The Global Risks Report 2019

The Global Risks Report 2019 is published against a backdrop of worrying geopolitical and geo-economic tensions. If unresolved, these tensions will hinder the world’s ability to deal with a growing range of collective challenges, from the mounting evidence of environmental degradation to the increasing disruptions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Global Risks Report and its significance:

Based on the work of the Global Risk Network, the report describes changes occurring in the global risks landscape from year to year and identifies global catastrophic risks.

The report explores the interconnectedness of risks and is intended to raise awareness about the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to the mitigation of global risk

Top 10 risks by likelihood as per the latest report:

  • Extreme weather events.
  • Failure of climate change mitigation and adaption.
  • Major natural disasters.
  • A massive incident of data fraud/theft.
  • Large scale cyber attacks.
  • Man-made environmental damage and disasters.
  • Large-scale involuntary migration.
  • Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.
  • Water crises.
  • Asset bubbles in a major economy.

Analysis of the report and key takeaways:

Environmental risks dominate the global risks landscape in terms of impact and likelihood for the third year in a row. This includes extreme weather events and the failure of climate mitigation and adaptation. Only 12 years left to stay beneath 1.5C. However, there is a lack of political will to set more stretching targets to cut emissions. The report finds that business leaders are more concerned about the climate in the long term. This disconnect will need to be tackled.

Global risks are intensifying, but our capacity to respond to them is declining. Power is moving towards more nationalist, authoritarian states and they are becoming more inward-looking. With greater geopolitical friction, our ability to cooperate to solve challenges such as cyber risks and climate change has become more challenging.

Geopolitics and geo-economic factors, such as uncertainty and nationalism are fuelling risks. Innovation is also outpacing our ability to manage it and there are growing concerns around technology misuse.

Shorter-term fears are around geopolitical and cyber threats. For top business leaders, cyber risk concern is rising globally and is the highest ranked threat. Other concerns also exist including fiscal crises, unemployment, energy price shocks, national governance failure, interstate conflict, and natural disasters.

There is a significant financing gap (US$18 trillion) in infrastructure capital – with only US$79 trillion currently planned between now and 2040. This means 20% more financing is needed than we are putting in today. Furthermore, the infrastructure needs to be resilient to extreme weather events. Business, with its reliance on public sector infrastructure, will be impacted and need to work with the government on solutions.

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India, ADB sign USD 60 Million loan agreement to reduce floods in Assam

India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on December 13, 2018 signed a USD 60 million loan agreement to reduce floods and the riverbank erosion in Assam.

This Tranche 2 loan is part of the USD 120 million multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) of the ADB for the Assam Integrated Flood and Riverbank Erosion Risk Management Investment Program. The program was approved by the ADB Board in October 2010.

The agreement was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission.

The loan agreement aims to continue financing riverbank protection works, renovation of flood embankments, and community-based flood risk management activities in critically flood-prone areas along the Brahmaputra River in Assam.

Highlights of Loan agreement

  • The loan will have a 20-year term, including a grace period of 5 years.
  • It includes an Annual Interest Rate determined in accordance with ADB’s lending facility based on the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), and a commitment charge of 0.15 percent per year.

Projects funded under this Tranche 2 facility

  • It will fund a combination of structural and nonstructural measures in the three subproject areas of Palasbari-Gumi, Kaziranga, and Dibrugarh along the Brahmaputra River.
  • It includes 20 km of riverbank protection works and upgrading of 13 km of flood embankments.
  • The non-structural measures will cover community involvement and community-based flood risk management activities through establishing and training disaster management committees.
  • It will continue to support the institutional capacity development of the autonomous bodies, namely, Flood and River Erosion Management Agency of Assam (FREMAA), and Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), as the executing and implementing agencies for this Project.

Assam Integrated Flood and Riverbank Erosion Risk Management Investment Program

The Program is aimed at increasing the reliability and effectiveness of flood and riverbank erosion risk management systems in flood-prone areas of Assam.

It aims to strengthen the disaster preparedness of the communities, and developing institutional capacity and knowledge base for flood forecasting.

 

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1st International Conference on Sustainable Water Management inaugurated

The Governor of Himachal Pradesh, Shri Acharya Devvrat said that water – a source of life and a gift of nature to the mankind needs to be conserved and saved at all costs in all possible ways with collective efforts by one and all at all levels in an integrated and sustainable manner.

Aims of the Conference:

To foster the participation of and dialogue between various stakeholders, including governments, the scientific and academic communities, so as to promote sustainable policies for water management,

To create awareness of water-related problems, motivate commitment at the highest level for their solution and thus promote better management of water resources at local, regional, national and international levels.

