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Determinants of social cohesion: cross-country evidence

GDI Briefing - 12. Dezember 2022 - 11:27

Noting that few studies to date have investigated the determinants of social cohesion in a comprehensive and systematic manner, this paper examines the macro-level determinants of social cohesion using a panel of up to 92 developing and developed countries for the period 1990–2020. Employing the system GMM dynamic panel data estimator, which addresses endogeneity concerns by means of internal instruments, I find that the levels of education, government size, globalisation, and economic development have significantly positive effects on most dimensions of a country’s social cohesion. In contrast, inflation, corruption and income inequality are detrimental to social cohesion.

Kategorien: english

Chinese telecommunications companies in Africa: alignment with African countries’ interests in developing their ICT sector?

GDI Briefing - 12. Dezember 2022 - 11:13

To bridge the telecom gap between people in rural and urban areas, and between landlocked and coastal countries, African governments and the African Union have supported the continent’s infrastructure development in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. At the same time, China has increasingly shown an interest in investing in ICT in Africa in order to export its manufacturing products, develop its technology and acquire foreign technology, as well as contributing to its global influence in ICT as stipulated in China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011–2015) and 14th Five-Year Plan (2021–2025). China’s increasing interest in ICT and the growing presence of Chinese telecom companies in Africa have contributed to a resurgence of the European Union’s motivation to re-engage in Africa’s ICT sector. This Policy Brief discusses whether, in the development of the African ICT sector, there is an alignment between Chinese telecom companies’ engagement in Africa and the interests of African countries. It argues that while Chinese investment interests meet Africa’s need for the development of its ICT sector, help bridge the telecom gap and contribute to connectivity across the continent, there are risks, challenges and concerns surrounding China’s engagement in African countries’ ICT sector.

Kategorien: english

Chinese telecommunications companies in Africa: alignment with African countries’ interests in developing their ICT sector?

GDI Briefing - 12. Dezember 2022 - 11:13

To bridge the telecom gap between people in rural and urban areas, and between landlocked and coastal countries, African governments and the African Union have supported the continent’s infrastructure development in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. At the same time, China has increasingly shown an interest in investing in ICT in Africa in order to export its manufacturing products, develop its technology and acquire foreign technology, as well as contributing to its global influence in ICT as stipulated in China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011–2015) and 14th Five-Year Plan (2021–2025). China’s increasing interest in ICT and the growing presence of Chinese telecom companies in Africa have contributed to a resurgence of the European Union’s motivation to re-engage in Africa’s ICT sector. This Policy Brief discusses whether, in the development of the African ICT sector, there is an alignment between Chinese telecom companies’ engagement in Africa and the interests of African countries. It argues that while Chinese investment interests meet Africa’s need for the development of its ICT sector, help bridge the telecom gap and contribute to connectivity across the continent, there are risks, challenges and concerns surrounding China’s engagement in African countries’ ICT sector.

Kategorien: english

Join the CSCP at COP 15 on the Links Between Biodiversity, Business, and Circular Economy on 12 and 13 December 2022!

SCP-Centre - 12. Dezember 2022 - 10:31

Key global actors have come together at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference CBD COP 15, running from 7 to 19 December in Montreal, Canada, to jointly focus on commitments to tackle biodiversity loss and align action toward its conservation and restoration. The conference is a historic event expected to adopt the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which includes a strategic vision as well as a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration, and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next eight years.

Government leaders will discuss 22 targets that will guide their activities to implement the new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) roadmap.

The CSCP is at COP 15 in Montreal, with a focus on supporting biodiversity targets that are linked to sustainable consumption and production. For example, target 15 of the GBF maintains that “All businesses assess and report on their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity, from local to global, and progressively reduce negative impacts by at least half, moving towards the full sustainability of extraction and production practices, sourcing and supply chains, use and disposal.”

Our UBi project supports German businesses and business associations in integrating biodiversity into their strategic planning and taking action to achieve biodiversity goals, including the COP 15 targets. In addition, German companies are supported to introduce biodiversity criteria into their environmental management. The CSCP and the UBi project partner Biodiversity in Good Company are at COP 15 following relevant sessions on the links between biodiversity and business as well as engaging and exchanging with key global players.

Considering that resource extraction and the processing of products are linked to biodiversity loss, there is an urgent need to re-think how we produce and consume. Circular Economy is one of the main pathways to the transformative change we need and if implemented appropriately a lever to achieve the targets of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). Through Circular Economy projects and as a member of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP), the CSCP engages with all partners to strengthen the ties between biodiversity and Circular Economy.

At COP15, the CSCP will join the session titled “The Circular Economy as a crucial tool for biodiversity & climate”, organised by ECESP members (IUCN European Regional Office and Ellen MacArthur Foundation). The session will showcase the linkages of circular economy with biodiversity and how innovative economic models support to achieve the targets of the post-2020 GBF.

If you are interested in discussing the interfaces of biodiversity, business and Circular Economy, please reach out to Luis Esquivel at COP 15 or contact Cristina Fedato via email.

The post Join the CSCP at COP 15 on the Links Between Biodiversity, Business, and Circular Economy on 12 and 13 December 2022! appeared first on CSCP gGmbH.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

What the Latest Data Tells Us About The Global Fight Against Malaria

UN Dispatch - 12. Dezember 2022 - 4:00

On December 8, the World Health Organization released its latest annual report on the global fight against Malaria.

The World Malaria Report found that progress against malaria has begun to stabilize after COVID related setbacks. Specifically, after a sharp rise in global malaria deaths during the first year of the pandemic, deaths have now begun to decrease — though not yet to pre-pandemic levels.

In this episode we are joined by Martin Edlund, Chief Executive Officer of the non profit organization Malaria No More, to explain what this data shows about humanity’s progress against malaria. We discuss the impact of the COVID pandemic on the fight against malaria before discussion the broader landscape in which malaria is evolving to become a more resilient foe. We also discuss exciting technological innovations that may enable humanity to reach the goal of reducing malaria cases and deaths by 90% by 2030.

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Transcript lightly edited for clarity

What Did Malaria Numbers Look Like Right Before the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Martin Edlund [00:00:00] The upshot is we need to continue to innovate. We’re in a constant arms race with nature in deploying these tools, both in terms of insecticides and the drugs that we use to treat the parasite. You know, if you look back over the last 15 years, Mark, we’ve seen historic progress in the malaria fight. What we’re talking about here is really humanity’s oldest, deadliest disease, something that you can find in the fossil record 20, 25 million years ago, and something that by many estimates, has killed more human beings than any other cause on the planet. And yet, in the last 15 years, we’ve seen remarkable progress. So, since the year 2000 we’ve saved nearly 12 million lives, prevented 2 billion cases of malaria; unlocked about $2 trillion in economic benefits for some of the poorest communities on the planet. In that time, 21 countries have eliminated malaria, so gone from annual transmission to no malaria whatsoever. And, you know, it’s because we have had really simple cost-effective tools, things like insecticide treated bed nets, rapid diagnostic tests, a $1 full course of treatment that if you get it, you do not die from this disease. And the combination of those effective tools and the progress we’ve seen have really led the world to recognize malaria as arguably the single most cost-effective way to save a human life on the planet by preventing people from getting malaria. So, the effective altruism movement, donor countries and certainly endemic countries have prioritized this as a way to save lives and improve livelihoods in their countries.

How has COVID affected the fight against malaria?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:05:08] So things were trending well for the last 20 years, then in 2019 and 2020, 2021 COVID hit, and based on the interviews I’ve done over the years, COVID interrupted a lot of progress on a variety of global health and development indicators. How did COVID impact the fight against malaria?

