-governmental organisation, point out why the WHO deserves to get more money and more say.

Why there is so little trust in western governments

High-income countries have a pattern of calling for better global governance when it suits them. They would be more convincing if they systematically acted in pursuit of the international common good. If they can afford to do so, however they all too often prioritise national interests. André de Mello e Souza explains how high-interest rates in the USA are causing stress in developing countries and emerging markets.

That many governments are uncomfortable with western leadership has become particularly evident in the context of the Ukraine War. That is why many of them have shied away from condemning Russia’s aggression in the UN context. Kai Ambos, a German law professor, argues that western governments are paying a price for not consistently adhering to international law themselves.

To improve things, high-income countries must regain credibility by living up to their promises. Unfortunately, the history of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is also one of expectations they raised but did not make come true. Together with my co-author, Alphonce Shiundu, a Kenyan journalist, I spelled out why the WTO’s Doha Development Round resulted in disappointment.

Opposition to the west does not add up to a coherent agenda

The governments of developing countries and emerging markets thus have ample reason to feel frustrated. It is true that western governments often either dominate multilateral decision making or block it. In an attempt to counter former colonial powers, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have teamed up and formed the BRICS. However, they lack a coherent agenda, according to Praveen Jha of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

At the same time, Chinese efforts to build alliances must not be underestimated. Berthold M. Kuhn and Dimitrios L. Margellos of Berlin’s Free University spell out how Beijing has increased its clout internationally. They admonish western leaders to pay attention.

The plain truth is that policymakers must consider the global public good. It would help if the media encouraged them to do so. In my eyes, our professional community often fails to live up to that obligation. It we focused more on global public goods and made a stronger effort to avoid the conventional narratives we are used in national affairs, policymakers might feel more pressure to do so too. I made the case in a comment on our website.

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

Kategorien: english

How to end world hunger

D+C - 20. Dezember 2022 - 9:27
Overview: This is what needs to happen to ensure global food security and achieve SDG2

In past decades, the international community has always produced enough food to feed everyone. Nonetheless, more than 10 % of the world population do not get what they need, and the scenario has been getting worse in recent years. Covid-19 lockdowns, Russia’s attack on Ukraine and financial speculation are contributing to this trend, and so is the climate crisis, as extreme weather is all too often wiping out harvests. Long-standing issues, moreover, include that rural infrastructure is weak and smallholder farms are largely neglected by policymakers. While there still is enough food for everyone in theory, masses of people simply cannot afford to buy what they need.

The Global Hunger Index

The downward trend is evident in the Global Hunger Index. It is compiled every year by Welthungerhilfe and Concern International, two international NGOs based in Germany and Ireland respectively. This year’s issue was launched in mid-October. Mathias Mogge, the director-general of Welthungerhilfe, warns that large-scale agriculture as is practiced in high-income nations is often environmentally unsustainable. On the other hand, smallholder farmers’ productivity must rise. Masses of them are very poor. He shared core insights with me in an interview for D+C/E+Z.

The full truth is that world hunger does not result from insufficient global supply. Apart from war-torn areas, were the distribution of goods is often impossible, the big problem is unaffordability. Too many poor people simply cannot buy the agricultural products they desperately need. Even in prosperous nations, an increasing number of people depend on food banks.

Food security improves with social safety nets, and speculation can prove harmful

As Svenja Schulze, Germany’s federal minister for economic cooperation and development, argues, stronger social-protection systems would make a difference. In view of the multiple crises we are facing, such systems should be established and expanded fast. Among other things, her essay spells out how rural development in particular can benefit.

As a general rule, markets are better at distributing goods than governments. However, speculation with commodities sometimes exacerbate shocks. Francisco Mari of the Protestant non-governmental organisation Bread for the World elaborated how this played out in the current emergency, worsening need in many places.

It cannot be overemphasised that women and girl are more likely to suffer food insecurity than their male relatives. This is profoundly unjust, not least because women often do most of the farm work. Radio journalist Mireille Kanyange tackled the matter on our pages, using the example of Burundi.

How agricultural innovation depends on age-old rural traditions

Traditional farming is more important than most people assume. Smallholder communities in remote areas of developing countries and emerging markets are safeguarding genetic and other vital resources which global food security depends on, not least because the breeders of high-yielding varieties use them. Without these resources, the international community will not stay able to, at least in principle, produce enough grains, vegetables and fruit. World hunger would then no longer be mostly an issue of dysfunctional distribution, but one of too little supply.

As an officer of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Parviz Koohafkan specialised in agricultural heritage systems for decades. In 2002, he launched its GIAHS programme. The acronym stands for “globally important agricultural heritage systems”.  His D+C/E+Z contribution explains why the programme matters.

Rural communities’ traditional knowledge is essential, but so is innovation. To better link the two, agricultural research must pay more attention to the specific needs of smallholder farmers and the environmental contexts they work in. The implication is that more attention must be paid to people living in rural regions of developing countries. Hildegard Lingnau of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR), which coordinates hundreds of agencies internationally, shared her views in an interview with my colleague Jörg Döbereiner.

