Sie sind hier

UN Dispatch

Newsfeed UN Dispatch abonnieren UN Dispatch
United Nations News & Commentary Global News - Forum
Aktualisiert: vor 12 Stunden 40 Minuten

Why Are So Many African Countries Facing a Huge Debt Crisis Right Now?

12. Januar 2023 - 12:47

According to the International Monetary Fund, 22 countries in Africa are either in debt distress or at high risk of debt distress –that is, they are unable to fulfill their financial obligations to creditors. This is nearly double the number of countries in Africa in some form debt crisis just a few years ago.

Why so many African countries are facing a fiscal crisis today and the implications of debt distress for economic and social development is explained at length by my guest today Mark Plant, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development.

We kick off discussing why Ghana and Zambia are illustrative of broader fiscal trends in Africa and then have a discussion about the policy conundrums facing countries as they navigate fiscal crises and seek to satisfy creditors without sacrificing substantial gains in economic and social development.

To listen to this episode on your favorite podcast listening app, go here. 


The post Why Are So Many African Countries Facing a Huge Debt Crisis Right Now? appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Bangladesh: Protests, Crackdowns and a Coming Election

9. Januar 2023 - 11:52

In December protests erupted in cities across Bangladesh, including the capital Dhaka. The proximate cause was skyrocketing inflation triggered in part by Russia’s war in Ukraine. But as my guest Michael Kugelman explains these were not mass protests, but rather highly partisan events ahead of elections scheduled for this year.

Michael Kugelman is director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington DC.  We kick off discussing the significance of these protests. We then have a longer conversation about how these protests fits into broader trends in Bangladeshi politics and economy — including Bangladesh’s remarkable economic growth and its increasing authoritarianism under prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

To listen to this show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite listening app, click here.

The post Bangladesh: Protests, Crackdowns and a Coming Election appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Geopolitics of Microchips | “Chip Wars” Author Chris Miller

5. Januar 2023 - 11:00

In this episode, I sit down with Chris Miller, author of the new book: Chip Wars: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology. The books tells the story of microchip, including its history and profound impact on international relations and geopolitics today.

Chris Miller is an Associate Professor of International History at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. We discuss why the microchip is central to our world today, how Taiwan and South Korea became the two major international hubs for the manufacture of specialized chips, and the geopolitical implications of a chip manufacturing supply chain that relies on just a few key nodes. We also discuss efforts by the US to prevent China from building a domestic advanced chip manufacture industry.


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


The post The Geopolitics of Microchips | “Chip Wars” Author Chris Miller appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

The Top Global Crises to Expect in 2023 | David Miliband

3. Januar 2023 - 14:00

As 2023 begins the world is beset by crises driven by conflict, climate change and the nexus of the two. But some places are expected to be hit harder than others as the year unfolds and this conversation with David Miliband offers listeners key insights into where humanitarian needs are expected to be most acute in 2023.

David Miliband is the President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, which at the very end 2022 released a watchlist of the top global crises it foresees this year.

We kick off with a brief discussion about the methodology of creating a crisis watchlist like this before having a extended discussion about several of his top crises of concern, as well as solutions to confront humanitarian crises across the world.

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


The post The Top Global Crises to Expect in 2023 | David Miliband appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

A New Study Shows How to Counter Violent Extremism Through “Social Cohesion”

26. Dezember 2022 - 4:00

The border region of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger is home to violent extremist groups eager to recruit young men to their ranks. To counter the lure of groups like the Islamic State, officials have experimented with programs and projects that more deeply root young men to their communities and reduce inter-ethnic conflict. This kind of peace-building work to strengthen what is known as “social cohesion” often flies under the radar, at least compared to high profile military activities targeting terrorist groups, but there is growing evidence that such programs are effective.

In this episode, we are joined by Dr. Siaka Millogo who ran an experiment testing the impact of social cohesion programs in villages in rural Niger. He is the director for Burkina Faso and Niger for the aid group Mercy Corps. From 2019 through 2021, Mercy Corps and local partners identified 40 villages at risk of recruitment by violent extremist groups and undertook social cohesion programs in half of those; while the other half was a control group. And in our conversation we discuss how this experiment worked and what it can teach us about the value and impact of hyper local programs to combat violent extremism.

