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Illicit financial flows rob Africa of $50bn annually

3 Apr

ILLICIT financial flow from the extractive sector particularly in the diamond mining industry is one of the biggest impediments to the development of the economy, experts in the sector have said.

Very little revenue from diamonds has gone to the national economy as most of the companies, save for one, have not contributed to the fiscus. Communities in the mining areas also have not developed since the discovery of the diamonds in Mutare West constituency.

Politicians, government officials, captains of industry, civil society organisations and other stakeholders have often raised concern over the manner in which the diamonds are being extracted and the little revenue getting into the national economy.

The bulk of diamonds from Chiadzwa have found their way into other countries through informal ways and the revenue has always been circulating outside the national economy.

Several other players ranging from the mining firms, authorities in government, local and foreign dealers have been fingered in the diamond looting resulting in illicit financial flows.

According to Africa University lecturer in the department of Institute of Peace Leadership and Governance, Solomon Mungure, illicit financial flows started at the height of the country’s economic hardships and to date the vice was out of control.

“Extracting started off as an informal enterprise and it was happening in a failed economy. The easiest revenue was resorting to nature for example selling firewood or illegal panning of minerals,” said Mungure during a Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela)-organised capacity building workshop in Mutare last week.

“Because we didn’t have the buying currency then people resorted to panning and selling the minerals to neighbouring countries or to foreigners who had the hard currency.”

He said during that time, government did not put any effort to ensure that the minerals were sold locally.

“There was actually an incentive for people to sell minerals outside the country considering the economic crisis at that moment,” Mungure said.

“The diamond and gold sectors have serious undercovers, opaque networks which can only be located in powerful capital pockets. At that time Zimbabwe was vulnerable. This means there were no taxes or royalties being paid. This indicated that the revenue base remained very weak and we had no investors coming to Zimbabwe.”

Mungure said lack of development was due to looting by mining corporates because all those miners are not accountable to the government and the people.

He said if the money from the diamond proceeds were put in the national economy to support other industries then the situation might be different from what is currently prevailing in the country.

Lyman Mlambo, who is the chairman of the Institute of Mining Research at University of Zimbabwe, said illicit financial flows emanating from the extractive sector should be a cause for concern to every citizen.

He outlined numerous ways in which the country suffered due to such practices.

“The money realised through illicit transactions escapes the formal system and the government can’t tax it and there is thus loss of potential tax revenue for government,” Mlambo said.

“Illicit flows affect the total amount of formal export revenue coming into the country hence the ability of the government to import important capital equipment for the development of the country will be affected. Illicit revenue tends to end up importing consumer goods mainly and not capital goods required for the development of the country as a whole.”

He said illicit flows distorted accuracy of reported statistics on revenue, production, trade, among others.
“Statistics are important for research, for government and industry decision-making, and should have a reasonable level of accuracy,” the mining expert said.

“It affects budgeting and development planning as the moneys made are unknown and are unavailable for example it perpetuates inequity and we have creation of money barons.”

Mlambo added that illicit flows in the form of transfer pricing, re-invoicing, thin capitalisation by big multinational companies perpetuate imperialism in a hidden way.

Transfer pricing is whereby a mine in Zimbabwe sells at very low prices its product to a sister company outside Zimbabwe for further processing after which the processed product is sold at high prices in the international market, thus the mine in Zimbabwe can make losses so that its sister company outside makes super profits which Zimbabwe cannot tax.

Re-invoicing is whereby a mining company in Zimbabwe forms a commodity brokering company in another country to which it sells the minerals for a song.

The brokering company just resells, without further processing the minerals, for high prices.

Thin capitalisation is whereby a mining company in Zimbabwe is funded by its parent company outside by very high-interest loans.

That way the local company makes little profit or heavy losses due to interest payment to the parent company outside.

According to Mlambo all these are methods of shifting profit from the country where resources are being exploited to developed countries or other countries thereby swindling the country hosting the mineral resources.

Tafadzwa Chikumbu from African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) said the resultant net effect of illicit financial flows from the extractive sector will only hit the hardest on the poor communities.

“Mineral resource extraction is a sector where we extract a finite resource. Where the mining government should have the maximum benefits. The reasons why the minerals are not benefiting much is leakages. It comes with corruption, illegal resource exploitation and illicit financial flows,” he said.

“The mining companies are using loopholes within the tax systems and lack of capacity of the Zimra to avoid paying taxes.”