Why genetically modified crops matter less than some pretend

Many people, however, still believe that innovation is predominantly a high-tech issue. That is a fallacy. Our Ugandan correspondent Ronald Ssegujja Ssekandi reported why his country’s lack of a GMO law is not a big problem in terms of food security. 

Poverty and need affect not only low income countries, but are often quite severe even in rising economic powers. Indeed, food security has been deteriorating in India. Around the world, moreover, many people consume too much fat, sugar and salt. Healthier diets would make sense. Our correspondent Roli Mahajan discussed the matter and also spelled out how eco-friendly innovations based on rural traditions can make a difference in India.                      

World hunger exacerbated by climate impacts

To achieve SDG2, the end of hunger, action to mitigate the climate crisis is urgent. Last year, the example of Pakistan’s floods shows how extreme weather compounds pre-existing problems. At one point, a third of the country was under water, and 44 % of the people suffered food insecurity. Imran Mukhtar, an Islamabad-based journalist, assessed a very difficut situation.

Spectacular disasters make international headlines. By contrast, smaller calamities, that affect fewer people, are often not taken note of by the international public. Their fate matters too. Ugandan flooding, for example, negatively affected about 90 000 persons in 2022, as Ronals Ssegujja Ssekandi wrote. 

The conclusions of the contributions listed on this page are summarised in the edito I wrote for the November issue of our Digital Monthly, which included a focus section on how to end hunger.

It bears repetition. If the international community musters the political will, SDG2 is achievable.


Hans Dembowski is the editor in chief of D+C Development and cooperation / E+Z Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit.

Kategorien: english

A future for the Pantanal

D+C - 19. Dezember 2022 - 19:18
Traditional communities protect biodiversity of world’s largest inland wetland in Brazil

You come from a traditional Pantanal community and have studied the region as a scientist. How do people live in this natural environment?

Most live in traditional communities and refer to themselves collectively as “Pantaneiros”. Many of them – including myself – are a mixture of black and indigenous. Their lifestyle is inextricably linked to the cycles of flood and drought in the region. How exactly communities live depends on where in the Pantanal they are located. Some are fishers, some rely on family farming, others on gathering nuts or fruit.

Are these communities self-sufficient?

They were more independent a few years ago. The fact that climate change and other factors are changing water-supply cycles in the Pantanal is a problem. Those who traditionally rely on smallholder family farms are largely self-sufficient, however. The cultivation is typically very diverse: people tend gardens with vegetable patches, and they plant corn, manioc and other varieties for their daily use. Usually they don’t cultivate the same parcel of land every year, but instead change locations. Doing so is sustainable because it allows the soil to recover and at the same time there is no need to clear new areas. (On the role of traditional smallholder farms in global nutrition, see Parviz Koohafkan on

What role do large soy plantations, of which there are more and more in the region, play?

They are mostly monocultures, which is bad for biodiversity. These larger farms also threaten smallholders’ way of life: first, because they can produce much more cheaply. Second, because they buy up large amounts of land for their plantations. Especially in the last decade, regions very close to the Pantanal were also being cleared for agricultural land. Such deforestation leads directly to the loss of biodiversity. The soy plantations use large amounts of pesticides, moreover. In a community near the small city of Poconé, we have already detected them in the soil. Pesticides impact human health. They affect food security as well: with poison in the soil, hardly anything besides soybeans will grow.

What challenges are traditional communities facing?

There are many. One of the biggest challenges is a lack of recognition and visibility. That is true in all of Brazil and in particular in the Pantanal. The National Council of Traditional Peoples and Communities does allow people some say. Nevertheless, it is still very difficult for these communities to receive political recognition. In addition, more and more companies are spreading throughout the Pantanal. Alongside intensive farming, more and more hydropower plants are being built.

What impact does that have on traditional communities?

None of these projects takes them into consideration. That is why we are fighting for their participation in decision making in this region. According to Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO), traditional communities have the right to be heard in all matters that could impact them and their way of life or their land. Many traditional communities depend on fishing, for example. Building hydropower plants affects the water level in the rivers and therefore the opportunity to fish. Artificial intervention in the water level makes it impossible for communities to predict when it is a good time to fish or plant and when the floods will come. At the beginning of 2022, for instance, the town of Porto de Limão was suddenly flooded because a hydropower plant released its impounded water. Although flooding is normal in the Pantanal, it usually happens predictably during the rainy season. The residents were not prepared for this flood. It ruined all the crops they had sown. The public authorities were not very interested, however.

Apart from direct aid, why is it also important, on a broader level, to protect the traditional way of life of the Pantaneiros?

Doing so means protecting biodiversity and therefore our shared home, the Pantanal. The various communities here understand the Pantanal better than anyone else. They know that their way of life depends on an intact ecosystem, so they preserve it. They are the guardians of this region. That is nothing new: the Pantanal exists today in its current form only because, in past centuries, people have worked here and navigated the rivers on which they lived their lives – always considering the tides. Therefore when we talk about preserving this ecosystem today, that primarily means preserving the lifestyles of the people here and strengthening them so that they can also take care of the Pantanal in the future.

