Tag Archives: sustainable development

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

Cursing corruption

10 Dec

ImageCorruption is a barrier to achieving universally accepted development goals, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday, while calling on governments, the private sector and civil society to take a collective stand against this social, political and economic disease affecting all countries.

“To achieve an equitable, inclusive and more prosperous future for all, we must foster a culture of integrity, transparency, accountability and good governance,” the secretary-general said in his message for International Anti-Corruption Day.
Corruption has a devastating impact across the world. The World Bank estimates that every year between $20 billion and $40 billion are lost from developing countries due to corruption and bribery, but the scourge also impacts developed economies. In his message,  the secretary-general stressed that corruption prevents achievement of the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and needs to be taken into account in defining and implementing a robust post-2015 development agenda.

“Good governance is critical for sustainable development,” Ban noted, adding that corruption suppresses economic growth by driving up costs, breaches human rights, increases inequality, and undermines the sustainable management of natural resources.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Monday launched the ‘Zero Corruption – 100% Development’ campaign, designed by young people for young people to raise awareness about corruption.
The campaign focuses on the corrosive effects of corruption on development, highlighting that this crime undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to human rights violations, distorts markets, erodes quality of life and allows organized crime and other threats to security to flourish, according to the joint campaign website.

To highlight the impact of corruption in the world of sport and business, the UN Global Compact, in collaboration with UNDP, today launched a Call to Action to mobilize private and public partners to engage in transparent procurement.
The UN has also developed guidelines to help businesses fight corruption in sport sponsorship and hospitality, Mr. Ban noted in his message.

The first global legally binding international anti-corruption instrument was the UN Convention against Corruption, which today marks its tenth anniversary. It was adopted by the General Assembly in 2003, the same year that the body designated 9 December as International Anti-Corruption Day to raise awareness of both corruption and the role of the Convention in combating and preventing it.
“The Convention is countering corruption in the areas of development, the environment, in the private sector, during major public events, match-fixing, asset recovery, and in many other areas of our lives,” said Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of UNODC, which houses the Convention’s Secretariat.

At least 171 of the UN’s 193 Member States have so far ratified the Convention. It includes a review mechanism enabling countries to review their peers in a partnership process. In its fourth year, the review mechanism has helped 35 States to improve their anti-corruption laws, and led to the training of 1,400 experts, noted Fedotov. 
“This spirit of cooperation is necessary,” he said. “Corruption is not simply a developed or developing nation’s problem, it is the challenge of every person, and every nation. The review mechanism mirrors this unpalatable fact.”

SOURCE: http://www.nation.com.pk/national/10-Dec-2013/cursing-corruption

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: Message on International Anti-Corruption Day

9 Dec

UN SECRETARY GENERAL MEETS WITH SPANISH PRESIDENTCorruption suppresses economic growth by driving up costs, and undermines the sustainable management of the environment and natural resources. It breaches fundamental human rights, exacerbates poverty and increases inequality by diverting funds from health care, education and other essential services. The malignant effects of corruption are felt by billions of people everywhere. It is driven by and results in criminal activity, malfunctioning state institutions and weak governance.

Good governance is critical for sustainable development, and vital in combating organized crime.  Every link in the trafficking chain is vulnerable to corruption, from the bribes paid to corrupt officials by dealers in arms and drugs to the fraudulent permits and licenses used to facilitate the illicit trade in natural resources.

Corruption is also rife in the world of sport and business, and in public procurement processes.  In the last decade, the private sector has increasingly recognized its role in fighting corruption.  A Call to Action launched by the United Nations Global Compact and partners is mobilizing businesses and Governments to engage in transparent procurement.  Guidelines are also being developed to help business fight corruption in sport sponsorship and hospitality.

The UN is strongly committed to fulfilling its own obligations.  Operating in some of the world’s most unstable environments, the UN faces multifaceted corruption risks that can undermine our efforts to advance development, peace and human rights.  We have developed a robust system of internal controls and continue to remain vigilant and work hard to set an example of integrity.

Corruption is a barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and needs to be taken into account in defining and implementing a robust post-2015 development agenda.  The UN Convention against Corruption, adopted 10 years ago, is the paramount global framework for preventing and combating corruption.  Full implementation depends crucially on effective prevention, law enforcement, international cooperation and asset recovery.  On this International Anti-Corruption Day, I urge Governments, the private sector and civil society to take a collective stand against this complex social, political and economic disease that affects all countries.  To achieve an equitable, inclusive and more prosperous future for all, we must foster a culture of integrity, transparency, accountability and good governance.

