Issue XXXII | August 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.
Hope for our Climate Future
2020 has been a grim year so far. However, there are still plenty of reasons to be hopeful for the future, especially when it comes to the earth’s climate. There are nine reasons why remaining optimistic about the future is within reach. First, fossil fuels are on the way out. Second, renewable energy sources are mainstream and "cool." Third, energy efficiency is a growing trend. Fourth, electronic vehicles are gaining traction. Fifth, new ideas and innovations are transforming agriculture. Read on.
Water Rights During a Pandemic
It's the 10th anniversary of recognizing human rights to water and sanitation. With the global pandemic devastating populations around the world, it's more critical than ever to ensure humans have access to these rights. COVID-19 is putting a spotlight on existing inequalities in accessing freshwater and freshwater is the "first line of defense." An estimated 800 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water near their homes, and nearly two billion people lack water service that is free from contamination. Read on.
The Shadow Pandemic
The Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on lives, communities, and economies around the world. Unfortunately, an even more sinister side effect is lurking beneath the surface. Countries are reporting an increasing number of domestic violence cases against women. Growing uncertainty and confinement fosters "the tension and strain created by security, health, and money worries. And it is increasing isolation for women with violent partners, separating them from the people and resources that can best help them.” This “shadow pandemic” is occurring
worldwide from Australia to the US, and if not addressed, more women's lives will be in danger and "will also add to the economic impact of COVID-19." Read on.
 The Shrinking Global Coal Fleet
According to the latest Global Coal Plant Tracker (GCPT) results by Global Energy Monitor (GEM), the world's fleet of coal-fired power stations has gotten smaller for the first time. “The 2.9 gigawatt (GW) decline in the first half (H1) of 2020 takes the global total down to 2,047GW. The fall was due to a combination of slowed commissioning due to the COVID-19 pandemic and record retirements in the EU from strengthened pollution regulations." However, to meet global climate goals, there must be a more rapid reduction in coal power use. UN secretary-general António Guterres has called for a global moratorium on new coal plants after 2020.
Fossil Fuels and the COVID-19 Recovery Plan
The world’s leading economies are choosing to support fossil fuels over cleaner energy options in their post-COVID-19 economic recovery plans. These G20 governments support fossil fuels to the amount of $155 billion, and only 20% of them have pledged climate action support. “The COVID-19 crisis and governments’ responses to it intensify the trends that existed before the pandemic struck,” said Ivetta Gerasimchuk, the project lead. “National and subnational jurisdictions that heavily subsidized the production and consumption of fossil fuels in previous years have once again thrown lifelines to oil, gas, and coal." Read on.
27 Countries Heading Towards a COVID-19 Food Crisis
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) recently released new analysis that identifies 27 countries on various continents on track to have a COVID-19 driven food crisis. The global pandemic has exasperated pre-existing drivers of hunger, and now these countries are on the brink of acute hunger. These countries “were already grappling with high levels of food insecurity and acute hunger even before COVID-19 due to pre-existing shocks and stressors." According to FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, these stressors include economic crisis, instability and insecurity, climate extremes, and plant pests and animal diseases. To address the challenge, the FAO released a revised appeal for $428.5 million under the UN system’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19. Read on.
Discarding Fallacies and Falsehoods
UN Secretary-General António Guterres is pleading for an end to the “fallacies and falsehoods perpetrated particularly on the deprived of the world." The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing lies that are damaging and counter-productive in helping the most vulnerable. Some of these lies include the belief that unpaid care work is not actually work, the idea that we live in a post-racist world, and the delusion that "we are all in the same boat." Guterres points out that the wealthiest people are literally on yachts while others are clinging to "floating debris." His plea was part of a speech he delivered at the 2020 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, which "aims to encourage dialogue by inviting prominent personalities to discuss major international challenges.” Read on.
The Changed EU
The European Union is changed forever with the agreement of a historic accord that unites the countries in a "new form of society, in which sovereignty is shared reciprocally." The EU will issue treasury bonds to finance a brand new part of its budget, which it calls the "recovery plan," amounting to 750 billion euros. This development falls in line with Europeans wanting European solutions to the economic and geopolitical challenges that threaten them. Read on.
A New Global Standard for Nature-Based Solutions
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently unveiled new global standards for nature-based solutions to tackle global challenges such as climate change, food and water insecurity, and COVID-19 recovery. The new standards will help governments, businesses, and civil society ensure that nature-based solutions effectively maximize their potential. Until today, there was no consensus or plan for the pathway forward on how to design and implement effective nature-based solutions. Now, there are "eight criteria and associated indicators that allow the user to assess the aptness, scale, economic, environmental and social viability of an intervention; consider its possible trade-offs; ensure transparency and adaptive project management, and explore possible linkages to international targets and commitments.” Read on.
The International Humanitarian Response to COVID-19
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN's emergency aid coordination body, recently released its revised Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP). The GHRP “aims to respond to the immediate health and multisectoral humanitarian needs in 63 countries," highlighting local and frontline humanitarian responders' critical role. The GHRP doesn't replace other UN country-based humanitarian appeals; instead, it sits alongside it. The total appeals are approximately $30 billion, which creates an "unprecedented humanitarian funding ask this year of US$40 billion.” Read on.