The Millennium Development Goals Report 2006

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2006

The United Nation Report on progress towards the MDGs was released on 3 July 2006. The report presents the latest assessment on how far we have come, and how far we have to go in reaching the goals, in each of the world’s regions. With less than a decade left to meet the MDG targets, the United Nations said that there were ‘‘staggering’‘ obstacles to succeeding and conditions in many poor countries were actually worsening. The report found that while global incidence of extreme poverty has declined, some 140 million more people have entered that category in sub-Saharan
Africa. More people are also going hungry in the region, which has seen only modest improvements in child mortality and maternity rates in the past six years. The report noted some improvement in access to primary education and other areas. Source: John Daly.

Why the WTO Doha Round talks have collapsed – and a path forward

To date, most press coverage of the Doha Round collapse has focused on the blame game – which countries‘ failure to make specific agricultural concessions is to blame. But the under-recognized, but extremely important story is that the underlying cause of the breakdown is the growing rejection of the WTO, and more broadly of the corporate-led globalization model, by many people worldwide based on this model’s effects on their lives. Poor countries that have achieved economic growth – Argentina, Argentina, and China – did so by not following WTO policies. The ‚loss‘ of Doha is in fact a gain. World Bank research reveals that under the “likely“ Doha scenario, the Middle East, Bangladesh, much of Africa and (notably) Mexico would actually face net losses. Alleged gains that are projected to accrue to Brazil and India would be largely concentrated in those countries‘ agribusiness and manufacturing industries respectively, while subsistence farmers – a much, much larger percentage of those populations – would see tiny gains or net losses. The focus of energy now should be on how the world’s governments can develop a multilateral trade system that preserves the benefits of trade for growth and development, while pruning away the many anti-democratic constraints on domestic policy making contained in the existing WTO rules. Read the full article by Lori Wallach and Deborah James at the Common Dreams News Center:

UNCTAD presents Trade and Development Report 2006

Building productive capacities in developing countries UNCTAD´s Trade and Development Report 2006, subtitled “Global partnership and national policies for development“, contends that the multilateral trading and financial systems must take better account of the asymmetries existing between developed and developing countries, and allow the latter to pursue development policies in a flexible manner. Governments should take a proactive stance in macroeconomic, trade and industrial policies to support the process of capital accumulation, technological upgrading and structural change. Such policies should respect the specific situation of each country.

Which rich countries help poor ones?

The Center for Global Development released its updated Commitment to Development Index, ranking 21 rich countries‘ policies on aid, trade, migration and more. This year, the Netherlands moved into first, mainly because a conservative government in the formerly number-one Denmark has cut aid spending. Japan remains in last place as the country whose government is least engaged with developing countries. As in the past, the G-7 “leading industrial nations“ have not led on the CDI; Germany, top among them, is in 9th place overall. Rich and poor countries are linked in many ways—by foreign aid, commerce, migration, the environment, and military affairs. The Commitment to Development Index (CDI) rates 21 rich countries on how much they help poor countries build prosperity, good government, and security. Each rich country gets scores in seven policy areas, which are averaged for an overall score.

Merger of the World Bank’s environment and infrastructure networks

Mainstreaming or undermining sustainability?While mainstreaming environmental and social sustainability into Bank operations has been a longstanding goal of internal reformers and external critics for the past 20 years, certain criteria have to be met before the latest development is celebrated. The World Bank plan to merge its environmental and social development units with the department that oversees large infrastructure investment could end up leaving the “wolf guarding the henhouse“. The new “Sustainable Development Network“ will have to be monitored closely to ensure that the Bank does not wrongly promote oil and gas projects, frequently the target of criticism about negative environmental and social impacts, as “development“ or “anti-poverty“ projects. Read the full article by Bruce Jenkins at Bank Information Center:

World Bank sees business climate as main tool for SME support

New World Bank research findings break away from the traditional view that subsidizing small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) fosters growth and poverty alleviation. Researchers Beck and Demirgüç-Kunt recommend that countries focus on improving the overall business climate for all firms, while also expanding access to finance for SMEs. “Policymakers in developing countries are very interested in helping the SME sector and the World Bank is often involved in designing SME strategies,” says Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, Senior Research Manager (Finance) at the World Bank, “Our research takes a much-needed look at the effect of SMEs on development, their growth constraints, and policies to overcome these constraints—areas inadequately researched until now.”