Chikumbu added: “The net effect is that revenue to the government is so low and they cannot offer quality services to the people in terms of infrastructure development, provision of clean water, good medical services among others.

“It will also result in the government introducing more taxes and the poor will continue to be burdened through taxes.”

Kimberley Process Civic Society (KPCS) Zimbabwe co-ordinator Shamiso Mtisi said the general impact of illicit financial flow was significant because if one looked at the statistics of production they do not meet the revenue realised.

There was a huge disparity on production figures released by the KPCS and ZimStat, a situation that will paint a picture of secrecy on operations of the sector.

“There is an indication that most of the minerals and subsequently the revenue are not coming into the fiscus, they are sold through the black market. The inconsistency on the figures shows that the country is being deprived of revenue by the officials in the companies and government officials who control mining,” Mtisi said.

He said in terms of the illicit financial flows, some companies evaded paying taxes.

“But where is the money going because we have nothing to show for it?” Mtisi asked.

“The Chinese are ripping Zimbabwe off because we don’t have beneficiation infrastructure. While it might not be illegal, it’s immoral. It means the government is not doing enough to promote the industry. The link with communities is that if there were no illicit financial flows then the communities will be in a position to develop, buy medicines, build roads, schools and finance other social amenities as well as paying of salaries.”

Up to now community members from Marange and those relocated to Arda Transau are complaining of unfulfilled promises made to them by the diamond mining companies. On the other hand the companies are complaining that business is low and they cannot afford to honor their pledges.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, illicit financial flows out of
Africa have become a matter of major concern because of the scale and negative impact of such flows on Africa’s development and governance agenda. By some estimates, illicit flows from Africa could be as much as $50 billion per annum. Article written by BY OBEY MANAYITI, Newsday

Source:

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Audit RBZ $1,3 billion debt first’

11 Mar

HARARE – Civil society organisations have petitioned Jacob Mudenda, the Speaker of the National Assembly, to first audit the central bank’s $1,3 billion debt before adopting the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Debt Assumption Bill.

The petition, undersigned by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) and its affiliate members including African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (Afrodad) and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, called for an official audit of the $1,3 billion debt to increase democratic accountability over the country’s finances and help give Zimbabwe’s citizens control over their economy.

The petition was handed to Mudenda last Thursday.

The petitioners expressed concern that the parliamentary debates did not focus on substantive issues and further accused the legislature of debating the matter in a partisan manner.

The legislature was accused of proceeding to consider the Bill without carrying out a “public, transparent and participatory audit of the debt as well as disclosing the beneficiaries”.

“Now therefore, the petitioners beseech the National Assembly of the Parliament of Zimbabwe to urge Members of Parliament to reject the Bill as the economy and taxpayers cannot afford to take-over of such a huge debt,” reads the petition.

The civic society groups called on the august House to set up a Public Debt Commission bringing together representatives from various stakeholders to conduct the debt audit.

 

Through a parliamentary Debt Audit Commission, Zimbabweans will get to know what loans the government of Zimbabwe acquired; for what purpose, and whether or not the borrowed money was actually used for its intended purpose.

They also recommended that the RBZ first liquidate its non-core assets to pay off the debt. The apex bank has interests in Astra Holdings, Cairns Holdings, Homelink and Carslone Enterprise.

“We call upon Parliament to enact a law that sets limits on borrowings by the State, the public debt and debts and obligations whose payment or repayment is guaranteed by the State as prescribed by Section 300 of the Constitution,” the petition says.

Mudenda was unreachable for comment.

The civic society groups called for transparency in the handling of all transactions involving the national debt.

“We are worried about the devastating effects on the economy arising from the debt take-over; and extremely concerned about the glaring conflict of interest arising from the MPs voting on the Bill when they are beneficiaries.”

Other organisations who are signatories to the petition include the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association, National Youth Development Trust, the Southern and East African Trade Information and Negotiation Institute of Zimbabwe.

Opposition MDC MPs have threatened to sink the Bill until an audit has been conducted. Source: Daily News Zimbabwe

Africa’s rising debt ‘unsustainable’ – Expert

2 Mar

Dr. Fanwell Kenala Bokosi, Executive Director of The African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) — a civil society organisation that advocates for debt cancellation, has described Africa’s rising debt as “unsustainable”.

“Accumulating debt is not the way forward, and the rate at which it is building up is unsustainable. Firstly, when you acquire debt you have to pay more than you get because it comes with interest; and secondly, debt makes it difficult for you to do the things you want,” he said.