To outsiders it can seem as if women took on leadership positions especially frequently in the communities of the Pantanal. Is that true?

Yes, the majority of the communities are led by women, and many are matriarchally organised. My grandmother used to be the leader of the community I come from. Nowadays it is my aunt. Many women here take care of their families as well as their communities and the region as a whole. My mother taught me to play an active role. “Go and do,” she often said to me – and she also taught me that my voice was just as important as anyone else’s.

How do you advocate for people in the Pantanal?

I speak to the communities, gather their concerns and bring them to the attention of policymakers, so instruments can be developed that will in turn benefit the communities.

What is your motivation to do so?

Doubtless I’m motivated by the fact that my roots are in the Pantanal. Aside from that, I know that we have to value this ecosystem and its people so that it can continue to exist. My work in the whole process is nothing more than a drop in the Rio Paraguai, one of the large rivers in the Pantanal. Our achievements are only possible because many people are working together.

What are some of your past successes?

One success was that the local traditional communities were incorporated into the 2008 law on the Pantanal. That guaranteed many of our rights.

Have you also experienced setbacks?

Yes, especially under the government of Jair Bolsonaro, who recently lost re-election. Many programmes that supported people here were suspended, for example a programme for rural housing. It was supposed to help people find suitable places to live. We were in the process of gathering data for it when it was suspended. Many programmes that dealt with food security, which were helping people continue to live here, were cancelled as well. Moreover, there used to be programmes that distributed seeds or promoted organic farming. All of them have been put on hold. Furthermore, subsidies to promote local value chains have been reduced. The government used to support the gathering of baru nuts, a local variety, and the extraction of oil from the babassu palm. Particularly the programmes that supported smallholders have been done away with.

Are you hoping that the newly elected government under Lula da Silva will have more consideration for traditional communities in the region?

Yes, I’m hoping that we can reverse some of the setbacks. I hope that minorities will be more on the new government’s radar and that it will advocate for them and their ways of life. (On the Brazil elections see André de Mello e Souza on

Cláudia Regina Sala de Pinho is a biologist and environmental scientist who comes from a traditional Pantaneiro community. Until recently she coordinated the National Council of Traditional People and Communities in Brazil.

Kategorien: english

New trauma looms if traumatising past is not dealt with

D+C - 19. Dezember 2022 - 19:01
Societies must acknowledge pain, assess causes and achieve a minimum level of reconciliation after dictatorship or war

Memorial’s mission was to inform people about the history of totalitarian rule. In the eyes of President Vladimir Putin, telling the truth about the horrors of Stalinism was basically nothing but western propaganda. In his paranoid world view, Russia is a glorious nation with only one problem: permanent rejection by the west.

His nationalism does not worry about the nation’s welfare. Young men are used as cannon fodder, but are not allowed to express their views as free citizens. Russian leaders since Peter the Great 300 years ago, have thought along similar lines. They equated themselves with the state, tried to expand their power and ignored the suffering of their subjects, denying them any say in public affairs. Fear of suppressive government permeates Russian culture because the nation has not systematically grappled with the impacts of traumatic despotism.

Individual lives do not matter to him, the authority of the Kremlin does. That is why he is killing so many Ukrainian civilians and sacrificing so many Russian soldiers. He does not want anyone to acknowledge the deadly famine (“Holodomor”) Stalin caused in Ukraine 80 years ago, but is committing genocidal war crimes himself. He insists Ukraine is – and must always be – Russian.

Past suffering all too often leads to new suffering

When collective trauma lingers on, new trauma is likely to follow. In 2022, the Ukraine war was the worst example. Sadly, historical wounds keep festering in many places. That will not change until societies acknowledge the pain, assess the causes and achieve a minimum level of reconciliation. Where things are hushed up, conspiracy theories abound, with identity politics emphasising the suffering of one’s own community and scapegoating other communities.

Things tend to be particularly difficult in formerly colonised countries. After victory, the leaders who fought hard for independence were prone to considering the young nation their personal fiefdom. The typical pattern is that they avoided accountability and used repressive means. They only freed their nation from colonial rule, but not the authoritarian attitudes it fostered.

International cooperation is the way forward

In the current polycrisis, resentful identity politics is harmful. To safeguard and provide public goods – such as peace, environmental health, food security, stable financial architecture, pandemic preparedness, to name only five  – we need international cooperation. Governments that mistake their undisputed power at home for the common good, cannot be expected to contribute much to the global common good. Moreover, no one who prevents a full reckoning with the historical truth deserves trust.

In most cases, destructive impacts of historical trauma only affect the nation concerned. In the worst cases, they amount to an attack on humankind as a whole. The Nazi response to the perceived humiliations of Germany in World War I, for example, was to start the even worse World War II.

