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Africa is Rolling Out a New Plan for Pandemic Preparedness and Health Emergencies

29. September 2022 - 4:00

In late August, health ministers from across Africa held a meeting in Togo in which they adopted a common strategy to confront health emergencies.

The so called “Regional Strategy for Health Security and Emergencies” commits African countries to concrete steps to strengthen disease surveillance, response and preparedness.

There are over 100 health emergencies in Africa each year — including outbreaks of infectious and deadly diseases like Yellow Fever, meningitis, and ebola. And it is sometimes the case that diseases endemic only in parts of Africa, like MonkeyPox, can spread globally precisely because of limited local capacity to contain an outbreak. This new strategy seeks to change that dynamic.

In this episode, we speak with Dr. Abdou Salam Gaye, WHO Regional Emergency Director for Africa to discuss this new African health security plan and Africa’s role in global pandemic preparedness and response.

We kick off by discussing what COVID revealed about African health systems’ ability to respond to a massive emergency. Dr. Salam then explains some key elements of this new regional strategy on health emergencies and how the successsful implementation of this plan will have a global impact.

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Kategorien: english

Why is China Suddenly Expanding its Nuclear Arsenal?

26. September 2022 - 4:00

China first tested a nuclear weapon in 1964. And since then, Chinese authorites have been content with a relatively small nuclear arsenal.

That was, until very recently. There is now mounting evidence that China is substantially expanding its nuclear capabilities.

In this episode, we speak with Tong Zhou, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a Visiting Researcher at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, to explain what is driving Chinese nuclear strategy.

We kick off with a brief history of China’s nuclear weapons program before having an in depth discussion about the intentions and motivations behind China’s expanding nuclear arsenal. We also discuss what steps China’s main rival, the United States, could take to assuage at least some of the concerns driving Chinese nuclear strategy.

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The post Why is China Suddenly Expanding its Nuclear Arsenal? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Live From the UN General Assembly: Global Fund Replenishment | War Crimes in Ukraine | Clean Energy and the Run Up to COP27 (UNGA Day 4)

22. September 2022 - 22:30

The annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly is always a key moment on the diplomatic calendar. Hundreds of world leaders head to New York to address the General Assembly and participate in various meetings and events around the city. And each day, I will bring you the key highlights from the 77th United Nations General Assembly.

One of the key events during UN High Level Week in the New York is a major fundraiser for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, hosted by President Biden. This is the topic of our first segment with Francoise Vanni, the Global Fund’s Director of External Relations and Communications.

Our second segment features an interview with Susan Ruffo, Senior Advisor for Oceans and Climate at the United Nations Foundation who discusses a meeting of foreign ministers and civil society leaders focused on the clean energy transition.

This episode also leads off with a discussion about a unique meeting of the Security Council about war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

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Transcript lightly edited for clarity

Live From the UN General Assembly: Global Fund Replenishment | War Crimes in Ukraine | Clean Energy and the Run Up to COP27 (UNGA Day 4)

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:00:05] Welcome to a special episode of the Global Dispatches podcast, live from the United Nations General Assembly. The annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly is always a key moment on the diplomatic calendar. Hundreds of world leaders head to New York to address the General Assembly and participate in various meetings and events around the city. And this week, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, I am bringing you key highlights from the 77th U.N. General Assembly in a daily podcast series. Today is Thursday, September 22nd, and this will be the final day of our UNGA series. And it was a big day at the U.N.. Leaders speeches continued, including a much anticipated speech from the prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley. [00:00:55][50.3]

Mia Mottley: [00:00:56] Years ago we spoke about small island developing states on the front line, because we were the canaries in the mine. Today we speak of all countries and this hot, hot summer with wildfires from California, the heat waves in North America and Europe, the waterways in Europe being prohibited from the ability of vessels to traverse it, to floods in China and above all else, the apocalyptic floods in Pakistan, for which our heart goes out to the people of that country. [00:01:32][35.7]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:01:33] And at the Security Council. This morning, there was a meeting on Ukraine that was unique for the fact that both the secretary general and the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Kahn, briefed foreign ministers. The meeting focused on war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine since the Russian invasion. And here the ICC has had jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute alleged war criminals for crimes committed on Ukrainian territory. Ukraine voluntarily ceded that jurisdiction to the ICC earlier this year. This investigation by the ICC is one of the largest in the history of the court and is impacted by Russian disinformation campaigns. At the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called allegations of mass atrocity in Abuja to be a propaganda campaign. But in his remarks, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan forthrightly described what he has seen in his visits to Ukraine. [00:02:45][72.3]

Karim Kahn: [00:02:46] And the picture that I’ve seen so far is troubling indeed. I have been to Ukraine three times and one has seen a variety of destruction, of suffering and harm. That fortifies my determination and my previous finding that there are reasonable grounds to believe the crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed. And if I may, Madam President, be quite direct. When I went to Bucha and went behind St Andrew’s Church. The bodies I saw were not fake. When I walked the streets, streets of Berdiansk, the destruction that I saw of buildings and schools was all too real. And when I left Kharkiv, the bombs I heard land gave a very somber insight and a very small insight into the awful reality that is faced by many of our brothers and sisters and children that are in a war zone. [00:03:52][65.8]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:03:52] Throughout the meeting, leaders condemned obvious Russian war crimes. Once again, providing a demonstration that Russia is really deeply isolated at the United Nations. Changing gears a bit, we have two interviews for you today. First up, I speak with Francoise Vanni, director of external relations in communications at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Global Fund is essentially a multilateral pool of money dedicated to combating those three deadly diseases. It has a highly regarded track record, and one of the major events happening during high level week is a fundraiser known as the Global Fund Replenishment. This happened Wednesday night and is the topic of our first segment. [00:04:44][51.8]

Francoise Vanni: [00:04:45] We are fighting the deadliest diseases in the world HIV, TB and malaria. And for those three diseases, COVID 19, has very much set us backwards. [00:04:53][8.2]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:04:54] Next, I speak with Suzanne Ruffo, senior adviser for oceans and climate at the United Nations Foundation, who was attending a meeting of Foreign Ministers and civil society leaders committed to transition. [00:05:06][12.0]

Suzanne Ruffo: [00:05:07] I think there’s an important focus on how that clean power will really benefit all so developing countries, but also vulnerable communities within developed countries and big economies. [00:05:17][9.8]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:05:18] Here is my conversation with Francoise Vanni of the Global Fund. [00:05:22][3.7]

[00:05:22] We are speaking following the Global Fund replenishment, which was one of the major moments during high level week. It happened Wednesday evening. Before we talk about the substance of what happened. Can you set the scene for us? What was the room like? President Biden was the host. I know many heads of state spoke. Just take listeners inside that room briefly. [00:06:00][38.6]

Francoise Vanni: [00:06:01] Before we go into the room, let me just set the scene from what’s at stake perspective, given that we are fighting the deadliest diseases in the world, HIV, TB and malaria. And for the three diseases, COVID 19 has very much set us backwards and we very much need to recover the lost ground if we want to continue to save lives and reach the 2030 targets. So we went into this room as global fund partners, very much having in mind the number of lives at stake. And the room was full of commitment, I would say, to make sure that we continue this fight despite the quite challenging environment we find ourselves in. So a lot of energy, a lot of commitment in the room, a lot of excitement around the leadership of President Biden and the United States government. And it was a very packed room with a very high level of attendance from many, many countries and private sector partners and community and civil society organizations. So the partnership very much coming together full of excitement, I would say, commitment to make sure that we continue to fight for what counts. [00:07:12][70.9]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:07:13] So what were some of the major pledges that were made last night? [00:07:19][6.0]

Francoise Vanni: [00:07:20] So we raised yesterday $14.25 billion so far, which is a very significant outcome and the largest achieved so far by the Global Fund and any other global health organizations. We got very significant pledges from key donors. In particular, I would highlight the United States for a pledge earlier this year, back in March, $6 billion for the Global Fund, very much setting the mark for anybody else to follow their leadership. And then that represents a 30% increase over the six replenishment pledge, which is in line with our investment case and the funding needs for the fight against HIV, TB and malaria. And yesterday we were able to secure other G7 commitments along the same lines. So in particular, we had a 30% increase from the six replenishment pledge from Germany, from the European Commission, from Japan, from Canada, also a very significant increase, over 20% from France, 20% increase from the Gates Foundation and many other implementing partners and donor partners committing to very significant pledges. Probably the most remarkable being the pledge from Korea who quadrupled their commitment over the six replenishment pledge. So a very, very significant step up. So despite, you know, the world being very concerned by implications of the war in Ukraine, other conflicts, inflation, food and energy crisis, climate change and so on, it was a formidable demonstration of the commitment to the fight against the deadliest diseases. We still have two big donors, founding partners of the Global Fund, the UK and Italy, who could not pledge yesterday given their specific national circumstances. But we fully expect them to pledge in the coming weeks into a just outcome for the seventh replenishment soonest. [00:09:25][124.6]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:09:26] So I wanted to dial in a little bit on that $6 billion pledge from the Biden administration. Under U.S. statute, the U.S. can pledge $1 for every $2 that is raised from the rest of the world. And your target for this replenishment was $18 billion, meaning that the United States, the Biden administration was going to max out its pledge if every other country in the world maxed out. So it is, I think, significant that the U.S. made this pledge. Also significant is that last night this $18 billion goal was not reached. You did note that the United Kingdom, which is historically one of the largest donors, did not make a pledge last night because obviously there’s a very recent change in government. Similar circumstances in Italy, but it seems hard to imagine that the pledges from the U.K. and Italy will fill that gap between 14.25 and 18. What are you expecting? [00:10:37][70.7]

Francoise Vanni: [00:10:38] So we very much expect both the UK and Italy to need to make strong pledges. The are both funding partners, founding members of the Global Fund, very, very important donors. The UK is historically the third largest donor to the Global Fund. They have contributed so far a total amount of £4.43 billion. So a very, very important donor to the Global Fund. So we very much look forward to a strong pledge. Similarly for Italy, they have given us all the reassurance that they intend to make a strong pledge. So obviously, this is our expectation. However, as you said, it’s very likely that the sum of those two pledges would make us reach the 18 billion target. So we will have to continue our raising efforts as we move forward and very much work towards maximizing the impact of every single dollar that we have raised and will continue to raise in order to achieve our goals and to save how many lives we possibly can. [00:11:41][62.6]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:11:41] And it’s just worth emphasizing that if that 18 billion is not reached, the max contributions from the U.S., the 6 billion is necessarily going to have to leave some money on the table. But, you know, focusing on what was raised and what you expect to be raised, how will those dollars be put to use in the service of fighting AIDS, TB and malaria over the next three years? [00:12:07][25.3]

Francoise Vanni: [00:12:08] We very much intend to leave as little money from the U.S. government on the table as possible. If our target is very much to try and maximize that, but we’ll see how far we can get. As I said, our efforts are not over, we will continue efforts in the coming three years as we implement a new cycle on ground. How I’m going to be guided by the new strategy of the Global Fund was approved by a board last year which looks into building on the lessons of 20 years of impact during which we have saved 15 million lives, but also the lessons of COVID 19 and what it has taught all of us. So the strategy is very much focusing on both fighting the three diseases with very focused efforts to address some of the challenges that we keep facing, for example, in the area of HIV prevention, but also beyond the three diseases, the strategy that will guide us as we implement the seven replenishment is going to be much more deliberate in strengthening health systems, including community systems, which have proven to be so crucial in fighting not only the old pandemics, but also the new ones such as COVID and the ones that may come. So we will be much more deliberate in investing in health systems, community systems, to help the countries and communities we support be better prepared for any future health threats. There will also be a much more significant effort around strengthening community leadership and making sure that communities affected by the three diseases are at the center of the response of designing and implementing the response to those three diseases. So these are some of the guiding principles for the three years to come. [00:13:54][105.7]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:13:54] And I just note that the ambient sounds of UN high level week in the motorcade passing by is now going from wherever you are on the east side of New York to wherever I am, which is just fitting for the moment. I wanted to go back to how you started our conversation, discussing the progress and more recently, the lack thereof in the global fight against AIDS, TB and malaria. We were making a lot of progress, it seems, and then COVID hit. How has the pandemic impacted what progress had been made against those three diseases? [00:14:34][39.7]

Francoise Vanni: [00:14:35] COVID 19 has been devastating in terms of the fight against HIV, TB and malaria. And in 2020, we got backwards in program indicators across the three diseases for the first time in 20 years history. [00:14:50][14.5]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:14:50] I mean, that’s worth emphasizing. There has been since the advent of the Global Fund. Just unrelenting progress against these diseases. But then COVID hit. [00:14:59][9.3]

Francoise Vanni: [00:15:00] Absolutely. We had made progress year after year. And it was the single most significant obstacle in the fight. So in 2020, we got backwards very significantly, and perhaps it’s worth highlighting that we’ve got backwards even more so in areas such as prevention and testing for HIV, but also very much in terms of identification of TB missing cases and TB treatments. We’ve got significantly backwards. The good news, though, is that in 2020. One, thanks to a massive investment supported by many of our donors, including the United States. We have been able to support countries to fight back and we have seen results that we’ve just published actually, that demonstrates that countries are on the on the recovery path. 2020, the impact was, as I said, devastating. We can see in 2021 countries going back to the trajectories that we want them to be on recovering some of the lost ground across the three diseases. So it’s really down to leadership in countries, both of obviously governments, but also communities. The innovations that we have put in place and also the additional funding that we’ve been able to deploy to support the efforts. So we are getting back on track, but we are not there yet. This is why this replenishment is so important to make sure that we very much recover the lost ground and completely get back on track to achieve the 2030 target. But we are not there yet. [00:16:36][95.6]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:16:37] So say the end number of the global fund replenishment is just short of 18 billion is say 16 or 17 billion. Is that funding sufficient to regain the progress that had been made prior to COVID and continue this kind of shift that you just identified starting to happen last year in 2021 towards progress against those diseases? [00:17:04][27.7]

Francoise Vanni: [00:17:05] The answer to that question is no. When we published our investment case for the seventh Replenishment back in February this year, we were very clear in our assumptions and in our modeling that we needed at least $18 billion. And this at least is important because it is based on the assumption that implementing countries are going to increase very significantly, that domestic resources allocated to the fight against the three diseases and to health more generally. And this is going to be challenging given the current economy context. Secondly, assumptions, we’re also assuming that there would still remain a funding gap to fund the global plans against the three diseases. So in a way, we were already shooting below the actual targets in terms of the global funding needs for the fight against HIV, TB and malaria. So we were already sort of at an at least level. We are assuming and we are continuing to assume that countries will step up, but we know it’s going to be challenging given the context. So the $18 billion is really the targets and the minimum of required. So if we don’t meet this target, indeed we will have to look at how we maximize the impact of every single donor, as I said. But also we will have to face some choices in terms of how we prioritize our work in coherence with our strategy, but with a little bit less resources than the ones that we need. [00:18:32][87.1]

[00:18:35] Francoise, thank you so much for your time on this very busy day for the Global Fund. I much appreciate it. [00:18:41][6.0]

Francoise Vanni: [00:18:41] Thank you very much, Mark. [00:18:42][1.0]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:18:56] A big thank you to Francoise for taking the time to speak with me about the Global Fund replenishment. And now for our final segment of this series. We are turning to Suzanne Ruffo, senior adviser for oceans and climate at the United Nations Foundation. [00:19:12][16.3]

