Tag Archives: UN

A Continent of Hope

By António Guterres

Far too often, the world views Africa through the prism of problems. When I look to Africa, I see a continent of hope, promise and vast potential.

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

I am committed to building on those strengths and establishing a higher platform of cooperation between the United Nations and the leaders and people of Africa. This is essential to advancing inclusive and sustainable development and deepening cooperation for peace and security.

That is the message I carried to the recent African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — my first major mission as United Nations Secretary-General.

Above all, I came in a spirit of profound solidarity and respect. I am convinced that the world has much to gain from African wisdom, ideas and solutions.

I also brought with me a deep sense of gratitude. Africa provides the majority of United Nations peacekeepers around the world. African nations are among the world’s largest and most generous hosts of refugees. Africa includes some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

The recent resolution of the political crisis in the Gambia once again demonstrated the power of African leadership and unity to overcome governance challenges and uphold democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

I left the Summit more convinced than ever that all of humanity will benefit by listening, learning and working with the people of Africa.

We have the plans in place to build a better future. The international community has entered the second year of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an all-out effort to tackle global poverty, inequality, instability and injustice. Africa has adopted its own complementary and ambitious plan: Agenda 2063.

For the people of Africa to fully benefit from these important efforts, these two agendas need to be strategically aligned.

It starts with prevention. Our world needs to move from managing crises to preventing them in the first place. We need to break the cycle of responding too late and too little.

Most of today’s conflicts are internal, triggered by competition for power and resources, inequality, marginalization and sectarian divides. Often, they are inflamed by violent extremism or provide the fuel for it.

The United Nations is committed to working hand-in-hand with partners wherever conflict or the threat of conflict endangers stability and well-being.
But prevention goes far beyond focusing solely on conflict. The best means of prevention and the surest path to durable peace is inclusive and sustainable development.

We can speed progress by doing more to provide opportunities and hope to young people. More than three out of five Africans are under 35 years of age. Making the most of this tremendous asset means more investment in education, training, decent work, and engaging young people in shaping their future.

We must also do our utmost to empower women so they can play a full role in sustainable development and sustainable peace. I am pleased that the African Union has consistently placed a special focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

I have seen it again and again: When we empower women, we empower the world.

I travelled to Africa as a partner, friend and committed advocate for changing the narrative about this diverse and vital continent. Crises represent at best a partial view. But from a higher platform of cooperation, we can see the whole picture – one that spotlights the enormous potential and remarkable success stories in every corner of the African continent.

With that perspective, I have no doubt we can win the battle for sustainable and inclusive development which are also the best weapons to prevent conflict and suffering, allowing Africa to shine even more vibrantly and inspire the world.
António Guterres is Secretary-General of the United Nations

United Nations in Zambia to Commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day

PRESS RELEASE

Events to address tolerance, coexistence and peace

The Holocaust Memorial

Lusaka Zambia; From 27 January to 2 February 2017, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Lusaka will hold a series of events to observe the International Remembrance Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The programme will target children and youth in secondary schools and universities in Lusaka, Central and the Copperbelt provinces. Speakers will include UNIC staff, members of the Jewish community in Zambia and Non-Governmental Organizations that work around peace building and friendships.

The United Nations General Assembly, on 1st November 2005, adopted Resolution 60/7 designating 27th January as an Annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The date was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The purpose of the Holocaust Memorial Day is to remember and learn from the lessons of the past. The theme for Holocaust remembrance and education activities in 2017 is “Holocaust Remembrance: Educating for a Better Future”.

Approximately six million Jews who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazi regime and its collaborators during the Second World War through a systematic and state-sponsored fashion.

The Holocaust commemoration is important today as it offers lessons of not only the atrocities committed during the First World War but also on the need for tolerance, co-existence, conflict prevention and the respect for human rights. As killings of people in Africa and globally continues to be the order of the day as a result of armed conflict, the Zambian people can learn from these unfortunate events and not take peace for granted. There is need to guard against tribal differences and hate speech as they have the potential to cause conflict.

UNIC Lusaka will during the Holocaust commemorations engage children and youth as they are the future of Zambia who should grow up appreciating the need to defend our common humanity so that they can make correct decisions around peace in future.

The theme for the Holocaust remembrance this year emphasizes the fact that Holocaust education has a universal dimension and can serve as an appropriate platform for building respect for human rights, increasing tolerance and defending our common humanity. The Holocaust was a defining point in history and its lessons have much to teach about the danger of extremism and the prevention of genocide today.

