Can new global goals transform the world’s poorest countries?

Governments should seize the opportunity to come up with a fresh approach to development, experts say

The world’s poorest countries should seize the opportunity offered by a new set of global goals to come up with a fresh approach to development, as a basis for real change, experts told a debate in London this week.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed at the United Nations in September, comprise 17 goals and 169 targets aimed at resolving social, economic and environmental problems by 2030.

The world’s 48 least developed countries (LDCs), ranging from South Sudan to Bangladesh, have already taken some steps to make their economies greener, including ambitious renewable energy plans, said Saleemul Huq, a senior fellow and director at the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

But governments typically work to short time horizons, he added, making radical transformation hard to achieve. By contrast, “the SDGs give LDCs the space to envision where they want to be by 2030”, he told the event.

Farah Kabir, director of ActionAid Bangladesh, argued that “poorest countries need to – and can – come up with alternatives, not come with the same wine in a new bottle.”


Farhana Yamin, an associate fellow at think tank Chatham House, said the SDGs and the recent Paris climate change deal had given the poorest nations more visibility. But “even when LDCs have a voice at the table, they are often ignored”, she said.

Tom Bigg, IIED’s head of partnerships, pointed out that LDCs may not always agree with each other. “Multiple voices means bringing out choices and dilemmas, and the fact that there are winners and losers,” he said.

To give LDCs a more prominent role on the global stage, other countries need to encourage a culture of honesty, the experts said.

Many governments are unsure whether failure to meet the SDGs will be punished, for example, leaving them reluctant to disclose, and learn from, mistakes.

“Failure is easier to talk about if you’re the hero that turned it around,” observed Jane Clark, head of climate change learning at Britain’s Department for International Development.

Participants cited co-operation between developing countries in the global South, like the Climate Vulnerable Forum, as a powerful tool to share information on good governance or equitable growth.


Key to the LDCs’ development path will be good use of data, said Debapriya Bhattacharya, an economist and public policy analyst from Bangladesh. “If you’re not measured, you’re not accounted for,” he added.

Growing volumes of data, also known as “big data” – together with the explosion of mobile devices and social media – are a boon for LDCs looking to map their progress, noted Bhattacharya. “They should not shy away from partnering with businesses,” he said.

But data brings its own challenges, such as respecting citizens’ privacy and ensuring samples are representative enough. Aid experts lamented, for example, how demographic health surveys are often too small to disaggregate data, limiting their value for local government.

Ultimately, IIED’s Huq said changes to political systems cannot be imposed from outside. “The countries themselves must address these issues,” he said.

The international dialogue event was convened by the Least Developed Countries Independent Expert Group (IEG), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the ESRC’s STEPS Centre.

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Deputy Kenyan President: Africa Will Not Allow Iran to Export its Revolution to Continent

Dr. Philip Muti, deputy Kenyan president of nuclear energy said that Saudi Arabia plays an important role in the political and security stability in Yemen and Syria, and that Nairobi seeks to enhance its strategic partnership with Riyadh in the political, economic, and security fields.

During an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Muti stressed that Africa will not allow Iran to export its thoughts and revolution to African people, and noted that their decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was for believing that the court is a political tool that serves a foreign agenda and enhances the discriminative racism against African leaders.

On the Kenyan field, Muti said that his country is about to sign a nuclear agreement with Russia to produce electricity, and that the agreement aims to produce 4 thousand Mgw using the nuclear energy by 2027.

Muti noted that the preoccupation of the black continent in maintaining peace and interior security, obstruct it from development. He sees that the magic solution for development is in promoting the domestic industry, and that African countries need to strengthen the economic, political, and trade links among them.

Below, the text of the interview:

*How do you evaluate the Kenyan-Saudi relations?

-The relations between Saudi Arabia and Kenya are excellent, and could be considered as an old close friendship. We know that the Kingdom is a developed country, with a major economy, and enjoys an important political position in the Middle East. We also know that Saudi Arabia is working on establishing a nuclear program for peaceful uses, including electricity production, which represents an important chance to discuss cooperation between Riyadh and Nairobi. The cooperation may also include the education sector and other fields in line with the Saudi Vision 2030.

*How do you see the Saudi role in the Middle East’s crises?