Martin Edlund [00:05:35] So, as in so many other areas, COVID was hugely disruptive to the malaria campaign. There were actually concerns right at the outset of COVID that you might see a doubling of deaths from malaria due to COVID disruptions. The concerns were that these massive distribution campaigns each year, about 200 million insecticide treated bed nets are distributed, that those would be disrupted due to supply chain issues and workforce issues. One of the other big concerns, of course, was that COVID is a febrile illness — you show up with a fever as the first symptom — so is malaria, and we’ve seen in cases like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, that when there’s a novel disease that looks like malaria, people stop showing up to get tested and treated. They don’t want to be infected. They don’t want to be quarantined. So, there was a huge risk that you’d see testing and treatment rates fall dramatically. And so those concerns kind of spurred the malaria community and campaign into action. The good news is we managed and mitigated many of those risks. So, of the bed net distribution campaigns that were planned in the early months and the first year of COVID, about almost 90% of those went ahead as planned, so we were able to get the nets out. We actually saw initially some pretty troubling statistics on declines in testing and treatment rates for malaria, particularly in high burden settings like Nigeria, which is the single highest burden place for malaria in the world, but also kind of large population centers like India. And the good news is, over the last 18, 24 months, we’ve really reestablished high levels of fever testing and treatment. You know, in many ways, it’s taken some time. It’s taken a lot of work and heroic efforts by everyone from donors stepping up to frontline health workers taking the risk to deliver these interventions, but we’ve stabilized the effort post COVID.

Why have malaria deaths increased in recent years?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:07:32] Yet the progress that you are seeing, at least according to data reported in this newest World Malaria report, seems to indicate that indeed, over the last few years, progress stagnated, deaths increased.

Martin Edlund [00:07:48] They did indeed. So, for the second year in a row, for the first time since this global campaign began 15 or so years ago, we’ve seen malaria cases increase. And COVID certainly played a role in that, but I think COVID arrived at a time when progress was fragile and stalling anyway. And so, what we’re seeing in the malaria campaign, I think, first of all, is where we get these highly effective tools out, we continue to see gains. So, every year that we sustain these efforts, more than a million lives are saved. More than 185 million malaria cases are averted. So, the tools work when we get them to the people that need them most. But we’re seeing some challenges. There are still huge gaps in coverage. Almost a third of people aren’t seeking testing and treatment when they have a fever. An even higher percentage of people don’t have access to a mosquito net to sleep under on a nightly basis. And then there are new challenges, emerging challenges. For instance, drug and insecticide resistance are beginning to erode the effectiveness of these tools that we describe. We’re also seeing that malaria really thrives on chaos. It thrives on disruption. So, any time you have conflict or climate related severe weather events, malaria resurges, and we’re seeing growing evidence of that.

What are the key findings of the World Malaria Report 2022?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:09:13] And so this newest report seems to provide some evidence that a confluence of factors, displacement by natural or manmade causes, climate change, conflict, all are contributing to the latest data in this report. What are some of your key topline takeaways from the World Malaria Report?

Martin Edlund [00:09:38] Several things: one, I would say we’ve stabilized the effort since the onset of COVID, so cases did rise again, but deaths didn’t rise this year, in fact, deaths declined slightly. So, in 2021, they estimate that there were 619,000 deaths from malaria, down from 625,000 the year before. So that’s great. At the end of the day, our vision and our goal are to stop people dying from mosquito bites.

Where is malaria most deadly?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:10:06] So basically, as you said, you know, for the last 15 years, generally speaking, deaths declined. Then COVID hit, deaths started to increase, but now this latest report, you’re showing that deaths are stabilizing and even slightly on the decline once again.

Martin Edlund [00:10:23] That’s right. So, cases rose for a second year in a row, but deaths have declined slightly in the past year. So, another lesson from this World Malaria Report is that malaria is increasingly heavily concentrated in a small number of countries. So, 95% of cases, 96% of deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa, and in fact, 50% of all deaths from malaria globally are in just four countries: Nigeria, D.R., Congo, Uganda, and Mozambique. We continue to see gaps in access, as we talked about a moment ago. Net coverage isn’t where it should be; testing and treatment rebounded, but still one third of people, children with febrile illness in sub-Saharan Africa, don’t seek any timely testing or treatment for their illness. One bright spot in the report: there’s an intervention called seasonal malaria chemoprevention. So that’s a mouthful, but essentially what we’re talking about is at the onset or just before the arrival of the rainy season or the monsoon season, you do drug-based treatment and try to eliminate the parasite in the population and give people some prophylaxis, some resistance against infection.

What is seasonal malaria chemoprevention?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:11:41] And is this a relatively new intervention?

Martin Edlund [00:11:45] No, it’s something they’ve been testing for a while, but it’s really gone to scale in recent years. So, in the last year, covered by this World Malaria Report, 45 million children were treated on average with seasonal malaria chemoprevention in 15 African countries, and that’s up from about 33 million a year before, 22 million the year before that. So, we’re seeing big increases and particularly in some of those high burden countries that we talked about, places like Nigeria, Uganda, Mozambique. These are some of the countries that are benefiting most from this intervention.

Does malaria affect rural or urban populations more?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:12:19] And in those countries, Nigeria, DRC, Mozambique, and Uganda, are you seeing a distribution of cases and of deaths that skews largely rural, or is this also something that you’re seeing impact urban populations as well?

Martin Edlund [00:12:36] I mean, historically, malaria is often talked about as a disease of the rural poor, and that’s because that’s where it’s most tropical; that’s where you see standing water; that’s where you see people working in agriculture, in forested areas that are most conducive to mosquitoes and therefore malaria. You know, a number of cities are in tropical areas where you see transmission. One of the challenges that we need to solve for is testing and treatment in urban settings and in the private sector. Nigeria and Uganda, two of the four highest burden countries that we just talked about, have a huge proportion of the public that seeks treatment when they have a fever, not through public sector clinics, but rather through private pharmacies and drug shops and so forth. And the levels of testing and treatment in the private sector are not nearly what they should be. So that’s a challenge to focus on. The other thing we’re seeing is some changes in the vector, the mosquitoes that transmit malaria, there’s a vector that has emerged in Africa in recent years called Anopheles stephensi that is unlike most of its sisters, most of the other Anopheles mosquitoes, it’s actually an urban vector. And so, it breeds and bites in urban settings. It looks like pushing the boundaries of that biting window. Historically, Anopheles mosquitoes only bite at night. That’s why mosquito nets are so effective. If you sleep under a mosquito net, you’re not exposed to the risk of those infectious bites, but they’re now biting in cities where people stay out longer and may not use nets as much and are also biting earlier in the evening and later in the morning when people are less likely to be under nets.

How are mosquitos adapting to manmade malaria prevention methods?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:14:22] So the mosquito is adapting to our interventions.

Martin Edlund [00:14:27] It is indeed. We’re seeing mosquitoes adapt in a number of ways, and we talked about kind of where and when they bite, but also that they’re becoming resistant to some of the tools that we use like insecticide treated bed nets. So, of the 88 malaria endemic countries that provide data, 78 had detected resistance to at least one class of insecticide that’s commonly used in these nets. And so, this kind of miracle tool, long lasting, insecticide treated nets, that are responsible for the overwhelming majority of the lives saved and the historic progress that we’ve seen, they’re becoming less effective against some of the mosquitoes.

Why are insecticide-treated bed nets now less effective against malaria-carrying mosquitos?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:15:09] I feel like that’s a point worth emphasizing. You know, as long as I have been reporting on these issues, which stretches to the early 2000s, insecticide treated, long lasting bed nets were seen not as like a silver bullet, but as the most impactful and cost-effective way to prevent malaria deaths and illnesses. And you saw that reflected in the data since the early 2000s when these net distribution programs really got to scale, we saw this huge dramatic decline in cases and deaths. But you’re saying that now there is mounting evidence that these nets are indeed less effective? How concerning is this?

Martin Edlund [00:15:53] It’s quite concerning. The first thing to emphasize is that these tools still work. As the recent World Malaria Report shows, a million lives were saved just last year from the use of these tools. So, they’re still highly effective; they’re still arguably the single most cost-effective way to save lives on the planet. But we are seeing the spread of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes, and that means they’re not as effective as they once were. The upshot is we need to continue to innovate. We’re in a constant arms race with nature in deploying these tools, both in terms of insecticides and the drugs that we use to treat the parasite. The good news is that through investments and a lot of ingenuity, we have next generation nets. We have some new dual action nets that are highly effective. The challenge is that they’re slightly more expensive. And so, whereas we benefited over the last decade from volume growing, we went from about 17 million nets a year of being distributed to now more than 200 million distributed every year. And with that, the cost per net went from about $7 and then down to under $3. And well, now we’re seeing that price tick up. Whereas we’ve been able year over year to cover more and more people with the same funding for nets, now we’re going to have to prioritize or find new resources to maintain those high levels of coverage.