The main aim is to bring advancement in water management system to further reduce flood and draughts all over the Globe.

 

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UN launches new framework to combat international terrorism

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on December 6, 2018 launched a new framework titled ‘UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact’ to combat international terrorism and coordinate efforts across the peace and security, humanitarian, human rights and sustainable development sectors.                                                                                                                  The framework is an agreement between the UN chief, 36 organisational entities, the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and the World Customs Organisation to better serve the needs of member states when it comes to tackling the scourge of international terrorism.

UN Framework: Key Highlights

  • The Coordination Committee of the United Nations will oversee the implementation of the framework and monitor its implementation. The committee is chaired by UN Under-Secretary-General for counter-terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov.
  • During the first meeting of the framework’s Coordination Committee, the committee also discussed strategic priorities for the next two years, based on the sixth review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, relevant Security Council resolutions and UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) assessments as well as the requests from member states for technical help.
  • The committee also looked into the organisation of work and ways to improve the delivery of an ‘All-of-UN’ capacity-building support to the member states.
  • The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact Task Force will replace the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, which was established in 2005 to strengthen UN system-wide coordination and coherence of counter-terrorism efforts.

Why do we need the framework?

The new framework has been introduced keeping in mind the need to ensure full respect for international human rights standards and rule of law in countering terrorism.

Speaking on the same, the UN Chief stated that the policies that limit human rights only end up alienating the very communities they aim to protect, which normally have every interest in fighting extremism and as a result, such policies can effectively drive people into the hands of terrorists and undermine prevention efforts.

Global terrorism threat

According to the UN Chief, despite recent successes against the ISIS and its affiliates, the threat posed by returning and relocating fighters, as well as from individuals inspired by them, remains high and has a global reach.

The 2018 Global Terrorism Index released by the Institute for Economic and Peace, indicates that despite a 27 per cent fall in the number of deaths from acts of terrorism worldwide, the impact of terrorism remains widespread, with 67 countries experiencing deadly attacks, which is the second highest recorded number of countries in the past twenty years.

While terrorist organisations like Da’esh and Al Qaida continue their terror threats and activities, neo-Nazi and far-right groups have begun using the Internet as a platform to mobilise support across borders through hate speech and exploit economic anxieties, radicalise, recruit and carry out attacks against nations.

Misuse of Emerging Technologies

At a time when terror is on a new high, the UN Chief has urged greater vigilance against the misuse of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, drones and 3D (three-dimensional) printing, as well as against the use of hate-speech and distortion of religious beliefs by extremist and terrorist groups.

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Ex-Diplomat Elected To UN’s Socio-Economic, Cultural Panel

Former senior Indian diplomat Preeti Saran has been elected unopposed to an Asia Pacific seat on the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) of the UN.

The UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) elected the recently-retired External Affairs Ministry Secretary (East) by acclamation on Wednesday to the 18-member committee of experts that monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR).

About Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR):

The CESCR was set up in 1985 by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.

It was constituted with an aim to monitor on its behalf the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR), which has been ratified by 169 countries.

The countries that are parties to the covenant are required to submit reports to the CESCR every five years on how they protect the economic, social and cultural rights.

The committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of concluding observations.

The Members of the CESCR serve in their personal capacities as experts and do not represent their countries even though they may be nominated by their own nation.

The CECSR meets in Geneva and holds two sessions per year, consisting of a three-week plenary and a one-week pre-sessional working group.

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G20: PM Modi calls for cooperation against fugitive economic offenders

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday (local time) presented a nine-point programme to take action against fugitive economic offenders during his address in the second session of the ongoing G20 Summit here.

Strong and active” cooperation among the G-20 nations. The document highlights the importance of cooperation in legal processes such as “effective freezing of the proceeds of crime; early return of the offenders and efficient repatriation of the proceeds of crime should be enhanced and streamlined”.

Joint efforts to be made by the G20 nations to form a mechanism that denies entry and safe havens to all fugitive economic offenders.

There is need for the “effective” implementation of the principles of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime (UNOTC).

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) should be called upon “to assign priority and to focus on establishing international co-operation that leads to a timely and comprehensive exchange of information between the competent authorities”.

The FATF should be tasked to formulate a standard definition of fugitive economic offenders.

The FATF should also develop a set of commonly agreed and standardised procedures related to identification, extradition and judicial proceedings for dealing with fugitive economic offenders to provide guidance and assistance to G-20 countries, subject to their domestic law”.

There is need for setting up of a common platform “for sharing experiences and best practices including successful cases of extradition, gaps in existing systems of extradition and legal assistance.”