[00:19:12] So I am in New York. You are in Pittsburgh. And I should say there is historic precedent for the center of action shifting to Pittsburgh during high level week in 2009, the G-20 held a meeting in Pittsburgh in the middle of high level week, and you had diplomats going back and forth between Pittsburgh and New York all week long. All to say that there’s nothing unusual about me speaking to someone from Pittsburgh about what’s going on. And what is going on is the Clean Energy Ministerial, which I know you have been participating in. Can you tell me what is that meeting and why is it significant, and what’s been going on? [00:20:06][53.9]

Francoise Vanni: [00:20:07] The Clean Energy Ministerial is a really important part of our climate strategy globally, and I think what’s exciting about having it in Pittsburgh now is that we are bringing together not only the Clean Energy Ministerial, but also what’s called mission innovation. And these are both designed to bring ambitious governments together to help solve the climate crisis, essentially by focusing in on the need to produce clean, plentiful and cost effective energy. So this is really significant because we’re bringing together these two different efforts to really supercharge all these efforts to develop and implement and scale clean energy solutions around the globe. And not only is it a government meeting, but it also brings in private sector and academics and youth and civil society. Everyone is concentrated on this one topic here in Pittsburgh. [00:20:56][48.5]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:20:56] And what’s going on with that topic. Have there been any specific outcomes? What’s like the global situation on clean energy and where do we need to be to be closer to the Paris Agreement goals? [00:21:10][13.7]

Francoise Vanni: [00:21:11] So we’re just getting rolling in Pittsburgh. So the anticipation is pretty high. But basically, you know, power is one of the biggest sources and energy is one of the biggest sources of emissions. So in order to meet the Paris targets and get to our 1.5 goals, we really need to decarbonize the energy sector. And so what we’re doing in Pittsburgh is talking about the whole range of what that looks like. So we’re talking about power generation, transportation, industrial production, buildings, so everything from electric vehicles, shipping, aviation, renewable energy, nuclear, all of those things are on the table here. And the key theme here is really about implementation. You know, there’s been lots of discussion. There’s been lots of commitments. But how do we really make this happen? And that’s really what we’re watching for here. [00:21:55][44.3]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:21:56] So the meeting in Pittsburgh and ongoing events here in New York come at a key moment in international climate diplomacy. We are just a few weeks away from COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. How does what’s happening in Pittsburgh and also what’s happening here in New York fit into broader trends that we’re seeing leading up to COP 27? [00:22:25][29.4]

Francoise Vanni: [00:22:27] Yeah, I think the timing is really critical here, and the timing is good to have this discussion. When we get to Egypt, we really want governments to focus on what’s possible and what can be done to actually achieve the Paris goals. And again, that focus is going to be on implementation. So what’s happening here in Pittsburgh, bringing together the private sector, finance, civil society, governments and governments at all levels is really providing momentum and confidence so that governments can go in and say, we can do this, it’s viable. We’ve got our constituencies behind us, and there is a path forward that’s going to truly leave no one behind, which is one of the key parts of the Paris Agreement. So I think governments will have the support and confidence to go in and make hopefully good decisions when they get to Sharm El-Sheikh. And I think that’s true of what’s happening in New York, too. [00:23:14][47.6]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:23:15] Are there any specific outcomes you’re looking towards, either in any meeting in New York this week or in Pittsburgh that you think would be particularly like relevant or impactful in that lead up to COP 27? [00:23:32][17.1]

Francoise Vanni: [00:23:33] I’ll talk about Pittsburgh. There’s not one specific announcement, but I think what we’ll see are announcements on investments in clean energy across the board. And more important than that, but some really concrete targets for delivering that energy. So what does this really look like on the ground or in the case of shipping in the water? I think there’s an important focus on how that clean power will really benefit all so developing countries, but also vulnerable communities within developed countries and big economies. There has been a real focus on developed economies for, you know, a lot of reasons, including the fact that they produce a lot of emissions. But I think will be a new focus in New York, in Pittsburgh and in Sharm El-Sheikh on solutions that are appropriate for developing countries and particularly developing countries in Africa and these vulnerable communities. And I think. There is no less need to drive innovation there. I also think there’s going to be a focus on new collaborations. You know, this isn’t just government decisions. It’s about what we need to do with private sector, with civil society, and really start across sectors. So here in Pittsburgh, just as an example, we’re having conversations between green hydrogen producers and shipping companies and shipping leaders to really talk about how green hydrogen can help provide the fuels that we’ll need to decarbonize the shipping sector, which is one of the hardest sectors to decarbonize. So I think those kinds of partnerships, those kinds of discussions are what we’re expecting. [00:24:58][84.7]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:24:59] So you’ve mentioned shipping a couple times now. What role do oceans and the shipping industry play in providing opportunities for solutions on climate change challenges? And how are those issues being discussed this week and how do you expect those discussions to unfold in the weeks leading up to COP 27, and in COP 27? [00:25:25][25.8]

Francoise Vanni: [00:25:26] So, I think there’s a growing recognition from governments and from others that, you know, the ocean is not just a victim of climate change. You know, we have a historical narrative that we all have to protect the ocean. I think we’re seeing more and more that actually the ocean plays a critical role in protecting us from climate change. It absorbs a good portion of the carbon dioxide we’re putting in the atmosphere. It absorbs the heat that we’re putting in the atmosphere. So we really need to think about the ocean’s role in all of this. Shipping alone is 3% of global emissions. That would make it the eighth largest emitter if it was a country. So it’s a really important sector that we need to tackle, and it is a big part of the trajectory towards getting towards a 1.5 agreement because 80% of the goods that we consume as a global population travel on ships somewhere. I think in the broader narrative, we’ll also see more ocean solutions, things like coastal ecosystems that can sequester carbon, but also help provide resilience for the communities behind them. We’ll see offshore wind energy, offshore renewable energy becoming a bigger and bigger portion of the energy that we’re consuming as a planet. So thinking about how we really use those types of solutions to get us towards our goals is going to be really important. And I think you’ll see that theme come out in New York. It’ll come out in Pittsburgh around shipping and offshore energy, and it’ll come out in Sharm El-Sheikh from nature based solutions to energy. [00:26:48][81.8]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:26:49] Susan, thank you so much for your time. This is really helpful. [00:26:52][2.5]

Francoise Vanni: [00:26:53] Thank you. [00:26:53][0.3]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:27:01] Thank you for listening to Global Dispatches. Our show is produced by me, Mark Leon Goldberg, and edited and mixed by Levi Sharpe. If you have any questions or comments, please email us using the contact button on GlobalDispatchesPodcast.com or hit me up on Twitter @MarkLGoldberg. Please rate and subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts. [00:27:01][0.0]

The post Live From the UN General Assembly: Global Fund Replenishment | War Crimes in Ukraine | Clean Energy and the Run Up to COP27 (UNGA Day 4) appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Live from the UN General Assembly: President Biden’s Speech and Other Key Moments | Pandemic Preparedness and Response (UNGA Day 3)

21. September 2022 - 22:30

The annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly is always a key moment on the diplomatic calendar. Hundreds of world leaders head to New York to address the General Assembly and participate in various meetings and events around the city. And each day, I will bring you the key highlights from the 77th United Nations General Assembly.

Today’s episode was recorded on Wednesday, September 21 and under normal circumstances the President of the United States, as host of the UN, would have addressed the General Assembly yesterday. But because of the Queen’s funeral in London at the start of the week, the United States traded speaking slots with Senegal. Meaning today was the day of President Biden’s much anticipated address to the General Assembly. 

Shortly after President Biden’s speech concluded, we spoke with Richard Gowan, the UN Director of the International Crisis Group and Anjali Dayal professor of International Relations at Fordham University and Senior Scholar in residence at the US Institute of Peace.  We kick off discussing highlights from Biden’s address before turning to other key speeches and events driving the diplomatic agenda at UNGA this week.

Next, we speak with Kate Dodson, Vice President for Global Health at the United Nations Foundation. She had just come from a key meeting on Pandemic preparedness and response, which we discuss.

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Transcript lightly edited for clarity

Live from the UN General Assembly: President Biden’s Speech and Other Key Moments | Pandemic Preparedness and Response (UNGA Day 3)

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:00:05] Welcome to a special episode of the Global Dispatches podcast, live from the United Nations General Assembly. I’m your host, Mark Leon Goldberg, a veteran international affairs journalist and editor of UN Dispatch. The annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly is always a key moment on the diplomatic calendar. Hundreds of world leaders headed to New York to address the General Assembly and participate in various meetings and events around the city. And this week, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, I am bringing you key highlights from the 77th U.N. General Assembly in daily podcast episodes. Today is Wednesday, September 21st, and under normal circumstances, the President of the United States, as host of the U.N., would have addressed the General Assembly yesterday. But because of the queen’s funeral in London at the start of the week, the United States traded speaking slots with Senegal, meaning today was the day of President Biden’s much anticipated address to the General Assembly. Shortly after Biden’s speech concluded. I spoke with Richard Gowan, the U.N. director of the International Crisis Group, and Anjali Dayal, professor of international relations at Fordham University and a senior scholar in residence at the U.S. Institute of Peace. We kick off discussing highlights from Biden’s address before turning to other key speeches and events driving the diplomatic agenda at UNGA this week. [00:01:45][99.5]

Richard Gowan: [00:01:45] You know, I think it was a good speech. I think that it hit the right marks. But you could almost feel the different bureaucratic hands and you could feel the different offices in the State Department contributing different sections. [00:01:56][11.1]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:01:57] Next, I speak with Kate Dodson, vice president for global health at the United Nations Foundation. She had just come from a key meeting on pandemic preparedness and response, which we discussed. [00:02:09][11.9]

Kate Dodson: [00:02:10] So we talked this morning about the foreign ministerial level, about what are those key ingredients? Where is the world failing still in strengthening capacities for pandemic preparedness? [00:02:21][11.4]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:02:22] Here is my conversation with Richard Gowan and Anjali Dayal, which was recorded live this afternoon on Twitter Spaces. [00:02:30][7.6]

[00:02:41] So Richard and Anjali, we are speaking just a few minutes after Biden concluded his remarks at the General Assembly. And that’s where I want to start our conversation today. Richard, starting with you, what were your key takeaways from Biden’s speech, just concluded? [00:02:59][17.6]

Richard Gowan: [00:03:00] Well, so I think most of the speech was quite predictable. We knew that Biden had to do two things. Firstly, he had to lay out his case against Russian aggression in Ukraine, and he did that right from the start, and he did it in very plain terms. But he also had to balance that by talking about what the US is doing for countries in Africa and across the Global South, because we know that at the UN over the last six months we have seen a lot of members of the Global South get a little wary of just talking about Ukraine. And so we heard a lot from Biden on food security, which is a major US theme and very much a concern for African countries in particular. So that was his balancing act. I think the one surprise for me was that he also threw in quite a few challenging references to China and I hadn’t expected him to be challenging China in this speech. I thought he would really focus all his rhetorical fire on the Russians, but he definitely raised Taiwan. He raised the Uyghur situation, and he raised Chinese nuclear proliferation. So that will have gone down, I think, quite badly in Beijing. [00:04:16][76.2]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:04:17] Anjali. Same question to you. What were your key takeaways from this just concluded speech? [00:04:23][5.6]

Anjali Dayal: [00:04:24] As Richard said, one of the big tasks in the speech was going to be balancing the sort of clear centrality of Ukraine and Russia in Biden’s plan, speak to the UN General Assembly against these other global goals, many of which stemmed directly or are sort of downstream consequences of the US’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There were a lot of specifics in the speech, a lot of specifics like the US will match up to 6 billion towards the 18 billion goal for the global funds replenishment, things like 11 billion to offset sort of climate disaster in terms of funding for adaptation and resilience worldwide. But there was also a lot of, I think, big rhetoric about the sort of nature of the UN system going back to the UN’s founding. You know, he ended on this big sort of somehow idealistic note about where the UN came from. It came from a moment of similarly smoldering disaster when cooperation was central, and tying this moment to that moment seems to be one of the things he wanted to do throughout. He began by talking about how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a charter violation of consequence to every country worldwide, in a legal sense, in an existential sense, as well as through these sort of more concrete senses as well of things like vast food insecurity. In that context, I thought it was really interesting that, as Richard said, he was much more confrontational about China than he was last year. But he did strike that classical liberal note about cooperation, especially in terms of climate, basically saying that, you know, cooperation with climate diplomacy isn’t a favor to the US. It isn’t something where we can afford to be competitive. It’s some place where we must be cooperative. [00:06:09][105.1]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:06:10] I agree. You know, Biden’s inner liberal, internationalist and idealist certainly shined. And, you know, as you noted, it was, I think, particularly interesting that he did add substance to the rhetoric, particularly on the development and food agenda in the weeks leading up to today. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, sort of repeatedly was on message, saying the three top priorities of the US during this UN high level week is food security, global health, and then finally strengthening the UN charter. And to me, one interesting thing about Biden’s speech was he sort of got into specifics about how to strengthen the UN Charter, specifically how to enhance or reform the Security Council, calling for permanent seats for Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa and pledging a reduced use of the veto, saying it would be used only in extremely rare circumstances. Richard, how meaningful do you think Biden’s rhetoric on Security Council reform is, and how will other or how do other members of the United Nations interpret or appreciate that kind of rhetoric? [00:07:33][82.8]

Richard Gowan: [00:07:34] Well, let me just start by saying that I thought overall there was too much detail in this speech, to be quite honest. I mean, I think, you know, I think it was a good speech. I think that it hit the right marks. But you could almost feel the different bureaucratic hands and you could feel the different offices in the State Department contributing different sections. We heard about sort of a small nuclear module plant in Romania or something. I mean, that was too much of that. But on UN reform, Linda Thomas-Greenfield had flagged that Biden was going to raise the issue of reform, and that didn’t get a lot of international attention because she made that point in a speech at the same time that the queen died. But in UN land, there has been a lot of excitement that the US is talking quite concretely about the need to have discussion on council reform. That has been a very strong sense, quite rightly through the course of this year, that the Security Council’s weaknesses have been made plain by Russia’s war on Ukraine. And I think that the US is quite smartly positioning itself now as a power that will at least talk about reform, listen to ideas for reform. You know, ironically, although the US is sort of the strongest member of the UN system, it’s now the one that’s saying the system needs to change. And just as Biden talked about food security, because that’s something which a lot of Southern countries want to hear about, I think the US hopes that it will win goodwill from the wider UN membership by saying that it is open to reform. Now does that mean the reform will happen? That’s a very different question and it will be a very long time for any change to actually come through at the UN. But it’s certainly an important gesture from Biden. [00:09:39][124.9]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:09:40] And Anjali, you know, one key point that Biden made in that in the week leading up to this Linda Thomas-Greenfield made is this pledge to only very rarely use the veto. And this is obviously coming in response to Russia’s generous use of the veto in response to various resolutions on Ukraine. I guess how do you see this rhetoric around the U.S. and the use of the veto coloring, broader dynamics at the Security Council? [00:10:13][32.8]