SOURCE: http://www.anticorruptionday.org/actagainstcorruption/en/resources/index.html

Help us collect our taxes — African MPs

21 Nov

tax_africaMultinational corporations doing business in Africa are finding it all too easy to circumvent taxation — and that loss of tax revenue just makes countries even more dependent on foreign aid.

Stemming from underdeveloped tax administration systems, tax avoidance is one of the biggest obstacles toward achieving transparency as a catalyst for development in the continent, Tanzanian MP Zitto Kabwe told Devex.

Africa is losing $50 billion every year from illicit financial flows, while at the same time receiving around $30 billion in foreign aid. That means Africa is losing out on tax revenues equivalent to almost twice the amount it gets in official development assistance from overseas, noted the deputy opposition leader and shadow finance minister.

Kabwe is one of 10 African experts on a fact-finding mission to look at tax and transparency issues in Europe. Organized by the European Network on Debt and Development, the initiative is taking the experts — among them several MPs — to discuss national taxation issues and challenges with representatives of EU member state governments, the United Nations, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, EU institutions and civil society groups in Brussels, London, Oslo and Paris.

“We are here in the developed world to engage with various organizations, discuss and present our [side] of the story, in order to get their views on how some of these problems can be addressed,” explained Malawian MP McJones Mandala Shaba.

African countries see the issue of improved tax revenues as part of a long-term strategy to become less dependent on foreign aid. But multinational corporations need to be willing to change their ways and start paying taxes, the MPs asserted. For that to happen, they explained, help would be required from the governments of the countries in which these companies are based.

“If developed countries support us in our effort to ensure we don’t lose our own revenues, we won’t need foreign aid and we’ll have a partnership of equal footing, rather than the donor-recipient relationship that has lasted more than 50 years,” Kabwe noted. “We just need our taxes: companies must come, invest in Africa, get their profits, but pay their taxes in Africa. Once we have our own revenues, we’ll be able to finance our development, we’ll build our schools, facilities, infrastructures, pay our teachers well, and have a good health system.”

But how can this goal be met? With more transparency, argue the MPs. First of all, explained Mandala Shaba, donor governments should demand that multinational corporations report the profits they make in the country where “real economic activities take place,” not only in the country where the headquarters is located.

Kabwe agreed with Tax Justice Network senior analyst Marcus Meinzer, who recently suggested to Devex that the main issues to tackle illicit financial flows concern transparency of ownership (concerning shell companies and trusts registered and created in the EU on behalf of residents of developing countries), better exchange of financial account-related tax information, and transparency of multinational corporations’ annual accounts.

“I totally agree with his analysis. In a country like Tanzania, minerals exported over a period of 10 years were valued at $11.3 billion, but the taxes paid were around $440 million, less than 4 percent of the total. A similar situation [occurred] in Zambia … It clearly shows how transparency in the accounts is crucial for the extractives industry,” said the lawmaker.

Information access
Kabwe argued that the first step to assess, monitor and prevent incoherence is to set up a system of automatic exchange of information.

“Various initiatives [have been undertaken] by the EU and the OECD to set a convection of mutual exchange of information. I call on developing countries, especially African countries, to sign up to this convention. Signing it is the first step to have access to information, automatically or by request.”

He added that a global intergovernmental body is also needed to provide rules and guidelines, and a system implementing a single convention on tax avoidance.

“Having one single convention, ratified by all countries of the world, would be easier and even sanctions could [imposed] to countries that are not providing information.”

Archaic legal framework
However, the tax administration in Africa lacks the capacity to come up with specific legislation that would ensure “getting as much as possible” from the investments of multinational companies, pointed out Mandala Shaba. “One of the challenges we face … is that we have outdated, odd and archaic legal policy frameworks and legislation.”

He gave the example of Malawi’s mines and mineral act, enacted almost 40 years ago, but never reviewed since to be brought more in line with current social economic developments.

“Companies are taking advantages of this particular aspect. We should come up with an appropriate legal framework, which would guide the management of natural resources, in particular mines.”