The G20 forum should consider initiating work on locating properties of economic offenders who have a tax debt in the country of their residence for its recovery.

The programme for curbing the menace of fugitive economic offenders comes amid heightened efforts by India to apprehend a number of such offenders, including Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

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Every third child is malnourished, finds Global Nutrition Report 2018

We may be in the United Nations Decade of Nutrition but every country is affected by malnutrition, highlights the Global Nutrition Report 2018 released Thursday. About a third of the world’s children suffer some form of malnutrition.

According to the report, we have never been better equipped to fight malnutrition, yet the current burden is “unacceptably high”. Of 141 countries, 41 (28 per cent) are affected by all three forms of malnutrition—stunting among children, anaemia and obesity among women. A whopping 124 countries (88 per cent) suffers from at least two forms.

The Global Nutrition Report was conceived following the first Nutrition for Growth Initiative Summit (N4G) in 2013 as a mechanism for tracking the commitments made by 100 stakeholders spanning governments, aid donors, civil society, the UN and businesses.

Highlights of the report:

Global burden of malnutrition “remains unacceptably high and progress unacceptably slow”. Under-nutrition accounts for around 45% of deaths among children under five in low- and middle-income countries.

Overweight and obesity has led to around 4 million deaths and 120 million healthy years of life lost across the globe, with around 38.9% adults found to be overweight.

Among children under five years of age, 150.8 million are stunted, 50.5 million are wasted and 38.3 million are overweight; while 20 million babies are born underweight each year, it says.

The impact of malnutrition on global economy is close to US$3.5 trillion per year, with obesity alone costing US$500 billion per year.

A major section of the study looks at the quality, nutrient content and type of food consumed across the globe. The results suggest a disparity between developed and emerging markets, says the report.

The report says that regardless of wealth, school-age children, adolescents and adults are consuming too many refined grains, sugary foods and drinks, and not enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

India holds almost a third (31%) of the global burden for stunting, the prevalence of which differs from state to state. As per the UNICEF, stunting, or low height for age, is caused by long-term insufficient nutrient intake and frequent infections.

Stunting varies greatly from district to district (12.4% to 65.1%), with 239 of 604 districts accounting for stunting levels above 40%. The differences between districts were a result of multiple factors, including gender, education, economic status, health, hygiene, and other demographic factors.

India is the country with the largest number of children who are stunted at 46.6 million, followed by Nigeria (13.9 million) and Pakistan (10.7 million). The urban prevalence of stunting on average 19.2% compared with 26.8% in rural areas.

While wasting, or low weight for height, affects a greater proportion of rural children than urban. India again tops the list with the most number of wasted children at 25.5 million, followed by Nigeria (3.4 million) and Indonesia (3.3 million).

India is also among the countries with more than a million children who are overweight. As part of the report, a case study in Rajasthan found that key areas of infant and young child feeding and micronutrient supplementation were underfunded.

Way ahead- need of the hour- suggestions by the report:

·         Break down silos between malnutrition in all its forms.

·         Prioritise and invest in the data needed and capacity to use it.

·         Scale up financing for nutrition – diversify and innovate to build on past progress.

·         Galvanise action on healthy diets – engage across countries to address this universal problem.

·         Make and deliver better commitments to end malnutrition in all its forms – an ambitious, transformative approach will be required to meet global nutrition targets.

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India to Chair Kimberley Process from January 2019

India was handed the Chairmanship of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) by the European Union during the KPCS Plenary 2018, which was held in Brussels, Belgium, from November 12-16, 2018. India will take over the role from January 1, 2019.

Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice- President of the European Commission officially handed over the KPCS Chairmanship to India during the concluding day of the Plenary. Indian Commerce Secretary, Dr. Anup Wadhawan was present on the occasion.

India as a KPCS Chair will be committed to make the KPCS a stronger process in terms of inclusiveness, strengthened administration and implementation.

It will also be committed to making it more efficient in terms of delivery of what it promises, more transparent and empathetic towards the living standards of people who are dependent on the production, trade and manufacture of diamonds.

Further, recognising the issues and challenges of Artisanal & Small-Scale Mining (ASM), India aims to support the ASMs with capacity building, technical assistance and education on valuation, differentiation between natural and lab-grown diamonds and the importance of legal and formal mining practices.

The 4-day KPCS Plenary witnessed discussion on environmental challenges in diamond mining and industry responsibility.

India held bilateral meetings during the event with Botswana, US, Russian Federation and the World Diamond Council to discuss on various issues related to KPCS and its working groups.

On the side lines of the Plenary, the Chair of Working Groups conducted meetings to discuss some key issues like KP statistics and confidentiality, synthetic diamonds and separate HS code for synthetic rough diamonds, issues relating to review visit and review mission and the issue of Central African Republic (CAR).