Anjali Dayal: [00:10:14] Well, I think it’s easier to reform practice than things like membership or statute around the Security Council. We know that countries can pledge and agree to use the veto. The US, the UK and France have done that. Whether or not the US can actually adhere to that, I don’t know. It will depend a lot on what comes up on the Security Council’s agenda into the Security Council’s table, which will depend in turn a lot on sort of behind the scenes diplomacy, I think. But I do think it’s notable as a move to sort of isolate Russia diplomatically even more and say there is one member of the Security Council that is very free handed with that veto. And it is a member of the Security Council that is, you know, a primary violator of people’s rights in other sovereign countries. And as a result, you know, that move to sort of say we’re committing to use the veto less is at least, I think, more rhetorically plausible than we’re pledging to try and expand the number of permanent members of the Security Council, both, as Richard said, because a process like that would take very long, but also because this is the kind of thing we would have to really see to believe. The US has made similar noises in the past and it hasn’t really come to fruition. It’s very hard to undertake that kind of reform. There’s a reason we haven’t seen it, in part because there’s very little incentive to reform a body that you benefit from no matter really what you say. [00:11:48][94.0]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:11:49] So I wanted to move on a bit from Biden’s speech specifically and talk more broadly about how Ukraine is shaping and coloring of events in New York this week. Later today, Zelensky is supposed to address the General Assembly by video, and that’s significant because it took a vote in the General Assembly to permit Zelensky to appear by video as opposed to in person. And yesterday at the Clinton Global Initiative, Bill Clinton interviewed Zelensky by video on stage live. And it was interesting to see Zelensky in that kind of format in front of csivil society leaders. And from that conversation, the big takeaway I took was that the Clinton Foundation and those in that orbit are going to mobilize efforts to support the reconstruction of bombed out places of Ukraine. But obviously, Ukraine is in the midst of a hot war right now. And just today, we’re hearing news of a new mobilization by Russia of Russian troops and more nuclear saber rattling. Richard, how is the Ukraine crisis specifically coloring UNGA this year, the speeches, and how Antonío Guterres is sort of spending his time this week? [00:13:17][88.2]

Richard Gowan: [00:13:18] Well, I think pretty much every speaker has at least referred to Ukraine. But what was interesting, listening to the first day of speeches yesterday was that a lot of African and Latin American leaders would mention Ukraine. Yet somehow I wouldn’t use the word Russia. And we heard people like Macky Sall from Senegal and Bolsonaro from Brazil talking in a rather anodyne way about the need for a negotiated solution to the war. Rather than sort of putting the blame on Moscow for starting it. There were some exceptions to that, but the general feeling yesterday was that leaders from the Global South wanted to express sympathy for the Ukrainians, but did not want to do so in a way that would damage their relations with the Kremlin. And that’s very much in line with the way we’ve seen a lot of nonaligned countries behaving, at least since the late spring or early summer at the UN. But President Putin also gave a speech today from Moscow. And as you say, you know, he did make nuclear threats. And it is clear that he’s on a pathway to annexing the parts of Ukraine that Russia currently occupies. And I think the fact that he gave that speech will change the dynamic around the General Assembly for the next few days, because although a lot of countries don’t want to offend Russia unnecessarily, I think there is an underlying feeling that annexation is a red line for a lot of countries in the global south. You know, question of territorial integrity is absolutely central to the UN charter. And so I will be listening to see if we start to hear African and Asian and Latin American speakers over the next few days adopt a slightly harder tone towards Russia than people like Macky Sall did yesterday. I mean, as for Guterres, he is reaping the benefits of the UN’s role in crafting the Black Sea Grain Deal. That’s something which Joe Biden referred to and many other leaders have flagged. You know, Guterres has seen his diplomatic credibility increase this year because he was able to get the grain deal through in cooperation with Turkey. And he’s getting deserved praise for that at this General Assembly session. [00:15:59][161.1]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:16:00] And to that end, Anjali, how else might the secretary general be able to leverage the increased credibility that he has now and frankly, the increased credibility of the United Nations in general in terms of how it has been able, or how he has been able to navigate the Ukraine crisis, as Richard mentioned, by negotiating the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Before that, he negotiated the humanitarian evacuation of people trapped at that steel plant in Mariupol. And most recently, the IAEA was able to gain access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Is there anything this week that Guterres could do, should do that would perhaps further enhance his ability to be a key diplomatic player in the Ukraine crisis? [00:16:52][52.1]

Anjali Dayal: [00:16:54] One thing I think was really notable about his speech yesterday was how bleak it was. You know, it’s been a sort of like escalating series of ever more bleak speeches over the years. And yesterday’s, I think, was notable because it was this moment of considering that we are facing these massive, unprecedented crises. But simultaneously, the case for multilateralism has never been clearer. And I think his speech really played into that sort of space. And I think that really highlights the role that the organization can play in the U.N., particularly the Secretariat, particularly the Secretary-General and the agencies. Because one thing that I think is really emerged over the last week of these speeches of sort of coming to to the U.N. to talk, is that the UN is many things, right? And it is many things in a way that we don’t often hear in sort of broad coverage. Right. The U.N. does this, the UN does that. But the UN is both this body of completely paralyzed, fractured Security Council action on Ukraine and this body that uniquely has the diplomatic space to negotiate things like the grain deal, like the passage of civilians. So in that sense, I think really hitting this note of we need multilateralism because there is no other organization that can stand in the breach this way. [00:18:27][92.6]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:18:28] I wanted to ask you both, what are some of the other storylines or key moments or key speeches that you are following this week that you’d like the rest of us to to be a bit more aware of and interested in? [00:18:46][18.2]

Richard Gowan: [00:18:47] So I think just coming back to Ukraine, one big question I had started this week is how coherent the Europeans would be over Ukraine. I mean, we have heard repeatedly in the course of this year that the Baltic countries and Poland, for example, are much more hawkish on the war than Germany and France. And so I was listening out for sort of obvious gaps between Ukraine’s allies. But strikingly, I mean, Emmanuel Macron, who gave a bit of a barnstormer of a speech. [00:19:23][36.3]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:19:24] Oh, yeah. [00:19:24][0.1]

Richard Gowan: [00:19:25] He was very hard line on Russia in that speech. And. Olaf Schulz has been here and is also being pretty determined in his criticisms of Russia. And clearly, after Putin’s announcements of today, you’re going to see all the remaining European speakers toughen up. So I actually think that, generally speaking, there’s been quite a solid show of Western unity here. [00:19:50][25.0]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:19:51] On that point about Macron. I mean, I was also sort of fascinated by that speech. And, you know, he did have this reputation early on of always wanting to keep a line open to Moscow, which is totally understandable, something I agree with. But then that perhaps gave him a reputation of not being quite as in line with the rest of Europe, particularly like the frontline states in Eastern Europe. And what was, I think, unique about his speech and I think is also what’s unique about UNGA in general, is that it gave Macron and it gives other world leaders the opportunity to go on record with their colleagues from around the world precisely how they stand on these things. And yeah, as you said, that that speech by Macron was was quite something. But go ahead, Richard. Finish your other point. [00:20:36][45.0]

Richard Gowan: [00:20:37] I mean, in terms of the speakers I found interesting, I mean, we saw some very different speakers yesterday morning from Latin America. I mean, as always, Brazil got to kick things off. And Bolsonaro gave a frankly, fairly repugnant speech defending his government’s deforestation of the Amazon. But then we also had, you know, left wing presidents from Chile and Colombia speaking, and Petro from Colombia sort of launched an all out attack on the war on drugs and sort of signaled that the Colombian government’s approach to drug trafficking is going to take quite a significant turn during his administration. So you sort of felt the tensions between right wing and left wing politics in Latin America. And then I did also find Macky Sall interesting yesterday as the first African to speak. [00:21:30][53.0]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:21:31] The president of Senegal. [00:21:32][0.8]

Richard Gowan: [00:21:32] In Senegal, but also also the chair of the African Union. I mean, he had an unexpected opportunity, which was because Biden had been at the royal funeral in the UK. He had to switch from a speaking slot yesterday morning to today and he swapped with Senegal. So Macky Sall was suddenly speaking in what is traditionally the American place in the speaking order on day one. And he made a, he made a very determined call for greater respect for Africa and Africa’s interests at the UN. And I think that’s important because in the context of the great clash over Ukraine and more generally in the context of competition between China and the US at the UN, a lot of countries now are working out how do you get the African bloc to support you? How do you get African votes for resolutions in the General Assembly and the Security Council? Africa is gaining diplomatic weight in this period of competition. And Macky Sall, you know, said pretty bluntly that he wants to see the UN stop condescending to Africa and start treating it with greater respect. [00:22:37][64.1]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:22:38] And Anjali, what are some of the key storylines you’re following this week? Key speeches of note that you have listened to or are looking forward to hearing. And broadly, what would you like the rest of us to to sort of key in on the rest of this week. [00:22:57][19.8]

Anjali Dayal: [00:22:59] You know these last couple of years. Yesterday and today included, one of the key sets of delegations I’m listen to is this small island nations who have really come to the UN General Assembly to make the case for their lives in a lot of ways. I was really struck yesterday by the Marshall Islands representative who, you know, spoke at length about many issues of international peace and security. Expressed an explicit support for Ukraine and issues of sovereignty, said that the Marshall Islands knew very intimately what it was like to have sovereignty violations and then said, you know, the United Nations is the primary international stage for small island nations, for countries that are at the forefront of climate disaster today. And if the United Nations cannot assist island nations while the seas rise around them, then there truly is no United Nations. And I was really struck by that sort of double existential claim, right, first, that this is an unfolding, long form, complex disaster that will cost people their lives and is costing people their lives, but is also fundamentally tied to what the sort of stakes of multilateralism are and what they can do. Seychelles spoke immediately after them hit a very similar note, and this is something we’ve seen for the last couple of years. Last year, one of the breakout stars of the U.N. General Assembly speeches was Mia Mottley. She did something similar in 2019 and 2020. Yesterday in your sort of curtain riser with Elizabeth Cousens, she noted this as well. This is a set of arguments about what the value of multilateral coordination is to countries that do not have a lot of other international stages. For countries for whom the U.N. General Assembly is is a unique opportunity, even as it’s sort of like framed as a gabfest for a lot of other places with many more strategic stages and venues to make their cases. [00:24:59][120.4]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:25:00] And I’m glad you name dropped Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados. As someone whose speech to look towards, I’m looking towards her speech. Also, I’ll be looking towards Dickon Mitchell of Grenada, the prime minister of Grenada as well, another sort of dynamic Caribbean leader. And this is all, of course, happening in the context of a horrific hurricane currently battering the region. So, again, as you noted, the small island states in these situations tend to bat way above their weight, I think because of the moral force of their arguments as being on the front lines of the climate crisis. And just to kind of further put these conversations on climate in context. This is all happening in the lead up to a major conference of parties COP 27, in Sharm El-Sheikh in November. And the climate issues and how climate is fitting in to conversations at UNGA is going to be the topic of tomorrow’s podcast episode. For now, though, a huge thank you to Richard and Anjali for joining me today. And of course, thank you, everyone. Good luck. Stay hydrated this week and we’ll see you next time. [00:26:13][73.1]

[00:26:13] A big thank you to Richard and Angela. It has become now an annual tradition that I speak with these two excellent analysts, of all things, U.N. during U.N. week. And now here is my conversation with Kate Dodson, vice president for global health at the United Nations Foundation. [00:26:45][31.4]

[00:27:05] Thanks for being with me, Kate. [00:27:07][1.5]

Kate Dodson: [00:27:07] It’s a real pleasure to be back with you Mark. Thanks for having me. [00:27:10][2.6]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:27:11] So this U.N. General Assembly is the first UNGA fully in-person since COVID, which of course, exposed the urgent need for better international cooperation on pandemic preparedness and response. How are these issues of pandemic preparedness and response being addressed at UNGA this year? [00:27:29][18.2]

Kate Dodson: [00:27:30] It’s a great question and a great backdrop that you’ve already mentioned, Mark. This is the first U.N. General Assembly in person in three years. And it’s not even your kind of normal, typical U.N. General Assembly, because the U.N. Secretariat building is largely off limits as an attempt to try to reduce kind of the size of mass gatherings. Since we are still in this acute phase, this pandemic is not over. And over the course of the last handful of days, that is a reminder that is on the tip of everyone’s lips. They’re talking about how we can’t just think about future solutions to strengthen capacities to prevent the next pandemic, because we have to make sure that we’re actually doing all that is needful to defeat the current one. COVID, especially when you combine it with the confluence of challenges right now on climate, on food insecurity, on fuel insecurity. This pandemic was a prompt for some of those challenges, but also an effect of them and the fact that we’re still in it two years on and that we still haven’t kind of overcome those gaps in solidarity to implement all the public health measures that we need to, including access to vaccination, means that people can’t stop talking about it at this General Assembly. [00:28:52][82.1]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:28:53] So what are some of the key meetings, gatherings, or outcomes this week to that end? [00:28:59][6.3]

Kate Dodson: [00:29:01] There are several, and for which we’re grateful because we do know how precious leaders time is this week in New York, of course, in the forefront of global health moments that this week’s General Assembly is the Global Fund replenishment, which is happening later this afternoon. We’re seeing promising signs from many donor governments who recognize that the pandemic itself eroded progress and kind of taught us that we need to accelerate gains on essential health coverage and services, especially on those three highly infectious diseases: AIDS, TB and malaria. [00:29:39][38.9]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:29:40] And just a quick programing note that the Global Fund Replenishment is expected to go sort of late into the afternoon after publication time of today’s episode. And we will deal with the outcomes of what happened at the Global Fund Replenishment in tomorrow’s episode, Thursday’s episode. What else is happening this week on the pandemic preparedness front specifically? [00:30:00][19.7]

Kate Dodson: [00:30:01] Yeah, so I’m just out of a session organized by the governments of South Africa, Sweden and Costa Rica, together with the World Health Organization, on exactly this topic of pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. Those three governments in particular pushed very hard in recent months for a resolution to pass through the U.N. General Assembly that calls for a high level meeting no later than September of 2023 to ensure political will maintains at high level on pandemic preparedness and response. So we talked this morning about the foreign ministerial level, about what are those key ingredients, where is the world failing still in strengthening capacities for pandemic preparedness? And what can we do and achieve in order to make sure we are better prepared? I heard four key themes come out. One, overwhelmingly, we need a strong, well-financed, well-supported World Health Organization. That is a non-negotiable for member states. WHO we’ve seen has been in the forefront of responding to this COVID pandemic, and its role needs to be both safeguarded and further empowered. We heard a lot about the need for incremental and sustained financing. We learned in this pandemic in the last couple of years that the world has underinvested preparedness. We’ve underinvested as a global community in frontline health workforce, in resilient supply chains, in countermeasure research and development, on novel vaccines and novel therapeutics and new platforms and technologies that can be turned rapidly if needed in a pandemic. So we talked about that need for incremental financing. We talked about the imperative of meeting with and driving towards equity. And that’s something where I think the world has clearly gotten it wrong, probably resoundingly so no matter who you ask that this has been an incredibly unequal response over the past two years to this pandemic. So how can we ensure that no matter where a person lives, no matter the income level of a country, they’re able to access the science, the tools, the resources they need to both better prepare for, but also respond in the context of a health crisis. And we also talked about the imperative of leadership and political leadership above all else. Right. It’s the responsibility of political leaders, again, at the community or local level, at national level, and then certainly at the global and multilateral level. To overcome that self-interest, that short term has driven policy decisions and instead look towards a sustained engagement and preparedness that will hopefully mean that we won’t go through the same kind of episode as we have over the past two years. [00:33:10][189.5]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:33:11] So it sounds like this meeting you attended with key foreign ministers and members of civil society was intended to both provide substance and also some, you know, political will or momentum to next year, having around this time potentially a high level meeting on pandemic preparedness and in UN speak, high level meeting means like when presidents and heads of state address the U.N. on a specific topic. And so this is kind of laying the groundwork for that. [00:33:37][26.3]