Is there a vaccine for malaria?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:17:20] Another key innovation in recent years was the advent of an impactful and effective vaccine against malaria that’s now recommended by the World Health Organization. What’s the status of that vaccine and its rollout, and where is it being rolled out?

Martin Edlund [00:17:41] Yes, so last year was really a landmark moment in the malaria campaign. For the first time, the World Health Organization in October of last year endorsed and recommended for wide use the first malaria vaccine. People are accustomed to the story with COVID of how quickly — Operation Warp Speed — how quickly vaccines were developed for COVID, but it’s taken about 30 years of research and effort to get to this first malaria vaccine. The challenge is malaria is a parasite and parasites are wily and harder to develop vaccines for. So, this was really a landmark moment to have the first W.H.O. endorsed vaccine for malaria and really vaccine for any parasite. The reality is it’s still not nearly as effective as we’d like. Over the long term, it’s only about 30, 35% effective, so it’s a great addition to the arsenal of current tools, but it’s not a silver bullet. It’s not something that’s going to replace the nets, testing treatment, seasonal malaria chemoprevention, the tools that we currently have. Nonetheless, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of excitement for this. And so, three countries took on the initial distribution of this vaccine: Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi. They all saw good results from it, and so they’re expanding those programs now in those three countries, and a number of other countries are lining up to distribute the vaccine as well. The challenge is we have limited doses. GSK, who developed the vaccine, has only committed to about 15 million doses a year and people will require 3 to 4 doses over the course of a year. So, you’re really only talking about 5 million people protected. The reality is we need many times that. The true demand to protect the at-risk population would require more than 100 million doses annually. So, there’s a gap between the efficacy of the tool that we need; there’s also a gap in terms of the availability of the tool to really address the problem. Now, the exciting part is this has really sparked and spurred a whole range of innovations. There are subsequent vaccines which look to be even more effective that are rapidly moving through field trials. There’s a vaccine called R21, developed by Oxford’s Jenner Institute, working with the Serum Institute in India, that looks really compelling. We’re also seeing that BioNTech, one of the companies responsible for the COVID vaccines, is now trying to apply mRNA vaccine technologies, the same things that were used for COVID, for malaria, and actually trying to put those into clinical trials as quickly as they can.

How can we reach the World Health Organization goal of reducing malaria deaths by 90% by 2030?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:20:23] So broadly speaking, the trends over the last couple of years have shaken progress towards the W.H.O. goal of reducing deaths in cases by 90% by 2030, which is also embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals. Is accelerating progress towards that goal, at this point, simply a matter of scaling up the variety of interventions that you’ve previously discussed, like the seasonal prophylactics, the better bed nets, the more expanded use of the vaccines. Is it just a matter of scaling all of those up?

Martin Edlund [00:21:09] I think there are a couple of things. So maybe we can talk about risks and opportunities. On the risk side, we’ve got to get those next generation of tools out in the field and get them to the people who need them most. That requires more money; that requires investing in things like frontline distribution, community health workers who live and work day to day in the communities where malaria flourishes. Those are some of the opportunities that we have. We also know that malaria thrives on disruptions. We’ve seen, for instance, really compelling and devastating evidence of severe weather events being followed by severe health events. As many listening will be aware, Pakistan had really terrible flooding this year and there was so much talk about how devastating that was, kind of the physics of it. It washed out so much agriculture and people’s livelihoods. But what you see is a couple of weeks later, these severe health crises and malaria very much among them. There was a huge upsurge in malaria cases in parts of Pakistan. In one sample district, the Sindh Province, confirmed cases of malaria from August of this year reached about 70,000, compared to fewer than 20,000 the year before. So more than a tripling of malaria cases. And this is in a context of devastation. Roads being washed out, people not being able to access that routine care that they normally would. And so, climate is something we’ve got to think about increasingly with mosquito borne diseases and infectious diseases more broadly. But there are some exciting tools on the way, and maybe this points to one of the broader opportunities beyond just better nets and the next generation of treatments and so forth. There’s a pipeline that’s bursting with exciting new technologies. In fact, we think in the next five years that we’re going to see a suite of technologies that can equip the world to drive a big, not just elimination campaign in countries, but possibly eradication campaigns where in the space of a decade or so we could actually eliminate this disease once and for all.

What are monoclonal antibodies and how could they reduce malaria cases?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:23:27] What are some of those tech innovations that you’re referring to? Are there any, like, particularly promising ones you could tease for the audience?

Martin Edlund [00:23:35] I can, indeed, there are some very promising ones. So certainly, the vaccine candidates that we talked about are some of those. There are also monoclonal antibodies — people spoke about those a lot in the context of COVID — but when you think about a highly seasonal disease like malaria, that’s especially powerful. So, the National Institutes of Health and the US government and its partners have been developing some monoclonal antibody candidates that are in field trials now. They look to be more than 80% effective. So, contrast that with some of the lower efficacy levels that we talked about with vaccines, and they appear like they may last six months or more. So, when you actually look at the malaria endemic map and you look at those places that have intense seasonal transmission, those rainy seasons don’t last six months, so if you could go in, give people a single shot in the arm, protect them for an entire six months, you are essentially taking them out of circulation as potential victims and carriers of malaria for the entire rainy season. So those are two examples. A third one, and this one’s gotten a lot of coverage in the media, there are some really exciting technologies and approaches that can take mosquitoes from being the villain of the malaria story, the ones that transmit malaria to actually being part of the solution: genetic modification, and some other approaches that could prevent mosquitoes from transmitting malaria to people. And those are looking really exciting, both in the lab and in what they call these large trials. And so, we’re looking to see how those develop and ultimately whether they’re embraced by communities and can be taken up at a larger scale.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:25:20] So do you think by 2030, if we’ve reached those targets of reducing malaria instances and deaths by 90%, it will be due to technologies that don’t yet exist or at least exist at scale today?

Martin Edlund [00:25:38] I think, broadly speaking, there are three things we need to do to get back on track and even to accelerate progress to end this disease once and for all. As you know, my organization is called Malaria No More, so we’re looking at the end game. How do you ultimately eliminate this disease altogether? The first thing we can do is fill gaps with current tools. There are still large swaths of at-risk populations that don’t have access to these $3 nets, $1 treatments, and $0.35 rapid diagnostic tests. So, we have to fill those gaps to save lives now. The second thing we need to do is invest in frontline delivery, community health workers, scaling up highly effective tools in private sector clinics and pharmacies is a big part of how we reach the last mile and the people who ultimately need these interventions. And then on top of getting current tools out to the people who need them, we need to accelerate the technology pipeline. A child dies every minute from a mosquito bite, so we can’t wait 30 years for the next malaria vaccine candidate. We need to see more effective successor vaccines coming on much more quickly. We need to see the exciting progress around things like monoclonal antibodies moving from field trials into actual use very, very quickly. And then we need to be deliberate about it, but we need to explore the potential opportunities around genetically modified mosquitoes and some of the more novel techniques that could save lives now.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:27:10] Well, Martin, thank you so much for your time and for putting this most recent World Malaria Report in context. I appreciate it.

Martin Edlund [00:27:19] Thank you, Mark. Great to talk with you.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:27:28] 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 What the Latest Data Tells Us About The Global Fight Against Malaria appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

CPDE holds policy conference and global assembly, elects new leaders

CSO Partnership - 12. Dezember 2022 - 0:55

The global civil society platform CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) is poised to face the challenges for CSOs and the effectiveness agenda through continued solidarity, after successfully conducting its 2022 Policy Conference and Global Assembly.