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About UNIC Lusaka:

UNIC provides information services to the public that range from responding to general inquiries about the United Nations to organizing events commemorating special observances. Journalists, researchers, educators, Non-Governmental Organizations and the General Public also rely on UNIC for the lat

est United Nations information. Apart from a library, the centre also has a free internet service that clients can use for online research.

Issued by:

Mark Maseko

National Information Officer

UN Information Centre, Lusaka

Tel: +260-211-228487; Mobile: +260 955 767062; Email: masekom@un.org

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres Appeal for Peace

January 1 2017

The UN Secretary-General  Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

On my first day as Secretary-General of the United Nations, one question weighs heavily on my heart.

How can we help the millions of people caught up in conflict, suffering massively in wars with no end in sight?

Civilians are pounded with deadly force. Women, children and men are killed and injured, forced from their homes, dispossessed and destitute. Even hospitals and aid convoys are targeted.

No one wins these wars; everyone loses. Trillions of dollars are spent destroying societies and economies, fueling cycles of mistrust and fear that can last for generations. Whole regions are destabilized and the new threat of global terrorism affects us all.

On this New Year’s Day, I ask all of you to join me in making one shared New Year’s resolution:

Let us resolve to put peace first.

Let us make 2017 a year in which we all – citizens, governments, leaders – strive to overcome our differences.

From solidarity and compassion in our daily lives, to dialogue and respect across political divides… From ceasefires on the battlefield, to compromise at the negotiating table to reach political solutions…

Peace must be our goal and our guide.

All that we strive for as a human family – dignity and hope, progress and prosperity – depends on peace.

But peace depends on us.

I appeal to you all to join me in committing to peace, today and every day.

Let us make 2017 a year for peace.

Thank you.

 

 

UN Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan tours the Copperbelt: Economic Development and the SDGs

The UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Ms. Janet Rogan undertook a one-week tour of the Copperbelt from June 27 to June 30, 2016. During this time, she visited a number of private sector entities in the mining industry at small to large scale from Lufwanyama to Chililabombwe in order to better understand their business models and the various partnerships if any that exist and how they fit into the development agenda of the country and the SDGs. She also visited one of the largest beef producing farms in the country Zambeef located in Mpongwe district, Copperbelt.

Monday June 27

There were two visits to the Provincial Administration; courtesy calls to the Permanent Secretary Rev. Howard J Sikwela and the Commissioner of Police Ms. Charity Katanga

After the visits in Ndola, the mission went to Mpongwe and visited the Mpongwe Agriculture Development Corporation being managed by Zambeef Zambia limited. During the visit, the team was met by Ms. Brenda Lombard who is the Commercial manager. Ms. Lombard gave an outline of the operations of Zambeef and its expansion program in the chicken production unit, where it has plans to supply an average of 300,000 chicks every week. The expansion will create at least 3000 jobs for the locals and ready market for maize for the small scale farmers in and around Mpongwe, as Zambeef would require an average 30,000 tons of maize for stock feed production on a monthly basis.

The mission also visited one of the clinics and school that Zambeef supports. At the school the Ms. Rogan took time to engage with the pupils and discussed the role of the UN in development activities. She encouraged the girl child on the importance of getting an education with the message “school first and babies later”. She also shared the information with the pupils the work of the UN and this was appreciated as there was little knowledge on the subject matter. At the clinic she was given a tour of the facility and the services they provide including provision of ART and management of medical waste. On medical waste management the mission engaged the health staff to explore modern and efficient technologies of waste management that do not only contribute to environmental protection but also mitigate climate change such as autoclave.
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Tuesday June 28

UN Resident Coordinator, Janet Rogan Entourage touring Lufwanyama at Dambisa Mine

UN Resident Coordinator, Janet Rogan Entourage touring Lufwanyama at Dambisa Mine

The day begun with an inception meeting with the Executive Team of the Emerald Mining Association of Zambia in Kitwe. The president of the association gave a brief history of the mining operations on the Copperbelt and that of the Association highlighting the following:
• The need for capacity building to support the small scale miners
• Access to long term financing
• Need to help miners with skills development
• Support towards linkages to big players in the industry

While in Lufwanyama The RC’s entourage visited two small scale emerald mining sites (one operational, the other not) and a large scale mine owned and operated by Gemcanton.

i. The first site visited is owned by Ms. Violet Lewis and at the time of the visit, no mining activities were ongoing as it was flooded which is one of the challenges faced by small mining operations. The flooding occurs due to lack of equipment for pumping water.
ii. The second site visited was at Dabwisa Small Scale Mining Operation owned and managed by Mr. Malan Ngwira, a retired teacher. Despite being small scale, the local investor has mobilized heavy duty machinery to help in the mining of the emeralds. It was also observed that the work force had the appropriate protective gear to enable them work in the hazardous environment.

