Issue XXVIII | April 2020
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.
Destroying Biodiversity Sets the Stage for Diseases Like Covid-19
Destroying natural habitats and biodiversity clears the way for more mass pandemics. “Only a decade or two ago it was widely thought that tropical forests and intact natural environments teeming with exotic wildlife threatened humans by harboring the viruses and pathogens that lead to new diseases in humans like Ebola, HIV and dengue.” Thus, human’s continuous encroaching on these habitats increases the likely hood of these viruses and pathogens transferring to humans. According to Kate Jones, chair of ecology and biodiversity at UCL, the resulting transmission of disease from wildlife to humans is now "a hidden cost of human economic development.” Read on .
Human Rights
Enforcing Coronavirus Rules Requires Compassion
Fighting the Coronavirus and flattening the curve must be done with compassion and acknowledgment of human rights. The unprecedented virus has killed thousands around the world, and everyone has been affected in some capacity. Countries are battling the virus differently, some of which have placed strict policies on their citizens. China has been able to flatten the curve by imposing what the WHO calls "bold approaches." In India, "authorities have come under fire after videos surfaced on social media showing officers beating people on the streets to enforce the country’s 21-day Coronavirus lockdown.” Look to Kenya as an example of a government doing it right. Fighting this virus should not come at the cost of human rights. In a fight that everyone must fight together, compassion is necessary. Read on.
The Rise of Domestic Abuse During Coronavirus
Reports of domestic abuse have increased since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The deadly virus, which has killed thousands of people around the world, has become even more dangerous for vulnerable women. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has requested cease-fires in conflicts across the globe but stated that “violence is not confined to the battlefield.” Growing fear as economic and social pressures worsen led to " a horrifying global surge in domestic violence.” Secretary Guterres is urging all governments to “make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19.” Countries are beginning to take action and creating code words women can use to seek help. Read on.
Gender and Social Inclusion are Needed Now More than Ever
Coronavirus has put a spotlight on global vulnerabilities, especially when it comes to gender and social inclusion. It has had “a profound shock to our societies and economies, exposing the deficiencies of public and private arrangements that currently function only if women play multiple and underpaid roles." Governments could ease these shocks by creating inclusive policies that address challenges affecting the most vulnerable in societies. Single mothers can benefit from income protection; sustained maternal health services can help prevent a resurgence of birth-related deaths, and joint campaigns to educate the public can combat stigma and discrimination. Societies can expose domestic violence as a significant risk during lockdowns. "This is a time of reckoning for our national and personal values and a recognition of the strength of solidarity for public services and society as a whole.” Read on.
Improving Girls and Women’s Access to the Web
Nearly two billion women across the globe don't have access to the web at all — depriving them of opportunities to learn, earn and have their voices heard and 40% of women journalists said they avoided reporting on specific stories because of anticipated abuse. These are just a few of the alarming statistics web inventor and Web Foundation co-founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee shared in a letter marking the webs 31 st birthday. In this letter, he states: "The Coronavirus outbreak demonstrates just how urgently we need action. When offices and schools close, the web is a lifeline that allows us to keep working, educating our children and reading information vital to keeping us safe and healthy. A world where so many women and girls are deprived of these basics is completely unacceptable. When we need it more than ever, the web has to work for everyone."
The Coronavirus Presents a Historic Opportunity
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused tragedy and chaos around the world. However, this pandemic has also created a historical opportunity for climate action. Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency, is calling out "political and financial leaders to usher in a new era for global climate action with economic stimulus packages to confront the Coronavirus pandemic." Now is the time for governments around the world to launch stimulus recovery programs for the economy that “focus on investing in clean energy technologies and accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.” Read on.
The Covid-19 Response Could have Been Less Drastic
The actions taken to control and fight Covid-19 have drastically lowered CO2 emissions. Grounding flights, ordering people to stay home, closing factories, and keeping cruise ships docked, have made it clear that these drastic actions have had a positive effect on the environment and oceans. However, the consequences of such an abrupt intervention are also evident “compared to a steady and planned transition that could have been adopted to phase out emissions decades ago.” Read on.
Billions at Risk of Poverty Because of Covid-19
According to Oxfam’s new report, Dignity Not Destitution”, “between six and eight percent of the global population could be forced into poverty as governments shut down entire economies to manage the spread of the virus.” The economic fall out from actions to control the Covid-19 can push billions into poverty if developing countries don’t get help. Existing inequalities dictate the economic impact of this crisis. “The poorest workers in rich and poor nations are less likely to be in formal employment, enjoy labor protections such as sick pay, or be able to work from home." That is why a trillion-dollar "Emergency Rescue Package for All' could change this trajectory. Read on.