He added that most of these financial assistances come with conditions that leave governments with limited policy space to make the most of such loans.

“Since they (creditors) want to make sure that the monies are paid, they add conditions which do not allow you (African s or institutions) to spend on the sectors that matter to you. I don’t think that debt helps in the continent’s development,” he added.

Ghana successfully issued its third Eurobond in September last year, which raised US$1billion. With a 12-year maturity period, the coupon came at 8.1percent and was used to fund capital expenditure in the 2014 budget; counterpart funding for pipeline projects; and refinancing domestic and external debt.

The country issued its first Eurobond, a 10-year bond eight years ago. The issue, which raised US$750million from investors at a coupon of 8.5 percent, made Ghana the first nation in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa to borrow from international capital markets.

In 2013 Ghana successfully raised US$1billion from the international market in the second issue, which was heavily oversubscribed. It raised US$750million in cash and US$250million in a buy-back of the 2007 issue.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has repeatedly cautioned countries in Africa about the dangers of growing sovereign bond issuance, particularly in international currencies.

The warning comes as the continent enjoys a virtuous circle of strong economic growth and improved governance that many have enthusiastically called “Africa-rising”.

Sovereign bond issuance from countries such as Gabon and Rwanda helped African countries to raise a record US$11billion in 2013, up from US$6billion a year earlier. In 2000, African states raised a paltry US$1billion from capital markets.

“That is additional financing, but it is an additional vulnerability,” Ms Lagarde said.

When Zambia returned to the sovereign bond market last year, it had to pay a yield of 8.625percent for a 10-year US$1billion note — up from 5.63percent on its bond market debut in 2012.

In 2014 countries like Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire (less than five years after a government-debt default) placed bonds worth as much as US$1billion, with all the issues oversubscribed. Kenya’s record-breaking sale of US$2billion in debt was four times oversubscribed.

The continent has been deep in debt before, and is in danger of a rerun. According to the IMF, in 2009 the whole of sub-Saharan Africa raised less than US$5billion through bond issues, including both private and sovereign bonds.

By 2013 that had grown to US$14billion, and the 2014 total was US$20billion. Africa’s total debt-to-GDP ratio, which had fallen to less than 30percent by 2008 (thanks to debt forgiveness as well as booming commodity prices), remains low because GDP has been growing fast. But in some countries debt is now heading back up toward 70percent of GDP or beyond.

Ghana’s debt-to-GDP ratio currently stands at 60.8 percent. A high debt-to-GDP ratio indicates an economy that is unable to produce and sell sufficient goods and services to pay back debts — and therefore incurs further debt.

By standards of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), low-income economies whose debt-to-GDP ratio exceeds 60 percent face serious risks of falling into a deeper economic mess.

Dr. Bokosi noted that it is important for African governments to have an idea of how they will put the money to good use. “The institutions and people who give these loans are in business, so whether you are using it or not, they don’t care; as long as you are going to pay.”

He added that since most of these African countries rely on exports of certain commodities whose prices are not forecast-able or stable over time, African government should not borrow when they are not too sure about what to do and how to go about it.

But the trend doesn’t look likely to slow down this year either. Ivory Coast began a round of talks earlier this year with potential creditors in the hope of securing further credit, just seven months after borrowing US$750million.

The West African country is not alone: Angola, which has approached banks including Goldman Sachs for loans, is in talks to issue its first sale of international currency debt. Investors say Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Nigeria are all set to follow.

According to British think-tank the Overseas Development Institute, countries in sub-Saharan Africa are threatening losses of close to US$11billion if their currencies continue to depreciate against the dollar and they are unable to repay money borrowed over the last two years.

Excerpt from

http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/business/artikel.php?ID=351723

The adoption of the new High Level Panel report on Illicit Financial Flows hailed

2 Feb

The African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), a Pan African organisation born of a desire to secure lasting solutions to Africa’s debt and development challenges, hails the adoption of the new report from the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) High Level Panel (HLP) on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) from Africa chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki. Despite the report being overdue, AFRODAD supports this positive step towards curbing resource leaks which have negatively affected the development trajectory of the African continent.  It is now time for the African Union to go beyond the surface of this report and implement mechanisms that will deal with this problem in a decisive manner.