Kate Dodson: [00:33:38] That’s exactly right. And it’s our collective responsibility to make sure those leaders do show up. They show up with solutions, with solutions that are sustained, that are well-resourced, and that get it the kind of comprehensive package of issues that are behind this agenda. [00:33:55][16.9]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:33:56] Lastly, a related issue that I know is on the agenda this week and is a key part of the Sustainable Development Goals is universal health coverage. How is that issue being addressed and in what context is that issue being addressed throughout New York this week? [00:34:16][19.8]

Kate Dodson: [00:34:17] So it is being addressed. The high level meeting on pandemic preparedness that we’ve just been talking about that should happen next year is not the only one. There will be a high level meeting on universal health coverage next September. Again anticipated at the head of state and government level. And we actually talked a lot about that in this morning’s meeting. And there’s a ministerial session still ahead of us later this morning to talk about universal health coverage. But one community, a country, a world, cannot be sufficiently prepared to prevent or respond to any future crisis, health crisis in particular, like a pandemic, if it does not have as a bedrock resilient health systems. We talked a lot this morning about the role of health workforce and not only being the front line of response in a pandemic, but certainly the front line in preventative care and treatment for what communities need every day. Malaria prevention tools, family planning tools, access to treatment for non-communicable diseases. This is the same workforce that we’ve certainly over relied on and we owe so much to over the past two years, but is incumbent and a prerequisite to both achieve pandemic preparedness and universal health coverage. So that’s a theme we’re hearing a lot and I think will resonate into 2023. These high level meetings, the fact that they will both happen in the same calendar year is a chance for governments and for stakeholders to signal that these issues are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have universal health coverage without strong preparedness and capacities that help mitigate extraordinary shocks that pandemics can be. But you also can’t have good prevention and preparedness for pandemics without the backbone of a resilient, primary health care-centric system that is the bedrock of universal health coverage. [00:36:19][121.7]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:36:20] Kate, thank you so much for your time. I know this is the day for key global health conversations around UNGA and New York. Thank you so much for taking a few moments to speak with me. And let the audience know what’s going on. I appreciate it. [00:36:34][14.4]

Kate Dodson: [00:36:35] A pleasure to be with you, Mark. And good luck with the rest of your week as well. [00:36:38][2.9]

Mark Leon Goldberg: [00:36:45] Thank you for listening to Global Dispatches. Our show is produced by me, Mark Leon Goldberg, and edited and mixed by Levi Sharpe. If you have any questions or comments, please email us using the contact button on GlobalDispatchesPodcast.com or hit me up on Twitter @MarkLGoldberg. Please rate and subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts.

The post Live from the UN General Assembly: President Biden’s Speech and Other Key Moments | Pandemic Preparedness and Response (UNGA Day 3) appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Live from the UN General Assembly: Food Security in Focus | The Global Refugee Crisis (UNGA Day 2)

20. September 2022 - 23:50

The annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly is always a key moment on the diplomatic calendar. Hundreds of world leaders head to New York to address the General Assembly and participate in various meetings and events around the city. And each day, I will bring you the key highlights from the 77th United Nations General Assembly.

A key focus of events at the United Nations and around New York this week is on food security and food access. On Tuesday, world leaders held a major Food Security Summit to combat soaring food prices and food insecurity around the world. This is the topic of our first segment today, featuring Rob Vos, director for Markets, Trade and Institutions at the International Food Policy Research Institute.

In the second segment, I speak with the Assistant High Commissioner for Operations at the UN Refugee Agency, Raouf Mazou about how refugee issues are being addressed at UNGA this year.

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Transcript lightly edited for clarity

Live from the UN General Assembly: Food Security in Focus | The Global Refugee Crisis (UNGA Day 2)

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:00:05] Welcome to a special episode of the Global Dispatches podcast, live from the United Nations General Assembly. I’m your host, Mark Lee on Goldberg, editor of U.N. Dispatch, and all week long in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. We are bringing you Daily News and expert interviews from high level week in New York City. The annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly is always a key moment on the diplomatic calendar. Hundreds of world leaders head to New York to address the General Assembly and participate in various meetings and events around the city. And each day, I will bring you the key highlights from the 77th United Nations General Assembly. Today is the Tuesday of UNGA and the start of what is known as the General Debate. These are the leaders speeches delivered from the General Assembly floor. And as always, the speeches kick off with an address from the secretary general, and I think it is notable that this was AntonÍo Guterres’ opening line. [00:01:09][64.0]

Antonío Guterres: [00:01:10] Mr. President of the General Assembly, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. Our world is in big trouble. [00:01:20][10.6]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:01:21] He is certainly not incorrect. And one recurring theme throughout events across New York this week is finding ways out of that trouble. This includes a major food security summit today co-chaired by the United States, the European Union, the African Union and Spain. That summit is the topic of our first segment today, featuring Rob Voss, director for Markets, Trade and Institutions at the International Food Policy Research Institute. [00:01:52][30.6]

Rob Vos: [00:01:53] But also it’s recognition that yeah, if we don’t solve these challenges, trade for security, we may see a lot more conflict around the world. [00:02:01][8.2]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:02:02] And in our second segment, I speak with Assistant High Commissioner for operations at the United Nations refugee agency, Raouf Mazou, about how refugee issues are being addressed at UNGA this year. [00:02:15][13.2]

Raouf Mazou: [00:02:16] We have to make sure that as we respond to the Ukraine crisis, we’ll continue to find the resources that are required for all the many crises that we have around the world. [00:02:25][9.3]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:02:26] Thank you for joining us all week long for this special UNGA series. And now here is my conversation with Rob Voss of the International Food Policy Research Institute, recorded just moments after the public facing section of the Food Security Summit concluded. [00:02:44][18.1]

[00:02:55] Rob, thank you so much for joining me. [00:02:57][1.9]

Rob Vos: [00:02:57] It’s my pleasure. [00:02:58][0.3]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:02:58] So, Rob, you and I just concluded watching the opening session of a food security summit here in New York. To set the scene a little bit. This was an event with several co-chairs and hosts. And we heard opening remarks from the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, followed by Macky Sall, the president of Senegal, followed by Pedro Sanchez, the prime minister of Spain. Then German Chancellor Olof Scholz and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. And then to conclude everything, President Petro of Colombia, at this point, they kicked all press out of the room and had a closed door meeting. But these opening remarks for the press were intended to set the tone for this food security summit. What stuck out to you from what we just saw. [00:03:53][54.3]

Rob Vos: [00:03:54] A few things. The first was this very strong call and spirit of doing things together. Call for more multilateralism, which we haven’t heard in a long time, particularly from some of the key players on this stage, but also a sense of urgency. And I think that’s maybe the most important thing. First, that food security takes center stage as part of the global challenges, not just because of rising hunger, not just because of the high food prices, but for the sheer continuity of our food systems, the sustainability of our food systems moving forward. So really, the call I felt was going beyond the immediate humanitarian support to fight the costs of living crisis that many people face at the moment. On to looking forward to long term solutions. Yeah, I think it’s also very refreshing to hear that because we haven’t heard a lot of that spirit. It doesn’t mean that everybody agrees on those points that some important players here at the summit emphasized that, and there’s now a big following. So that’s gives, yeah. Good hopes that maybe things will happen. [00:05:09][75.5]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:05:11] That’s an interesting point that typically when we’re at a food security event around the U.N. General Assembly in particular, it’s often just focus on a particular crisis. And the framing is all humanitarian. We need to get food or assistance to curb this impending crisis somewhere. But that was not necessarily the tone, as you said, of the opening remarks to this session, which I think is pretty interesting. [00:05:37][26.1]

Rob Vos: [00:05:38] You’re correct. I fully agree. And also, Secretary Blinken made it very clear that he saw a clear connection with the issue of climate change, he address to Security Council, the links between food security and conflict, and the fact that’s particularly important for two reasons. First, that conflict is one of the main drivers of food crisis. As we see it, not so much. The crisis in global markets was, of course, the Ukraine war is a reflection of it. But it’s particularly also the conflict situations we see in the Horn of Africa, in countries like Yemen and other countries that are already facing severe food crisis for many years. And that that connection is there. So it’s a driver. But also it’s a recognition that, yeah, if we don’t solve these challenges with food security, we may see a lot more conflicts around the world, be it because producing more food will require struggles for water or land and other natural resources. And those typically can be sources of conflict if we don’t address them properly. So I think it’s important to put that center stage to the agenda and as the leader said and that’s what we’re waited for now. We have to go beyond the words. We have to get to the action. [00:06:58][80.2]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:06:59] One recurring issue that came up in each of the speeches and also came up during Antonío Guterres in his opening remarks to the UN General Assembly today, was a crisis around fertilizers and fertilizer access, namely a shortage of fertilizers, presumably resulting from sanctions on Russia and the war in Ukraine. Guterres, in his remarks at the U.N. today, said a fertilizer shortage today will mean food shortages next year. Two questions. One, can you just for for those of us who are unaware, explain the relationship between fertilizer and fertilizer access, particularly in the developing world and food security. And then two, explain what’s the holdup around fertilizers today? [00:07:53][53.7]

Rob Vos: [00:07:55] Fertilize are extremely important for production for yields. So the productivity of how much food we produce and the fertilizer is particularly important for the main staple foods wheat, maize, rice, the old needs with the technologies we have. They need to use of fertilizer in order to have the levels of production that we have now. So that’s a relationship, even though maybe some people don’t like the use of chemical fertilizer, but it is something that helps nurture the ground and keep up productivity when used with the proper amounts and well-targeted to the types of crops when its producing. So that’s why fertilizers are important. But why we’re saying these disruptions in fertilizer markets. First, immediate shock from the war in Ukraine, is first that Russia is a major fertilizer producer in the world. Also, Belarus who has also been hit by export bans in relation to this crisis, is also a major producer of various types of fertilizer. So that’s one reason. The second is that with the invasion of Ukraine, energy prices have gone up. And particularly natural gas is a main inputs for fertilizer production as well as that fertilizer production requires a lot of energy, and that’s either fed by natural gas, or oil, but for most fossil fuels, with the energy network stuff we have the moment. So also now, particularly in Europe, you see additional supply disruptions in fertilizer markets because Russia is squeezing the amount of natural gas that is run through the pipelines. And so even to the extent that’s a number of European fertilizer plants had to shut down because of the high prices and the lack of natural gas. So that’s causing shortages. Then on top of that, a number of countries that also produce fertilizers, including countries like China, they have imposed restrictions on exports of fertilizers. So globally, we see shortages of fertilizer and very high prices. So the fear is that that would affect production. It’s increasing the cost to farmers, so they may use less of it. But also there is an absolute shortage that will also use less of that for that reason, and that’s going to affect the yields and the harvests in the next production cycle. [00:10:25][150.2]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:10:26] President Macky Sall of Senegal at the Food Security Summit said plainly, quote, If there is no fertilizer, we will have a famine. What can be done to increase fertilizer access, particularly in the developing world and in Africa? I noted that with interest that Charles Michel, the European Council president, compared the situation to early on in COVID, when there is this effort to get local manufacturing of vaccines in the developing world, particularly in Africa. Now, the implication was we need to invest more in local development of fertilizer in Africa. [00:11:10][44.0]

Rob Vos: [00:11:11] Yeah, I think the president of Senegal is right. It’s that they need more fertilizer, actually. Africa is a continent where they need much more fertilizer use than anywhere else, because it’s the country that heavily underutilizes fertilizers, particularly chemical fertilizers to such an extent that it allows usage and with the quality of soils, that’s what any crop production in many parts to extract more nutrients from the ground than that they can put back in, even with rotation of crops. And so on. I would not agree to the extent that he says, well, without fertilizer, we will have famines, that that is the linear causal relationship. It’s more in general that the production capacity and productivity of food production in Africa is way too low for comfort to be able to feed its population and hence explain the food shortages from such food access and also hunger situations in Africa. So it may help if we get more local fertilizer production from its fertilizer production at least with chemical fertilizers that it builds on a large economies of scale. So it’s not something you can do with just doing it in each and every country unless you have major investment of resources. A country like Nigeria has expanded quite a bit it’s fertilizer production also based on its resources of natural gas and also other fossil fuels. But yeah, unfortunately, a lot of that fertilizer production doesn’t feed the needs of African farmers, but a lot of it is being exported to Latin America and other parts of the world. So in just increasing production one would need a lot more to control and ease the access of farmers, particularly in Africa, to fertilizers. [00:13:06][114.8]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:13:07] I’m grateful that we’ve had this conversation about fertilizers because it is just a recurring thing throughout this week. Even last week, Antonio Guterres was late for his pre UN General Assembly press conference because he was on the phone with Vladimir Putin talking about ammonia exports and fertilizer exports. And then earlier today I was at the Clinton Global Initiative. Fertilizers were being discussed in the context of food security. And now, as I said, just about every speaker at this food security summit discussed the sort of urgency around expanding access to fertilizers in the near term. But I wanted to ask you lastly, what would you like to see as a food security expert, as a food systems expert, to come to result from this conference or a meeting like this? What needs to be done from those gathered in that room in New York right now to mitigate a disastrous global food crisis? [00:14:09][62.2]

Rob Vos: [00:14:10] The first thing I would hope for will come from this is that the countries will go beyond their pledges for providing more money for the World Food Program and other mechanisms of humanitarian assistance, that it’s very important that we get that support. But what’s more critical isthat we want coordinated action that would lead us to a lot more investments in food productivity around the world, but particularly in low income countries, a lot more investments in innovations, research and development, and also a concerted effort to reform current agricultural policies. Because beyond what’s been said over trying to add to things that’s already being done, but some of the things that are being done by many governments around the world is to support agriculture systems that are not sustainable and resilient. And the government spends more than $800 billion per year on agriculture support measures that could be much better deployed. So if we can get to a concerted agenda out of this for repurposing of that support, for building more resilient agriculture systems through investments, innovations, supporting farmers to adopt those innovations also support to consumers so they can better access food, but also incentives to improve their diets, such that we can have also more healthy outcomes from the food system. So I would hope that’s part of the discussion. And maybe even better, the central case of this discussion is to embed this action in also reform in taking away the things that we should not be doing, as is happening now with a lot of the agricultural support that we see around the world. [00:16:06][115.9]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:16:07] Rob, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. [00:16:10][2.9]

Rob Vos: [00:16:11] Thank you. [00:16:11][0.2]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:16:20] Thank you so much to Robert Voss for that helpful and timely analysis and explanation of what happened at the Food Security Summit. And now here is my conversation with Raouf Mazou, assistant High Commissioner for Operations at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. [00:16:36][16.7]

[00:16:50] Mr. Raouf Mazou, thank you for speaking with me in the midst of all that is happening here in New York this week. [00:16:55][5.4]