Held at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva, Switzerland last 9 December 2022, the event gathered members from around the world in person and online to talk about the future of development effectiveness and the platform, to tackle plans for the High-Level Meeting 3 (HLM3) and the next years, to elect new leaders and thank the outgoing co-chairs, and to foster solidarity and reaffirm the importance of effective development cooperation.

Simultaneous discussions were held on the subjects of private sector, monitoring, climate finance, nexus, localisation, and development finance (Integrated National Financing Frameworks), followed by a synthesis of key messages, and their implications on the work of CPDE. Members were then informed about the State of the Platform, key points from the report of the Independent Accountability Committee and the Strategic Plan review, and the resulting Strategic Outlook.

The Global Assembly has also confirmed its CPDE Feminist Group Co-Chair Nurgul Dzhanaeva, and elected four new co-chairs, in addition to current co-chair Richard Ssewakiryanga: Luca de Fraia of ActionAid Italia and the CPDE ICSO sector, Biljana Spasovska of Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN) and CPDE Europe, Pedro Boca of ABONG (Brazil) and CPDE Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

All new co-chairs committed to continuing to unite CSOs, and advancing the platform’s effectiveness advocacy. At the activity, the assembly also bid goodbye to outgoing co-chairs Justin Kilcullen, Beverly Longid, Marita Gonzalez, and Rosabel Agirregomezkorta.#

 

The post CPDE holds policy conference and global assembly, elects new leaders appeared first on CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Geneva Declaration: Building trust important for enabling civil society

CSO Partnership - 11. Dezember 2022 - 9:17

In a statement called the Geneva Declaration, civil society organisations from around the world highlighted the importance of promoting trust to provide an enabling environment for CSOs, amid today’s multiple crises.

The CSOs were gathered for a conference on trust-building organised by the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness, in the lead-up to the Development Cooperation Summit in Geneva, Switzerland last 10 December 2022.

CSOs argued that, “CSO Development Effectiveness can only be fulfilled when civic space is protected and there is trust among development actors. Trust-building is crucial to create enabling conditions for local initiatives and
organisations to thrive.”

The signing organisations also called for “the implementation of declarations and commitments made in Paris, Accra, Busan, Nairobi and now Geneva, on CSO enabling environment and development effectiveness,” and committed to take the necessary steps to promote trust and strengthen our partnerships with other stakeholders.

The declaration ends with calls to various development stakeholders, including members of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, governments, DAC or development assistance committee donors, and all providers of development assistance, around steps to promote trust and to reverse the trend of shrinking civic space, ensure CSO Enabling Environment, and promote the realisation of CSO development effectiveness.

Read the full declaration here.#

The post Geneva Declaration: Building trust important for enabling civil society appeared first on CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

Tackling complex challenges in complex times: A conversation with President of the Republic of Botswana H.E. Mokgweetsi Masisi

Brookings - 9. Dezember 2022 - 20:16

As one of the fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa, reaching upper-middle-income status in 2005, Botswana is among the world’s development success stories with significant mineral wealth, good governance, and prudent policies. Its government has weathered the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic more effectively than many of its neighbors. A successful vaccination campaign and sound macroeconomic management have allowed Botswana to recover to its pre-pandemic output level.

These achievements notwithstanding, Botswana is not set apart from the current global challenges. The war in Ukraine, which has caused food and fuel prices to soar across Africa, has exacerbated national and regional challenges. At the same time, the effects of climate change pose a significant risk and are jeopardizing food security by increasing crop failure and livestock mortality.

Since his inauguration, H.E. President Mokgweetsi Masisi has emphasized that his priorities include tackling climate change; creating jobs; accelerating digital transformation; curbing the burden of HIV/AIDS, in addition to promoting sustainable growth and good governance.

On December 13, the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) will host H.E. Mokgweetsi Masisi for a conversation on strategies for pursuing these priorities, as well as sharing lessons learned from Botswana’s experience navigating the pressing issues facing the continent.

Join the conversation on Twitter using #AfricaRecovery

      
Kategorien: english

17 Rooms: A catalyst for community-wide action on sustainable development

Brookings - 9. Dezember 2022 - 17:58

By Jacob Taylor, Daniel Bicknell, Anthony F. Pipa

Communities around the world are increasingly recognizing that breaking down silos and leveraging shared resources and interdependencies across economic, social, and environmental issues can help accelerate progress on multiple issues simultaneously. As a framework for organizing local development priorities, the world’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) uniquely combine a need for broad technical expertise with an opportunity to synergize across domains—all while adhering to the principle of leaving no one behind. For local leaders attempting to tackle intersecting issues using the SDGs, one underpinning question is how to support new forms of collaboration to maximize impact and progress?

In early May, over 100 people across the East Central Florida (ECF) region in the U.S. participated in Partnership for the Goals: Creating a Resilient and Thriving Community,” a two-day multi-stakeholder convening spearheaded by a team of local leaders from the East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative (ECFR2C), the Central Florida Foundation, the City of Orlando, Florida for Good, Orange County, and the University of Central Florida. The convening grew out of a multi-year resilience planning process that leveraged the SDGs as a framework for tackling local economic, social, and environmental priorities all at once.

To move from community-wide planning to community-wide action, the organizers experimented with a 17 Rooms process—a new approach to accelerating collaborative action for the SDGs pioneered by the Center for Sustainable Development at Brookings and The Rockefeller Foundation. We collaborated with the ECF local organizing team and, in the process, spotted a range of more broadly relevant insights that we describe here.

The SDGs as a helpful framework for action

In 2019, recognizing the potential of the SDGs for defining local priorities and spurring local action, the ECF leadership team decided to put the goals at the center of a multi-year effort to foster regional resilience. In collaboration with 41 partners, ECFR2C launched a “Strategic Resilience Action Plan“ in early 2022. The action plan outlined the drivers of community resilience across the SDGs, including safe and affordable housing; safe open spaces; health care access; food access and security; access to energy and clean water; economic mobility; and safe, clean, reliable, and affordable transportation. The action plan designated practical objectives to strengthen these drivers (e.g., through a regional greenhouse gas emissions inventory) and techniques (e.g., dashboards) to track progress. In parallel, the Central Florida Foundation developed a framework of five priority areas for targeted impact fund investment and action.

Using 17 Rooms to enable multi-disciplinary and community-wide collaboration

After engaging with a full range of community stakeholders and issues to develop the comprehensive action plan, the ECF leadership team was looking for a cross-cutting, community-wide process to spur collaboration, akin to the collective impact model. The ECF organizing team wanted a straightforward way to convene around the SDGs, to bring natural—and sometimes unconventional—allies together with enough diversity to generate new ideas and pathways for local cooperation, collaboration, and innovation for advancing shared priorities.

17 Rooms has proven useful at multiple scales of collaborative action, from a global flagship process that promotes targeted collaborations among global leaders under each SDG to “17-X” experiments by universities, regions, and nations that unlock collaborative action within their institutions or among partners. At the heart of the model, participants assemble into 17 curated working groups (or “Rooms,” one per SDG) to brainstorm practical next steps that they could take in the next 12 to 18 months to advance priorities within each SDG. Action proposals are then shared across Rooms to surface opportunities for practical collaboration across goals.

Taking the next step, not the perfect step

The ECF 17 Rooms process was held on day two of the two-day “Partnership for the Goals” convening, following a series of informational seminars on the state of local efforts to address SDG issues on day one. After an introductory plenary session, participants gathered in their assigned SDG Rooms for an in-depth two-hour discussion to identify practical priorities and actions that could be taken to move things forward in their goal.

The focus on taking practical next steps urged participants to avoid overly abstract or theoretical conversations about what perfect looks like or what others should be doing to advance an issue. The 12 to 18-month time horizon for action provided enough scope to encourage next steps that were “big enough to make a difference, but sized right to get done” within the next calendar year or budget cycle.

“big enough to make a difference, but sized right to get done”

The composition of each Room was curated to blend participants with similar interests but varied professional expertise and resources, with the aim of sparking actions that spanned beyond the scope of just one organization or one type of organization. Room participants were challenged to find where their comparative advantage could contribute to their Room’s action agenda, whether they were a businessperson in Orlando or a government employee from the Space Coast. Shared responsibility, “leaving your institutional agendas at the door,” and “breaking from business as usual” emerged as recurring themes as Rooms hashed out proposals for action.