The report’s figure of more than US$50 billion being lost annually through IFFs support the findings of the report, “Honest Accounts? The True Story of Africa’s Billion Dollar Losses,” written  by AFRODAD and its partners that included; Health Poverty Action, Jubilee Debt Campaign, Tax Justice Network, among others, with support from the European Union.In that report AFRODAD concluded that Africa is being drained of resources to the tune of US$192 billion which pales in comparison to the US$134 billion that flows into the continent each year in the form of loans, foreign investment and aid. AFRODAD is also concerned that the extractive sector is the most affected by IFFs through transfer mispricing, secret and poorly negotiated mining contracts.

The above figures are disturbing to a continent endowed with natural resources yet 46.8% of its people in Sub-Saharan Africa live on less than US$1.25 a day.  In order or the AU to realize the objectives of the Agenda 2063 it needs optimize use of Africa’s resources for the benefit of all Africans.  AFRODAD believes that if the AU closed the tax loopholes and stopped giving generous incentives to foreign companies, it will not only mobilize resources that could be used to pay off some of Africa’s debt burden but accelerate the realization of the aspirations of the people of Africa as expressed in the vision of Agenda 2063 of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”

AFRODAD is calling on the AU to among other things:

  • Urgently set up an organ on IFFs charged with implementing six recommendations outlined in the HLP report.
  • African countries should heed the recommendation of the report and put in place clear and concise laws and regulations that make it illegal to intentionally incorrectly or inaccurately state the price, quantity, quality or other aspect of trade in goods and services in order to move capital or profits to another jurisdiction or to manipulate, evade or avoid any form of taxation, including customs and excise duties.

In addition:

  • AFRODAD supports the creation of an international treaty on transfer pricing so as to enhance transparency on global tax administration.  The treaty must make it mandatory for Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) to provide all relevant governments with information on their global allocation of revenue, economic activity and taxes paid among countries according to a common template.
  • AFRODAD agrees with the suggestion that this treaty should be supervised by the AU and UN as they are best placed to ensure that recommendations from HLP report are implemented.

For media enquiries contact:

Information and Communications
African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD)
31 Atkinson Drive, Hillside
PO Box CY1517, Causeway,
Harare, Zimbabwe
Telephone +263 4 778531/6 or 2912751-4
Telefax +263 4 747878
E-mail: info@afrodad.co.zw

Donations from West mask ‘US$60bn looting’ of Africa

12 Aug

illicit2WESTERN countries are using aid to Africa as a smokescreen to hide the “sustained looting” of the continent as it loses nearly US$60 billion a year through tax evasion, climate change mitigation, and the flight of profits earned by foreign multinational companies, a group of NGOs has claimed.Although sub-Saharan Africa receives US$134 billion each year in loans, foreign investment and development aid, research released last week by a group of UK and Africa-based NGOs suggests that US$192 billion leaves the region, leaving a US$58 billion shortfall.

The report says that while Western countries send about US$30 billion in development aid to Africa every year, more than six times that amount leaves the continent, “mainly to the same countries providing that aid”.

The perception that such aid is helping African countries “has facilitated a perverse reality in which the UK and other wealthy governments celebrate their generosity whilst simultaneously assisting their companies to drain Africa’s resources”, the report claims.

It points out that foreign multinational companies siphon US$46 billion out of sub-Saharan Africa each year, while US$35 billion is moved from Africa into tax havens around the world annually.

The study, which also notes that African governments spend US$21 billion a year on debt repayments, calls for the aid system to be overhauled and made more open.

It says aid sent in the form of loans serves only to contribute to the continent’s debt crisis, and recommends that donors should use transparent contracts to ensure development assistance grants can be properly scrutinised by the recipient country’s parliament.

“The common understanding is that the UK ‘helps’ Africa through aid, but in reality this serves as a smokescreen for the billions taken out,” said Martin Drewry, director of Health Poverty Action, one of the NGOs behind the report.

“Let’s use more accurate language. It’s sustained looting – the opposite of generous giving – and we should recognise that the City of London is at the heart of the global financial system that facilitates this.”

Research by Global Financial Integrity shows Africa’s illicit outflows were nearly 50 percent higher than the average for the global south from 2002-11. The UK-based NGO ActionAid issued a report last year that claimed half of large corporate investment in the global south transited through a tax haven.

Supporting regulatory reforms would empower African governments “to control the operations of investing foreign companies”, the report says, adding: “Countries must support efforts under way in the United Nations to draw up a binding international agreement on transnational corporations to protect human rights.”

But NGOs must also change, according to Drewry: “We need to move beyond our focus on aid levels and communicate the bigger truth – exposing the real relationship between rich and poor, and holding leaders to account.”