Raouf Mazou: [00:16:56] Thank you very much. [00:16:57][0.6]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:16:58] To kick off, I would appreciate it if you could help situate the global displacement crisis for me and for the audience. As leaders gather in New York this week. What does the refugee and displacement crisis look like around the world? [00:17:12][14.6]

Raouf Mazou: [00:17:13] It doesn’t look good because what we have now is a bit more than 100 million people displaced all around the world. That’s the largest of the number that we’ve seen over the past ten years. We’ve seen an increase. And, of course it’s the result of conflict, it’s the result of climate change, it’s the result of a number of factors. So that’s definitely one of the number one issue, because the U.N. is also about peace, about partnership, about conversation. So that’s definitely one of the issues that is going to be discussed here. [00:17:45][31.3]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:17:45] Of all the displacement crises around the world today, is there any of particular concern to you perhaps that’s not getting the attention it deserves? [00:17:54][9.0]

Raouf Mazou: [00:17:55] I would say quite a few. The number one problem is the fact that we have more and more crises and less and less solutions. In the past, what you would see, that you would see some crises, some solutions, new crises, but some. But what we see now is an accumulation of crisis, orcrises that are worsening. The worst crises that we have is, of course, the Syria situation. It has lasted for the past 11 years. It’s several millions of people in neighboring countries and less and less options for solutions. Countries beginning to show asylum fatigue is evident. So I would say that’s the problem. So we have that in a number of situations around the world. I would also make reference to the situation in Bangladesh with the Rohingya refugees who’ve arrived for the past, it was 2017, so five years. You have all crises such as the one in the DRC where you have 5 million internally displaced persons, a situation, a crisis that is not often spoken about. It’s the situation in Yemen where you have also about 5 million people internally displaced, plus refugees from neighboring countries. So there are quite a few, I would say, forgotten crises around the world. [00:19:07][71.1]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:19:07] So one of the key recurring themes this week is food insecurity and a worsening global food crisis as leaders are engaging in this issue during a high level week. What should we know about how the food crisis is impacting UNHCR operations around the world? [00:19:26][19.3]

Raouf Mazou: [00:19:27] The first thing is that the food crisis has been impacting refugees for quite some time. The fact is that it has been more and more difficult to mobilize the resources that are required to provide food assistance to refugees in camps, there are quite a few refugees around the world, in camps who require monthly food assistance, so it has been very difficult to mobilize the resources that were required. And that has been the case for quite some time. For quite some time we’ve seen regular cuts in food assistance being provided. What the current crisis is provoking is the fact that it is even more difficult to find the resources because food assistance is more expensive than it was in the past. And in addition to the cost of food assistance, there is the fact that we have more and more crises that are operating. So what we did earlier last week, we had the side event before the high level week, and the purpose was to have member sit. So an event that was actually co-sponsored, sponsored by the Swiss Permanent Mission, and the idea was to have around the table governments, civil society, the UN, and see what the issue is and how we can try and make sure that we provide better responses to the food crises that we are facing. [00:20:40][72.6]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:20:41] Were there any meaningful outcomes from that pre-high level week meeting? [00:20:45][4.0]

Raouf Mazou: [00:20:46] Quite a few. First, a recognition of the fact that there are a number of situation where there is urgency in making sure that we avoid situations where food assistance is being cut by 50%, there are quite a few places around the world where we’ve seen food assistance being cut by 50%, such as the Horn of Africa, where on top of that you have the drought and the famine. So to really put these situations to the fore and make sure that we will provide the food assistance that is required. There’s been a commitment made by key donor countries. That was one. [00:21:19][33.1]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:21:19] It seems sort of shocking that a goal would be to not cut food assistance by 50% as opposed to a goal being a 100% funding of food assistance. [00:21:31][11.2]

Raouf Mazou: [00:21:32] No, that’s where we are. And that’s why it is important to at least make sure that the humanitarian imperative of providing the minimal food assistance and that’s not a lot that’s 2010 kilocalories today to make sure that this is guaranteed. So that’s the number one thing that was on the line. And then of course, to try and make sure that we use that dependency. There are places around the world where we could invest in food production. For populations which have been immigrant for a long period of time, protracted situation where you can invest and there are possibilities, there’s land available and fertile land available, possible. But that requires investment, which in most cases humanitarian partners do not have. And that’s why you also bring to the table development actors. And in this case, what is interesting to see is that they don’t just provide support to refugee situation. You also provide assistance and support to the populations that are hosting them. So I would say quite serious, but quite some hope listening to all the partners and and also the understanding that we all need to work together, whether it is development actors, humanitarian actors, private sector, the U.N., everybody working together to try and address these issues. [00:22:42][70.7]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:22:43] Another key theme through high level week is the role of education. The week kicked off with a Transforming Education summit convened by the secretary general. What’s the relationship between your work on refugee issues, UNHCR and this broader movement towards broadening education opportunities around the world? [00:23:07][23.8]

Raouf Mazou: [00:23:08] The first thing is that unfortunately what we know and what we see around the world is that when there is a crisis with a displacement crisis or any crisis, children do not go to school. Education is one of the sectors that is suffering the most in this kind of environment and the least prioritized. I spoke about should just before, what you can also say is that education support is often also deprioritized. So the summit that is taking place this week, the Transforming Education Summit, is key for us because it’s an opportunity for us to underline the importance and the necessity of including refugees, including internally displaced persons in the response that is being provided. We did ourselves launch last week our appeal education report, and our point was to underline the importance of including refugees in government response, in government plans. In terms of a few figures that I can provide. If you look at the current numbers, you have about 68% of refugees in primary education, 37 in secondary education, and only 6% in tertiary education. If you compare these numbers to the numbers of the known displacement forcibly displaced people, you can see a huge gap. So investing in that, and what is also interesting and the fact that we’ll have the summit doesn’t just bring governments or UN agencies also brings the private sector, civil society and other partners to make sure that we respond to this challenge. So our message is to say that as we are talking about transforming education, as we’re talking about improving the quality of education, we should not forget the situation of forcibly displaced people. And I think our message was heard. [00:24:58][109.7]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:24:59] Finally and you referenced this earlier, funding constraints are very real, not only for UNHCR, but across the humanitarian space. What are you doing this week during high level week to try to shore up your funding in order to continue your operations around the world? [00:25:21][22.1]

Raouf Mazou: [00:25:22] We have mobilized, I think, last year with the money amount that we never mobilized before to about $5 billion. So that remains about half of what we actually need to respond to the needs of the population. But that number is the highest that we have been able to mobilize. So that’s the first thing to do. We are managing to to fundraise, but not enough. Not enough because, as I said, crises are increasing and cost of the humanitarian assiatance that is being provided is also increasing. So what we are saying first is to tell donors, our traditional donors, on the importance of continuing to provide the humanitarian assistance that is required when they tell us, but what are you doing more to make sure that you reduce the dependency on humanitarian aid? We’re telling them that we’re bringing to the table development actors, World Bank and others to try and make the refugee population, IDP population, more resilient. That’s what we’re saying. And we’re also saying that new partners have to come to the table. Private sector has been very active. I think we are hoping to get by the end of the year, $1 billion from the private sector. That’s also unprecedented. So that’s a positive sign. But we are arguing and we are advocating for more of these resources and the other countries around the world, which we believe would have the possibility of also contributing, and in this place, the General Assembly, where everybody is, is an opportunity for us to underline that. One last point. We’ve had very, very successful response to our appeal on the Ukraine situation. And what we’ve also been saying is that this should not be done at the expense of other crises around the world. So that’s the point that we’ve been underlining for quite some time. We have to make sure that as we respond to the Ukraine crisis, we’ll continue to find the resources that are required for the many crises that we have around the world. [00:27:14][112.0]

Mark L. Goldberg: [00:27:15] Well, Mr. Mazou, thank you so much for your time. [00:27:18][3.1]

Raouf Mazou: [00:27:19] Thank you very much, Mark. [00:27:20][0.8]

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 Sharpe. If you have any questions or comments, please email us using the contact button on GlobalDispatchesPodcast.com or hit me up on Twitter @MarkLGoldberg. Please rate and subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts.

The post Live from the UN General Assembly: Food Security in Focus | The Global Refugee Crisis (UNGA Day 2) appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Live from the UN General Assembly: The Key Stories to Follow During UN Week | What Happened at the Transforming Education Summit? (Day 1)

19. September 2022 - 22:30

The annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly is a key moment on the diplomatic calendar. Hundreds of world leaders head to New York to address the General Assembly and participate in various meetings and events around the city. Each day this week, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, the Global Dispatches Podcast will bring you the key highlights from the 77th United Nations General Assembly. 

Day 1 of #UNGA77

Our special series kicks off with an UNGA77 curtain raiser from Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation. Elizabeth Cousens is a veteran of many United Nations General Assemblies and she explains the key stories, events, moments and leaders’ speeches she will be following during High Level Week.

Next we hear from Thaís Queiroz, Youth Representative for the World Organization of the Scout Movement and United Nations Foundation Next Generation Fellow. She participated in the Transforming Eduction Summit convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, which was a major meeting of heads of state and civil society leaders focused on improving education access and outcomes.

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Transcript lightly edited for clarity

Live from the UN General Assembly: Key Moments That Will Drive the Diplomatic Agenda During UNGA | What Happened at the Transforming Eduction Summit? (UNGA Day 1)

Mark L. Goldberg [00:00:05] Welcome to a special episode of the Global Dispatches podcast, live from the United Nations General Assembly. I’m your host, Mark Leon Goldberg, editor of UN Dispatch, and all week long in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. We are bringing you daily news and expert interviews from high level week in New York City. The annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly is always a key moment on the diplomatic calendar. Hundreds of world leaders head to New York to address the General Assembly and participate in various meetings and events around the city. And each day, I will bring you the key highlights from the 77th United Nations General Assembly. To kick off this special week of coverage. I am joined by Elizabeth Cousens, president and CEO of the United Nations Foundation and a veteran of many U.N. General Assembly’s. Elizabeth Cousins previews some of the key storylines that will drive the diplomatic agenda. All week long.

[00:01:12] This year’s General Assembly will shine an even brighter light than ever before on the absolute urgency of strengthening multilateralism. And that’s multilateralism at the U.N. and multilateralism in various forms.

[00:01:26] Then we are joined by Thaís Queiroz, youth representative for the World Organization of the Scout Movement, and United Nations Foundation Next Generation Fellow. She has participated in the Transforming Education Summit convened by Secretary-General Antonío Guterres that was focused on improving education access and outcomes. We discuss the key moments from that summit.

Elizabeth Cousens [00:01:52] They have aggressively been transforming education since 2002. It’s not simply investing in the curriculum, or in the classroom, or in the book.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:02:03] Thank you for joining us during this special week of coverage. Here is my conversation with Elizabeth Cousens, previewing the key storylines and diplomatic moments to follow during the 77th United Nations General Assembly.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:02:29] Thanks so much for joining me, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Cousens [00:02:31] Hi, Mark. It’s always great to be with you.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:02:33] So I wanted to kick off by noting the somewhat unusual circumstances surrounding the start of high level week this year. Many world leaders who normally would be in New York today are in London. What impact might the fact that so many world leaders are coming to UNGA directly from the Queen’s funeral have on the kind of diplomacy that follows in New York the rest of the week?

Elizabeth Cousens [00:02:58] Well, there is so much embodied in the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth. You think about her 73 year reign. It’s spanned all the defining developments of the second half of the last century, starting from the earliest years of the United Nations. So her funeral almost feels like it’s a rite of world historical passage. You know, we have definitively left the 20th century behind, and we are living through such a complex series of transitions where we haven’t resolved yet what the 21st century is actually going to be about. So to me, among the many things that her death and this moment signify, it’s also that, that we have left the 20th century behind. And that is the deep point of departure for honestly every issue on the global agenda at the General Assembly and obviously beyond.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:03:45] You are an anchor veteran. What are some of the key storylines you’re following this week? What are the events you might be particularly looking forward to or you think might be particularly significant this week?

Elizabeth Cousens [00:03:58] Well, first, UNGA is back. There will be more heads of state and government at the General Assembly than in many recent years. And that’s a powerful sign of the times and I think the importance of the global agenda to world leaders. There’s actually more of everyone coming to UNGA, more corporate leaders, more civil society activists, philanthropic leaders, city leaders. So we should definitely expect a lot more of the usual kind of traffic. But I think also a week of really serious debate and conversations. I’m sure we will see a lot of dramatic speeches. We’ll see a lot around Ukraine, strong statements about democracy and democratic institutions. I think we’re going to see a lot of bracing critique from many countries about inequity in all forms, including about legacies of colonialism that come up around everything from the debt crisis facing so many countries to the horrific flooding in Pakistan. We’ll hear a lot about climate change. You know, if there’s one speech to watch for, I would really look out for Mia Mottley’s, the prime minister of Barbados. Who is very bracing in her critiques, but also her vision for the future. I’m especially watching three spaces. First, even before the G.A. starts, we will have had a Global Africa business initiative launched over the weekend before, and it will be major. It’s being billed as led by Africans, for Africans. It’s spearheaded by the deputy secretary general of the U.N., Amina Mohammed. And it is all about mobilizing a quantum leap in investment in Africa to reap the trillions of dollars of value in Africa by mid-century. And it absolutely will flip the script. It’s not about aid. It’s about investment. And some of the most dynamic and innovative business leaders and others from the continent will be there. So that’s one really important space to watch. Second, we will see escalating alarm, rightly about the global hunger crisis. You know, with countries like Somalia and Afghanistan on the brink of famine. Hundreds of millions of people newly food insecure and really dire scenarios in the coming weeks if aggressive action isn’t taken. And last, the place that I’m really focused on myself is that we’re finally seeing young people really start to claim their place on the global agenda. You know, you’ve been watching the U.N. for a long time. So, you know, this has been building for some time, but it’s really taken a quantum leap in recent years. And, you know, as you know, this week will kick off with a summit on transforming education and it will shine the brightest light on the needs and demands of young people for the education and skills that they need for their future. And, you know, the statistics, you know, there are 300 million children who aren’t attending school in the world and over half the children in the world are seen as not reaching their full learning potential. And young people obviously stand to lose from that, but so does everybody else because, you know, it’s estimated we could add a full 11 and a half trillion dollars in value to global GDP well before 2030 if we simply closed the skills gap. So that’s a big and important space to watch that I think is going to have a lot of unfolding impact even after this week.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:06:59] And the second segment today is devoted exclusively to the Transforming Education Summit. So we’ll definitely dive deep into that. A couple of follow ups to your highlights. You said at the top that Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados, is a key speech to watch. She has been everywhere in the weeks leading up to UNGA. I see her name pop up in all sorts of press releases. What makes her such a unique political leader for this moment?