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



Transcript lightly edited for context

What is the Tillabéri Region of Niger?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:01:00] Can I just have you describe the Tillabéri region of Niger for those unaware? Where is it and what’s the impact of violent extremism in this region?

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:02:57] Tillabéri is one of the eight regions of Niger, in northern Niger, and has also what we call the three borders, Burkina Faso and Mali. It is around these three borders that we have the highest number of terrorist attacks and also a great number of internally displaced people. So, regarding this situation, we developed and submitted to USAID to get this program to implement activities to prevent the impact of violent extremism.

Which terrorist groups are active in Niger and the Tillabéri region?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:03:37] Before we get into a discussion of your programs around peacebuilding and preventing violent extremism in the region, what are the groups that are active in this area and what do their attacks look like?

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:03:54] The group active in the Tillabéri region is in fact the Islamic group in the “Grise Sahel.” They are affecting some populations. They are asking them to provide some deal, some ration sometimes. And also, their operation model is, in fact, to focus on the government so that the way they are operating in this region is the same as the central Sahel area in general.

How does the program Preventing Violent Extremism Actions through Increased Social Cohesion Efforts work?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:04:25] So you have essentially an offshoot of the Islamic State that is active in this region, the Tillabéri region of Niger, which, as you said, is on the border of Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali. And it is in this region that you begin a project called Preventing Violent Extremism Actions through Increased Social Cohesion Efforts, which brilliantly invokes the acronym PEACE. How does this peace program work?

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:04:59] [The program exists] to combat all of these problems caused by the violent extremism and as an action to support the potential victims of these actions of terrorist groups and also to allow young people to be more involved in development of their communities. But we have developed this program and also negotiated funding with the USAID. So, the PEACE program was meant really to facilitate what we have to do with young people in terms of trying to involve them more in some activities that they can initiate that can help them to enhance their social cohesion. So doing some activities together that they themselves have identified. Also, we just provided them with the resources and also the capacities to be able to implement this program by themselves. They have been at the bottom line of identification of all these micro projects we have identified, which were linked in fact to social cohesion, to be together, gathering them around the same objective of belonging to their communities.

What is social cohesion?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:06:15] So what are some of the micro projects, as you described them, to encourage social cohesion in specific communities?

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:06:27] I would like to take this example of this community where they just have one traditional well, so where animals and human beings were both getting water. And that created, most of the time, a lot of conflict between the groups. And this project had been selected by themselves where they asked for some material to be able to dig this well better, to improve it. And that is a kind of project that we have been doing with them. It’s just one example.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:06:59] So building a well seems like a very straightforward community infrastructure project. Are there others you could explain as well? Just to give listeners a sense of what projects we’re talking about when we are discussing initiatives aimed at boosting social cohesion in potentially at-risk communities.

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:07:22] Yeah. You know, also in these communities, they used to have a somewhat traditional event, for example, that were gathering young people to share a common discussion around their story and also have courses, something like that. That is in their traditional way of living. They have these kinds of events in the past that used to gather them.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:07:45] Just like community or life cycle events.

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:07:48] Yes.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:07:49] Things like that.

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:07:50] Yes. So, they were no longer doing that, you know, and the project tried, in fact, to come back with that and to get young people and also their elders around the peace activities so that they can also take advantage of the presence of their elders to transfer some values of the communities that were, in fact maintaining social cohesion in the past. The fact that they were no longer doing that, meant the young people didn’t have all these opportunities to get to know each other and to be complementary to each other and also to be more tolerant to each other. So, these are something also that has some great impacts on the communities.

Do social cohesion activities encourage peace?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:08:30] So you’re supporting infrastructure building like wells, community building efforts like the events you just described all under the rubric of this PEACE program. So, using this program, you created a random trial in which some villages deemed at risk of violent extremism recruitment were exposed to the PEACE program, and some were excluded for a period of time to act as sort of a control group. Can you briefly describe your methodology and then we’ll get into your findings?