In Putin’s war of aggression, military action is so far limited to Ukraine and, to some extent, Russia itself. The impacts are global nonetheless. Global energy markets are in disarray, which is an important reason for the climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh in November not delivering stronger results. When governments must focus on short-term fuel provision, they find it hard  to commit to the mid-term switch to renewables on which our common future depends.


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

Kategorien: english

Iran’s protests resonate around the world

D+C - 19. Dezember 2022 - 18:52
Women everywhere must be free to go where they like and dress as they please

Women are at the forefront of the protests in Iran. Some even speak of “a new revolution”. The rebellion against the fundamentalist Shia regime has generated global reactions. People across the world are expressing solidary – as well as concern for victims of repression.

In Pakistan, for instance, women were among the first to speak up when the protests started in September after Mahsa Amini, a young woman, had died in police custody. She was arrested for not wearing her hijab as demanded by Iran’s fundamentalist law. In Pakistan, female lawyers, legislators, civil-society activists and scholars were appalled. Some of us accuse Iran of smearing the name of Islam. Others oppose the violation of women’s rights. The violence perpetrated by Tehran’s totalitarian regime is troubling, and Pakistani women are now praying for the safety of Iran’s people.

In Pakistan, most people are Sunnis, while the Shia constitute the majority in Iran. However, the outpour of concern in Pakistan is unanimous, involving followers of every version of the Islamic faith. We are impressed by the strength and courage of Iranians and disgusted by brutal repression. According to media reports, some 500 persons had been killed in Iran by mid-December. The government has even executed two young men after ridiculously short court trials.

Restricting basic rights in the name of religion, culture and tradition

Iran’s Mahsa Amini protests concern several different issues. One is the freedom of expression and press. Another is the freedom of assembly. Yet another is the basic right of women to bodily autonomy and mobility. Rhetoric guised in religion, culture and tradition is used in many places to enforce restrictive, patriarchal notions. Typically, they force women to dress in a particular way and limit their access to public spaces.

Things are especially harsh where these supposed “values” are codified into law, as is the case in Iran. Pakistani women who are old enough to remember the rule of military dictator Zia ul Haq from 1977 to 1988 know what it is like when an authoritarian government disrespects civil rights and abuses human rights. Zia used his orthodox Sunni ideology to hound dissidents. Today, things are particularly bad in Afghanistan, with girls and young women being denied access to education.

For obvious reasons, the protest movement in Iran matters particularly to women in predominantly Muslim countries. At the same time, many of us are uncomfortable with expressions of support emanating from western countries which have a pattern of looking down on women who wear hijab. In France, the government legally restricts its use. We want freedom – and it means that we decide where we want to go and what we want to wear.

Muslim women, moreover, are tired of being pitied as victims of repressive traditions. We know that things are not perfect in the west either. We took note of the #MeToo movement. We know that courts in various western countries often err away from convicting perpetrators of sexual violence if a judge feels that the victim was dressed “provocatively”. It is obvious, moreover, that conservative Christians in the USA and other western countries are keen on restricting abortion rights. In the USA, the most radical legislators now even want to limit access to contraceptives.

In early December, there were reports that the Iranian regime abolished the Gasht-e-Ershad (the morality police). Most likely, this was only a token concession without serious impact. The government later insisted that wearing hijab would stay a legal obligation. Photos from Iran, however, show that women increasingly opt for not wearing it. At considerable personal risk, they are insisting on their freedom.

The Mahsa Amini protests are a wake-up call not just for the state of Iran, but for governments across the world. It is high time that the world leaders move away from curbing individual agency based on gendered biases. Every woman everywhere is entitled to her fundamental rights.

Marva Khan is an assistant professor of law at LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) and co-founder of the Pakistani Feminist Judgments Project.



Kategorien: english

China’s zero-Covid strategy: causes for public protests in Chinese cities and consequences for the world economy

GDI Briefing - 19. Dezember 2022 - 10:18

Recent protests following the death of people in a blaze in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital raise questions about Beijing’s claimed efficacy of China’s zero-Covid strategy three years into the pandemic. According to many, recent lockdowns in Urumqi led to rescue delays to save the lives of people trapped in a building on fire. This sad event under strict lockdown measures combined with stress, anxiety, fear, insecurity, and unsafety among the majority of the population in China has led to protests across the country. Beijing’s continuous repressive and drastic zero-Covid strategy anytime new cases are declared in Chinese cities has contributed to the ire of the population vis-à-vis the Chinese government as families are disrupted, jobs are lost, and social contacts are broken, without forgetting the psychological impacts of lockdown measures to confine people in barricaded districts. This piece explores China’s zero-Covid strategy, its causes for recent public protests in major Chinese cities and its consequences for the world economy.

Kategorien: english

A New Plastics Treaty Is Being Negotiated at the UN: What You Need to Know

UN Dispatch - 19. Dezember 2022 - 4:00

Negotiations for a new Global Treaty on Plastics formally kicked off in early December. Delegates from around 160 countries met in Uruguay for the first round of talks aimed at reducing the harmful impact of plastics on both the environment and health.

