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By Roberto Bissio*

The message could not have been clearer: "There is a very real threat of a rapidly moving, highly lethal pandemic of a respiratory pathogen killing 50 to 80 million people and wiping out nearly 5% of the world’s economy. A global pandemic on that scale would be catastrophic, creating widespread havoc, instability and insecurity.”

This prediction was published in September 2019, several months before the identification of the first Covid-19 patient, by Gro Harlem Bruntland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), and by Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, as co-chairs of the the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board. The Board's report entitled A World at Risk was conclusive: "The world is not prepared."

The report by Ricardo Tranjan examines the financial situation of the 3.4 million households in Canada who rent and whose primary source of income is wages and salaries or self-employment income. Everyone will be eventually touched by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but rent is due soon. Specifically, it addresses the following question: How many weeks or months can renters go without employment income before running out of savings?

The short answer is that almost half of them have less than a month’s worth of savings; one-third have two weeks or less.

The Covid-19 pandemia is a global health crisis (with major financial and economic consequences) but international organizations, starting with the World Health Organization “are still insufficiently funded to respond quickly to the emergence of dangerous diseases - and to prevent them from spreading to global pandemics” argue Jens Martens and Bodo Ellmers, from Global Policy Forum in a briefing paper published last March 18. People in most Global South countries are likely to suffer its impact even more and therefore “in order to prevent the corona crisis from becoming a global development crisis, solidarity must not end at national borders.”

Cyprus undergoes a trade-off between urgent responses to the economic and financial crisis and its sustainable development commitments. As a member of the European Union, Cyprus should be implementing the concepts of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) and Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development (PCSD), yet neither of these is mentioned in the country’s official Voluntary National Review, which in fact omits the whole of SDG 17 (on implementation).

SDG 6, Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, represents one of the easiest – and most fundamental – parts of the 2030 Agenda to achieve. Dynamics of power and inequality shape access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and other basic services, both in terms of tangible metrics (income, nearness and type of family toilet or water source) and because of the unequal distribution of influence over decision-making - the gulf between whose rights and voices count and whose do not. Raising the political leverage of communities facing discrimination in infrastructure and service provision is key in changing the power relationships between users and providers. The preconditions for universal access to WASH at national level must be matched by commitments at international level: to significantly increase official development assistance (ODA), restructure debt, curb illicit financial flows and stimulate new sources of international public assistance through democratic institutions.

Social Watch Philippines, together with a number of Filipino academics and civil society representatives, present a policy matrix that identifies urgent issues, provides analyses and outlines recommendations on trade and development from a wide range of actors from civil society, the academe, and private sector in time for the preparatory process leading to the UNCTAD XV Conference to be held in Barbados from 18 to 23 October 2020.

The Czech Republic has enjoyed steady economic growth, low inflation and low unemployment in recent years. Income inequality (Gini coefficient 0.25) is the third lowest among OECD countries. In 2018 the proportion of citizens at risk of income poverty (relative poverty - with an income of 60% or less of the national median) were about 10% of the population, while those in absolute poverty (‘materially deprived’) were 8% of the population. Older citizens (65+ years) are worse off than other age groups. In 2018, 10% of households with children (30% of which were single- adult households - single mother or single father) found themselves in income poverty. Furthermore, Czechia has one of the highest proportions of homeless people in the European Union (0.65 % of the population).

The potential of partnerships with the private sector dominated the narrative characterizing the initial phase of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In relation to SDG 2, a prominent multi-stakeholder platform is the Scaling Up Nutrition ‘Movement’. Laura Michéle and Kavya Chowdhry (FIAN International), Patti Rundall (IBFAN) and Stefano Prato (SID) explain that as documented by a multi-country study, this case exposes how interventions promoted by MSPs often do not address the social, cultural, economic and political determinants of malnutrition and rather emphasize short-term, technical interventions, owing to private sector influence in the context of a consensus driven process.

On 28 January 2020 the President of the General Assembly (PGA), Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, and the President of ECOSOC, Mona Juul announced a new initiative: “a high-level panel on international financial accountability, transparency and integrity (FACTI)”. This joint endeavour is framed as a means to target and recover assets for investment in the Sustainable Development Goals.

At present, the UN estimates the financing gap to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) totals a staggering $2.5 trillion. Proponents of a robust and strong agenda on tackling illicit financial flows (IFFs) suggest that this gap could in part be closed by addressing the various forms of illicit financial flows that divert or “rob” governments of vital public resources that could and should be invested in public goods to achieve the SDGs.

How to capture and manage big data? This is a question that will confront the 51st session of the UN Statistical Commission in March 2020 as they review the official reports. The four-year process of finalizing the global indicator framework to measure the 169 targets of the SDGs is drawing to a conclusion with the acceptance by the IAEG-SDGs of 8 additional indicators, 14 replacement indicators, 8 revised indicators and 6 deleted indicators. The framework has gone to the Commission for approval in March and the focus of different players in the data and statistics community is shifting to the management and use of data to influence and shape development policy agendas.

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