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:09:08] Yes. So, we have a control group and also contact group. Both groups have been informed on the objective of the PEACE program, so they know what they have to do. Also, we provided capacity building to the contact group and all of these activities we are talking about — gathering the youth and also involving them in the identification of the micro project and the implementation. Even in the joint evaluation, we have capacity building that we’re giving to them. So, at the end of the day, in the joint evaluation phase, we noticed that this group, contact group, they have this willingness to do things together. So that was very high. And we have also some anecdotal feedback from young people. In one place they were in fact entertaining some conflict, but they couldn’t even explain why this community and this one was in conflict. Young people were entertaining that because the elders had told them okay between us and these communities, we are in conflict, but no one knows why, what had been the reason of this conflict? So, when we tried to put together a peace community with young people from the two communities to gather around a social event, and they have been able to know each other, even the elders, who went saw that the young people from the two communities where in fact dealing together, they come back said, okay, we can’t even explain why we were in conflict. And the young people told them, this is no longer our problem because we know that today all the young people in the two communities, they are facing the same reality. So, they need to be together and to face this similar reality to find a solution. So that has been in fact a great success because we had two communities that had been in conflict for a long time, and the young population said we don’t understand well the origin of this and that is not really our problem. All our communities, we have the same problems; we have to deal with these problems together, find common solutions. And that is thanks to this program because we have trained them; we have discussed it with them on why it is important that they be together to face the same issue of their communities.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:11:38] So that’s anecdotal evidence suggesting that conflict between two different communities were reduced through this program. But you also conducted a very large survey — I think the sample size was like 1800 participants — and based on that survey, is there any statistical evidence to suggest that communities that participated in the peace program were indeed less likely to be susceptible to recruitment by violent extremist groups?

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:12:19] Yes, because, in fact, when we conducted this evaluation, with all the activities we have conducted with the communities, at least 70% of young people there, now have something to do and they have this feeling of belonging. You know, that is very important when you have the feeling that you belong to the community, you are in fact sensitive. You are contributing to these communities in terms of economics and also in social activities. So, this is very, very important for young people. We gave them some confidence on themselves and also, we have been able to break this misunderstanding with the elders because they have brought them together with the elders to be able to transfer to them all of these values. So that has been something great.

Do peacekeeping efforts help communities trust their government more?

Mark L. Goldberg [00:13:12] And the objective of an organization like the Islamic State, they conduct recruitment activities in order to pursue some broader agenda against government authorities. Does your evidence suggest that communities which received the PEACE program were more trustworthy or more willing to support authorities? Or did it have any meaningful impact one way or the other?

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:13:41] You know, in the course of implementation of this program, we have involved the government bodies in charge of social cohesion. So, from the bottom line to the upper level — because in Niger, for example, we have what we call the high commission in charge of social cohesion. They have been involved in all the phases of the program, meaning that we have created the right environment and opportunity for these young people to talk directly to the government, you know, on social cohesion and also for the government to explain their vision on social cohesion for these young people. So, I think that the opportunity has been great for them because they understood more what is going on, because sometimes people don’t have the opportunity to interact directly with the government. And the PEACE program has been the opportunity, in fact, for the young people to interact more with the government on this specific question of social cohesion and related to youth and also women. The most important thing also is within the communities we have seen some bad governance aspects and we have created what we call Community Action Committees, which we have composed of all these sensitivities in the communities, so that we’re able, in fact, to reduce the frustration created by the government.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:15:20] So I wanted to speak with you because having covered these issues for so long, it’s my impression that very local, hyperlocal peacebuilding efforts, like the one you describe and the one that you have created, tend to be both the most impactful, but also tend to fly under the radar. They don’t get a lot of attention. Whereas on the other hand, military operations against the Islamic State and against bad actors, they get the money and the attention. I’m curious to learn from you what implications your findings have for the international community in general and maybe donors in particular.

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:16:12] You know, the finding for us is if we involve communities in all the actions, we are undertaking for them starting from the design phase and through all the phases, we get a better result and better involvement. The other thing also I would like to underline is this kind of program, this short-term program, can have some impacts, but we have clearly noticed that the duration was one of the limiting factors. It is about a behavior change which is not something that we can see in two years significantly. The other thing is, in fact, the additional program component that we should be having. These terrorist actions are continuous, and in the program, we didn’t add the humanitarian assistance part of it. So, what the international community needs to know from this finding is in fact that it’s good for program to think holistically to add some humanitarian assistance there while also dealing with the root causes of the conflict through the social cohesion activities and also thinking about the fact that we are not going to feed people. We need also to add some development activities so that they can be resilient. If we have added some development programs to this program that mean that we should have been always with these communities. The fact that we didn’t have that and just had social cohesion programs, it was like a standalone program, without humanitarian assistance or development was a limiting factor. So, the takeaway is that: just think holistically to hope to have the most impactful social cohesion programming.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:18:19] And it seems that part of thinking holistically is understanding that programs aimed at boosting social cohesion, at boosting individuals’ commitment to their own communities, is also a way of building resilience if those communities are hit by food shortages or conflict. It seems to be at root of how one builds resilient communities and thriving communities.