On tax issues in Africa, there is almost always the same elephant in the room: corruption, in the form of powerful bureaucrats who appropriate revenues from natural resources and hide the money abroad in tax havens.

“We recognize that corruption in most African countries is like the way of life — corruption in the street with the traffic police, all the way to the top executives and politicians,” said Kabwe. A solution to address the problem, he argued, would be to bring the fight to offshore tax havens.

“Corrupt money needs a place to hide, so we have to create an environment where if you are corrupt you don’t have any place to hide … so that corrupt politicians have less incentives to engage in stealing.”

Kabwe mentioned that another solution is to establish accountability mechanisms — ways of holding everybody responsible through the actions they commit, while ensuring that the citizens are empowered to inform on acts of corruption.

Both solutions would be music to the taxman’s ears.

SOURCE: https://www.devex.com/en/news/help-us-collect-our-taxes-african-mps/82336

Tanzania praised for better use of aid, scores low on graft war

20 Nov

Tanzania_flag_mapTanzania Development Partners have said despite positive signs in 2012/13 general budget support there has been stagnation in the fight against corruption in key sectors like health, energy and port operations.

Speaking during General Budget Support (GBS) Annual Review in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Chair of Group in Tanzania – who is also the Swedish Ambassador to the country – Lennarth Hjelmaker said corruption is still a problem in the country.

“The Assessment shows that a more active fight against corruption is needed.

After positive signs in 2012-13, there has been stagnation in the fight against corruption, including a lack of movement on specific anti-corruption cases in key sectors…It seems that there is still an underuse of administrative sanctions for petty corruption offense,” he said.

According to Hjelmaker, DPs have also expressed concern over certain human rights issues or more generally accountability when implementing government commitments related to the right to information and to protect and promote freedom of the media.

He cited areas where reforms are moving at a snail’s pace as including education where both primaryand secondary school pass rates have been dropping and pupil-teacher ratios have not improved as planned.

The DPs said however that an independent evaluation of GBS in Tanzania has confirmed that the aid modality does deliver tangible results and allows the government to spend more on development sectors such as in education, health, water and infrastructure.

According to DPs, Tanzania has done well in decentralisation of management of natural resources, improved budget transparency and procurement, with the number of districts with three or more nurses and midwives per 10,000 inhabitants – exceeding the targets.

However the country has underperformed on water where more than half of the households in rural areas are still lacking access to safe and clean water.

Hjelmaker said as a consequence the 2014 commitments and disbursements from DPs will be affected, as the performance tranches cannot be realised in full.

He said it is a good move that “Tanzania is raising more internal revenues and that dependence on donor funding in slowly decreasing,” adding however that the DPs would continue to support the country in GBS and different areas.

Last year DPs largely fulfilled obligations in line with their current agreements for 2012/13. A total of USD 584 million was disbursed against the USD 495 million committed. Two thirds were disbursed within the first quarter. Two out of the 15 disbursements were delayed.

For her part, Finance deputy minister, Saada Mkuya, expressed satisfaction with the country’s performance, saying the government was taking measures to ensure that such challenges are addressed.

The deputy minister said over past eight years budget support has influenced growth and improved outcomes in the education sector and in reducing non-income poverty.

SOURCE: http://www.ippmedia.com/frontend/index.php?l=61698

China Debt Solution Seen Aided by Selling Listed Shares: Economy

1 Nov

China’s swelling local-government debt is spurring speculation that authorities could sell some of their holdings of listed shares, estimated by UBS AG to total at least 5 trillion yuan ($820 billion), to make repayments.

Partial divestment of governments’ stakes in state-owned companies is one option to address the debt issue, said Yao Wei, China economist at Societe Generale SA in Hong Kong. Local governments have already made some sales over the past two years and repayment pressures mean that more are likely, said Chen Li, a Shanghai-based analyst at UBS.

Elsewhere in Asia today, the Bank of Japan stuck with its campaign of unprecedented monetary easing, intended to jolt the nation out of a 15-year deflationary malaise.

Officials have the option of turning to the stakes as income from land sales falls and a forthcoming national audit, the broadest in two years, puts a spotlight on regional borrowing. Local-government funding was ranked as most in need of reforms, according to a survey of analysts by Bloomberg News ahead of a key Communist Party meeting next month to discuss economic policies.

