Issue XXIIII | December 2019
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.
  Marriage? More Women are Deciding to Stay Single
More women are choosing to delay marriage or stay single all together like never before. Historically marriage was the only way for a woman to get financial security. It was sociably frowned upon, in the best-case scenario, for women to be single in society. All that changed as women became more educated, entered the workforce, and became more independent. “All these factors contribute to single women capable of maintaining a stable financial life.” Single women are embracing their freedoms over the hard work often necessary to make a marriage work. “Women expect gender equality and deliberate before making a lifelong commitment.” Read on .
Human Rights
China Shows Strength at the UN
China is enjoying economic clout in the UN and "far beyond." Late last year, 23 nations
including Britain, the United States, Germany, France, and Japan, condemned China at the UN for its persecution of Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang province. However, several countries stayed silent on the matter, casting a spotlight on China's growing influence. This occurred despite a damning description of “something resembling a massive internment camp, shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no-rights zone” in Xinjiang. “At the UN, this means its “no strings attached” development aid and investments in Africa and elsewhere may come with strings attached, after all.” Read on.
Are Truth and Reason Possible in Politics?
In today's toxic political climate, it's hard to believe that people continue to be surprised by the decisions the leader (voted into office by those very people) behave in ways that reflect who they are and have always been. "Making good political decisions is difficult because human beings spend so much time in what economist and psychologist Daniel Kahneman calls "System One" mode. This is a way of thinking that is fast, emotional, easy, and efficient. It's heavily reliant on cognitive shortcuts and fast judgments, and prone to bias. Much of our politics exists in this space - the immediate, the gut, the familiar, and emotional. And many of our structural incentives - our institutions, rules, laws and habits - keep us locked into this mode.” Read on.
Global Population Shifts
The world’s population distribution has changed dramatically over the past 75 years. This unprecedented shift poses serious “social, economic, political and environmental challenges and disquieting implications for the future.” “The proportion of world population residing in urban areas has increased from a minority of 30 percent in 1950 to a majority of 56 percent today and is expected to increase further to nearly 70 percent by 2050." Government authorities must work with national leaders to implement appropriate policies, create comprehensive plans, and establish programs to protect and strengthen fundamental infrastructure required by the "world’s growing urban populations in less developed regions.”
The EU Bank Withdrawals from Fossil Fuels
The European Investment Bank (EIB) Group decided to align its financial activities with the Paris Agreement by 2020. Their ambitious new climate strategy and energy lending policy will "end financing for fossil fuel energy projects from the end of 2021; instead, unlocking EUR 1 trillion for climate action and environmentally sustainable investment until 2030." The EIB has demonstrated its commitment to the climate for many years. "Since 2012, the EIB provided EUR 150 billion of finance supporting EUR 550 billion of investment in projects that reduce emissions and help countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. This made the EIB one of the world’s largest multilateral providers of finance for projects supporting these objectives.” Read on.
UN Report: Greenhouse Gasses Still Rising

The United Nations Environment Program issued an assessment at the end of last year, stating that greenhouse gasses are still on the rise. Countries have failed to get control and reduce the number of greenhouse gasses they emit. The two biggest offenders, China and the United States increased their emissions. The result is that emission reduction must now be more severe. However, December's international climate negotiations were not meant to enforce these reductions. Instead, they were "intended to hammer out the last remaining rules on how to implement the 2015 Paris climate accord, in which every country pledged to rein in greenhouse gases, with each setting its own targets and timetables.” Read on.
Migrant Workers Send Home Hundreds of Billions
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there are an estimated 270 million migrants and, international remittances increased to $689 billion in 2018. The top beneficiaries are India ($78.6 billion), China ($67.4 billion), Mexico ($35.7 billion) and the Philippines ($34 billion). The United States is the top destination, with almost 51 million. The IOM’s Global Migration Report reveals that “more than half of all international migrants (141 million) live in Europe and North America. An estimated 52 percent are male, and nearly two-thirds of all migrants are looking for work; that is around 164 million people." While these numbers seem significant, the reality is much different. That number represents 3.5% of the world population, meaning 96.5% are estimated to be living in the country they were born. Read on.
Growing Inequality and Global Protests
The mass protests around the world indicate that despite advancements and improvements in poverty, disease, and education, growing inequality is tearing at societal fabrics. The 2019 Human Development Report (HDR) called Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: inequalities in human development in the 21st Century warns that the “gap in basic living standards is narrowing for millions of people, the necessities to thrive have evolved.” “A new generation of inequalities is opening up, around education, and around technology and climate change — two seismic shifts that, unchecked, could trigger a ‘new great divergence’ in society of the kind not seen since the Industrial Revolution.” Read on.
2019 Unprecedented for Humanitarian Need
The Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) 2020 by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), concludes that in 2019 there was an unprecedented number of people in crisis. 93.6 million people were targeted for assistance, despite 131.7 million being in need. By November 2019, 117.4 million were targeted as opposed to the 166.5 million in need. “Climate change, unexpected spread of infectious disease, and regional conflicts were the main reasons pushing millions of people into spaces for humanitarian needs is one of the key reasons for these large numbers.” Read on.
Global Trade and Cybersecurity are Interconnected
The world is becoming increasingly more connected thanks to the internet and the technologies that break boundaries across industries and markets. The downside is the cyber risk that comes with this digital world. Cybersecurity has taken center stage. 2019 was one of the highest on record for cybersecurity issues across the world. Several countries and hundreds of organizations and businesses were victims of cybercrimes. What does all of this mean for trade? Countries must develop appropriate measures to reduce their risk. “This includes addressing cybersecurity risk over global supply chains. Some proposed measures are likely to constitute barriers to data flows and digital trade. Countries may also resort to import restrictions, including higher tariffs as a means of punishing and deterring cyberattacks.” Read on .
BRICS States Reiterate Commitment to Multilateralism
Leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) are reaffirming their commitment to strengthening and reforming the multilateral system, including the United Nations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international organizations. BRICS aims to shape “a more fair, just, equitable and representative multipolar international order.” BRICS wants to “increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India, and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.” Read on.
ICC Authorizes Investigation Against Myanmar
Myanmar is accused of mass persecution and genocide of their Muslim minority population, and they are being held accountable. Judges at the international criminal court (ICC) authorized a full-scale investigation into these accusations and crimes against humanity that have forced an estimated 600,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh. The Gambia has since also made a submission to the “the international court of justice (ICJ) accusing Myanmar of genocide through the murder, rape, and destruction of communities in the country's western Rakhine state.” Read on.
History’s Largest Nonviolent Mass Movements
All around the world, people are getting together in mass protests to demand justice, accountability ore removal of their national leaders. Bolivia, Chile, Lebanon, Ecuador, Argentina, Hong Kong, Iraq, the US, and Puerto Rico and are just of the countries that have seen waves of protesters hit the streets. This could be the "largest wave of nonviolent mass movements in world history." Social media is the great facilitator making protests easy to organize but harder to resolve. There are four critical reasons for this. Read on.