Elizabeth Cousens [00:07:29] Well, first of all, she’s a great public servant for her own country. Her own country of Barbados is feeling a lot of the stresses and pressures that so many countries are, whether they’re island states or whether they’re battered by climate impacts, pandemic impacts, debt pressures, etc.. So in their experience, they share an experience that a lot of countries around the world do. And I think she has seen that as an inspiration not only to advocate for her own country and their needs, but actually to be a bit of a vehicle for talking about what so much of the rest of the world needs and needs differently from international institutions, from other countries in order to be able to have their citizens lead healthy, prosperous lives. I mean, countries are really staggering under not just the impact of cumulative emergencies from the pandemic to the climate crisis, but from crippling amounts of debt. And although there have been important advances over the last couple of years, and important steps taken by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, they’re just still not enough. And so she really is a champion and a powerful voice for that agenda. So that’s among the many reasons, I think, that she is everywhere and hopefully people are listening.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:08:40] So last week, Antonio Guterres arrived several minutes late to his pre-UNGA presser because he said he was on the phone with President Putin talking about fertilizer exports. And I, I think that underscores just how Ukraine may potentially dominate or otherwise significantly color the conversations and diplomacy happening in New York this week. How do you foresee the Ukraine crisis impacting events in New York and conversations in New York?

Elizabeth Cousens [00:09:16] The war in Ukraine was a watershed, and it is a watershed in Europe. It is a watershed in the world. When you reflect on the horrific cascade of consequences across the globe, on the food system, on the financial system, and on fuel needs for so many countries. So it will be prominent on the agenda in its own right, because, of course, as the secretary general has also said, very tragically, peace is nowhere yet in sight, but it will be prominently on the agenda because of its impact. So we started off talking about the food crisis that preexisted the war in Ukraine. Several years of record breaking droughts in the Horn of Africa had nothing to do with Ukraine but the Ukraine war and all of the restrictions and the export of food and fuel and fertilizer from that region has just had a devastating additional impact on so many countries. So it will be prominent. It’s also an important opportunity to note that some of the big breakthroughs that the U.N. itself has made in trying to take the roughest and worst edges off of this crisis. So the Black Sea grain deal that was negotiated recently was negotiated thanks to quiet, patient, stubborn U.N. diplomacy. It was a critical breakthrough, still not enough, but really important. And starting to lower food prices globally, at least partially. The fact that International atomic energy agency inspectors got into the Zaporizhzhian Nuclear plant in the middle of a hot war. You think about not only the technical mastery that they bring to that task, but the courage they clearly would need to bring to that task. That’s really important for the region and globally, you know, and of course, even sounding the alarm on the food crisis, the U.N. senior most humanitarian leader, Martin Griffiths, who I know, you know, just returned from a trip to Somalia, warning of mass famine if aggressive action isn’t taken immediately. So these are the issues where we expect and need the U.N. to do the kinds of jobs it’s doing. And there are jobs that no individual country would ever have the impartiality or credibility to do.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:11:25] So the U.N. General Assembly is always a moment to take stock on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Is there anything around the SDGs in particular this year that you’ll be looking out for?

Elizabeth Cousens [00:11:41] Yeah, well, this is clearly a make or break moment for the Sustainable Development Goals. You know, we hit the halfway point next year and leaders will come together next year for an SDG summit where they’ll do a formal taking stock of where we are and where we need to go. And it’s no secret we are terribly behind. We were behind even before the pandemic. Countries have now had the experience of getting pummeled by this series of once in a generation emergencies, once in a century emergencies. And of course, the climate emergency on top of all of that is just making it that much harder. So the U.N. begins its week, its General Assembly week this year, just as it has every year since 2015, with something they call an SDG moment in the General Assembly Hall. That’s an opportunity to call attention to some of those challenges, as well as think together about what the pathways might be to reactivate the SDGs and to really re-energize our efforts. And I think you’ll see over the coming months, certainly in the lead up to the summit next year, a series of ambitious efforts really to do fresh and dramatic new thinking about how to restart this agenda, particularly for people around the world who are the most vulnerable.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:12:54] So you mentioned earlier that this really was a watershed year in world history. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, epic floods in Pakistan, a food crisis, you know, layered on top of which is an ongoing climate crisis. How do you see the UN General Assembly fitting into broader trends in multilateralism? What does this UNGA this year? UNGA 77 tell us about the current state of multilateralism and what needs strengthening?

Elizabeth Cousens [00:13:27] Well, I think this year’s General Assembly will shine an even brighter light than ever before on the absolute urgency of strengthening multilateralism. And that’s multilateralism at the U.N. and multilateralism in various forms and configurations. There is not a single issue on the global agenda of consequence that can be solved by any single country acting alone. And to be honest, there aren’t that many issues on countries domestic agendas that can be solved without some form of stronger international cooperation, particularly in the context of climate change. So I think we will see that on display. We’ll also, of course, see tensions on display that are no secret. But we will see increasing urgency, bravery and I think imagination around this question of how do you renovate, how do you re-imagine, and how do you renew a sense of the value of international cooperation and the need to redouble our efforts to make it work, particularly for people around the world, again, who are really struggling and suffering.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:14:30] Well, Elizabeth, thank you so much for your time and good luck the rest of the week.

Elizabeth Cousens [00:14:34] Well, thank you so much, Mark, and I hope to see you over the course of the week.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:14:50] So I have attended virtually every U.N. General Assembly since 2005. And there’s a familiar pattern to the week. The Monday of high level week is typically the day that many world leaders arrive in New York and is the day that the secretary general uses his unique convening power to call a meeting on a specific global issue. And this year, Secretary-General Antonío Guterres convened the Transforming Education Summit. Several heads of state and civil society leaders, including Malala Yousafzai, addressed the General Assembly and participated in several days of meetings focused on improving access to education and education outcomes. Also participating in this summit is our guest, Thaís Queiroz, Youth Representative for the World Organization of the Scout Movement and United Nations Foundation Next Generation Fellow. Thaís, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

Thaís Queiroz [00:15:51] Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:15:53] So can you let listeners know what’s the point or a purpose of a summit like this? Why would the Secretary-General call specifically for a summit on transforming education?

Thaís Queiroz [00:16:05] So, as you might know, until 2030, we intend to fulfill all the stages of the Sustainable Development Goals, but to fulfill all of them, we really need education because it’s really a foundational one. It’s something that every child really knows what we are talking about and we can work together for that. It’s really foundational to talk about education. And with the COVID 19 crisis, we just saw how broken the educational system was, so than it was like this moment to really bring the focus back to education and we know what is going to be transformational for our future.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:16:44] And I mean, your point on COVID 19 is so real. As the parent of elementary school students in a wealthy country, it was horribly disruptive. And I couldn’t imagine just how disruptive it is if you’re not have access to Zoom or other technological tools.

Thaís Queiroz [00:17:00] Absolutely. So the impact of COVID 19 in less developed countries was even worse. But this crisis that we needed for the developing countries to understand what is the crisis that we are talking about. And then they have the resources and we know already what needs to be invested, how it needs to be invested. So this summit is really for us to bring all leaders to understand this together and be able to make this commitment and make these investments and which points we need to focus on in education.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:17:30] So take me inside the events of the day. I take it the summit has been going on for a couple of days. It’s culminating today with speeches by world leaders. I saw Malala’s speech, which is great. She always gives like an amazing speech at the U.N., were you in the room for that?

Thaís Queiroz [00:17:46] Yes, I was. I got goosebumps, actually, because when she said seven years ago, she was already there and she was already making this ask. It really shows, like how much we lack in commitment from leaders to come together and commit to make this change. And then also the president of UNICEF was saying they know like how much should be invested where, but still, the private sector just now is coming to understand that they also have a role to play. So it’s really all sectors of society taht should be investing in making this change happen. And it was really powerful to see Malala speaking again and say that this ask isnot new. But now there is no excuses anymore. Like with the COVID 19 pandemic, we really saw how we need to transform education, and the moment is now.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:18:38] So what else has been going on with this summit? What have the meetings been like and what has your participation entailed?

Thaís Queiroz [00:18:47] So the summit actually started on the 16th officially. So a couple of days ago we had the youth engagement day, so it was led by youth, and it was very powerful for me to see in the room how our message was already aligned. So as young people, we know what we want. We know that we need investment. We know that we want a holistic education. So we are talking about also non-formal education, which is the structured methods that bring us other types of skills that is not literacy and numeracy, but also literacy and numeracy is so important and still so many children are out of school or even if they are in school, they are not learning. So we could see how the messages were there. We need more inclusion of people with disabilities, of minorities, indigenous people. So we were very aligned. But still we cannot make the change alone because as young people, we are really motivated and we, we know we go to the streets. Look at the strike for climate. But we need public policies. We need governments to make a commitment, to make it mandatory, to make the infrastructure to be there. So it’s really us making this big ask from the leaders. But in this first day, the leaders were not there. In the second day, we had a moment with the civil society. So there were UN agencies. There were organizations that already work for education, presenting the projects they’re doing around education. But the most important is really the public policies. We really need the governments to commit to making these changes. And that’s the third state, which is today. So today the leaders day is where during the General Assembly, the leaders are coming together and listening to these messages. So the youth declaration that was launched on the first day is now being brought to the world leaders. And we really need them to listen to us and to commit to making these things happen and not having just empty promises, which has been with the climate until now, for example.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:20:53] Well, to that end, have you heard anything from leaders today or over the course of the last couple of days that suggests to you that indeed, they are taking this seriously, they are making commitments and not just paying lip service to the idea of improving education, access and outcomes.

Thaís Queiroz [00:21:14] Absolutely. Actually, just today, it was opened by the president of Sierra Leone and he showed how in his country they have aggressively been transforming education since 2018. It’s not simply investing in the curriculum or in the classrooms or in the books. It’s really washrooms, so young women do not need to drop out of school when they have their periods and menstrual health, and sexual education, and all of that is part of this transformation. So they have teachers having training, they have like meals, school food programs so the children can have a full meal and attend school and be able to pay attention in class. So all of this transformation has already been happening in Sierra Leone since 2018. And they see the results. They see how much has changed in quality of life, of families and of parents. And it brings benefits to society. So they are only one example. We also have, if I’m not mistaken, is Costa Rica. So the envoy for the Transformating Education Summit, Mr. Leonardo Garnier, he was prime minister of education in Costa Rica and the system there was transformed as well that they invested more of the GDP in education and it had an enormous result. So that’s the kind of transformations that are already happening by countries, and these countries are showcasing this as well. So it was really great to see these examples that things are being led by example and there is hope in making this transformation.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:22:51] And that’s what I always find valuable about summits convened by the Secretary General on the Monday before the big kick off of leaders speeches and the rest of UN week is that it provides opportunities for world leaders to kind of show off what they’ve done around a specific topic. Or alternatively it provides that an inflection point in which they can make concrete commitments for what they will do in the future. I’m curious to learn why you are participating. What’s your role in this summit and the role of The Scouts in the Transforming Education Summit?

Thaís Queiroz [00:23:28] To answer that, I think I should explain a little bit what is The Scouts Movement for those who don’t know. So The Scout Movement is actually a centenary movement of education. So it’s made by young people for young people. But we have a structured method and we are guided by our values and we are just having fun together. But while we are having fun we are learning certain skills that are really useful for our lives. So we do what we call non-formal education, which means that we have a goal to reach and we have a structure method to reach that. But it’s not the same structure that we have in formal education, for example, where you sit in classrooms and you read books. And it’s this innovative method that has been, like we have been doing this for more than a century, but this should be brought to everyone in the world like everyone should, every child and young person should have the chance of having a holistic education. So this is the main message that we’re bringing with The Scouts, to say that all other forms of education needs to receive investments as well, needs to be implemented. And we know how to do it already. We need to recognize the big organizations who are making this happen, and The Scouts are really leading in this educational aspect. So through this work that I do, through The Scouts. I was invited to be a next generation fellow for education. And I was trying to coordinate young people to be present here at the summit because we as young people, we know the transformations we want and we know how to make it happen. So it’s really crucial that we can dialog with the leaders who are making this transformation. So I was really trying to get these young people prepared because the UN has its own way of working, it’s bureaucracies. So that has been mostly what I’ve been doing. And of course, investing in non-formal education.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:25:23] So lastly, what would you consider success to be in a summit like this.

Thaís Queiroz [00:25:31] If countries really commit their budget for a transformative education, for a holistic education and for a social protection clause, I think that will be the biggest of the dreams. Like if all leaders really understood how important it is to invest in education and in all the structures that are around to make sure that a child can attend school and learn for real.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:25:58] Thank you so much for taking time. I know it’s a crazy day. I really appreciate it. Thank you to you, Thaís.

Thaís Queiroz [00:26:03] Of course. It was a pleasure.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:26:12] Thank you for listening to Global Dispatches. Our show is produced by me, Mark Leon Goldberg, and edited and mixed by Levi Sharpe. If you have any questions or comments, please email us using the contact button on globaldispatchepodcast.com or hit me up on Twitter @MarkLGoldberg. Please rate and subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts.

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Kategorien: english

Europe is in the Midst of a Deepening Energy Crisis

15. September 2022 - 4:00

Energy prices are soaring in Europe, driven largely by the uncertainty surrounding Russian gas exports.

And exacerbating the situation was an announcement in early September that Russia would not re-open its Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which is a major supplier of gas to Europe in general and Germany in particular.

As winter looms, European governments are scrambling to devise policies to minimize the impact of rising energy costs to both their economies and individual consumers. Needless to say, Europe’s ability to manage this crisis could have a significant impact on European countries approach to the conflict in Ukraine. Putin is very deliberately using gas and energy exports as a way to hit back at Europe and break Europeans’ steadfast support for Ukraine.

In this episode, we are joined by Ben Cahill, Senior Fellow in the Energy Security and Climate Change Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. We discuss Europe’s energy crisis, the EU’s response thus far, and the political impact of rising energy costs in Europe, as well as the potential remedies and consequences of energy shortages and price spikes.

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Kategorien: english

Somalia is on the Brink of Famine

12. September 2022 - 4:00

United Nations officials have issued fresh warnings that parts of Somalia are on the verge of famine. More than 7 million people — half the country —  are in need of food assistance and if present trends continue famine could hit Somalia by October.

In this episode, we are joined by Tjada McKenna, CEO of Mercy Corps, a large international humanitarian organization with operations in Somalia. She recently visited the country to witness this unfolding crisis first hand. We kick off discussing what she saw on her trip, before having a broader conversation about the causes and consequences of this food crisis. We also discuss what can be done to avert a full blown famine from taking hold in Somalia in the near future.

 

 

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The Crisis in Myanmar Takes a Turn for the Worse

8. September 2022 - 4:00

In lay July, the military Junta in Myanmar carried out its first executions in decades. Four activists were killed, including very prominant pro-democracy leaders. The military carried out these executions despite widespread international and regional pressure.

These executions come a year and a half after the February 1 2021 coup that ended Myanmar’s experiment in democracy. The military has imprisoned much of the civilian political leadership of the country, including the country’s de-facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The February Coup was met by widespread civil disobedience and, eventually armed resistance. Today, Myanmar is in the midst of a multi-pronged civil war in which the military is fighting various armed groups organized along ethnic lines of Myanmars many minority ethnic groups; as well as militias backed by the toppled civilian leadership.

In this episode, we are joined by Gregory Poling, who directs the Southeast Asia Program and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he is also a senior fellow.

We discuss the recent executions in Myanmar and have a broader discussion about the changing countours of the conflict and what, if anything, the United States and broader international community can do to influence events in Myanmar.

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Kategorien: english

Join Us for Live Coverage From the United Nations General Assembly

7. September 2022 - 18:39
UNGA is nearly here!

The Global Dispatches podcast is teaming up with the United Nations Foundation for a daily podcast series around #UNGA77.