After their within-Room Meetings, participants visited one other Room, drawing on their own professional expertise to help test, validate, and strengthen that Room’s actions. Finally, the closing plenary followed a fun and energetic “rapid report-out” session, in which each Room had 90 seconds to share emerging ideas with other Rooms to identify opportunities for collaboration. ECF organizers compiled these ideas and are working across all Rooms to support achieving these actions.

Action, insight, and community

How did the local 17 Rooms process help ECF leaders advance their work? Three forms of outputs seemed to stand out, and were similar to some of the experiences from other 17 Rooms processes:

  1. Concrete actions beyond the scope of one organization. Action proposals ranged from multistakeholder efforts to establish baseline equity data for the region to expanding broadband access as a way to help alleviate extreme poverty. The process surfaced exciting cross-Room collaborations, too. For example, Room 1 (SDG1: No Poverty) and Room 8 (SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth) coordinated a seminar series explaining the implications of the scheduled minimum wage increase on reduction of public benefits (dubbed the “Fiscal Cliff”) for businesses and employees.
  2. Novel insights through a common language. The SDGs provided a common language and framework to help each participant understand that what they work on has a place in a larger context of community-wide action. For example, participants’ diverse perspectives on the reasons for the shifting nature of work helped Room 8 co-leads consider new ways to support more meaningful work, such as directing public resources toward job-seeking services or promoting employee ownership initiatives. Several Room co-leads even committed to identifying and branding the SDGs associated with their organization and rewriting their own organization’s strategic plan using the SDGs.
  3. Cross-disciplinary communities. The 17 Rooms process provided a neutral space for participants to build new relationships across professional and geographical silos. In the days and weeks following the main event, the local leadership group fielded numerous requests from participants to connect with other participants from different Rooms. For instance, a coalition of members from Rooms 2, 11, 13, 14 and 15 has connected and aligned on actions to create land trusts in ECF that will consider climate impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and sustainable agriculture. One participant in Room 3 commented that 17 Rooms provided “knowledge … of additional resources available and … a sense of shared responsibility … that we are not alone.”

Above all, ECF’s 17 Rooms exercise fostered a sense of excitement among participants. This appeared to be driven by a feeling that ownership and representation within the global framework of the SDGs. 17 Rooms worked as a catalyst for a holistic, community-wide network of SDG-committed local actors across multiple organizations throughout the region. A focus on practical next steps helped translate the region’s medium- to long-term strategic priorities for sustainable development into practical projects, learnings, and partnerships.

In his remarks to conclude the two-day convening, James Bacchus, a distinguished university professor at UCF and former member of Congress, argued that the outcomes of the day’s 17 Rooms exercise demonstrated grassroots democracy in action. At its core, grassroots democracy is about agency—about each citizen having a part to play in shaping their own society. Professor Bacchus described the 17 Rooms exercise as a valuable platform for enabling local collaboration and innovative action toward this vision for the people of East Central Florida.

      
Kategorien: english

Why even the most atrocious evil can have a banal basis

D+C - 9. Dezember 2022 - 14:34
60 years ago, Hannah Arendt’s book “Eichmann in Jerusalem” caused a controversy

Hannah Arendt was a German born Jewish intellectual who had to flee Nazi Germany. As a reporter for the American magazine The New Yorker, she covered the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Eichmann had organised the transportation of over 2 million European Jews to various death camps – Auschwitz and Treblinka, for example. Around 1950, he had managed to flee to Argentina. Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Agency, kidnaped him and took him to Israel to put him on trial.

Arendt’s New Yorker articles were later compiled in a book. It was highly controversial when it appeared in 1963. Indeed, Arendt was even accused of anti-Semitism and Jewish self-hatred. The subtitle of the book – the banality of evil – was often misunderstood, and she later regretted having chosen it. Today, the book is considered a classic essay on important aspects of totalitarian rule.

In her eyes, Eichmann was a criminal who deserved the death penalty. However, he was banal in the sense of obeying orders, fulfilling his duties and trying to move forward in his career. Doing so was evil, because he was serving a genocidal regime, enabling it to commit mass murder. Her reporting shows quite clearly that Eichmann was not consumed by racist hatred himself. Nor did he actually kill or even wound anyone directly. However, he never asked himself what consequences his action had nor questioned whether the regime he was serving was legitimate. He insisted that he only ever fulfilled duties and that any guilt had to be borne by his superiors, not him. Arendt considered him “banal” in the sense of being a petty bureaucrat.

Misunderstood subtitle

Nonetheless, some read her subtitle in the sense of Nazi evil having been trivial. That was clearly not the case she was making. The Israeli prosecution, however, was casting Eichmann in the role of a bloodthirsty monster and mastermind of the genocide. Arendt insisted that this was a false interpretation of his personality – and that he never had the official authority to enforce such a horrendous continent-wide scheme.

She admitted that Eichmann was guilty of bragging about his role, and that he did so among Nazi refugees in Argentina, was why he was ultimately discovered in hiding. She insisted, however, that the evidence showed that he was nothing more than a diligent and efficient underling who wanted to do his job well but did not care about the implications. 

Disagreeing with Israel’s prime minister

Many found her assessment disturbing. The public wanted to see Nazi criminals as sociopaths and psychopaths, not ordinary careerists. David Ben Gurion, then Israel’s prime minister, moreover, wanted to use Eichmann’s case to illustrate how Jews had always suffered discrimination and were constantly at risk of persecution. He was interested in portraying Eichmann as an anti-Semitic hate monster.

Arendt, a former Zionist herself, found anti-Semitism unacceptable. She nonetheless rejected the way Ben Gurion wanted Eichmann to be seen. To her, his approach meant to ignore what made the Nazi genocide unique. It was particularly atrocious, to her, because it was implemented by low-level officers in cool-blooded, sober-minded, bureaucratic operations. Eichmann was a prominent example of a civil servant who behaved as though he was implementing a standard government policy, unconcerned by the horrendous suffering it caused.

According to Arendt, the trial in Jerusalem had the markings of a show trial. She argued that Israel would never have kidnapped Eichmann if it had not been very sure of the result. If the outcome of case is obvious before it is even heard, however, the focus is clearly not on discovering what exactly the culprit did and what evidence is available. To Arendt, the unprecedented “banality” of mass murder mattered more than a show trial that emphasised anti-Semitism and thus served to legitimise Israel.

Criminal trials are about perpetrators’ guilt, not victims’ suffering

Eichmann had actually not formally broken German law. He insisted that he was therefore not a criminal. Arendt disagreed. Her point was that Nazi law violated fundamental principles of humanity. Moreover, even the Nazis had not punished people who refused to take part in genocidal action. Eichmann’s crime, in her eyes, was to serve a criminal regime with ambition but without questions.

When top Nazis were tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Nuremberg after World War II, the international court decided that their guilt did not depend on whether or not they had broken German law. What mattered was that their actions caused serious harm. Considering it normal would make it impossible to enforce any kind of peaceful international order. Arendt appreciated that approach. In her eyes, it applied to Eichmann too.

Arendt was adamant that a criminal trial was not about the suffering of victims, but the guilt of perpetrators. Her point was that murder – and even more genocide – did not only affect victims, but disturbed peace in society and, indeed, between nations. Guilt had to be addressed, she argued, to restore peace and mutual trust. That is an important part of coming to terms with a traumatic past. Recompensation of victims matters too, of course, but Arendt saw it as a separate issue.

Arendt’s book also caused controversy by not brushing under the carpet the role of the so called “Judenräte” (Jewish councils) in the genocide. These councils consisted of local Jewish elders who were supposed to manage their community. To a very large extent, they cooperated with the Nazis, and many of them were allowed to escape the holocaust as the reward. Arendt spelled out clearly that their systematic sharing of persons’ details with the Nazi administration allowed the regime to identify Jews easily. Without such, the genocide would have been harder to organise. Eichmann’s transport logistics, for example, relied on such information.