iii. Visit to Gemcanton/Grizzly Large Scale Emerald Mining: The visit begun with an induction from mine management at which they explained the investment portfolio of the mine. Key lesson at this mine was the deliberate effort to retool local uneducated staff in some of the

Snap shoot of the open pit mine at Gemcanton mine lufwanyama

Snap shoot of the open pit mine at Gemcanton mine lufwanyama

company’s mining chains. Local staff are being recruited to work as sorters, welders, miners and machine operators. After a period of 6 months, the recruited staff are awarded certificates which will enable them to get employed in any mine. The company is also supporting adult evening classes for those who want to learn English. From the time the company took over the operations of the mine in 2015, they have managed to increase the workforce from 300 to 700.

The team was then taken on a tour of the mining operations on site that included the open pit mine, the washer and sorting areas.

Gemcanton Management also reaffirmed its commitment to support other mining operations in the area and exploring possible partnerships with small scale miners especially in helping to negotiate better prices as they have global links with key players in the sector. They requested the UN to continue supporting the policy framework that would enable them to operate effectively. The issue of electricity supply was cited as a key challenge that the sector is facing. Furthermore, there is need for government to develop infrastructure such as roads to support the sector.

Wednesday June 29

Visit to Konkola Copper Mines, Chililabombwe and Nchanga

One of the anode making sections at Nchanga Mine in Chingola

One of the anode making sections at Nchanga Mine in Chingola

After meeting management at the headquarters of KCM, the team was taken on a tour of the underground mining operations in Chililabombwe and operations at Nchanga, Chingola and shown the process of how the copper anodes are produced.

Thursday June 30

Private Partnership meeting Mukuba Hotel, Ndola

Private Partnership meeting Mukuba Hotel, Ndola

Private Sector dialogue at Mukuba hotel, the RC delivered a speech at this forum and also gave an exclusive interview to the media houses present on the side lines of the dialogue. Among the issues she spoke on included the referendum, the bill of rights and its meaning to the people of Zambia.

The RC lead the discussion and advocacy on how the private sector could be part of the global development agenda through the UN led concepts on Business Call to Action and the Global Compact
Ndola Energy Limited (NEL) – Power producer (50 MW) from heavy fuels

After the the private sector dialogue meeting in the morning, the RC Team visited Ndola Energy, the team was oriented in the inner working of the plant and given a safety talk before being taken around the plant. The visitors learnt that NEL sells its power to ZESCO and depends on Indeni for its raw materials FCO that it uses in the production of electricity. The purpose of the visits was to engage with different players in the energy sector on how they can contribute towards the attainment of SDG 7, Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all and also contribute to the country’s energy mix

Friday July 1

Visit to Kitwe- Zambia Homeless and Poor People’s Federation

RC meeting with the women's group in kitwe

UN Resident Coordinator meeting with the women’s group in kitwe

The purpose of this visit was to showcase some of the women who have not only benefitted from housing units but also skills that they have obtained in assembling solar panels and installing them. The women’s group also makes its own bricks which it uses to construct houses in the area. Of the 150 plots given 100 of them have fully constructed units or are in various stages of completion.

Ms. Bupe the coordinator of the Federation explained that the financial support that the women received for raw materials was in the form of a loan that acted as revolving fund to help those in need of assistance.

One of the women took the team around her house and explained how she was able to design and install an electrical system for the solar panel, she also explained that she earns some extra income from the skills she obtained in assembling and installing solar systems within the neighborhood and beyond. RC congratulated the women for commitment and advised them to transform the initiative into a business.

“Zambia has the potential to become a disability champion in the African region” – UN expert

GENEVA / LUSAKA (28 April 2016) – “There are good opportunities to achieve the realisation of rights of persons with disabilities in Zambia,” today said United Nations Special Rapporteur Catalina Devandas, while urging the Government to fully implement a number of well-formulated and well-intended policies and strategies.

Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar (Costa Rica) was designated as the first Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities

Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities during a press briefing at Southern Sun Hotel, Lusaka. Photo credit UNIC Lusaka April 28, 2016.

“Zambia has the potential to become a disability champion in the African region, provided that the Government makes it a priority to implement the policy and legal framework on disability,” Ms. Devandas said at the end of her first official visit* to the country to assess the level of enjoyment of the rights of persons with disabilities.  