We will bring you the highlights from inside the United Nations and around New York during High Level Week. Decision makers, diplomats, policy professionals and an array of global leaders and influencers will be on hand to discuss the news of the day from UNGA and associated happenings including: the Clinton Global Initiative, Goalkeepers, Climate Week, Concordia Summit and more.

 

The series kicks off on Monday, September 19.

Use this smartlink to access each episode as soon as it goes live, or follow the links below.

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How the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States Will Impact International Climate Diplomacy

5. September 2022 - 4:00

On August 16, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. This legislation is a $750 billion dollar health, tax and climate bill. Indeed, the inflation Reduction act is the single most significant climate legislation ever passed in the United States.

So what impact will this legislation have internationally,  Including in ongoing international climate diplomacy?

In this episode, we are joined by Casey Katims, executive director of the US Climate Alliance,  a coalition of US Governors representing states that account for over half the US Population.

We kick off by discussing several of the key climate related provisioning included in the Inflation Reduction Act. We then discuss how this new legislation may impact diplomacy, including at a key international climate summit, known as COP27, which is being held in Egypt in November. We also discuss the unique roll that US states can play on climate related issues–something that was underscored recently when California announced that it would be phasing out the sale of gasoline powered cars.

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Why This Female Civil Society Leader in Afghanistan is Urging Greater Engagement With the Taliban

1. September 2022 - 4:00

In this episode, we are joined by Zuhra Bahman, the Afghanistan country director for the peacebuilding NGO Search for Common Ground.

A year ago, when the Taliban captured Kabul and became the de-facto authorities, Zuhra Bahman happened to be out of the country on a previously scheduled business trip. Yet when she and I spoke for the podcast last September she told me that she was determined to return home and get back to work. And when she and I last spoke for the podcast, back in March, she had finally made it back to Kabul.

In our conversation, Zuhra Bahman reflects on her life and work in Afghanistan as a female civil society leader one year on from the Taliban’s takeover of the country. Contrary to what people might think, she is still able to do her work and lead her team. And in our conversation she argues that the most effective way to preserve the space still open for civil society, including those that support women and marginalized communities is regular engagement with the de-facto authorities.

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A Catastrophic Nuclear Meltdown at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine is Suddenly in the Realm of Possibility

29. August 2022 - 4:00

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine is Europe’s largest. In March, Russian forces captured the plant and a crew of Ukrainians are maintaining operations at the plant — effectively at gun point.

In recent weeks, fighting around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power plant has intensified, causing some damage to the plant and raising the prospect that in the context of armed conflict a catastrophic nuclear accident becomes a very real possibility.

In this episode, we are joined by Jon Wolfstol, senior advisor at Global Zero and a member of board of Science and Security at Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. We kick off by discussing how Zaporizhzhia operates in normal circumstances and how the fighting may have impacted current plant operations. We then discuss what a catastrophic event at the power plant may look like. This includes the global impact of  a nuclear meltdown at Zaporizhzhia.

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Kategorien: english

The Big Problem With “Great Power Competition” | Ali Wyne

24. August 2022 - 11:00

In this episode, we are joined by Ali Wyne, senior analyst with Eurasia Group’s Global Macro-Geopolitics practice, focusing on US-China relations and great-power competition, and author of the new book “America’s Great-Power Opportunity: Revitalizing U.S. Foreign Policy to Meet the Challenges of Strategic Competition,” which is generating a great deal of buzz in foreign policy circles.

Ali Wyne offers a  critique of using competition with China and Russia as an organizing principle for US foreign policy. Great power competition, Ali Wyne argues, is inherently reactive and should not be the blueprint that drives US strategy. Rather, in an era of a resurgent China and revanchist Russia, the US can leverage certain comparative advantages it has to pursue a pro-active and forward looking agenda on the world stage.

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What We Get Wrong About Missile Defense And Nuclear Deterrence

22. August 2022 - 16:38

When national security professionals discuss “missile defense” they are are typically referring to technologies that can intercept an in-coming nuclear missile and blow it out of the sky.

In 2002, the George W. Bush administration unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty the US signed with the Soviet Union in 1972. Since then, there has been a sharp increase in the development of missile defense technologies around the world. This has seriously complicated nuclear deterrence

Sanne Verschuren is a Stanton Nuclear Security post doctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. She is working on a book about why missile defense developed and takes the forms that it does today. The book is built from her dissertation on the topic, which was awarded the prestigious the Kenneth Waltz Award for Outstanding Dissertation in the field of International Security Studies.

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Kategorien: english

Why Do Some Countries Succeed in Economic Development While Others Fail?

18. August 2022 - 16:15

Why have some countries experience durable economic progress while other countries remain left behind?

This basic question has vexed development economists for decades — and for decades economists have tried to reverse engineer one country’s economic successes story to discover a blue print that could be applied elsewhere.

Stefan Dercon, was one of those economists when he had an insight that forever changed his approach to the field of development economics. He explains this insight in his new book: Gambling on Development: Why Some Countries Win and Others Lose.

Stefan Dercon is professor of economic policy at the University of Oxford and a former senior official in the UK government, including as the senior economist of the United Kingdom’s premier overseas development agency.

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How “Longtermism” is Shaping Foreign Policy | Will MacAskill

15. August 2022 - 17:43

Longtermism is a moral philosophy that is increasingly gaining traction around the United Nations and in foreign policy circles. Put simply, Longtermism holds the key premise that positively influencing the long-term future is a key moral priority of our time.

The foreign policy community in general and the the United Nations in particular are beginning to embrace longtermism.  Next year at the opening of the UN General Assembly in September 2023, the Secretary General is hosting what he is calling a Summit of the Future to bring these ideas to the center of debate at the United Nations.

Will MacAskill is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He is the author of the new book What We Owe the Future which explains the premise and implications of Longtermism including for the foreign policy community, particularly as it relates to mitigating catastrophic risks to humanity.

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Transcript lightly edited for clarity

What is longtermism? 

Will MacAskill [00:00:00] The Earth will remain habitable for hundreds of millions of years. The stars will only finish shining in tens of trillions of years. So, we really have an enormous potential future ahead of us. If we don’t cause our own extinction. Longtermism is about taking seriously just how big the future might be and how high the stakes are in potentially shaping it. And then thinking, what are the events that could occur in our lifetime that could potentially impact the entire course of humanity’s future and then trying to act so that we meet those challenges and positively steer humanity onto a better path.

Why is our current moment inspiring the popularity of longtermism?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:03:13] And one of the key assumptions of your book is that we’re living in this unique moment of human history that can perhaps have an outsized impact on humanity’s long-term potential. What makes this moment so special?

Will MacAskill [00:03:29] The key thing that makes this moment so special is how much change there is at any moment where the rate of economic growth and technological progress that we’re currently experiencing is historically unprecedented. You know, while we were hunter gatherers, growth rates were very close to zero. As agriculturalists, growth rates were at about 0.1 percent. They’re know something like 30 times greater than that: roughly 3% per year. And that means we’re just moving, compared to historical standards, very quickly through the kind of tree of possible technologies. And I actually think we’re very unusual compared to the future as well, where we’ve been growing or making this rapid progress for only two or three centuries. And I think it’s just simply not possible that could continue for more than thousands of years, where if this current rate of growth lasted just 10,000 years, well, then we would have something like a trillion times the whole world’s economic output for every atom within reach and that just seems kind of impossible. So, it seems like we’re at this period of moving unusually quickly through our technological development, and that brings risks and benefits. So, the benefits so obvious, I think our technological advances have done an enormous amount today to increase the material well-being of people alive today and I think that could continue into the future. But technology has big risks as well. So, you know, harnessing the power of the atom gave us nuclear power, clean source of energy, but also gave us the nuclear bomb, something that’s very dangerous and potentially destructive. And I think future technologies have this kind of double-edged aspect too, in particular, the development of very advanced artificial intelligence, and then also advances in biotechnology, in particular the ability to engineer new types of pathogens.

Why is the current stage of humanity described as being in adolescence or like being a teenager?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:05:21] One analogy that I’ve drawn from longtermist philosophers like yourself and Toby Ord, as well, is that, you know, a typical mammal species lasts about, what, 700,000 to 1 million years? And we’re in that kind of dangerous, like preadolescence or adolescent phase where we have power, but we don’t know what to do with it.

Will MacAskill [00:05:41] Yeah, that’s exactly right. So, in the book, I compare humanity to a reckless teenager where we’re like a teenager in two ways. So, the first way is that we have most of our life ahead of ourselves, at least potentially, where the typical mammal species last about a million years. Homo sapiens have been around for about 300,000 years. So, if we’re just doing the average, then we would have 700,000 years more to go. I think humanity could last much longer than that. The Earth will remain habitable for hundreds of millions of years. The stars will only finish shining in tens of trillions of years. So, we really have an enormous potential future ahead of us if we don’t cause our own extinction. But then the second aspect of the way in which we’re like a reckless teenager is that we are making decisions that could potentially impact the entire course of this future. So, in the book, I talk about how I was a very risk seeking teenager. I did some dangerous things. I liked to climb buildings. At one point, I nearly died.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:06:44] You fell through a roof glass ceiling, I read.

Will MacAskill [00:06:46] Yeah, I fell through a skylight on top of the roof of a hotel and punctured my side. And I have this, like, several inch long scar on the side of my body to date. And luckily, I got off unharmed, but it could have been much worse. And if that had happened, that would have meant I would have lost out on something like 60 years of life. I mean, either way, even though the fact that I didn’t, I think that was one of the kinds of most high stakes and foolish decisions I made as a teenager. And I think similarly, the human race at the moment has the potential to destroy itself. Nuclear weapons, I think, give us a warning shot of this. I think advances in biotechnology give potentially far greater destructive power as well. We’re at the point where we can modify viruses to make them more destructive and this is something we can already be due to some extent. Well, it would be much easier for the use of that technology to kill billions of people and that’s very worrying. And then the second way in which your decisions as a teenager can be very impactful if you make decisions about, you know, not just decisions that will kill you, but decisions that will impact the whole course of the rest of your life. So, in my own case, this was, you know, a decision to study philosophy, to live by a certain set of values to pursue a certain career. In the same way, I think humanity is deciding what are the values that it should live by in the long term, where there are some decisions, such as the formation of a world government or the first space settlements, or the development of greater than human level artificial intelligence, that could impact at least the broad outlines of not just the present generation, but actually the entire trajectory of human civilization.

Why is the United Nations embracing longtermism?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:08:30] So it’s not often that I have moral philosophers on this podcast. And one of the reasons I wanted to speak with you was not just because your book is really interesting, but because also longtermist thinking is becoming increasingly embraced, I think, in the foreign policy community in general, but at the United Nations in particular, and this has been especially true, I think, over the last couple of years. Just to give listeners some background, in 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of the U.N., member states of the U.N. tasked the secretary general to come up with ideas and proposals and basically an overall vision to strengthen multilateralism and global cooperation. This process culminated last year in a report called Our Common Agenda and what was interesting to me about this report is that it was explicitly framed as a kind of social contract with future generations. And there are also some, like very concrete proposals to embed longtermist thinking into the U.N. system. This included, among other things, a proposal to create a special envoy for future generations who’d report to the secretary general. And perhaps even more ambitious from an institutional perspective, there’s an idea in that report to revive the old Trusteeship Council, which was an original organ of the U.N. that helped oversee the decolonization of countries but has been defunct since like the mid 1990s. And the idea is to repurpose this council and then have it focus on the well-being of future peoples. And then even next year, during the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, when heads of state from around the world come to New York, there’s going to be a summit of the future to continue to build on these ideas. So, there’s like a lot going on in the U.N. system that is either embracing directly of this kind of philosophy or at least very adjacent to it. What do you see as the implications of the U.N. embracing longtermism?

Will MacAskill [00:10:26] Well, I think it’s very exciting. I think it’s an enormous positive step forward where the U.N. has this huge soft power and soft influence in terms of global agenda setting, where we saw the Millennium Development Goals and then the Sustainable Development Goals as really setting an agenda for kind of what should we be most concerned about? What should we be focusing on? How should we be measuring progress? And so, I’m absolutely delighted that the U.N. is now taking the interests of future generations very seriously and taking actions in that direction, too. One reason I think that this could be particularly useful and impactful is that many of the challenges that seem to be most important from the perspective of positively steering the future involve global public goods. So, things where if all the different countries around the world could cooperate, then they would engage in a certain set of actions. But given that cooperation is difficult, perhaps they will act more in their narrow self-interest, and that actually makes everyone worse off. So, climate change is a very familiar example of an area where getting global cooperation to lower emissions is just extremely difficult indeed, even though I think it would be to the benefit of everyone if there was this global agreement to have some sort of carbon price, global agreement to invest enormous amounts into clean energy. The Montreal Protocol is an example of successful international global coordination, where scientists identified chlorofluorocarbons as incredibly damaging to the ozone layer, and countries of the world managed to get together and say, we’re going to ban this stuff, and that was hugely impactful. And so when I look to the future, some of the new threats and challenges we face, such as in biotechnology and such as from artificial intelligence, it might be that we really want some sort of global, coordinated, cooperative response where perhaps that’s an agreement where we’re not going to invest in the most dangerous forms of biotechnological research that could create new pathogens, or perhaps there are even certain areas of AI that we actually want to like regulate on a global scale or slow down at least on a global scale because we think that they pose more risks and dangers and are unlike most uses of AI that will be extremely beneficial. And the U.N. has that convening power, it has that soft power, and so it could potentially help in these ways.

What is the Summit of the Future?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:12:58] Are there any specific outcomes you’d be looking towards from, say, the summit of the future or more broadly, this whole process of reinvigorating multilateralism in the short term that you think are both achievable and also might have significant long-term impact?

Will MacAskill [00:13:20] I think in the short term, the main thing I’d hope for is a cultural impact, sort of cultural change, because I really think that longtermist thought is in its early days, and I think that’s especially true when it comes to politics and policy. So, I think there does need to be enormously more research and thought done into kind of what’s optimal regulation, governance, policy, say, around these new technologies. But I could imagine the summit of the future being this watershed moment, perhaps like Earth Day in I think was 1970, which is this watershed moment for the idea of environmentalism, where after that point, the idea that we should have serious concern about the natural environment became kind of part of moral common sense. Obviously, people disagree to various amounts, but it’s a legitimate idea on the table. I think the summit of the future could have that similar cultural effect where we think, okay, yeah, it’s obvious that we should be concerned not just about the present generation, but about what the world looks like for our grandchildren and their grandchildren in turn. And then not only that, but we should also be looking to technologies that are just on the horizon, that we’re making rapid progress towards such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology and take a kind of proactive response to ensure that we navigate them in a way that’s going to be beneficial for all humanity and for the long term.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:14:49] So in the UN system there’s this like horrible term, just in terms of like what it does to the English language, when you mainstream something as a verb. So, I’m taking it from you that within the UN you’d like to see them mainstream longtermism.

Will MacAskill [00:15:04] Yeah, for sure. At least to make the idea no longer the province of wacky science fiction writers, which I think it really doesn’t need to be, but instead something that people in positions of power can take seriously and start thinking about.