The report was authored by 13 UK and Africa-based NGOs, including: Health Poverty Action, Jubilee Debt Campaign, World Development Movement, African Forum and Network on Debt and Development, Friends of the Earth Africa, Tax Justice Network, War on Want, Medact, Friends of the Earth South Africa, JA!Justiça Ambiental/Friends of the Earth Mozambique.

Sarah-Jayne Clifton, director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “Tackling inequality between Africa and the rest of the world means tackling the root causes of its debt dependency, its loss of government revenue by tax dodging, and the other ways the continent is being plundered.

“Here in the UK we can start with our role as a major global financial centre and network of tax havens, complicit in siphoning money out of Africa.”

A UK government spokesman said: “The UK put tax and transparency at the heart of our G8 presidency last year and we are actively working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to ensure companies are paying the tax they should and helping developing countries collect the tax they are owed.” – The Guardian.

SOURCES: http://www.herald.co.zw/donations-from-west-mask-us60bn-looting-of-africa/

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jul/15/aid-africa-west-looting-continent

 

Set up commission to undertake debt audit

6 Aug

Flag-map-of-ZimbabwePARLIAMENT should set up a commission to conduct an audit before debt relief mechanisms can be considered as part of a roadmap to resolve the country’s
$9,9 billion external debt, a social and economic justice coalition has recommended.

Last month, Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa announced the setting-up of a Zimbabwe Debt Management Office (ZADMO) to maintain a comprehensive and credible computerised database of all public and publicly guaranteed external debt.

Chinamasa said the sweeping reforms would also see the Ministry of Finance as the final signatory in all loan contractions by parastatals and local authorities.

In an analysis of the reforms to curtail loan contraction, the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) said to find a lasting solution, national public debt audit would bring to the surface the “origins, structure and legitimacy, how much is owed to who, growth and impact of loans on social and economic development”.

“Zimcodd therefore calls for the Zimbabwe Parliament to immediately set up a Public Debt Commission to conduct an official audit before any debt relief mechanism can be considered,” it said.

“The commission should utilise the doctrine of odious debt, and recommend the repudiation of any previous loans which fall under this category.”

Zimcodd said the government should focus on domestic resource mobilisation and plugging “of illicit outflows through high levels of corruption, tax evasion and tax dodging in the extractive industry, particularly the mining sector”.

Zimbabwe’s huge debt has militated against the country’s capacity to attract lines of credit needed to reboot the economy.

The country has no capacity to repay the loans.

Zimcodd said it was concerned by Chinamasa’s proposals to promote the principle of vesting the power to borrow in a single authority as the move was unconstitutional since it violated section 298 (Principles of Public Accountability) and section 299 (Parliamentary Oversight of State Revenues and Expenditure) of the Constitution.

“The executive must ensure that Parliament must at every opportunity be afforded space to exercise its oversight role in all State revenues and expenditure as stated in section 299 of the Constitution,” it said.

It said the composition of the proposed External Loans and Domestic Debt Management Committee (ELDDC) was not adequate as it marginalises the public by only including the central bank governor, Treasury permanent secretary and the Attorney-General.

Zimcodd said Parliament, through portfolio committees, and civil society organisations that are working on debt and economic justice should be included in ELDDC.

SOURCE: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2014/08/06/set-commission-undertake-debt-audit/

Western aid a deception

22 Jul

A recent report by international researchers claims Western aid is being used as a cover to plunder Africa’s resources.
The report, “Honest Accounts? The true story of Africa’s billion dollar losses”, released in Britain a fortnight ago, was undertaken by Health Poverty Action, Jubilee Debt Campaign, World Development Movement, African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), Friends of the Earth Africa, Tax Justice Network, People’s Health Movement Kenya, Zimbabwe and UK; War on Want, Community Working Group on Health Zimbabwe, among others, with support from the European Union.

It says Africa records a net annual loss of US$58,2 billion through activities by foreigners which include profits made by multinational companies, illicit financial outflows and brain drain while the continent has to pay heavily to adapt to climate change caused by industrialised countries.

The report fingers Britain, which boasts giving African countries aid mainly for political reasons, as being part of this “deception”.

It notes that the so-called aid has strings attached including the awarding of contracts to rich donor countries.

Britain, through its aid agency Department for International Development, claims to have invested millions of dollars in Africa.

“If politicians really want to outdo each other in demonstrating their desire to tackle global poverty then they need to accept their role in perpetuating it and commit to reforming those international systems that cost Africa resources. And the UK’s international NGO sector must pressure them to do so,” reads the report.