The UN expert highlighted numerous initiatives by the Zambian authorities to improve the protection framework for persons with disabilities, including the strengthening of the Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the production of a National Disability Survey, and the significant efforts undertaken to make its social protection framework inclusive of persons with disabilities.

In that regard, she encouraged the Government to continue advancing in the areas of accessibility, education, health, and employment, through the adoption of the necessary measures required to ensure the implementation and enforcement of the Persons with Disabilities Act and other relevant policies.
 
On the other hand, the Special Rapporteur also identified urgent challenges to be addressed, such as the stark disparities between rural and urban areas in relation to accessibility and availability of services. In addition, Ms. Devandas highlighted the situation of persons with albinism, who live in constant fear of being attacked and killed for their body parts, and urged the authorities to protect women and girls with disabilities, who are at heightened risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
 
The human rights expert also drew attention that the situation of persons with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities is of particular concern: “Deprivation of liberty on the basis of disability remains an accepted practice in Zambia,” she said pointing at the widespread assumption that persons with psychosocial or intellectual impairments have no legal capacity due to the lack of ‘mental capacities’.
 
During her stay, the Special Rapporteur visited the Chainama Hills Hospital in Lusaka and the psychiatric unit of the General Hospital in Ndola. “I was particularly appalled by the conditions of the psychiatric unit in Ndola, where persons with psychosocial disabilities are deprived of their liberty without their informed consent, are subjected to seclusion and forced treatment, including forced sterilization of women with disabilities,” she explained.

While she welcomed the efforts undertaken to draft a new Mental Health Bill, she urged the Government “to close the mental health settlements where persons with psychosocial disabilities are confined in remote areas of the country, and to invest instead in adequate and comprehensive community-based supports services.”

Other major challenges encountered by the independent expert are in the area of access to justice. “Complaints of abuse and discrimination by women and girls are mostly overlooked, and the majority of court buildings are inaccessible,” Ms. Devandas said. “Deaf persons are denied access to justice on equal basis with others, as sign language interpretation is not provided in courts.”

The UN Special Rapporteur visited the cities of Lusaka and Ndola, where she met with a variety of senior Government officials, and held discussions with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, other civil society actors, the UN system, and international cooperation actors.

The UN Special Rapporteur will present a report to the Human Rights Council in 2017 on the main findings of her visit.

Check the Special Rapporteur’s full end-of-mission statement: https://iconnect.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/,DanaInfo=www.ohchr.org+DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=19890&LangID=E


Ms. Catalina Devandas-Aguilar (Costa Rica) was designated as the first Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities in June 2014 by the UN Human Rights Council. Ms. Devandas Aguilar has worked extensively on disability issues at the national, regional and international level with the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund, the UN unit responsible for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the World Bank. Her work has focused on the rights of women with disabilities and the rights of indigenous peoples with disabilities. Learn more, log on to:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Disability/SRDisabilities/Pages/SRDisabilitiesIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Zambia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/ZMIndex.aspx

Press Statement on the riots in Lusaka, Zambia

LUSAKA, 20 April, 2016 – The United Nations is concerned over the recent riots and attacks on foreign nationals in Lusaka.

UN Zambia Resident Coordinator Ms. Janet Rogan

UN Zambia Resident Coordinator Ms. Janet Rogan

Xenophobia is nothing more than discrimination and violation of rights on the basis of nationality. Zambia has a strong reputation as a safe haven for those in need of international protection and has provided shelter to refugees for many years.

The attacks on the premises and persons of foreign nationals, especially Rwandese, Congolese and Burundians on suspicion of connection with several recent murders is a violation of their rights and a rejection of the rule of law. The individuals who committed these murders, whatever their nationalities are the only ones responsible for the crimes.  Mob attacks on individuals because of their nationality is wrong and can only further undermine peace and safety in our communities.

More than a hundred refugees of other nationalities have also been affected by the attacks and lawless behaviour, and been forced to seek refuge with the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This does not represent the hospitality and welcome extended by Zambian communities to refugees over the years.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Ms Janet Rogan, said “We commend the police for reestablishing peace in the compounds affected and urge all individuals to remain calm, respecting the rights of others, while the police continue their urgent investigations into the murders.”

INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY, February 3, 2016

INTEUNIC Lusaka ACTIVITY REPORT –
INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY, February 3, 2016

UNIC Lusaka organized an outreach activity at Ndola Technical School for Girls on February 3, 2016 in Ndola. The International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an important reminder of the universal lessons of the Holocaust, this was a very dark and sad period in human history; the NAZIs targeted the Jewish people with the sole purpose of total elimination of an entire race, however, other groups were not spared who included some religious groupings, gypsies, invalids, and prisoners of war. Over 6 million people met their end in death camps built by the NAZI’s across German occupied territory.