António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, has called plastics “fossil fuels in another form.” And called on governments to support a treaty that not only dealt with plastic waste and recycling, but also the entire life cycle of plastics, including measures to control the production of plastics.

In this episode, we are joined by Andres Del Castillo, senior attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law, who attended the negotiations, which took place in the seaside city Punta Del Este.

We discuss why regulating plastics through an international agreement is necessary, as well the process for these negotiations and the stances thus far of key governments around the world, including the USA, China, the European Union and countries in the global south.

Apple Podcasts  | Google PodcastsSpotify  | Podcast Addict  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public 



Transcript lightly edited for clarity

What Is a Plastics Treaty and Why Is It Needed?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:02:32] Can I just have you make the case for a plastics treaty? What is the harm from plastics and why is international cooperation required to mitigate that harm?

Andres Del Castillo [00:02:59] First, let me set the scene and give you a little bit of the context of where we are with this idea of having a plastic treaty. We are talking about a complex material consisting of mixtures of chemicals like additives, processing aids and unintentional added substance, which are out of control, mainly because of two reasons: the first reason is the complexity of the material and the second is the proliferation. So, on the complexity, just to give you a scale of where we are, we are talking about 200,000 polymers that are in the EU market only with more than 10,000 associated chemicals, meaning that plastics are complex and we are not just talking about seven specific resins, but about an infinite number of combinations of chemicals. This complexity makes plastic difficult to deal with. This idea of proliferation is what we see in a huge number of applications and sectors of the economy, but as well, we are seeing that on the environment, on the biota and recently on human beings. There are recent studies that shows that there are microplastics in human placenta, human lungs, blood, and the last scientific studies show that there is microplastics in breast milk. So sometimes I refer to the absurdity of where we are in this crisis by quoting a UN scientific report that was launched last year that said that some evidence suggests that the use of microplastics in offshore oil and gas activities could be substantial, and microplastics are known to be used in production and drilling processes in oil and gas activities. For me, this absurdity shows that this idea of microplastics or plastic that are less than five millimeters are everywhere and it is not only a question of waste, but also question that the industry is using that every single day for different applications.

Why is plastic bad for the environment?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:05:14] But this is more than a microplastics treaty that is envisioned; this is a plastics treaty. What, generally speaking, is the harm that plastics impose on the environment?

Andres Del Castillo [00:05:30] So since the sixties or seventies, there are documentation of physical harms. At the beginning it was more to animals by ingestion of the debris but more and more, we have specific evidence on the chemical or the toxicity of those plastics in human beings and also in biota and in the environment in general. So, it is because of this idea of complexity that we say it is not only a question of plastic waste or the physical items or products that we see on the beaches or on landfills but is also the material itself that is a problem. And this is something that was identified by different countries as a priority, as a common concern of humankind.

How did the idea of a plastics treaty begin?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:06:21] So I’d love to have you explain to me the origin story of this potential plastics treaty. Is there a civil society movement behind it? I ask, because a pattern that I’ve seen over the years reporting on the United Nations is that whether it’s banning landmines or banning nuclear weapons, these ideas percolate among civil society, then make their way to sympathetic governments who take the ball from there. Is that what’s happening here? How did this idea for a plastics treaty originate and get us to the point where we are today?

Andres Del Castillo [00:07:03] Yes. So first we (when I say we, I mean from the civil society world) we consider that our role has been showing evidence through scientific methodologies or citizen science or just with different activities, showing the gravity of the situation that was at the beginning more this is what is going on in different places around the world, but also intentionally, there are different coalitions or groups from civil society that from the beginning were calling for global control measures to plastics, saying voluntary or national legislation is not enough; we need something more comprehensive because the transboundary dimension of the problem and because we need countries to establish and set rules. So I will affirm that, yes, there is the civil society and other specific stakeholders behind this, calling for specific global rules, but that is not possible to advance if you don’t have, as you mentioned, some specific countries or regions that are champions and what is specific for this idea of plastic pollution and measures is something, even from the regulatory level, we see champions in different countries apart from the global north. For instance, Bangladesh was the first country to ban single use plastic bags and many African countries have identified that plastic was a problem, and since the nineties, we have specific legislation in Africa banning or controlling plastics. So, we see in different countries around the world this idea of championing the concept of global rules for the plastics as products and as materials.

What is in the potential United Nations plastics treaty?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:09:01] So I’d love to have you discuss process and where we go from here. I’ve been covering the United Nations for a long time, and one lesson I have learned is that process dictates outcomes. Could you explain the context in which negotiations for a potential plastics treaty are taking place? I take it you just returned from Uruguay, where the first round of these negotiations occurred?

