This week’s hot links include geostrategy, World Environment Day, funding the SDGs and green data.

8 Jun

In a new survey on globalisation, the share of executives identifying geopolitical instability as a very important business trend has doubled in two years according to a new McKinsey Global Survey on globalisation. In two years’ time, the share of respondents identifying geopolitical instability as a very important factor affecting their businesses has doubled—the largest increase for a given trend since McKinsey began surveying executives on this topic ten years ago. A vast majority say their organisations are not yet taking active steps to address these issues. They also say that among the other trends that have risen in importance since the previous survey, technological developments present their businesses with both challenges (such as cybersecurity) and opportunities (such as the use of big data and data-driven management techniques). Compared with 2013, a greater share now say it is very or extremely important for their organisations to understand these risks. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of executives say their organisations view geopolitical and political risks as more or much more important than they did five years ago. Yet less than one-third of executives say an understanding of these factors is extremely or very well integrated into overall strategy—and only 13 percent say their companies have taken active steps to address the risks from either geopolitical or domestic political instability. Cat recently cited this report during her International Air Transport Association keynote. Read more here.


This week, saw the publication of The World Bank New Little Green Data Book. This guide offers tools for measuring the progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Little Green Data Book provides 50 indicators for 200 countries. Several of these indicators have the potential to measure progress on the SDGs as well as highlight important trends in the environment more broadly. The indicators are part of the larger World Development Indicators set compiled annually by the World Bank from many different data sources. While only one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was explicitly about the environment (MDG7), the SDGs put environmental concerns on par with economic and social concerns. The environment cuts across all the SDGs and is directly reflected in at least seven goals. There is growing recognition that economic growth, poverty eradication and the state of the environment are intertwined. For additional commentary, Sameh Mobarek, Senior Counsel and legal advisor to the World Bank’s Energy and Extractives Global Practice, for The World Bank blog writes ‘On the brink – let’s act on climate change now.’ The blog states how the time for discussing climate change has passed. ‘As Professor Barnhardt told Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still when faced with alien eradication of the human race to save the planet, “you say we’re on the brink of destruction and you’re right. But it’s only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve.” Let’s use the opportunity wisely and quickly.’

The missing development trillions: how you would fund the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? This was the question posed this week to over 50 people who were invited to share their ideas on where the global development sector will find over $3tn a year to fund the SDGs. Signing up to the United Nations SDGs last year, it was acknowledged that the SDGs would be expensive, “Trillions, not billions.” It is not possible to predict the precise costings of the full implementation of the SDGs however according to one widely referenced calculation by UNCTAD, the SDGs could cost up to $4.5tn a year between 2015 and 2030. But at current investment levels in development, that leaves the goals with an annual investment gap in key SDG sectors of at least $3tn or even more. The responses were highly varied from a broad selection of global development professionals. Highlighting a couple of the suggestions below, for the full answer session, visit this link. ‘Resolving protracted crises is the only way out – it’s a blackhole for funding’ Sudhanshu S. Singh, chief functionary, Humanitarian Aid International, India ‘There is only one way out – global powers should try to resolve protracted crises which have become blackhole for humanitarian funding. The conflicts absorb a major chunk of funding at the cost of the needs of people affected by natural disasters as well as development needs.’ ‘Remove restrictions on aid’ Hannah Mitchell, doctor. Central to SDG 3 is the aim of reducing the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births. Providing access to safe abortions would be an easy first step to take towards reducing maternal mortality rates (10% of all maternal deaths are linked to unsafe abortions) but restrictions on donor aid such as the Helms amendment, which states that no American foreign aid can be spent on provision of safe abortion for women, are preventing funding getting through. This is just one example of a funding restriction preventing aid from getting to the most vulnerable.’

This week marks World Environment Day. The theme for 2016 is illegal trade in wildlife. Under the tagline for the campaign Go Wild For Life! Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO writes on how wildlife is an integral part of our biosphere. Describing wildlife as ‘not only essential for healthy ecosystems but also key to peace and sustainable development.’ Bokova states that ‘Illegal trade, poaching and illegal logging are some of the largest threats to the future of many of the world’s most vulnerable species, after habitat loss. Bokova cites two examples to illustrate the extent of the irreparable damage. ‘In spite of favourable policies, rhino poaching in South Africa has increased by as much as 8,000% between 2007 and 2014, and each year 30,000 elephants are killed for their ivory tusks.’ Clearly recognised in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Bokova expresses that ‘the protection of wildlife must be an essential component of all efforts to eradicate poverty, bolster food security and advance sustainable economic development.’ She believes that ‘zero tolerance with illegal activities is the only way to succeed with the new goals. All actors – international organizations, Governments, and citizens – must become far more engaged in fighting against the illicit international trade in wildlife.’ Read more on the campaign here.

On 23rd and 24th May, the United Nations convened the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey. The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) reviews the Summit, and their latest research on global humanitarian action. Christina Bennett, Research Fellow at the ODI, poised these questions prospectively; had the two-day meeting and its myriad events and mountain of commitments achieved something significant and actionable? Was the all the expense, energy and intellect invested really worth it?  Were the interests of people in crisis served? Bennett described the Summit as showcasing the humanitarian system’s ‘heightened focus on capturing the capacity and ingenuity of people and organisations beyond the old guard. It mobilised individuals and organisations – many of whom operate on the fringes – to take matters into their own hands and begin making the changes that have eluded the more established humanitarian sector.’ However she believes that ‘the Summit was no political moment – long on rhetoric and short on action’ and as such missed a real opportunity for ‘high-level government support and action to ending war, putting a stop to suffering and improving the future of humanitarian action.’ For more detail, Bennett lays out a three-point proposal for radical change to create a humanitarian system that is fit to respond to modern day crises in this film. For more commentary, Susan Myers, UN Foundation‘s Vice President for UN relations 10 Key Takeaways from the World Humanitarian Summit.

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