The Holocaust was a unique evil in the 20th century and cannot simply be consigned to the past and forgotten especially at a time in the 21st century when in some parts of the world similar atrocities are being committed of indiscriminate killings of defenseless people mostly women and children.

Inspired by the theme “The Holocaust and Human Dignity,” links Holocaust Remembrance with the founding principles of the United Nations and reaffirms faith in the dignity and worth of every person that is highlighted in the United Nations Charter, as well as the right to live free from discrimination and with equal protection under the law that is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In order to put the discussion into perspective, Charles Nonde, Team Assistant from UNIC Lusaka, gave a background of the Holocaust during the Second World War and gave insight on the theme for 2016, the students also watched a video entitled “The path to Nazi Genocide”. He shared with the audiences present that the purpose of Holocaust Memorial Day is to remember and learn from the lessons of the past by looking at different themes every year, further adding; that it also provides a way into discussing difficult issues such as racism, xenophobia, discrimination and bigotry among different faiths and diverse communities within a country and the world at large.

Besides the presentations done at the school, there was a public display of panels highlighting different aspects of the Holocaust. Social media tools such as bulk sms were used to reach out a further 20000 people around the country in ten provinces with the following messages sent out;

1. Today’s is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. More information at https://www.un.org/en/holocaustremembrance/

2. Do you know about the Holocaust? Visit the UN Information Centre to learn more

During the question and answer session the major concern raised was the senseless killings that were perpetrated because of ethnical and political differences perpetuated by one man to convince a whole country, there was a plea that outreach activities must not be restricted to commemorative days such as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, there is need for the outreach to be done on the regular basis so that people were continually reminded of the dangers associated with intolerance and the consequences thereof.

Questions asked during the session

1. How and why did the holocaust end in Germany (Europe)
2. What did the Jews do to the Germans for them to be branded inferior?
3. Are there any people who are still alive among those who escaped from Sobibor? If any, where are they now?
4. Did Hitler threaten his supporters in anyway?
5. What was the main aim of Dr Sigmund Rascher experiments and why did he specifically need to perform them on children?
6. What happened to the officials heading the camps after the Jews were rescued?
7. How were the soldiers who used to execute the Jews affected psychologically exactly?
8. Are the Jews still being killed in Germany?
9. Was there anything wrong with Hitler, mentally? Because it’s hard for me to believe that someone in their right mind could be so cruel!

Outreach in numbers:

Bulk sms: 20 000 countrywide
Hand out distribution: 1 500 in various locations
School outreach reach: 100 students

Prepared by Charles Nonde, Team Assistant

RNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY, February 3, 2016

Seventy Years of the United Nations

Article by the late former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, published in the UN Chronicle special double issue in 2015 celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations. It is one of the last articles former Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali wrote. In it, he reflected upon the future and what would make the Organization stronger and better able to serve humanity.

By Boutros Boutros-Ghali

To highlight the achievements of the United Nations in the past 70 years would fill many volumes, and I’m afraid that writing about my wishes for the United Nations in the next seven decades would fill even more books.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali is former Secretary-General of the United Nations, having served from January 1992 to December 1996.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali is former Secretary-General of the United Nations,
having served from January 1992 to December 1996.

But perhaps two moments stand out in the proud history of our Organization: the first is the invention of peacekeeping that allowed the United Nations to truly foster world peace through a mechanism we take for granted today, but which is unique in the history of international relations.

When I became Secretary-General, the first-ever summit meeting of Heads of State and Government of the Security Council took place, and their mandate to me was clear: develop the next generation of peacekeeping operations. Out of that mandate came An Agenda for Peace. I wish we still heeded the messages of that proposal.

Another great moment for the United Nations was the declaration of human rights, at the start of our Organization’s history, and the World Conference on Human Rights held at Vienna in 1993. There have been many conferences setting world agendas and goals before and after Vienna, but for the world to come together to define human rights, and to state clearly a global commitment to their achievement, was an important moment in history.

So what do I wish for the future? My wish is that we build on past achievements and update them for the modern world. Just as the United Nations invented peacekeeping, we now need to modernize the practice, and the Security Council’s use of the instruments at its disposal to promote international peace and security. We need a new Agenda for Peace.