Andres Del Castillo [00:09:31] Yes. So, Uruguay was the result of a dream for many of us, having all the countries of the world of the majority, more than 160 countries just talking about plastics. And this is only the first round of negotiations but taking a step back, I can say that the origin of these mandates — that is the way the UN works for developing treaties — was adopted last March during the United Nations Environmental Assembly in Nairobi, where more than 175 countries agreed on a mandate on the minimum elements that a body called INC, or Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee, should look at when negotiating a plastic treaty. In March, we started with a specific mandate with a list of topics that the countries wanted to see reflected in a final treaty but then they also clarified that we have a deadline to finish the discussions in the last part of 2024 and have a potential diplomatic or plenipotentiary conference — that is the conference that closes the meeting for adoptions by different countries — in early 2025. So, the rules and the recipes and the ingredients for making this treaty were given, then the mandate clarified that we need to have a specific meeting on preparations for the negotiation itself and that happened in June in Dakar, Senegal, where countries met to set the rules of the game, called rules of procedures, and set also specific logistic and administrative matters. Then at Uruguay, we touched on both procedural issues, last week, but also on substantive issues that will be discussed along these two years on the plastic treaty.

When might the UN adopt a plastics treaty? What would be included in the plastics treaty?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:11:42] So essentially the meeting in Uruguay was the kickoff for a substantive negotiation leading to one kind of big conference that will happen sometime in 2025 to hopefully adopt some sort of international mechanism, potentially a treaty on controlling plastics. So, say it’s 2025, what would in your mind as an advocate on this issue, a maximally ambitious plastics treaty look like? What would it cover; what would it compel governments to do?

Andres Del Castillo [00:12:25] Well, the good news is it is already in the mandate that I was referring to. We already have the specific elements and the scope of the agreement that is to cover the full lifecycle of plastics, and this can sound tautological, saying full lifecycle, but it was necessary to understand that the problem of plastics is not only a problem of plastic waste, but a problem with the whole lifecycle of plastics as a material.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:12:54] Like the development of plastics itself requires a lot of fossil fuels, for example, and that the idea is a treaty should not just deal with better ways to recycle or reuse plastic, but indeed how to construct plastic in a more environmentally conscious way.

Andres Del Castillo [00:13:14] Exactly. You said it right: what we use at the international level is “upstream, midstream and downstream stages of the lifecycle.” And on the upstream part, that this is really beginning of plastics, what we expect for the treaty is to recognize that plastics lifecycle starts at extraction point and that so far 99% of plastics are made with fossil fuel. But in the future, considering that the treaty is a long-term policy, there will also be the ideas that cover also agricultural feedstocks, for instance. So, we call this first stage sourcing, meaning extraction, but also cultivation and this isn’t a specific recognition, it doesn’t mean that that will be a priority for the next round of negotiations. And on the priority, what we want to see, of course, is a specific common objective that includes not only the environmental aspects, but also the human health and human rights aspects of the problem that need to be addressed through this mechanism. Mainly what we are advocating for is more upstream measures, meaning reduction of production of primary or virgin plastics. That needs to be a means to achieve an end that these measures end plastic pollution, right? But we don’t see reduction only as a consequence of different policies, but as a means. For reduction, we need to talk about caps on production, on plastics, then also a moratorium on new facilities or even on the expansion of existing facilities, petrochemical facilities that produce plastics, and also a reduction on fossil fuel subsidies and banning the specific types of plastics. Those are the reduction measures that we consider means for the upstream part. Then, of course, we have other specific aspects to cover, that is not only the polymer or one of the main materials for plastic, but also the additive and the toxicity of those additives meaning there are chemicals of concern, harmful hazardous dangers, also persistent organic pollutants that need to be controlled through these mechanisms. And finally, the midstream part that is more related to the design of plastic or some material, right? What needs to be included and the design of products and how much recyclable material needs to be used and rules of no entry into a market for new plastics without data. So, it’s a principle that comes from the European Union regulations on chemicals: “no data, no market” means if you want to put something into the market, you need to show and to be transparent and to share the information that the product and the material is safe for consumers and for industrial use. And finally, the downstream part, that is the part that many people are talking about, reusing systems and also at the end, if that is not possible, the recycling part.

Which countries are advocating for the plastics treaty?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:16:38] So I take it there is a quote, high ambition coalition of countries that broadly subscribe to this maximally ambitious idea of a plastics treaty that encompasses the entire lifecycle of plastics. What countries are in that coalition and how are they approaching negotiations thus far?

Andres Del Castillo [00:17:06] There was a first move led by Norway and Rwanda, when the mandate for the negotiation was adopted, to create an ambition coalition. So far there are 55 members of that coalition, including the European Union, the European Union members, more than nine countries from Latin America. We have seen how Latin America is a champion region for the plastic treaty, but also there is a phenomenon, if I’m not wrong, that there are some countries that we don’t consider as high ambition but are entering into the high ambition coalition because their aim is to have something ambitious, but the question is how they’re going to concretize that with the specific policies and proposals. So far, they have shown that they want to end plastic pollution by 2040, and they say that already this date is ambitious, and they want some specific measures to be taken more top down, meaning control measures at the global level that will influence what’s happening at the national level. So, this is where we are with this high ambition coalition.