An uncomfortable truth

For many Jews, that was an uncomfortable truth. Accordingly, Arendt was fast and insultingly accused of anti-Semitism. Indeed, she fully appreciated the performance of the judges in Jerusalem and endorsed the death penalty for Eichmann. The judges, she wrote, paid close attention to the accused and were not swayed by the prosecution’s focus on anti-Semitism.

The full horror of Nazi murders was their industrial precision and scale, according to Arendt. It was only possible because people like Eichmann lacked the ability to consider the moral dimension of the orders they obeyed – and thus their own action. In this sense Eichmann was indeed ordinary, trivial or banal. His work, of course, was not ordinary but atrocious. That he was not driven by a strong anti-Semitic ideology made him even more frightful. Insights of this kind is why the book is still considered important today. Reporting from the trial in Jerusalem, Arendt actually dissected an important characteristic of modern totalitarianism.

People doing evil may only be doing so because they are banally irresponsible. Under a different government, Eichmann might have been harmless. What made him evil was that he unquestioningly obeyed orders, not that deep inside he desired to kill and harm others. He was guilty because he failed to consider the suffering he made happen. This point is important for understanding not only Nazi atrocities, but crimes committed under totalitarian rule in general. Eichmann in Jerusalem and other books she wrote became classics. This author deserves attention at time when authoritarian leaders are gaining clout in many places (see Aline Burni and Niels Keijzer on www.dandc.eu).

Reference
Arendt, H., 2006: Eichmann in Jerusalem – The banality of evil. London, Penguin (Original edition published in 1963 by Viking Press in the USA).

Suparna Banerjee is a Frankfurt-based political scientist.
mail.suparnabanerjee@gmail.com

Kategorien: english

Wickremesinghe is protecting the Rajapaksa clan in Sri Lanka

D+C - 9. Dezember 2022 - 12:56
In Colombo, the current head of state and his disgraced predecessor have become awkward allies

Protests had forced Gotabaya to resign and flee abroad – but his successor has helped him return to Sri Lanka to a comfortable life.

Since becoming head of state, Wickremesinghe has clamped down on protests. Moreover, he is protecting Gotabaya’s family. Gotabaya’s brother Mahinda is another former president and prime minister, and several other siblings have held high government offices. It was during the presidencies of Mahinda and Gotabaya that the nation’s sovereign debt multiplied, leading to the current economic turmoil (see main story).

Wickremesinghe belongs to the United National Party, but the parliamentary majority that made him president included the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), which is dominated by the Rajapaksas. In the eyes of Arjuna Parakrama of the University of Peradeniya, the new president is now protecting his predecessors’ clan in three ways:

  • guarding them and their allies from the wrath of the people,
  • shielding them from legal prosecution for corruption and other crimes and
  • preventing new elections so the SLPP majority in parliament can keep power for another two and a half years before its term expires.

The professor says that new elections now would certainly wipe away the SLPP.

Wickremesinghe would be likely to lose as well. He has served as prime minister several times, and has also run for president. Many considered him a spent force after his party won only a single seat in the parliamentary election of 2020.

Wickremesinghe has even facilitated Gotabaya’s return from exile, setting him up at a luxury mansion in a fancy neighbourhood in Colombo, the capital city. That privilege is usually granted to heads of state after completing their term.

Arjuna Ranawana is a Sri Lankan journalist.
arjuna.ranawana@outlook.com

Kategorien: english

Sri Lanka’s reform agenda is intimidating

D+C - 9. Dezember 2022 - 12:30
To get IMF support, Sri Lanka must achieve the restructuring of existing loans

Sri Lanka’s sovereign debt became overwhelming in 2022. The total amount was estimated at a little over $ 50 billion with $ 6.9 billion worth of payments due in 2022, according to the central bank.

Sri Lanka’s current crisis was in the making for decades. The government had been borrowing money for a long time, mostly for infrastructure projects. Observers considered some of them to be vanity projects of the Rajapaksa family.

After taking office in late 2019, Gotabaya accelerated the crisis by taking several disastrous decisions. He cut tax tariffs for private-sector companies and wealthy individuals. He also abolished some compulsory taxation on private-sector employees. Accordingly, government revenues decreased. When the exchange of the Sri Lankan rupee (LKR) decreased, he forced the central bank to peg it to the US dollar at a below-market rate.

When forex-reserves dwindled, he imposed an import ban on fertiliser. That step compounded problems in agriculture because many farms depended on chemical inputs and could not convert to organic methods on short notice. The production of foreign-exchange earning commodities such as tea and rubber were affected negatively. In a country normally self-sufficient in rice, food shortages became crippling. Medicine and fuel became scarce too, as the prices of those imported goods rose fast.

As Sri Lanka became unable to service its foreign debt, the economy deteriorated fast. In July youth-led protests swept Gotabaya away. Ranil Wickremesinghe took over as president, appointed by the national parliament (see my comment on www.dandc.eu).

The tip of the iceberg

Since Gotabaya left, some aspects of life have improved for ordinary Sri Lankans. The long lines at fuel pumps are gone. Instead, there are mandated fuel quotas. Power cuts which used to last up to eight hours a day have been reduced to around two hours. These are the results of relief measures made possible by emergency aid, provided mostly by India.

Shortages of medicines and food remain however. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and other relief agencies have warned of severe malnutrition becoming worse. About 6 million Sri Lankans (30 % of the population) are deemed to suffer food insecurity, according to the WFP.

In a report released in October, the World Bank stated that the poverty rate in Sri Lanka doubled in 2022. It went up from 13.1 % to 25.6 %. The document pointed out that “the poverty rate in urban areas has tripled from five to 15 % between 2021 and 2022.” It also stated that 80 % of the poor still live in rural areas, and that half of the people in plantation areas are now below the poverty line.

The World Bank also predicted that the industry sector would likely decline by 11 % in 2022. The respective figure for services was minus eight percent. Together, that would mean the loss of over 500,000 jobs, the World Bank warned. Employees were expected to see the value of their incomes reduced by 15 %.

Remittances from migrant relatives normally account for 7.2 % of household incomes in the country. They also declined in 2022. Moreover, public services such as education and health are increasingly becoming difficult to access. The lack of fuel matters, but protests and related security measures are obstacles too.

What is visible in terms of need, is just the tip of the iceberg, says Dhananath Fernando of the think tank Advocata. Other observers agree. While daily life has improved to some extent, what lies beneath remains a serious challenge.

The difficult road ahead

Governance is indeed dysfunctional. For example, Sri Lanka is ranked 102 of 180 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index this year.

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a civil-society organisation, sees a “crying need for a change in the paradigm of governance”. In a recent essay, he bemoaned a culture of populism and impunity with no transparency and little accountability. Points he raised included:

  • Too many people rely on subsidies from the cradle to grave, while masses hardly get any government support at all.
  • Politicians have patterns of always promising more public-sector jobs and higher pay for civil servants before elections.
  • The country cannot afford to run loss-making state-owned enterprises.
  • Taxation must increase, not decline.
  • The military devours too many resources.

Saravanamuttu pointed out that “13 years after the war, we have over 250,000 members of the armed forces”, with the military budget eclipsing total expenditure on education and health.

The decades-long war with Tamil insurgents in northern and eastern Sri Lanka ended in 2009. At the time, Gotabaya’s brother Mahinda Rajapaksa was the president, and Gotabaya served as his Defence Secretary. Having won the war, Mahinda benefited from a triumphant populist sense of Sinhalese nationalism, was re-elected and stayed in office until 2015. He took loans from China at commercial rates for several large-scale projects – an international airport, a convention centre and a cricket stadium.

All of them are making losses, and so are state-owned enterprises like Sri Lankan Airlines. Overhauls are necessary, and related reforms need political determination. Most of the top positions were earlier held by political cronies.

Potential IMF support

A staff-level agreement between Sri Lankan officials and IMF has been concluded. It states that the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility will support the fragile economy with $ 2.9 billion for four years. However, the multilateral agency has set a condition. Before getting the money, Sri Lanka must get debt relief from creditors as well as additional financing from other multilateral partners. The IMF also wants to see Sri Lanka “making a good faith effort to reach a collaborative agreement with private creditors.”

