Issue XXXIV | October 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.
 The First Global Fund for Coral Reefs

For the first time, a coalition of partners convened to mobilize resources to make coral reefs more resilient. The result is the Global Fund for Coral Reefs, which seeks to raise and invest $500 million in coral reef conservation for the next decade. This first-of-its-kind fund comes during the 75th session of the UN General Assembly and will support “businesses and finance mechanisms that improve the health and sustainability of coral reefs and associated ecosystems while empowering local communities and enterprises.” The post-2020 Biodiversity Framework and the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) recognize coral reefs as critical ecosystems. Read on.
The UN’s Impact on Human Rights
A new UN report titled Going Further Together showcases the value of the UN's human rights work in the field. The report documents the components of the efforts to support political processes, build sustainable peace and prevent or counter violent conflict. Ilze Brands Kehris, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, highlights that the report includes concrete examples of improving the effectiveness and the performance of UN field missions. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for human rights to “permeate everything we do." Read on.
Twitter is Failing Women
According to a new analysis by Amnesty International, Twitter is "still not doing enough to protect women from online violence and abuse," despite Twitter's promises to take action. In 2018, Amnesty sounded the alarm in their Toxic Twitter report called the Twitter Score Card. This card grades the social media company's record on "implementing a series of recommendations to tackle abuse against women on the platform." Out of the stated recommendations, Twitter has only implemented just one of ten. That is slight progress, but more needs to be done. Read on.
The RGB’s of the World: 6 Amazing Women
RGB’s passing on September 18th was a loss for the world, but her legacy will transcend generations. As tributes continue to pour in, the world is reminded of other amazing women who fought and continue to fight for gender equality and human rights. This article puts a spotlight on six incredible women who have left a mark in the courtroom. Read about Gisèle Halimi (Tunisia/France), Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat (Malaysia), Lady Brenda Hale (UK), Sudha Bharadwaj (India), Joênia Wapixana (Brazil), and Arwa Al-Hujaili (Saudia Arabia). Read on.
UN Missions and Gender Parity
It's been an excellent year for the "long-overdue push to appoint women to the notoriously male-dominated leadership ranks of UN peacekeeping and political missions." During the first half of 2020, five out of the six mission-leadership jobs went to women. This includes all-female leadership teams in places like Cyprus and Irag. The assumption that "women are unfit for — or unwilling to assume — service in the toughest countries" is proven wrong. Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN’s 2017 Systemwide Strategy on Gender Parity get the credit for this shift. Guterres has set out to fix stubborn gender imbalances aggravated by institutional barriers, biases, and the increasing politicization of appointments. Read on.
Optimistic Clean Energy Future
Its been a difficult year for people and communities around the world. COVID-19 and the economic fallout will leave a lasting impact. However, there are reasons to be optimistic, especially when it comes to the future of clean energy. Beyond the drop in global emissions caused by reduced travel, advances in technology, policy, and new business approaches are helping to "drive sustained declines in emissions in the years ahead – even as economies start growing again.” There are five trends with “potential to prevent the worst ravages of climate change.” The first trend is solar leading renewables to new heights. Read on.
Surpassing Peak Oil
According to Carbon Brief's analysis of the latest energy outlook from oil major BP, the world has passed “peak oil” demand. Excerpt: Historically, energy demand has risen steadily with few interruptions, but COVID-19 and increased climate action have changed that. Its possible oil demand could fall at least 10% this decade and by as much as 50% over the next two. A key aspect of the BP outlook is its assumptions about the overall increase in global energy demand as populations rise and incomes expand. This year's outlook marks a dramatic shift in this view, with global energy demand growth either slowing down or even leveling off over the next three decades (red lines). Read on.
The World's Most Innovative Economies
Every year the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) publishes the Global Innovation Index, which ranks 131 economies on their innovation performance. The index looks at various factors, including R&D, ICT, and knowledge and technology outputs. For the 10th consecutive year, Switzerland takes the top spot. Sweden and then the US complete the top three. Switzerland scores well across all the seven measured areas with a strong R & D expenditure performance and an innovative business sector. Read on.
The Meaning of Covid-19 for the Planet
Experts agree that the COVID-19 pandemic will have long-lasting ramifications even after the immediate threat ends. In this article, seven experts weigh in on what the pandemic means for the planet. One perspective is that COVID-19 may have reduced air pollution levels, but that doesn’t mean the climate change crisis is resolved. Another is that single-use plastics are on the rise, as the role of plastics becomes increasingly important to keeping people safe.  Another perspective is that millions of people will be driven into poverty because of COVID-19's economic fallout. Read on.
Embracing International Cooperation
According to a summer 2020 Pew Research Center survey of 14,276 people across 14 countries, respondents believe increased global cooperation could have reduced COVID-19's human toll. The poll also revealed that people support embracing other countries' interests even if it means the countries must compromise. The results are in line with a "pre-coronavirus 2019 Pew Research Center survey in 12 of the same 14 countries that showed robust public support for the idea of nations cooperating, rather than competing, on the world stage.” Read on.
International Election Monitors Arrive
At the invitation of the US State Department, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is the major international body for monitoring elections, has arrived in the US. OSCE “is an intergovernmental body of 57 countries from Europe, North America, and Central Asia. It has been monitoring elections in the US since 2002, most recently the 2018 midterm elections.” Urszula Gacek, a Polish senator and member of the European Parliament, is leading the mission of 11 international experts and 30 long-term observers from 13 member countries. Read on.