Where do the United States and China stand on the UN plastics treaty?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:18:20] So there’s a significant number of countries, and you said it includes all of the European Union that are seeking this more expansive view of a plastics treaty. What is the position thus far of the United States and China, which I take it are probably two of the larger international producers and consumers of plastic products?

Andres Del Castillo [00:18:43] So for the United States and China, what we see is that they’re really interested in the topic. We can measure that by just saying the number of delegates or negotiators that were present at the first round of negotiations in Uruguay. China sent 24 delegates and the US sent around 30 delegates for the negotiation. This is an indication of how interested they are in the topic but when it comes to the concretized idea of how the treaty will work, we see in the US a lack of ambition in some specific parts, meaning they want to privilege a Paris Agreement style for this plastic treaty, meaning that it will depend on national circumstances and on national capabilities and on national prerogative, the way whole countries will address this crisis.

What is the difference between a treaty and an agreement?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:19:47] So just to emphasize that point, the Paris Agreement model is distinct from a treaty, the Paris Agreement is a political agreement, the core of which includes voluntary actions taken by each country that is part of that political agreement. It is not a treaty which is a legally binding agreement, countries legally agree to take certain actions as opposed to voluntarily agree to take certain actions. And it is the United States’ position at these early stages that they would prefer to see at the end of negotiations not a draft treaty, but a draft political agreement, encouraging countries to take certain steps within their national borders.

Andres Del Castillo [00:20:36] Exactly. What they are trying to put forward is this idea of having national action plans as the backbone of the plastic treaty, meaning in a few words, a Paris agreement style where you have nationally determined contributions, and then they also are asking for specific monitoring and transparency measures. But so far, we don’t see the point of meeting and spending thousands of millions of dollars to talk about voluntary measures, because this is what we have right now. We have many national action plans but it’s not working.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:21:18] So I guess I, to a certain degree, understand America’s point of view here. Just knowing what I know about American politics, it is exceedingly unlikely that if at the end this plastics treaty is opposed by the plastics and petrochemical industry, that you will have the sufficient two thirds majority of the U.S. Senate vote to ratify this treaty. So, it’s one of those treaties that could be out there, as there are many, that the United States might never, ever ratify. So, what’s better here, having the United States agree to voluntary contributions or having a treaty that the United States lives outside of?

Andres Del Castillo [00:22:09] This is a good question that we were trained to deal with during the first rounds of negotiations and this is the idea of flexibility, right? That we find flexibility features not only in the Paris Agreement style and apart from national politics — where we think that the US, even if we have a Paris agreement style, will be unable on the internal level to adopt and ratify this treaty — we see also this idea of countries trying to say let’s go for something more global but if the US is not a member, and not only the U.S., but other countries that are more alienated with fossil fuels, lobby to have other tools. For instance, Mexico put forward as one of the tools that need to be included in the plastic treaty is a close of parties, similar to what we have under the Basel convention, meaning that even if a country doesn’t ratify or is not part of the treaty, they will be affected because they can’t trade or be in negotiations with the parties of the treaty without complying with the safeguards or provisions of the treaties. So, this is also a feature that has been used and put forward as a way to say, well, if the U.S. is not part of the treaty, at least they will be affected by it. And this is the case of the Basel convention, where the U.S. is not a party of the treaty, but there are effects that affect them.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:23:50] What is the Basel convention?

Andres Del Castillo [00:23:52] The Basel Convention is a transboundary movement of hazardous waste and other waste. It is a global convention, mainly on chemicals that is ratified by almost all the countries from the United Nations minus the US and Haiti and Sudan.

Why is the United States not a part of The Basel Convention?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:24:11] And how currently is the U.S. existing outside The Basel Convention impacting America’s ability to interact with countries that exist within it? Just to see how listeners can view this as a potential model for the future plastics treaty.

Andres Del Castillo [00:24:31] Yes, we saw already in 2019, when it the specific amendment or modification of the Basel convention to include plastic waste and classify certain plastic waste as hazardous was adopted. When that happened, there was then an amendment to control plastic waste that before 2019 was not a part of the scope of the convention, and now if there are parties that want to export plastic waste to other parties, they need to apply the prior and informed consent, for instance. And this is something that has been modified for that convention and even if the US is not part of the convention that affects them, because all the parties that the US wants to enter into a negotiation with need to pass on this specific agreement with the same safeguards of The Basel Convention. So, this is the case, for instance, with the US and Canada passing on this specific agreement on the exports of plastic waste in 2020 or 2021 trying to comply with these Basel Convention rules.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:25:47] Because Canada is compelled to comply by it.

Andres Del Castillo [00:25:50] By the Basel Convention, yes.

What is the Chinese policy position on plastic pollution?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:25:52] So could you explain how you see China’s position going forward? You said that they sent a large delegation to that first negotiating conference. What do we know thus far about how they might approach, number one, this question of whether it should be a treaty or not or some sort of political agreement, a la the Paris agreement, what do we know about China’s position?