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:18:50] Absolutely agree with that, so that is where we need to go especially for the case of the Sahel, where we have this dynamic and we need also to add to all of that the research component because the situation is so dynamic that we need also at any moment to have some relevant and pertinent information on the situation, to anticipate the action we need to undertake. We need to add also continuing pressures on the situation to be able to provide good information, relevant information, pertinent information for anticipated decision making, because we need to anticipate the evolving context.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:19:34] Dr. Siaka, thank you so much for your time and for your work.

Dr. Siaka Millogo [00:19:39] It is my pleasure.

Mark L. Goldberg [00:19:48] Thank you for listening to Global Dispatches. Our show is produced by me, Mark Leon Goldberg, and edited and mixed by Levi Sharp.

The post A New Study Shows How to Counter Violent Extremism Through “Social Cohesion” appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

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

22. Dezember 2022 - 4:00

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

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

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

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

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


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

Kategorien: english

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

19. Dezember 2022 - 4:00

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

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

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

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

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



Transcript lightly edited for clarity

What Is a Plastics Treaty and Why Is It Needed?

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

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

Why is plastic bad for the environment?

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

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

How did the idea of a plastics treaty begin?

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

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

What is in the potential United Nations plastics treaty?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which countries are advocating for the plastics treaty?

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

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

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

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

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

What is the difference between a treaty and an agreement?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the Chinese policy position on plastic pollution?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kategorien: english

A Major UN Biodiversity Conference Seeks New Goals to Save Nature

15. Dezember 2022 - 4:00

Delegates from nearly every country in the world are meeting in Montreal for the UN Biodiversity Conference known as COP15. Their goal is to come up with a new global action plan to preserve nature and global biodiversity. Top among those goals is agreeing to a new global target to protect for conservation 30% of land and 30% and marine habitats by 2030.

To discuss the importance of this UN Biodiversity Conference, Ongoing at time of recording, we are joined by John Reid, co-author of Ever Green: Saving Big Forests to Save the Planet (co-authored with the late Thomas Lovejoy), and the senior economist and partnership lead at the non-profit Nia Tero

We discuss the recent history of global efforts to protect biodiversity and its link to climate change, as well as the key issues at play at COP 15 in Montreal.

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


The post A Major UN Biodiversity Conference Seeks New Goals to Save Nature appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

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

12. Dezember 2022 - 4:00

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

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

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

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



Transcript lightly edited for clarity

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

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

How has COVID affected the fight against malaria?

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

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

Why have malaria deaths increased in recent years?

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

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

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

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

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

Where is malaria most deadly?

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

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

What is seasonal malaria chemoprevention?

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

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

Does malaria affect rural or urban populations more?

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

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

How are mosquitos adapting to manmade malaria prevention methods?

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

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

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

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

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

Is there a vaccine for malaria?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark L. Goldberg [00:27:28] Thank you for listening to Global Dispatches. Our show is produced by me, Mark Leon Goldberg, and edited and mixed by Levi Sharp.

The post What the Latest Data Tells Us About The Global Fight Against Malaria appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english

Ukraine: Prosecuting War Crimes and Russian Aggression in Ukraine

8. Dezember 2022 - 4:00

This episode of Global Dispatches is a bit different than usual. Rather than the host, Mark Leon Goldberg interviewing someone, he is the one being interviewed.

Moderators at the WordNews page on Reddit invited Mark to share some of his expertise on international justice issues in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Specifically, what are the prospects of accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Russian war on Ukraine.

Mark has reported on the International Criminal Court and other issues related to war crimes and crimes against humanity for nearly 20 years and took questions from moderator Akaash Maharaj, ambassador-at-large for the Global Organization of Parliamentarians against Corruption and a fellow at the Munk School at the University of Toronto.

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


The post Ukraine: Prosecuting War Crimes and Russian Aggression in Ukraine appeared first on UN Dispatch.

Kategorien: english