Covid-19's Economic Impact: Worse Case Scenario
The deadly Coronavirus's economic impact has been devasting. Shareholders have lost more than $2 trillion in one day, and experts from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said it erased at least $1 trillion of GDP in 2020. Millions of people have lost their jobs and are struggling to survive, and small businesses have struggled to get a stimulus to keep their businesses afloat. How much worse can things get? Unfortunately, the forecast is not looking good. Many advanced countries are expecting to enter into a recession, Oil prices have sunken into the negatives, and no one is sure when this will end. “Uncertainty is what dominates now.” Read on.
The Ventilator Solution
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, 77,000 new ventilators on the market were enough to meet global demand. This month, in NY alone, the need is for 30,000 ventilators. This drastic increase in demand has led to a variety of businesses retrofitting their factories. However, expanding the capacity of current ventilator manufacturers might be a better solution. "Myopic politicians everywhere see more domestic production as the solution to the ventilator shortage and for some products and some countries that may well be part of the answer. In the short-term, the only way to succeed is by getting the world’s most established ventilator manufacturers to mass-produce many more units and fast.” Read on.
The Need for Global Currency Stabilization
According to author Will Hickey, global collaboration is required to slow the spread of the “COVID-19’s economic fallout, and this is especially true for currency stabilization." Stabilizing the US dollar can prevent "a rapid rise against other currencies that is sure to trigger calls for protectionist measures.” Hickey explains why "a multilateral approach – conducted by a handful of leading finance ministers, with the backing of strong US financial leadership, away from news media – might calm global markets." The current landscape, however, with countries embracing protectionism over multilateralism, makes this level of global effort unlikely. Read on.
Covid-19 is a Triple Threat
Three things can cause a recession a demand shock (like 9/11), a supply shock (such as oil price increases), or a financial shock (like the Great Recession). Covid-19 has proven to be a combination of these three. Demand shock is evident with quarantine. Tourism, travel, and hospitality are on the front lines. The supply chain stock is widespread, and no one knows the potential chokepoints as the mapping of supply chains is opaque. “Finally, the recent actions of the US Fed to inject some $500 billion into repo markets suggest that already there are signs of a liquidity crunch. Small and medium enterprises will not be able to survive the squeeze on cash flows for too long before defaulting or having to reschedule bank loans.” Read on.
Global Cease-Fire During Covid-19 Pandemic
Last month, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a "global cease-fire in all corners of the world" to fight Covid-19, which is the common enemy threatening all life. Doing so means stopping hostilities, putting aside mistrust and animosity, silencing the guns, stopping the artillery, and ending the airstrikes. The cease-fire would clear the path for humanitarian workers to reach vulnerable populations and will protect the most vulnerable – “women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced." Read on.
Covid-19: East vs. West
China has taken a beating in the US and UK courts of public opinion with little evidence to support their claims. “The Chinese government stood accused of an inhumane attitude towards its people, secrecy, a cover-up, and an overwhelming concern for its own survival above all other considerations. The actual evidence was thin bordering at times on the threadbare, but this made little difference to the venom and bile of the assault.” Using this pandemic "with all the deaths, illness and suffering that ensued, as a stick with which to beat the Chinese government" is disgraceful. The Chinese government has gained control over the virus, while other countries continuously see their number of cases and deaths increase. The US and the UK should rethink their criticisms. Read on.
COVID-19 is the Worst Crisis Since World War II
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that Covid-19 is the worst crisis since WWII. The combination of the disease and its economic impact will contribute to “enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict.” Thus, Guterres is calling for more global collaboration to meet a challenge of this magnitude. Efforts are still far from where they need to be to fight this virus successfully, and the recovery from the economic fall out can take years. 
Developing countries are especially vulnerable. "Guterres announced the establishment of a COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to support efforts in low- and middle-income countries, with the aim of swiftly enabling governments to tackle the crisis and promote recovery.” Read on.
Revisiting the Global Health Security Agenda
The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) launched in February 2014 because it was “clear that infectious diseases would continue to endanger the global community, and that something had to be done.” The year prior, members of the National Security Council convened a meeting to unite leaders and officials working on infectious disease prevention and response from top agencies. The Departments of State, Defense, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Federal Drug Administration, the Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came together to address increasing threats. "The GHSA is an effort to build countries’ capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats (whether from an accidental, natural, or intentional causes)," and it's time to revisit this plan as the world fights the Covid-19 pandemic. Read on.
On the 50 th Anniversary, Five States Pledge Commitment to the NPT
On the 50 th anniversary of Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),
Five permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council – USA, China, France, Russia, and Britain – who together possess an overwhelming majority of 13,865 nuclear weapons have pledged their "unstinting commitment to preserving and deepening … for future generations the legacy of the NPT.” The five Foreign Ministers said: "The NPT has provided the essential foundation for international efforts to stem the looming threat – then and now – that nuclear weapons would proliferate across the globe. In so doing, it has served the interests of all its Parties." Read on.