According to the Fund, objectives of the new IMF programme include:

  • restoring macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability,
  • safeguarding financial stability,
  • protecting vulnerable communities,
  • addressing corruption and
  • unlocking Sri Lanka’s growth potential.

Already reeling under shortages, loss of work and earnings, the massive changes that are likely to come through the reform process means Sri Lankans, particularly the poor, are looking at a very difficult road ahead indeed.

The reform agenda is intimidating. Getting creditors to restructure debts will be difficult too. Observers say that Wickremesinghe so far has been paying more attention to other things, in particular suppressing protests and protecting the Rajapaksa clan (see box). Fernando from the Advocata think thank says: “We haven’t taken any steps towards getting reforms done”. This was the state of affairs when this essay was finalised in early December.

Arjuna Ranawana is a Sri Lankan journalist.
arjuna.ranawana@outlook.com

Kategorien: english

Four ways to make development finance fairer and more effective

OECD - 8. Dezember 2022 - 17:12

By Harald Hirschhofer, Senior Advisor, TCX

Low-income country debts are mostly owed to multilateral and bilateral official lenders. Unfortunately, these development institutions’ default practice is to lend – from a borrower’s perspective - in foreign currency, i.e. USD, Euros or Yen. As they are risk conservative, they put the currency risk on the shoulders of low-income country borrowers. Although on concessional terms, such hard-currency development finance frequently turns out to be more expensive than borrowers can afford. The true costs of borrowing are hidden behind a veil of currency risk.

The post Four ways to make development finance fairer and more effective appeared first on Development Matters.

Kategorien: english

Copper price determines economic fate

D+C - 8. Dezember 2022 - 15:23
Zambia's economic development is characterised by ups and downs

However, due to infrastructure shortcomings, the country relies heavily on a single industry: copper mining. It accounts for around 12 % of gross domestic product (GDP). Fluctuations in the world-market price of copper quickly affect the entire economy. In the past, falling prices frequently plunged the country into crisis.

Zambia has struggled for decades with high levels of national debt moreover. This problem is connected to copper exports. When the copper price collapsed in the 1970s, the country suffered an economic shock. To finance public spending and revitalise the economy, it borrowed from western banks. As a result, the national debt soared from $800 million to $ 3.2 billion.

When the United States raised interest rates in the late 1970s, Zambia found itself in a financial crisis. The dollar exchange rate rose, so servicing debt became much more expensive in the local currency (see André de Mello e Souza on www.dandc.eu).

Back then, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted Zambia an emergency loan, but made the financial aid conditional upon structural adjustment programmes. The measures required included freezing public sector salaries, liberalising trade and privatising state-owned companies.

Nevertheless, the national debt continued to grow. As the price of copper fell further, austerity proved a drag on growth, while liberalisation failed to bring the anticipated broad-based upswing. By the end of 2004, Zambia’s external debt had risen to $ 7.4 billion.

In 2005, however, the situation improved thanks to the multilateral Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC). Debts totalling $ 6.6 billion were cancelled. Meanwhile, commodity prices rallied on the world market. Zambia enjoyed a number of good years with annual growth rates of seven to nine percent. In 2012, the government started borrowing heavily again to build infrastructure. China was now the biggest creditor.

But from 2015 onwards, growth fell back to an average of three to four percent. It then collapsed altogether in the coronavirus year 2020, with the economy contracting by 2.8 %. In 2021, however, Zambia experienced a moderate economic recovery with 4.6 % growth (see main story).

Peter Mulenga is lecturer in economics at Copperbelt University in Kitwe, Zambia.
peter.mulenga@cbu.ac.zm

Chibvalo Zombe is also lecturer in economics at Copperbelt University.
chibvalo.zombe@cbu.ac.zm

Charles Chinanda is a recent graduate of economics at Copperbelt University.
charliechinanda@gmail.com

Kategorien: english

New money helps bail out bankrupt state

D+C - 8. Dezember 2022 - 14:42
Zambia has often relied on IMF aid in recent decades

Even before the advent of Covid-19, Zambia was at high risk of overindebtedness (see Kathrin Berensmann on www.dandc.eu). The mainstay of its economy is the production of copper, the world-market price of which is quite volatile. It had been falling in the years preceding the pandemic. Another important economic sector is agriculture, which has also suffered in recent years due to droughts.

Since 2006, Zambia has been struggling with a growing mountain of public debt. As a result, debt- servicing costs increased exponentially (Saungweme and Odhiambo, 2018). In 2019, the IMF conducted a debt sustainability analysis, which revealed that the debt burden was increasingly suffocating the economy and pushing Zambia towards national bankruptcy. The main cause was high budget deficits due to infrastructure spending, as experts from the World Bank subsidiary IDA (International Development Association) argued in 2019.

According to the IMF definition, debt sustainability means that a sovereign government is able to meet its current and future debt payment commitments without going into default or having to request additional financial assistance. In 2020, Zambia no longer met this criterion. It stopped servicing external debt in November. The country was found to have accumulated $ 17.3 billion in external debt. About a third of it was owed to Chinese lenders. The total debt amounted to around 120 % of gross domestic product (GDP).

The government of President Edgar Lungu hoped in 2020 that help would be forthcoming from the IMF. But its relations with the Fund were strained. In 2016, it had applied for a $ 1.6 billion aid package, which the IMF had never approved. Lungu was considered to be tainted by corruption and  lack of commitment to economic reform.

Multilateral complexity

The IMF has more confidence in the new President Hakainde Hichilema’s readiness to implement reforms. After the change of government in 2021, he concluded an agreement with the IMF. The Fund would grant a loan of around $1.3 billion to restore the country’s macroeconomic stability, but it would be conditional upon tough austerity measures and clear accountability.

The deal hinged on innovative debt restructuring, which has yet to be agreed and will involve all of Zambia’s creditors. That includes Chinese institutions. So far, China was normally generous in terms of postponing payment obligations, but very restrictive in terms of forgiving debt. According to the Common Framework for Debt Treatment, which the G20 adopted in 2020, an Official Creditor Committee for Zambia was established, and accordingly the IMF approved the $ 1,3 billion loan in the summer.

The Committee is chaired by France and China. The negotiations to set it up were difficult, and so are the talks regarding debt restructuring, with China demanding “clarifications” from the Zambian government and the IMF. An agreement is expected by the end of 2022 or soon after. It could serve as  a template for similar negotiations regarding other over-indebted countries.

The IMF has more confidence in the new President Hakainde Hichilema’s readiness to implement reforms. After the change of government in 2021, he concluded an agreement with the IMF. The deal hinged on innovative debt restructuring, which has yet to be agreed and will involve all of Zambia’s creditors. That includes Chinese institutions. So far, China was normally generous in terms of postponing payment obligations, but very restrictive in terms of forgiving debt. According to the Common Framework for Debt Treatment, which the G20 adopted in 2020, an Official Creditor Committee for Zambia was established, and accordingly the IMF approved the $ 1,3 billion loan in the summer. The Committee is chaired by France and China. The negotiations to set it up were difficult, and so are the talks regarding debt restructuring. A result is expected by the end of 2022. It could prove a template for similar negotiations regarding other over-indebted countries in the future.

The loan should enable Zambia to transform its budget deficit – currently running at six percent of GDP – into a surplus of 3.2 % by 2025. That will require massive cuts in public spending. Accordingly, the government has thus rolled back subsidies on fuel and food. Petrol and diesel prices have risen more than 50 % since it did so.

To generate sustainable tax revenues, the government is also seeking reforms in the 2023-2025 budget. It wants to create a predictable environment for the mining industry, including stable copper prices and better electricity supply. That will strengthen the economy and thus boost macroeconomic stability.

Uncertain future

Whether the reforms will succeed is uncertain. History shows that IMF programmes sometimes result in an upswing, but sometimes fail. It depends on a country’s economic situation. It also matters whether it is a low- or middle-income country.