What are the biggest existential threats to humanity today?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:15:20] And that’s why I wanted to mention Our Common Agenda, because that really is a key first step in making longtermism more mainstream within the UN system. One other sort of key implication of longtermist thinking to foreign policy writ large is the emphasis that longtermism places on mitigating existential threats to humanity. Basically, you can’t have a beautiful future, you know, if everyone’s dead. Where might these risks come from today? And then I’d like to ask you about where they may come from in the future.

Will MacAskill [00:15:56] So if there was going to be a risk right now, I think it would be most likely to come from war, from particular, a war between the great powers of the world such as Russia, the US, India, China, and the particular ones are the US and Russia because of their very large nuclear stockpiles. I think an all-out nuclear war would be the worst thing that ever happened in human history, where among the direct casualties would be tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of people dead, but then there’d be a significant risk of a nuclear winter, so global cooling, as a result of the soot lofted into the stratosphere from just so many buildings burning. That could cause very widespread famine, could cause billions of people to die and, you know, that’s certainly terrifying. And I think also, you know, it would be both just one of the worst things that could happen for people alive today and I think it would make the future of humanity look a lot more bleak. And I mean, certainly most of the time, I think people don’t appreciate just how great the risks are from war in general or from nuclear weapons in particular. A leading scholar on the risk of great power war, Bear F. Braumoeller who has a book “Only the Dead”, says at the conclusion of one of his chapters on what’s the chance of a kind of a war that’s as bad or worse than World War II. At the end of this chapter, he considered typing ‘We’re all going to die’ and leaving it at that, but then thought that he should perhaps say something kind of more actionable. But he thinks that war that’s worse than World War II is, you know, a really significant chance within our lifetime, 20% or more. If you look at forecasters it’s actually even higher, maybe it’s like one in three or even 40%. And so, these risks are really very high, and I think we should be making every effort to ensure we don’t enter anything like a kind of war between great powers ever again. So that’s the kind of risk right now and I do think that risk might increase into the future. I think this gets compounded by technology going into the future. One that I will highlight in particular is this ability to engineer new viruses. So, we can already make viruses more deadly or more infectious. We can kind of upgrade their destructive properties.

Why is biotechnology research so dangerous?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:18:21] It’s called gain of function research.

Will MacAskill [00:18:23] Exactly: gain of function research. That ability will only get more powerful over time. It’ll also just only get cheaper over time and we as a society have a decision. Do we just allow that to continue in an unfettered way or do we say, look, there are some areas of this technology that we really should be slowing down and in particular, weaponization of this technology. We have seen enormously large and very well-staffed bioweapons programs in the past from varying countries, the largest of which was the USSR. Should we have active work to try and reduce that by as much as possible? Or should we just have this laissez faire approach? And I think we should at least be thinking very seriously about, okay, how are we dealing with this? What are the ways in which we can harness the amazing benefits we’ll get out of advances in biotechnology without also imposing these risks? Where I mentioned, an all-out nuclear war would kill hundreds of millions or even billions of people if that were also supplemented with advanced bioweapons, then I really think that it could be almost everyone in the world that dies, could be a catastrophe that we just don’t ever come back from.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:19:31] And again, just to emphasize, this is research that’s happening now and it’s not terribly well regulated.

Will MacAskill [00:19:37] Yes. This is not science fiction. You can talk to leading experts in biology and epidemiology like Professor Kevin Esvelt at MIT or Marc Lipsitch at Harvard, who are ringing the alarm bell and saying, look, this technology could be really dangerous if it’s used in the wrong way. We need to be ahead of the game here on how we regulate it, what we choose to invest in and what not.

How could artificial intelligence pose an existential threat to humanity?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:19:59] So another thing that is not science fiction, but also unlike the issues you just discussed, not terribly appreciated by the foreign policy community, is the potential risk that results from the misuse or what’s known as the misalignment of artificial intelligence. Can you explain that potential catastrophic or even existential risk to humanity for those who might not have heard of it before?

Will MacAskill [00:20:31] So we are developing over time better and better artificially intelligent systems. At the moment, these systems are generally fairly narrow. We do a small number of tasks and maybe they are exceptionally good at playing Go, or exceptionally good at playing chess or doing calculation, but aren’t kind of very general. They can’t do a wide range of tasks in the way that humans can. And there are some things that artificial intelligence can’t do at all. You can’t just put an AI in charge of a company and then have that company run well or something, but progress is really quite impressive. In fact, in the last ten years, we now have language models that can engage in reasonable conversations that could write — as a test, I do this marking for Oxford University, like undergraduate essay mocking, and I got a recent language model to just give me answers to the essay questions, so get it to write philosophy exam.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:21:28] How did you score on them?

Will MacAskill [00:21:31] It was GPT-3 I asked to do this, and it would have been in the bottom 10% of Oxford students, but not the bottom 1 or 2%. So, in the English classification, a first is kind of the top ten, 15% of students, a 2:1 is the majority of students, a 2:2 is the kind of bottom 10% ish, and then sometimes you get lower than that. And I think it would have got a 2:2. But I think if it had been marked by other examiners who didn’t know they wouldn’t have thought, ‘Oh, this is an AI.’ They would have just thought this is a student who has some strengths in particular, and the ability to structure an essay well, but is confused about certain things. You know, it’s also able to now do math proofs — You can type in a kind of text prompt like an astronaut riding a unicorn in the style of Andy Warhol, and the machine learning model will just produce that image.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:22:19] I have a great image on my desktop of a man typing at a computer in the style of El Greco.

Will MacAskill [00:22:25] It’s pretty phenomenal.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:22:27] So, you know, these all seem somewhat harmless right now. Where does the risk come from?]

Will MacAskill [00:22:34] The risk comes from much more advanced A.I. systems, where the explicit goal of many leading A.I. labs is to build what’s called AGI, artificial general intelligence, and that is A.I. systems that are as good as humans are at a fairly wide variety of tasks. So, if you took any kind of arbitrary task that you might want to do and gave it to this system, an AGI, it would do it at least as well as a very good human at that task. And why is this a risk? Well, one reason for thinking it’s a risk is that it could accelerate the rate of technological progress and maybe quite rapidly, because at that point, then you have AI systems that can make better versions of themselves. So, you’re able to automate a process of machine learning, in fact, automate the process of AI development. And according to kind of standard economic models, we just like make radically faster progress. So that length of time between us getting an AI system that’s about as good as humans in general, and the time at which we get an AI system that’s radically better than humans across all domains might be very short. It might be months or years rather than centuries. And then secondly, well, what do we do now in a world where the smartest beings are digital rather than human? It looks quite worrying because it looks from our perspective, it looks very much like the situation that the chimpanzees are in with respect to us, where the reasons humans are the kind of ecologically dominant species on the planet is because we have much greater collective intelligence than other mammals. And so, the fate of the chimpanzees, you know, that’s not really in their hands anymore, it’s in human hands, they’re not really in control of their own future. And so, the core worry is the misaligned AI, that is AI that might have its own goals that might be very different from human goals, is that at the point where it becomes far greater in intelligence than human beings are, then we’re out of the loop. We no longer are in control of our own future because they AI systems themselves are just much more powerful, much more able than us. And so, if they want to and they’re good reasons to think that maybe they would want to, they could take power, take control, and start pursuing whatever their own goals are. And it would see kind of humanity as a threat, something to quash or even kill off altogether. And that is something that I think is very worrying, because we want to have a future that’s guided by values that we think are good rather than values that might be kind of very alien from our perspective.

How can humans protect themselves from potentially dangerous AI advancements?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:25:25] And again, you know, this might sound like the realm of science fiction, but, you know, it is the trajectory that we are currently on. I take it that, again, one of your arguments for why this is a particularly pivotal moment in human history is that we have the opportunity to create systems or mechanisms or processes to mitigate that specific risk from AI.

Will MacAskill [00:25:50] Absolutely, and in terms of it not being science fiction, I mean, very many leading machine learning researchers, so Stuart Russell is one of the most eminent computer scientists of our time, literally wrote the textbook on AI, he is extremely concerned about this. He now runs an institute at Berkeley called the Center for Human Compatible AI to work on this issue. At the major A.I. Labs, there are now teams who are working on safety as well. And yes, there are ways in which we can make progress on this. So, one thing we can do is what’s called interpretability research, which is basically just trying to understand what these models are doing, where the way we create existing AI models is by just training them on huge amounts of data. So, we know all of the inputs that have gone in, and we then can start seeing what outputs it produces. But we don’t really know kind of how the system is reasoning like what sort of algorithm it’s producing. And so, there’s work to try and help us understand that and that would help as these systems are more powerful, it’s less like a black box, and we’re just trying to guess what goals the system is pursuing and more that we actually understand the A.I. systems mind and intentions. A second thing we can do is start using these smaller models and see can we elicit the sort of very particular behavior we might want to see? So, can we make language models non-deceptive so that they don’t lie? And it turns out actually that’s quite hard to do, but the hope is that if you can make this work for the smaller language models, then that can guide us and help us make these much more powerful systems, you know, honest or harmless or even helpful, you know, in the same way that we made the kind of less powerful models honest and harmless, too.

Does climate change pose an existential threat to humanity?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:27:40] So I’m glad we spent a bit of time talking about A.I. because I think for the audience listening to this show, the risks from nuclear accidents or nuclear use and bioweapons are sort of intuitive, but AI is sort of new to them and certainly also fairly new to me since I’ve been reading your work and the work of others. Where does climate change fit into your spectrum of catastrophic or existential risks that might prevent humanity from having a bright future?

Will MacAskill [00:28:14] I mean, I think climate change is this huge challenge and even in the kind of best-case scenario, hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of people will die as a result of climate change. I think it’s unlikely to directly pose the kind of existential catastrophe, that’s a very high bar, one that, you know, kills everyone or almost everyone on the planet. I had some researchers do a really deep dive into this to understand it better, and it seems like that’s pretty unlikely to happen. I’ve also commissioned kind of expert forecasters; they also think it’s very unlikely to happen. So, if climate change were to contribute to existential risk, it would be more by aggravating other issues, such as by increasing the risk of war or other kind of tensions between different countries, or just even like being distracting, like people are too busy taking care of the problems inflicted by climate change rather than focusing on other issues that could be very pressing. And so, I think it’s an enormous challenge. I actually think it’s one that we’re like starting to handle pretty well. I think there’s been a recent change in the past few years or decade where the fruits of a long time of environmental activism are starting to show where China and the EU are making very ambitious pledges to go net zero by 2050 or 2060. And there’s just this outstanding, incredible drop in the cost of clean tech, in particular solar, which I think means that the worst-case climate scenarios are much less likely to happen than one might have thought even five years ago and so there’s still plenty more work to be done but I actually think it’s something that we’re starting to get under control and makes me feel somewhat more optimistic. In contrast, some of these other issues like biotechnology, like A.I. It’s kind of like the situation was with climate change in the 1950s, where we’re starting to understand the risks and enormous gains to be had by acting quickly, by, you know, being proactive rather than waiting until the problem is already with us. And so that’s why I feel like we have this opportunity right now to have a particularly great impact by getting ahead of the game on some of these new technologies that could be at least, and maybe even more, damaging than climate change.

Is it possible to balance current issues and the goals of longtermism?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:30:36] Finally, effective altruism came on my radar about a decade ago through my work as a journalist covering global health and development issues. I’d been covering this space for a while and then seemingly all of a sudden, a whole new crop of people became interested and supportive of efforts to combat extreme poverty and embraced the key global health interventions, particularly around malaria and the deployment of long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets. And your book, Doing Good Better, was very influential in making a convincing argument that people should do things like support anti malaria efforts among global health causes. I’m curious, therefore, to learn how you balance supporting efforts to reduce suffering in the here and now with this more long-term vision of building a better future for generations of people who have not yet been born.

Will MacAskill [00:31:30] It’s this extreme challenge. I call it the utter horror of effective altruism or just the horror of just trying to do good where you realize that there are all of these problems in the world. Whatever you do, no matter how many people you help, there will be literally millions of other people that you have not been able to help so you need to make these tough tradeoffs and prioritize and it’s just super hard. Within effective altruism, I’m really happy and very keen for the community to be diverse and represent a lot of different perspectives on doing good for the people, depending on how much they’ve been moved by the different arguments. And it’s still the case that the large majority of funding within effective altruism goes to global health and well-being. I do think, though, that at the moment, if you look at how the world as a whole prioritizes something like $250 billion per year get spent on global health and development, in terms of foreign aid flows. How much money gets spent tackling unprecedented technological risks, the sorts of things that could really impact the very long-term future? I think it’s more on the order of like tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. And so, you know, there’s maybe something like a factor of a thousand difference in terms of how many resources are going to each of these areas and that makes me think, look, if we’re pushing the world kind of on the margin, I think it’s more important to push the world to taking more seriously these risks that could be enormously destructive and damaging in both the short term and the long term because they’re just not currently on people’s radar.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:33:08] Well, Will after this conversation, hopefully it’s on a few more people’s radar. I sincerely appreciate you speaking with me. Your book is fascinating. I really strongly recommend the foreign policy community read the book, wrestle with its implications, because, you know, as we discussed at the outset, it is gaining traction in the foreign policy community and in the United Nations in particular and your book is an excellent introduction and deep exploration of these ideas. Thank you.

Will MacAskill [00:33:36] Thank you. It’s great being on.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:33:45] Thank you for listening to Global Dispatches. Our show is produced by Mark Leon Goldberg and edited and mixed by Levi Sharp.

The post How “Longtermism” is Shaping Foreign Policy | Will MacAskill appeared first on UN Dispatch.

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Lab Leak? Bioweapons Attack? Natural Pathogen? A New Proposal Would Give the UN the Ability to Investigate | Angela Kane

11. August 2022 - 16:03

Rapidly identifying an emerging infectious pathogen is critical to  prevent a disease outbreak from becoming an epidemic — or even a deadly pandemic. But right now, there is no agreed international mechanism to do so. Veteran UN diplomat Angela Kane is trying to change that. She is working to create a new UN body to strengthen UN capabilities to investigate high-consequence biological events of unknown origin.

Angela Kane, is the Sam Nunn Distinguished Fellow at the Nuclear Threat Initiative. She is a veteran diplomat who has held several senior positions at the United Nations, including Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Under-Secretary-General for Management, and High Representative for Disarmament.

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The post Lab Leak? Bioweapons Attack? Natural Pathogen? A New Proposal Would Give the UN the Ability to Investigate | Angela Kane appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Kenya’s UN Ambassador Martin Kimani | Live from the Aspen Security Forum

8. August 2022 - 15:55

Kenya’s Ambassador to the United Nations Martin Kimani gave a viral speech at the UN Security Council on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Months later, Ambassador Kimani reflects on the impact of that speech and why Russian aggression against Ukraine is so resonant to Africa’s own experience with colonialism.

Our conversation was recorded live at the Aspen Security Forum in Mid July and Ambassador Kimani also discusses the impact of the war in Ukraine on Kenya and what opportunities still exist for multilateralism in a divided world.

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How The Global Food Crisis is Impacting People and Politics in the Middle East

4. August 2022 - 17:10

Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Middle East was heavily dependent on importing food from Ukraine and Russia. The disruption of grain exports from the Black Sea region has had a profoundly negative impact on food security in the Middle East.

I’m joined today my Arnaud Quemin, Middle East regional director for Mercy Corps. We kick off discussing what the food security situation in the region looked like before the war and then have an extended conversation about how the global food crisis is impacting people and politics in the Middle East.

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