India and KPCS

India is the founding member of KPCS and is actively involved in KP activities to ensure that almost 99 per cent of the diamond trade in the world is conflict free.

India is committed to maintaining KP as an efficient and effective process in order to ensure the conflict diamond free status.

Further, it is at the forefront in addressing the issue of differentiation between Natural Diamonds and Lab Grown Diamonds and ensure responsible business in this area.

India chaired the Ad hoc Committee on Review and Reform (AHCRR). The AHCRR held one joint session with Chairs of other Working Groups and 4 sessions with AHCRR committee members to discuss the issue of funding of Permanent Secretariat (PS), Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), peer review mechanism and consolidation to the core document.

About KPCS

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is a process, which was established in 2000 to prevent “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream rough diamond market by a United Nations General Assembly Resolution following recommendations made by the Fowler Report.

The process was set up “to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments.”

Since its launch, the Kimberley Process has contributed towards peace, security and prosperity.

It has proven to be an effective multilateral tool for conflict prevention in stemming the flow of conflict diamonds.

It has also made a valuable developmental impact in improving the lives of most people dependent on the trade in diamonds.

Since August 2013, the Kimberley Process has 54 participants, representing 81 countries. The next session is slated to be held in India as with the nation as the Chair. Botswana and the Russian Federation will serve as Vice-Chair during the period of 2019-2020.

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UN Environment commits to support a sustainable blue economy

Aiming for a better planet and a sustainable economy, UN Environment, together with over 100 delegations, presented various commitments at the first global conference on the sustainable blue economy that took place in Nairobi, Kenya this week.

Cognizant of the potential of cross-cutting policies to drive a sustainable blue economy, UN Environment committed to lead global partnerships to map, assess and value ecosystem services. With this knowledge, different sectors that rely on oceans can make well-informed and sustainable decisions that allow both people and the seas to benefit.

With various discussions around the urgent need for effective waste management taking place at the conference, UN Environment committed to strengthening global partnerships on marine litter, nutrient management and wastewater based on the principles of circularity.

About the Blue Economy Conference

This is the first global conference on the sustainable blue economy co-hosted in Nairobi, Kenya by Canada and Japan. Held from November 26 to 28, 2018 the conference brought over 4,000 participants from around the world captured concrete commitments and practical actions that can be taken today to help the world transition to the blue economy.

About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

Major Highlights:

Sagarmala Programme

It has identified 600 plus projects entailing a huge investment of $120 billion (nearly Rs. 8 lakh crore) by 2020.

It saves India $6 billion per annum in logistics costs besides creating 10 million new jobs and boosting port capacity by 800 Million Metric Tonne per Annum (MMTPA) to an overall 3500 MMTPA.

Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs)

It is developed with a proposed investment of $150 Million per location.

It will become a microcosm of the blue economy, with the growth of industries and townships that depend on the sea and contribute to global trade through sea connectivity.

It also focuses on the development of coastal communities and people through skill gap analysis, skill development centers to train coastal communities in the sustainable use of ocean resources, modern fishing techniques, and coastal tourism.

Several green initiatives were taken in the coastal regions like 31 MW of captive solar power generation at various ports, installation of oil spill response facilities, and

Study to identify ways to re-use wastewater at ports.

Important Role of Private Sector

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) took lead in 2016-2017 by establishing a task force to develop a business model on India’s engagement in the blue economy sector.

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Gender wage gap highest in India, women are paid 34% less than men: ILO

Women are paid the most unequally in India, compared to men, when it comes to hourly wages for labor. On average, women are paid 34 percent less than men, a recent report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has found. This gap in wages, known as the gender wage gap, is the highest among 73 countries studied in the report.

The trend holds true globally as well, but with lower levels of inequality among the sexes, where on average, hourly wages of women are 16 percent less than those of men. Inequality is higher in monthly wages, with a gap of 22 percent.

Overall, real wages grew just 1.8 percent globally (136 countries) in 2017.

These findings are presented in the flagship publication of the ILO, the Global Wage Report 2018-19, which was released on November 26. With empirical evidence that gender wage gap is visible even with women with higher levels of education, the report advocated that “emphasis needs to be placed on ensuring equal pay for women and men”.

This gender wage gap has remained unchanged at 20 percent from 2016 to 2017. Women are paid higher hourly wages than men in Bangladesh.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is the United Nations agency for the world of work. It sets international labor standards, promotes rights at work and encourages decent employment opportunities, the enhancement of social protection and the strengthening of dialogue on work-related issues.

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