Andres Del Castillo [00:26:16] First, we know that the question of plastic pollution is high on the agenda of China. We know that because in 2018 they passed an internal, or national, law called the National Sword, where they banned the imports of plastic waste into mainland China. This has been an accelerator or driver of what we see today as a phenomenon, to understand that China received almost 50% of plastic waste from the world until 2018, where they banned the imports of plastic waste. So, we saw many countries and people form the understanding that the way of they were trying to recycle and sorting different plastic waste was not working because many of the products were sent abroad, mainly to China, for disposal or recovery activities in China. So, China under environmental grounds, banned the import of plastic waste in 2018. So, there is an interest from China to work on that. We know also that the National Action Plan of China for Human Rights includes this idea of microplastics and how to deal with that for soil fertility, too. And also, the World Trade Organization — China, together with Fiji and 75 countries, are leading this Pacific initiative called Dialogue on Plastic Pollution, so it’s not only the negotiations scenario where China has been present or active, but it’s another scenario with China has been demonstrating that this is high in their agenda. Now on the negotiation of the plastic treaty, this is the first time that China is sending delegates in person for this negotiation. For instance, when the mandate was adopted, China was really active, but remotely, because of their internal policy regarding COVID. But this time the negotiators, they were putting some specific language or some specific ideas over the counter. For instance, this idea of let’s have all the elements before we enter discussions, but also, we can see that China was trying also to open the rules of procedures that establish a specific mechanism for voting, and they were trying to push for a consensus-based negotiation.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:28:44] That’s interesting. So, they are engaging procedurally and to a degree substantively as well. So, we are speaking just a few days after this first round of negotiations concluded. What comes next and what will you be looking towards in the coming months and even years as the world builds momentum towards that 2024 deadline for these negotiations to conclude?

Andres Del Castillo [00:29:16] So first, we are seeing rising interest by many countries, and we saw that last week where more than 74 countries took the floor in the first days, for instance. This is kind of a record. Everybody wanted to take the floor on behalf of their countries or on behalf of the region, meaning that there is interest in that. We saw also international organizations coming forward and bringing their expertise on the topic and the main outcome of the meeting last week, was a request for UNEP or for the INC Secretariat to develop a specific document listing all the potential elements or options that need to be included in the treaty. And this negotiation is good because it’s giving a rhythm of what is going to happen at the INC 2, or the second round of negotiations, that will take place in Paris in the last week of May. And this idea of having a gravitational document where people will refer and talk about that document during the negotiation is important instead of not having anything so people can come and just talk. Now we are going to have specific a specific document by UNEP with a list of the potential countermeasures, obligations, scope, and different elements for a plastic treaty that, if everything goes well, will result in zero draft for the negotiations for the INC 3, or the third round of negotiations, that will take place in November in Nairobi, Kenya. And this is kind of where we are right now. On the specific request for UNEP to work on a document listing potential elements, hey will use all the inputs received during the last week with the opinions from many governments, but also by stakeholders and there will be a possibility to send in written submissions so they can take that into consideration when developing this specific document, that is a list of all the potential provisions.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:31:32] And just to be clear, UNEP is the United Nations Environment Program, and you are saying that basically negotiations in these first two rounds are kind of building up towards what’s called a zero draft in these situations, basically a very rough draft of a potential treaty or outcome document of some sort. And that’s what you’re looking out towards in the coming months.

Andres Del Castillo [00:31:56] Exactly. This is where we are right now and of course, it will be intense in the next two years, because we all know that the topic is complex, and the task is difficult. So, we will see many intersectional discussions or a discussion that happens outside these formal rounds of negotiation schemes where countries by region will come together to start developing and concretizing what they want to see in a plastic treaty.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:32:33] All right. Well, Andres, thank you so much.

Andres Del Castillo [00:32:36] Thanks to you, Mark.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:32:44] Thank you for listening to Global Dispatches. Our show is produced by me, Mark Leon Goldberg, and edited and mixed by Levi Sharp.

The post A New Plastics Treaty Is Being Negotiated at the UN: What You Need to Know appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Day Global Power Shifted

Tax Justice Network - 16. Dezember 2022 - 22:50

There's been a shift in global power, a tax justice milestone, and the powerful nations couldn't stop it...

In this episode, Naomi Fowler gives you a fly-on-the-wall take on what happened at the United Nations on November 24th 2022. We look at the power plays around a fundamental global power shift - the beginning of the end of the OECD’s 60 year reign as the world’s leading rule-maker on global tax.


Alex Cobham of the Tax Justice Network

Rachel Etter-Phoya of the Tax Justice Network

The UN Chairperson, UN Secretary and UN representatives of Nigeria, South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Liechtenstein, Republic of Korea, and Eritrea. 

Produced and hosted by the Tax Justice Network's Naomi Fowler.

Transcript (some is automated)

WATCH this historic UN meeting here (starts about 20 minutes in): 

Further reading: 

Our podcast website is 


Kategorien: english


SID Hamburg Aggregator – english abonnieren