“The reality is that Africa is being drained of resources by the rest of the world. It is losing far more each year than it is receiving. While US$134 billion flows into the continent each year, predominantly in the form of loans, foreign investment and aid; US$192 billion is taken out, mainly in profits made by foreign companies, tax dodging and the costs of adapting to climate change.

“The result is that Africa suffers a net loss of US$58 billion a year. As such, the idea that we are aiding Africa is flawed; it is Africa that is aiding the rest of the world.”

The report adds: “An aid smokescreen has descended. It has facilitated a perverse reality in which the UK and other wealthy governments celebrate their generosity whilst simultaneously assisting their companies to drain Africa’s resources; companies promote their ‘corporate responsibility’ whilst routing profits through tax havens; wealthy philanthropists donate money whilst their companies dodge tax.”

Previous researches, including Dr Dambisa Moyo’s “Dead Aid”, have doubted the efficacy of aid to Africa.

By Tichaona Zindoga Senior Political Writer

SOURCE: http://www.herald.co.zw/western-aid-a-deception/

World Enviroment Day 2014 #WorldEnviromentDay2014

5 Jun

ImageAs we commemorate World Environment Day (WED), the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) calls upon the developed world to speedily honour their pledges in providing funds for climate change financing for mitigation and adaptation efforts to protect our environment (planet earth). In the same vein, there is need for Africa to collectively pool its own resources to address the adverse impacts of climate change to our environment.

WED is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Over the years it has grown to be a broad, global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated by stakeholders in over 100 countries. It also serves as the ‘people’s day’ for doing something positive for the environment, galvanising individual actions into a collective power that generates an exponential positive impact on the planet.

The United Nations Secretary-General Message on World Environment Day, 5 June 2014

5 Jun

“Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level”

ImageWorld Environment Day 2014 falls during the International Year of Small Island Developing States, declared by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness of the special needs of this diverse coalition as part of the global discussion on how to achieve a sustainable future for all.

The world’s small island nations, which are collectively home to more than 63 million people, are renowned as prized destinations: places of outstanding natural beauty, vibrant culture and music appreciated around the globe.  While small in total, the land size of small island nations does not reflect their importance as stewards of nature’s wealth on land and sea.  They play an important role in protecting the oceans and many are biodiversity hotspots, containing some of the richest reservoirs of plants and animals on the planet.  

Despite these assets, Small Island Developing States face numerous challenges.  For a significant number, their remoteness affects their ability to be part of the global supply chain, increases import costs – especially for energy – and limits their competitiveness in the tourist industry.  Many are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – from devastating storms to the threat of sea level rise.

Small Island Developing States have contributed little to climate change.  Their combined annual output of greenhouse gases is less than one per cent of total global emissions, but their position on the front lines has projected many to the fore in negotiations for a universal new legal climate agreement in 2015.  Others are leaders in disaster preparedness and prevention or are working to achieve climate neutrality through the use of renewable energy and other approaches.

Small island nations share a common understanding that we need to set our planet on a sustainable path.  This demands the engagement of all sectors of society in all countries.  On World Environment Day, millions of individuals, community groups and businesses from around the world take part in local projects –from clean up campaigns to art exhibits to tree-planting drives.  This year, I urge everyone to think about the plight of Small Island Developing States and to take inspiration from their efforts to address climate change, strengthen resilience and work for a sustainable future.  Raise your voice, not the sea level.  Planet Earth is our shared island.  Let us join forces to protect it.

SOURCE: http://www.unep.org/wed/messages/SG-WED-Message.asp#.U5AoRSjm6pA

Economic Partnership Agreement & World Trade Organisation Post-Bali Meeting

3 Jun

ImageThe Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information Negotiations Initiative (SEATINI) and the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) will today (3 June 2014)  hold a joint meeting to update and share information on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) Post Bali Doha Round. The meeting will bring together stakeholders from Government, European Union, Parliamentarians, business community, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) among others.

The WTO is in the process of developing the Post Bali Work Programme and already there are disagreements on the way forward coming from the developed and developing countries. Further, the texts agreed in Bali that includes the Agreement on Trade Facilitation are being debated with regards to entry into force.

For enquiries contact: afrodad@afrodad.co.zw or seatini@seatini.org.zw

For live updates follow us on twitter using the HASHTAG #AFRODADSEATINI, @AFRODAD2011 Alternatively you can follow this blog for LIVE COVERAGE