We also need to build on the tremendous movement for human rights, and to help ensure that they are universally adopted. It took the same courage to state the universality of these principles in the Declaration and in Vienna, and apply it to the new attacks on the most basic human right: the right to life. Furthermore, we need courage and vision to reach a global consensus in an agreement on defining the scourge of terrorism, and a strong global commitment to fighting this evil.

I am confident that the United Nations, our United Nations, will continue to lead in innovation so that we reach the aim of the Charter for life “in larger freedom”.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali is former Secretary-General of the United Nations,

having served from January 1992 to December 1996.

 

Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

Why Addressing Inequality Matters by Chantal Line Carpentier, Richard Kozul-Wright and Fabio David Passos

The Rio+20 negotiations began amidst the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis, which made it abundantly clear that the economic, social and environmental imbalances that had built up recently could no longer be tackled separately, sequentially, or by countries acting alone. Despite rapid export growth, strong capital inflows and high commodity prices in the developing world, the resulting income gains had been unevenly distributed, and many poorer countries and communities remained vulnerable to shocks and reversals. Crisis came in the wake of slow growth, massive income redistribution in favour of the top 1 per cent and an explosion in private debt, provoking not only a degree of moral soul-searching but also raising concerns about the fragility of the social compact.

Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

It was recognized that the sustainable development goals (SDGs) would have to be more universal and more inclusive than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to address a wider range of socioeconomic differences around which inequalities had emerged and grown.

The Scale of Inequality

Compared to 30 years ago, income inequality has risen in a startling number of countries and is at its highest level in most member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since the end of the Second World War. Moreover, income inequality has been compounded by wealth inequality, particularly in countries with already high inequality levels such as the United States of America. Other traditionally more egalitarian countries, such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden, have also seen the gaps between rich and poor increase.

Economists have been making the connection between globalization and income convergence, and closing income gaps across nations appears to be a clear trend, reflecting the growth slowdown in rich countries and sustained rapid growth in China and later in India. However, the trend is less secure than many had initially envisaged (The Economist explains, 2014). Moreover, recent growth spurts in developing countries have themselves coincided with rising levels of inequality, in some cases as or even more pronounced than in advanced economies.

Combining these intra/inter-inequality trends is no easy task, though overall, the global Gini coefficient has, on some estimates, dropped slightly over the last 20 years (Lakner and Milanovic, 2013), in no small part because wage earners in the advanced countries have seen their incomes squeezed. Even so, and except for the few most unequal countries, it is still greater, and by far, than inequality within countries.

Understanding inequality dynamics and their links within and across countries is one of the biggest challenges facing analysts and is also at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda.

Why Inequality Matters?

It is clear that inequality can be a serious threat to social and political stability. There is a growing recognition, however, that it can also threaten sustained growth. A study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) showed that greater equality of income increased the duration of countries’ economic growth spells more than free trade, low government corruption, foreign investment, or low foreign debt (Berg and Ostry, 2011). There is literature exploring the links between growing inequality and economic shocks and crises (Bordo and Meissner, 2012), a connection that appears to be closely associated with the greater economic and political weight of unregulated financial flows and markets (UNCTAD, 2012).

Inequality jeopardizes the achievement of the overarching economic goals proposed by t he Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals, such as eliminating extreme poverty, boosting decent work and transforming economic structures. Inequality is not a matter of fate or chance and can be reversed through policies and reforms, a point made recently in the path-breaking research of Thomas Piketty. While solutions rest with national and regional policy makers, collective actions and measures at the international level also have a crucial role to play.

SDG 10: Reduce Inequality within and among Countries by 2030

The SDGs

The SDGs

The OWG on SDGs proposed a stand-alone goal on inequality with seven targets and three means to achieve them. The first target calls for the income of the bottom 40 per cent of the population to grow faster than the national average; the second—for the empowerment, social and economic inclusion of all, irrespective of race, ethnicity or economic status; and the third—for ensuring equal opportunity and reducing inequalities of outcome, including through eliminating discrimination by means of appropriate policies and actions.

Four other targets focus on progressively adopting policies to promote greater equality, including fiscal policies, regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions, policies to promote the orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people, and the long-standing issue of fair representation and voice of developing countries in the global governance system.

Proposed means of implementation are more vague and more difficult to quantify and to develop indicators that will help measure progress towards reducing inequalities. Further thinking is needed. Specific proposed means include: 1) upholding the principle of special and differential treatment for least developed countries (LDCs); 2) directing official development assistance and encouraging financial flows, including foreign direct investment to countries in special situation such as LDCs, African countries, small island developing States, and landlocked developing countries; and 3) reducing the cost of migrant remittances transfers to below 5 per cent.