– Definitely, the Kingdom plays the main positive role in the Middle East, and has a leading role in the Arabic-African relations. Saudi Arabia makes major political and strategic efforts, and also fulfills security and peace in the region countries amidst threats caused by the conflicts that transformed Syria and Iraq into battlefields. It also plays a significant political role in the Yemeni crisis to retrieve legitimacy, and same for the Syrian crisis.

* Terrorism around the world…which efforts are required to confront it? How do you see the Saudi role in this field?

– Terrorism became a worldwide phenomenon and a major challenge facing the international peace and security. On the African field, the countries need to enhance their cooperation to combat this phenomenon, but should determine its reasons first. We also should promote education and ensure a sustainable growth for our people, including job opportunities and wide intellectual perspectives to eradicate any excuse or oppression that pave the road for terrorism attacking countries like Somalia. On the Saudi field, the Kingdom maintains its efforts to combat terrorism, and has a remarkable experience that the world should benefit from. Saudi Arabia is a country that spread its thoughts and experiences to ensure stability and security in the region.

*Iran adopts a policy to export its revolutionary thoughts to the African people…How do you see this issue?

– I believe that African countries know how to choose their friends, and they will never hesitate in taking deterrent measures against any country that aims to spread discord among its people by exporting invasive ideas to fulfill their cupidity on the expenses of the African people. Yet, actually I don’t see any clear Iranian efforts in our countries, and we won’t allow any, as relations among the countries should be based on respect of interior affairs.

*For the first time, the world leaders have agreed on opposing the ICC. What do you think about the court’s decision concerning Omar Al Bashir?

The International Criminal Court has made clear efforts to take revenge from the African leaders. Therefore, they had to take a unified decision that opposes the ICC based on the lack of credibility and neutrality. The practices proved that the court was assigned to pursuit the African leaders and oppress them, while it totally ignores international crimes committed by other leaders around the world. Till this day, the court didn’t take proceedings against any of western leaders who committed the worst non-humanitarian crimes. All Africans agreed on the withdrawal from ICC, and consider that the court is a racist, discriminating body that lacks for justice, and serves as an oppressive political tool, which implements the policies of powerful countries in the black continent.
Concerning its appeal for President Omar Al Bashir, we see that it is another racist decision that’s not related to any legal procedure.

*What are the reasons behind the obstruction of the African development? How would the continent overtake them in the future?

-The main reason in many African countries is the need and preoccupation in ensuring their national peace and security. Many other reasons include the bad development and distribution of wealth, which badly affected the people’s life in the fields of education, health, and others. Yet, the African countries started to nationalize industries and to export their high-quality domestic products which will lead to gain high revenues like in Kenya and Sudan, which prosper in new industries including mining, nuclear, and infrastructure development.

*As you participated in the ATOMEXPO 2016 recently held in Moscow. How Kenya aims to benefit from its relations with Russia?

– We participated in the ATOMEXPO 2016 held in the Russian capital, and we signed an agreement with Rosatom to promote investments in the nuclear industries, and to benefit from the facilities provided by Russia to the Kenyan nuclear program, by expanding the cooperation between both countries. This agreement aims to achieve our countries goal in producing 4000 MGW of electricity, using nuclear energy by 2027.

Fatah Al-Rahman Youssef
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News Feature : Forty-one years later, the future of the ACP comes under scrutiny [12/06/2016 – Papua New Guinea]