Graham Bird and Dane Rowlands warned in an empirical analysis in 2016 that IMF conditions often proved harmful for low-income countries. According to the two researchers, budget cuts reduce aggregate domestic demand by too much and thus keep people in poverty.

Regardless of such criticism, the IMF programme is essential for the survival and revival of Zambia’s economy. Without the additional money, the Zambian government would have had no options at all. In such an emergency, the IMF is an important source of financing because commercial lenders hardly give new loans to insolvent borrowers – and if they do, they demand even tougher conditions.

This year, Zambia is on a good path. Growth rates of three to four percent are anticipated in 2022 and 2023. Thanks to the IMF loan, the government has a chance to achieve macroeconomic stability. At present, the country has a strong trade surplus and a stable exchange rate. However, experience shows that the situation can easily be reversed if the price of copper falls. Moreover, the fast appreciating US Dollar is making foreign loans more expensive, which affects all developing countries and emerging markets (see André de Mello e Souza on www.dandc.eu).

Whether Zambia is on a sustainable course for the long term remains to be seen. Sooner or later it may well need IMF assistance again.

Reference
Saungweme, T., Odhiambo, N. M., 2018. An analysis of public debt servicing in Zambia: trends, reforms and challenges. Croatian International Relations Review, Vol. 24 No. 81.

Peter Mulenga is lecturer in economics at Copperbelt University in Kitwe, Zambia.
peter.mulenga@cbu.ac.zm

Chibvalo Zombe is also lecturer in economics at Copperbelt University.
chibvalo.zombe@cbu.ac.zm

Charles Chinanda is a recent graduate of economics at Copperbelt University.
charliechinanda@gmail.com

Kategorien: english

Awareness of India’s national health insurance scheme (PM-JAY): A cross-sectional study across six states

GDI Briefing - 8. Dezember 2022 - 13:57

The literature suggests that a first barrier towards accessing benefits of health insurance in low- and middle-income countries is lack of awareness of one’s benefits. Yet, across settings and emerging schemes, limited scientific evidence is available on levels of awareness and their determinants. To fill this gap, we assessed socio-demographic and economic determinants of beneficiaries’ awareness of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), the national health insurance scheme launched in India in 2018, and their awareness of own eligibility. We relied on cross-sectional household survey data collected in six Indian states between 2019 and 2020. Representative data of households eligible for PM-JAY from 11 618 respondents (an adult representative from each surveyed household) were used. We used descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression models to explore the association between awareness of PM-JAY and of one’s own eligibility, and socio-economic and demographic characteristics. About 62% of respondents were aware of PM-JAY, and among the aware, 78% knew that they were eligible for the scheme. Regression analysis confirmed that older respondents with higher educational level and salaried jobs were more likely to know about PM-JAY. Awareness was lower among respondents from Meghalaya and Tamil Nadu. Respondents from other backward classes, of wealthier socio-economic status, or from Meghalaya or Gujarat were more likely to be aware of their eligibility status. Respondents from Chhattisgarh were less likely to know about their eligibility. Our study confirms that while more than half the eligible population was aware of PM-JAY, considerable efforts are needed to achieve universal awareness. Socio-economic gradients confirm that the more marginalized are still less aware. We recommend implementing tailored, state-specific information dissemination approaches focusing on knowledge of specific scheme features to empower beneficiaries to demand their entitled services.

Kategorien: english

UN taps potential for trust-building on shared water resources

UN #SDG News - 8. Dezember 2022 - 13:00
A UN-led push for greater cross-border cooperation over increasingly finite water resources, made significant progress on Thursday, after it was announced that more than 30 governments and organizations have decided to work together on the issue.
Kategorien: english

Countries held the line against malaria cases and deaths in 2021: WHO report  

UN #SDG News - 8. Dezember 2022 - 13:00
Despite the continued impact of COVID-19, malaria cases and deaths remained stable throughout last year, according to new data released on Thursday by the World Health Organization (WHO).  
Kategorien: english

Ten recommendations for Germany’s feminist development policy

GDI Briefing - 8. Dezember 2022 - 11:38

In early 2022, Germany’s development minister Svenja Schulze announced the adoption of a feminist development policy. With this announcement, Germany joins a growing group of governments that have adopted or declared the adoption of an explicitly feminist perspective in their external policies. Drawing on these governments’ policies and the observations and recommendations by civil society and researchers, this Discussion Paper outlines ten key recommendations for Germany’s first feminist development policy. The first three recommendations focus on the conceptual foundation of the policy and lay out the importance of 1) an inclusive definition of gender, 2) a clarification of the feminist approach and the policy’s overall goal as well as 3) the need for an intersectional approach. The second set of recommendations concerns the implementation of the policy and stresses the importance of 4) a permanent cooperation with gender-focused and feminist organisations and 5) the necessity to increase funding for gender-related objectives in general and 6) for feminist organisations in particular. Further recommendations include 7) widening the range of sectors that target gender equality through a transformative approach and context-sensitive programming and by providing mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the strategy’s goals, objectives and activities. The last three recommendations emphasise institutional aspects and the importance of 8) creating an institutional environment that best supports gender equality within the development ministry and its main implementing organisations, 9) the necessity of a coherent feminist approach between the different ministries, and 10) the importance of addressing possible challenges the ministry might face in the implementation of its feminist development policy.

Kategorien: english

Inequality and social cohesion in Africa: theoretical insights and an exploratory empirical investigation

GDI Briefing - 8. Dezember 2022 - 9:08

Inequality is bad per se and has adverse effects, among other things, on economic development and the environment. It is also often argued that high and increasing inequalities put societies under stress, which increases the likelihood of social conflicts. However, the literature on this topic is scarce and some of the conclusions are not adequately supported by empirical evidence. This is mainly because there are different definitions and measurements of social cohesion. Moreover, some definitions of social cohesion incorporate inequality, thus making it impossible to examine how these two phenomena interact with one another.
This paper analyses both theoretically and empirically, the relationship between inequality and social cohesion. To do so, it employs a recent definition of social cohesion provided by Leininger et al. (2021). According to this definition, social cohesion is composed of three core attributes, namely trust, inclusive identity and cooperation for the common good. These attributes are examined in two dimensions, namely the horizontal (relationship among individuals) and vertical (relationship between individuals and state institutions) dimensions of social cohesion.
This paper provides an overview of the empirical evidence regarding the relationship between inequality and the three attributes of social cohesion. We find that while inequality is likely to have a negative effect on all three attributes, the intensity of the relationship may depend on some key mediating factors. Moreover, we highlight the main pathways through which inequality could affect each of the three key attributes.
The empirical analysis focuses on Africa. While there is some work in this field in Europe and Asia, to the best of our knowledge, there has not been any related empirical work thus far that has focused on African countries. To measure the three attributes of social cohesion, we use a database generated by Leininger et al. (2021), which is based on data from Afrobarometer and the V-Dem Institute. Inequality is mainly measured by the Gini coefficient and data are sourced from the World Income Distribution dataset. As expected, our analysis shows that countries with higher inequality usually have lower levels of social cohesion, which is measured by an aggregate index. This negative correlation holds when we analyse the relationship between the Gini coefficient and the three attributes separately; however, the intensity varies. It is stronger for trust (rho=0.25) compared with the other two attributes (both of which have a rho equal to approximately 0.1). Additional investigations point to substantially different results for the horizontal and vertical dimensions of social cohesion. Higher levels of inequality are associated with lower levels of horizontal trust and horizontal cooperation. On the other hand, higher levels of inequality are associated with higher levels of vertical trust and are essentially uncorrelated with vertical cooperation. These relationships remain substantially unchanged when we use measures of income inequality other than the Gini coefficient. Further analyses that aim to explain the puzzling results for the vertical dimension of social cohesion reveal that our findings are not clearly driven by trust in a specific institution and are also not an artefact of the specific data we used. Indeed, we obtain similar results using data from the World Values Survey. At the same time, it appears that the positive relationship between inequality and vertical trust is visible only among African countries, whereas it is not observed at the global level or for other regions. Further research is needed to confirm whether Africa is truly exceptional in this regard, and if so, why that may be the case.

Kategorien: english

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