Can We Achieve this Goal by 2030?

Whether the targets and means under SDG 10 and SDG 17 will reduce inequalities by 2030, depends on the robustness of indicators selected to guide and monitor progress, the presence of political will for regional and international cooperation to rebalance the global system, and strengthened policy coherence.

Tackling within country inequalities will require increased policy and fiscal space at the national level to enact the country-specific mix of policies needed to lift all boats and, in particular, to increase the income of those at the bottom. Two crucial variables will be jobs and wages. Job creation remains the only assured way of tack ling poverty on a sustained basis, in particular where the labour force is expanding rapidly. But rising wages are also necessary to expand domestic demand, increasingly seen as an essential component of more sustainable growth (UNCTAD, 2013). Countries will thus have to build the kind of infrastructure and productive capacity that lead to a more diversified economy, moving away from dependence on commodities and achieving some degree of success in more sophisticated industrial activities, which relies on industrial policy.

Addressing imbalances arising from the international economic system will require global reforms of financial, investment, trade, monetary and fiscal system in order to reduce volatility. International conventions against tax avoidance and evasion to stem the use of tax competition and tax havens to circumvent fiscal responsibilities would help ensure sufficient financing for long-term investment projects of the kind that are required to achieve the inclusive and sustainable development paths. Between 8 and 15 per cent of the net financial wealth of households is held in tax havens, resulting in a loss of public revenue amounting to between US $190 and US $290 billion annually. Half of it is from developing countries, which may also be losing over US $160 billion annually through misuse of “transfer pricing” and “thin capitalization” for shifting accounting profits to low or no-tax jurisdictions. Making mandatory and extending the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative would also help mobilize domestic resources.

While global reform will be slow, greater stability at the regional level can be generated by building up alternative rules and institutions to provide a degree of protection from financial shocks, requiring significant amount of capacity-building, South-South and triangular cooperation and also a fiscal cooperation space. For example, China’s success has relied on selective capital controls, countercyclical fiscal policy and active monetary policies aimed at stable exchange rates, as well as a full range of active industrial policies instead of solely focusing on GDP growth (UNCTAD, 2013).

Finally, an integrated policy framework that reflects all development models and ensures policy coherence across goals will be needed to assure that social, economic and environmental goals are mutually supportive.

References

Berg, Andrew G., and Jonathan D. Ostry (2011). Inequality and Unsustainable Growth: Two Sides of the Same Coin? Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund. IMF Staff Discussion Note SDN/11/08 (8 April).  Available from https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2011/sdn1108.pdf.

Bordo, Michael, and Christopher M. Meissner (2012). Does inequality lead to a financial crisis?, 24 March. Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)’s Policy Portal. Available from http://www.voxeu. org/article/does-inequality-lead-financial-crisis.

C.W. (2014). “Why globalization may not reduce inequality in poor countries” (2 September). The Economist explains. Available from http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/09/ economist-explains-0.

Lakner, Christoph and Branko Milanovic (2013). Global income distribution: from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the great recession, vol. 1. Policy Research Working Paper, No. 6719. Washington, D.C.: World Bank. Available from http://econ.worldbank.org/external/default/ main?pagepK=64165259&thesitepK=469382&pipK=64165421&me nupK=64166093&entityiD=000158349_20131211100152

Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (2011).

Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising. December 2011.

Available from http://www.oecd.org/els/soc /49170768.pdf.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2011). World Investment Report 2011: Non-equity Modes of International Production and Development. Sales No. E.11.ii.D. 2. Available from http:// unctad.org/en/publicationslibrary/wir2011_en.pdf.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2012). Trade Financing and Regional Financial Institutions from a South–South Perspective. Trade and Development Board. Investment, Enterprise and Development Commission Multi-year Expert Meeting on International Cooperation: South–South Cooperation and Regional Integration, Geneva, 24-25 October 2012. Distr.: General 15 August 2012. TD/B/C .II/MEM.2/11. Available from
http://unctad.org/meetings/en/sessionalDocuments/ciimem2d11_en.pdf.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2013).

Growth and Poverty Eradication: Why Addressing Inequality Matters. Post-2015 Policy Brief, no. 02, November 2013. New York and Geneva. Available from http://unctad.org/en/publicationslibrary/

presspb2013d4_en.pdf.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2014). Website of the 61st session of UNCTAD Trade and Development Board. Available from http://unctad.org/en/pages/MeetingDetails.aspx?meetingid= 490.