Forty-one years later, the future of the ACP comes under scrutiny

7:56 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2016, Papua New Guinea

By Kenton X. Chance
Forty-one years after its formation, questions are being asked about the relevance of the 79-member African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) whose main task was to achieve sustainable development and integration into the global economy.
The ACP, which came into being following the signing of the Georgetown Agreement in Guyana in 1975, was also tasked with making poverty reduction a matter of priority and establishing a new, fairer, and more equitable world order.
But while all but one of the 15-member CARICOM countries have been graduated to middle-income countries — Haiti being the exception, questions about the relevance of the grouping made up of former European colonies are surfacing.
During the just concluded 8th ACP Summit here, heads of states and government asked pointed questions about the continued relevance of the organisation.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, one of the longest-serving head of state in the ACP, told the opening ceremony of the two-day conference that the core task of the summit is to re-define clearly “the group’s core principles and align its objectives and, even, perhaps, arch a new framework altogether”.
Mugabe said the vision of the ACP in 1975 was to enhance the political identity of the group, to enable it to act and speak with a united voice in all international fora, and to contribute towards the realisation of a new, fairer, and more equitable world economic order.
“The question that confronts us today is: ‘Have we lived up to that vision as an ACP family, and what impact has the ACP-EU (European Union) partnership had on our well-being?’” the 92-year-old African leader said.
Mugabe said the summit should commit itself to gradually weaning the ACP from the development aid.
“Our regions are endowed with a vast array of natural resources — flora and fauna, diamonds, gold, platinum, oil, marine life, land and highly educated citizens, yet we remain on the margins of the value chains. We cannot continue to be spectators while our primary commodities are driving an economic boom in the North and West,” the Zimbabwean leader said.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Deputy Prime, Sir Louis Straker, speaking on behalf of the CARICOM grouping, noted that when the ACP was established in 1975, its focus was on poverty eradication, promotion of sustainable development, intra-ACP solidarity and cooperation and giving collective voice to ACP member states on global issues, in particular in the relationship with the then European Economic Community.
“Today, as we meet to consider our future as a group, we need to pause to consider which global, regional and other events occurring since our establishment shape the reality within which we seek to chart a new course for ourselves,” said Sir Louis, who is also his country’s Minister ofForeign Affairs.
He said that during the 41 years since the ACP’s formation there have been changes in the global political landscape, including the end of the Cold War. In addition, advances in information communication technology have made the world smaller.
“Transportation links have been expanded and become more efficient. Financial markets have been globalised. The World Trade Organisation now regulates international trade and challenges, including climate change, migration, food, energy and citizen security and terrorism has emerged.”
He said the 79-member ACP must answer questions about how these changes have affected its original objectives and how it adjusts.
“It is the answer to these fundamental questions which must determine the outcome of our discussions at this summit,” Sir Louis said of the summit that was held under the theme “Repositioning the ACP Group to Respond to the Challenges of Sustainable Development.”
The European Union Commissioner, Neven Mimica, also spoke of the need to re-define the ACP.
“Looking forward, our starting point is that the relationship should become a true political partnership, based on common interest, away from the traditional donor-recipient relationship, ranging from global issues, to political, peace and security, trade and economic, developmental and migration issues,” he said.
Among the highlights of the two-day summit was the adoption of a report by the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), headed by former Nigerian president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and including former Guyana president Bharrat Jagdeo.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told reporters that the summit accepted the EPG report and acknowledged the importance and need of the ACP Group to reorient itself as an international organization that is relevant, responsive and active in its role in the international arena.
“The proposals are virtually to try and make ACP relevant, play a bit more active role in pursuing its interest in the international arena, reshaping the secretariat itself so that it can be more appropriate in meeting the needs and objectives of each of the member’s states,” O’Neill said.
He said the recommendations are quite detailed and the leaders wanted to analyse them thoroughly.
O’Neill had earlier warned his colleagues that “if the APC is to be relevant and responsive to its members given the rapid rate of globalisation, it requires a major restructure in order to change its core business to one that is trade and investment oriented”.
According to ACP officials, the report will be discussed by the various regions and at the ACP Council of Minister before yearend. The hope is to implement the recommendations before 2020 and before the next summit in 2018.
O’Neill said the leaders are trying to reposition the ACP for future development that will be able to benefit each member nation.
Guyana’s Foreign Minister and Vice-President, Carl Greenidge, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) the summit here was “interesting and effective” and insisted that the grouping is as relevant now as it was in 1975.
But he acknowledged that the bloc is at a point where its future is an “issue”.
“These are issues that an international organisation would have to address. I think you are going to find that this was one of the more successful of the summits,” he told CMC, noting that the EPG recommendations is for the ACP to be more focused and to avoid spreading its net too widely.
Greenidge said that people tend to forget that the ACP has many achievements to its credit, including in trade negotiations, where it was able to pool resources against countries such as Uruguay that were “occupying centre stage”.
But he said there is still a long way to go.
“In the future, among the things they are called upon to look at, are issues that more specifically focus them in the area, for example, to do with technology, the question of dialogue, and, of course, the central issues, … matters such as growth and impact of economic growth, technical change on our quality of our lives, the seas and so forth.
“Basically, the future of the ACP lies in its ability to bring the diversity that it represents in a manner that generates synergy as a counter-balancing force in the international community, as a mechanism for bringing the challenging facing developing countries in particular to the fore, for articulating their voice and in the international community throwing their voice so it can be heard, it can be effective, it can be meaningfully structured,” Greenidge told CMC.


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