“Local governments have various entities and agencies, from pension management bureaus to state-owned asset supervision bodies, to hold shares,” Yao said. “One thing is for sure — the number is in the trillions,” said Yao, who estimated the stockpile at 3 trillion yuan as of 2011.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) fell 0.9 percent today and is down 5.6 percent this year.

China’s National Audit Office has submitted its report on local-government debt to the State Council and the level of borrowings exceeds 14 trillion yuan, Caijing reported earlier this week on its website.
Long Process

Divestment of government shares is a long-term process and won’t be conducted in a “big bang” way, Yao said. “If local governments come out and announce big share-sale plans, it will send jitters through retail investors and cause stock prices to plunge,” she said.

Chen, head of China equity research at UBS Securities, said sales of equity stakes will “probably continue for a while.” Governments can sell shares on the market or can tap buyers such as private-equity companies, foreign investors or company management, Chen said.

Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology Co., China’s biggest construction-equipment maker, is an example of a company partly owned by a government. Hunan State-Owned Assets held 19.97 percent of the A-shares listed in Shenzhen as of April 2, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The government of Hunan province owned 16.2 percent of Zoomlion at the end of 2012, according to the annual report from the Changsha, Hunan-based company.
Chongqing Stake

The largest shareholder in Bank of Chongqing Co., which will begin trading next week after an initial public offering, is the government of the southwestern Chinese city of more than 30 million people, according to the bank’s prospectus.

China in July ordered a nationwide review of local-government debt, which the National Audit Office said in 2011 totaled 10.7 trillion yuan. Former Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng said in April the amount may be more than 20 trillion yuan, underscoring the risks President Xi Jinping’s government faces as the economy slows and it tackles the effects to the financial system of a record credit boom.

Societe Generale’s Yao said other options for dealing with the debt include restructuring it using tools such as securitization and having the central government assume the debt. The audit report “will be used as the base for the debt workout plan,” she wrote in a note today.
Japan Easing

Elsewhere in Asia today(31.10.2013), the Bank of Japan stuck with its campaign of unprecedented monetary easing, intended to jolt the nation out of a 15-year deflationary malaise.

Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s board maintained a pledge to expand the monetary base by 60 trillion to 70 trillion yen ($711 billion) a year, matching the forecasts of all 34 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.

Taiwan’s economy grew 1.58 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the slowest pace in a year, increasing pressure on the central bank to extend an interest-rate pause, a report showed today.

In Europe, German retail sales unexpectedly fell in September from the previous month, and U.K. home prices rose by more than estimated in October. In North America, Canada may say the economy expanded at a slower pace in August than in July, while the U.S. gives a weekly report on jobless claims.

Adapted from: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-31/china-debt-solution-seen-aided-by-sales-of-listed-company-shares.html

BRICS ministers meet in Pretoria

30 Oct

brics_logo2PRETORIA. — Agriculture ministers from BRICS countries met in Pretoria yesterday to address the negative effects of climate change on world food security. The gathering, the third of its kind, will culminate in the signing of a joint declaration which will demonstrate BRICS’ determination to meet the challenges confronting food security.

“We are required to ensure that the decisions we make today impact positively on the continent and the quality of the land we leave for the next generation and their children,” South African Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat- Pettersson said at the conference.

“It is my expectation that we will emerge from this meeting with a shared sense that it was instructive, successful and well worth of the investment and effort we have made to be here.”

Food security is a huge challenge and thus a key priority for the African continent, said Joemat-Pettersson. She said the meeting will consider and provide leadership on the important matters related to food security.

“Our priority on the continent and in South Africa is to promote sustainable agricultural and food production, which will enable Africa to feed itself and the world,” the minister said.

She urged BRICS countries to urgently and significantly accelerate agricultural and food production, so that people on the continent can enjoy sustainable access to safe, nutritious and affordable food.

BRICS ministers must promote smart, responsible and sustainable agriculture, the minister stressed. BRICS is an acronym for world’s major emerging markets, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“As we consider ‘Negative Effect of Climate Change on World Food Security’, we must remain mindful that, with few exceptions rural women fare worse than rural men and urban men and women against all the Millennium Development Goals indicators,” Joemat- Pettersson said.

This includes areas such as diverse as agriculture, health, education, paid and unpaid work and social protection. — Xinhua.

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