First published in the UN Chronicle, Department of Public Information, United Nations.

Chantal Line Carpentier is Chief of the New York office of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Richard Kozul-Wright is Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at UNCTAD. Fabio David Passos is an intern at UNCTAD and a student in International Economic Politics and Financial Markets at School of Professional Studies, Center for Global Affairs, New York University.

Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

A Sustainable Future of Infrastructure By Grete Faremo

UNOPS has a key role to play in building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation

Investing in basic, sustainable infrastructure is essential to improving the living standards for communities worldwide. When we speak of the basics, we mean the fundamentals. These are issues which comprise common human needs all over the world. Just because these are basics, however, does not mean that addressing such concerns correctly is a simple task. In the case of infrastructure it requires coordinated, long-term planning that stretches across geographic, political and cultural boundaries.

Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

For too long infrastructure has been understood and evaluated solely by the presence of a building or a completed roadway. We know, however, that a hospital cannot function without a solid waste system, and a waste system, in turn, cannot function without the acquired and applied knowledge, institutions and underlying resources necessary to manage it. Yet when we talk about infrastructure, this understanding beyond the immediate is still too often overlooked. We need a shift in this thinking.

Quite simply, without infrastructure we would not have a healthy society. Essential services such as health care and education require infrastructure. For communities and businesses to operate and thrive, they need access to goods and markets. Infrastructure must respond to societal needs, but it also should be evaluated for its long-term outcome, including the resources required to ensure longevity.

Many of the proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs) will require solid, functional and sustainable infrastructure if they are to be reached. Reliable forms of energy, the availability of potable water, education, safety and security, social and economic services—all of these are made possible through resilient infrastructure.

However, this very reliance creates significant challenges. We must consider the bigger picture, both in terms of the opportunities and the risks. We must support development, but what if something goes wrong? What is the environment in which we are operating? What are the issues in today’s world? With climate change, for example, comes an increase in the frequency of natural disasters. So sustainable infrastructure not only supports development, but is essential for post-disaster recovery as well.

With our mandate within the United Nations system to lead on infrastructure, and our 20 years of experience developing infrastructure projects, the success of any infrastructure goal requires learning the lessons from practical experiences. We have this at the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). The international community and industry must work together to ensure that investment in infrastructure considers risk, placing security and resilience at its core.

At UNOPS our experience is broad and built upon partnerships. We work with the United Nations system, Governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. Our model encourages private investors to prioritize sustainable development. And right now, increased investment is needed to improve the security and resilience of critical infrastructure in developing countries.

The destruction caused by recent natural disasters in communities around the world highlights the need for a risk-based approach to sustainable infrastructure. Our work covers these areas. For example, in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, UNOPS supported the United Nations Development Programme and the International Labour Organization in a wide range of post-disaster activities, including the construction of shelters for the affected populations and managing the vast quantities of debris. We have also supported the Government of Brazil in constructing earthquake and cyclone resistant community hospitals, which incorporate environmentally friendly infrastructure such as external solar lamps and rainwater harvesting. There are many more such examples.

Existing infrastructure is also an important consideration. Assessments should be conducted seeking to understand how the structures already in place can be serviced and repaired. How do various developments interact with existing water treatment facilities, roads, bridges and utility grids, wherever they are in the world? It sounds simple, yet in many cases and in many parts of the world this factor is of ten overlooked.

Where risks cannot be eliminated, we need to improve management and mitigation. Disaster risk reduction aims to reduce the damage caused by natural hazards through prevention. There

The SDGs

The SDGs

is a direct correlation between risk and resilience—a reduction in risk contributes to an increase in resilience. In turn, effectively managing risk in our projects will contribute to more sustainable infrastructure development. This connection also needs to be better understood.

Whereas the resilience of infrastructure can be seen as the ability to absorb stresses caused by natural hazards—for example, how a building responds to an earthquake—the sustainability of infrastructure looks at the impact of that building on the environment. Sustainability helps reduce the footprint of a development, while resilience allows infrastructure to better withstand environmental impacts.

There are many principles and complexities within these issues. Ultimately, what is clear is that infrastructure systems must be developed in a way that supports essential services over the long term, beyond political cycles.

Without consideration of all of these factors, sustainable infrastructure will always be just a horizon we never reach. Which is why as we set the future agenda, we must not forget that truly sustainable development is reliant on its foundations, on the infrastructure upon which success can be built.

First published in the UN Chronicle, Department of Public Information, United Nations.

 

Grete Faremo is Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Project Services.