Issue XXV | January 2020
Our apologies for our previous error in the first send of this newsletter.

Global Development Update is a monthly bulletin that informs readers about the events, ideas, and people that are shaping an emerging world community. It is produced by The Global Citizens' Initiative- a non-profit working to help develop a sustainable world community for all. Click below to sign up for a free Global Development Update subscription.
City Mayors Should Take the Lead in Climate Change
Mayors Bill De Blasio of New York and London’s Sadiq Khan have urged mayors from every city around the world to move away from fossil fuel industries that are destroying the planet. Ahead of a forum for leaders around the world, the mayors “unveiled a toolkit for cities interested in divesting their pension funds from fossil fuels to help avert climate breakdown.” The tool kit is called Divesting from Fossil Fuels, Investing in Our Future: A Toolkit for Cities (pdf) and it is “a product of C40 Cities, a network of 94 municipalities whose leaders collectively represent over 700 million people and are committed to pursuing actions to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.” Read on .
Human Rights
Shutting Down the Internet to Quiet Critics
Governments are increasingly shutting down the internet as a response to crisis with the explanation that is necessary for safety. However, these “sweeping measures are more like collective punishment than a tactical response. When the internet is off, people’s ability to express themselves freely is limited, the economy suffers, journalists struggle to upload photos and videos documenting government overreach and abuse, students are cut off from their lessons, taxes can’t be paid on time, and those needing health care cannot get consistent access.” Read on.
Quality and Accessible Education for All
“In 2019, more than 260 million children did not go to school, according to the United Nations, with conflict-affected areas particularly hard-hit: around 50 percent of out-of-school children of primary school age live in such areas, and 617 million youth worldwide lack basic mathematics and literacy skills. Children with disabilities are frequently denied school, overlooked, and uncounted. Girls are particularly vulnerable to dropping out due to sexual harassment, child marriage, and gender discrimination. Taliban acid attacks against girls who go to school aren’t even the tip of the iceberg.” Read on.
There is Long Way to go to Close the Gender Gap
According to the Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020, “the time it will take to close the gender gap narrowed to 99.5 years in 2019. While an improvement in 2018 –when the gap was calculated to take 108 years to close–it still means parity between men and women across health, education, work and politics will take more than a lifetime to achieve.” The gender gaps in politics have the farthest to go, and at this pace it will take 95 years to close. “Worldwide in 2019, women now hold 25.2% of parliamentary lower-house seats and 21.2% of ministerial positions, compared to 24.1% and 19% respectively last year.” Read on.
Ending Child Marriage by 2030 is Unlikely
Twelve million girls under the age of 18 are married each year and 650 million girls and women alive today were married before they were adults. These startling numbers are according to UN children’s agency UNICEF. One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal is to end child marriage by 2030. However, this goal is unlikely to happen. “A spokesperson for UN Women (UNW), the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, told IPS, child marriages may be further exacerbated by increased insecurity in settings where there is a humanitarian crisis.” Read.on
Do No Harm: Reporting on Gender-Based Violence
It's important to report on gender-based violence. However, it muse be done responsibly. “Sexual and gender-based violence terrorizes women and girls around the world, affecting as many as one in three women” and comes with serious risks to survivors. A journalist can do harm if they don’t handle a story responsibly. “They can leave survivors feeling exploited or exposed to stigma and retaliation.” Fortunately, UNFPA and the Rutgers University Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) are coming together to help provide resources and guidance to reporters, among other efforts. This new initiative will help journalists understand the dangers of irresponsible reporting. Read on.
Trade and Addressing Plastic Waste
Plastic has made its way into almost every aspect of life and as a result, nearly 300 million tons of oil-based plastics are produced every year. Unfortunately, a lot of this waste ends up in our ocean and have “a detrimental effect on marine ecosystems and coastal communities. Most of this waste originates from the Asia-Pacific region. If unaddressed, by 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans.” The good news is that a growing number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region are now introducing regulations for the use of single-use plastics and microplastics. Read on.
Health Service for One Billion
A report by The International Centre for Evidence “makes the case that they are being “left behind” in the global community’s work on health. This lack of access not only violates the rights of people with disabilities under international law, but UHC and SDG 3 cannot be attained without better health services for the one billion people with disabilities.” Disability is a core element of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda. Read on.
Moral Case Against the Super-Rich?
According to the November 2019 USB/PWC Billionaires Report, there are 2,101 billionaires globally, which is an increase of 589 more than the past five years. There is an ongoing debate as to whether the world should allow billionaires to exist. Farhad Manjoo wants to see billionaires become obsolete. “Manjoo also argues that unless billionaires’ economic and political power is cut, and their legitimacy cast in doubt, they will continue to abuse power to further augment their fortunes and influence, in ways detrimental to the economic, social and public good.” On the other side is Josef Stadler, head at UBS Global Wealth Management, believes billionaires “seek new ways to engineer far-reaching environmental and social change.” Read on.
UN Warns About Escalating Global Tensions
Global tensions are “at their highest level this century,” according to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. These rising tensions are prompting more countries to make rash and harmful decisions with “unpredictable consequences and a profound risk of miscalculation.” Now more than ever there is a need for “maxim restraint” and renewed international cooperation are vital. “The secretary-general also warned of the looming risk of the world splitting in two, with the United States and China creating rival internets, currency, trade, financial rules ‘and their own zero-sum geopolitical and military strategies.’ He said the risk ‘may not yet be large, but it is real.” Read on .
Global Inequality Driven by Global Governance Systems
“In my research I have argued that rising global inequality is driven in large part by power imbalances in the global economy, in that rich countries have disproportionate influence when it comes to setting the rules of international trade and finance. Nowhere is this problem more apparent than when it comes to voting power in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), two of the key institutions that govern global macroeconomic policy. People tend to assume that representation in these institutions must be fair and democratic, modeled perhaps along the lines of the UN General Assembly. But quite the opposite is true. Indeed, they are fundamentally anti-democratic.” Read on.
The UK’s Chagos Island Problem
The UK currently owns the Chagos Islands, the archipelago in the Indian Ocean whose largest island, Diego Garcia, is a US military base. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) provided an advisory opinion that “found the UK was in unlawful occupation of the islands and demanded that they be returned to Mauritius as quickly as possible. The UK’s claim to the islands – and its subsequent eviction of their inhabitants to make way for the US base – is deeply contentious and has been the subject of escalating legal challenges.” If the UK doesn’t resolve this Chagos Islands problem, they risk losing a permanent set on the UN security council. Read on.
Nuclear Threats in the New Century
In part two of this three part series, the experts continue to discuss global issues following their analysis of major concerns of nuclear threats that emerged in the new century. Part two takes a deeper dive into what makes them the source of specific concern today. “We emphasize that for many reasons this landscape is dynamic and difficult to predict. Political factors, such as the rise of Mr. Putin in Russia and Mr. Modi in India, the election of Donald Trump in the U.S., and the ascent to power of Kim Jong Un in North Korea, have together helped greatly alter the nuclear scene since 2010.” Read on.