This week in development…
U.S. Development Policy/International Organizations
- As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, access to sanitation and safe drinking water remains the ‘least improved’ A recent UN report found that 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitation facilities, while 1.8 billion people use contaminated water sources.
A water kiosk in Chipata, Zambia providing clean and sanitary water.
- United Nation’s Population Fund (UNPF) recently released a major report on the State of the World Population. The report focuses on the economic potential of the 1.8 billion ‘youth bulge’, referring to the large global youth population many of whom are unemployed. The report estimates Africa’s growth to boost by a third if the continent invests enough in the younger generation. PPD earlier this year launched the Global Youth Wellbeing Index highlighting policies needed to capitalize on these demographic changes.
By Milos Purkovic
On November 5, the United Nations concluded its second conference on landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and produced a 10-year action plan designed to address their bottlenecks related to transit, trade, and infrastructure. According to the 2014 Human Development Report, nine of the poorest performing 15 countries are landlocked and face additional burdens in these areas critical for economic growth. Further, the UN conference highlights growing international recognition of “landlockedness” as a development issue and an opportunity for broad based economic growth. Below are key takeaways from the conference, and implications for development in LLDCs.
1. Trade processes in LLDCs are more expensive, take more time, and have more steps than in average transit countries
In 2013, the cost for LLDCs to export and import a standard 20 foot container was over twice the average cost of shipping in transit countries. Additionally, export costs from 2006-2013 grew at a faster rate in LLDCs than in transit developing countries — roughly 38 percent compared to 26 percent. Import costs over the same period increased about 35 percent in LLDCs versus 22 percent in transit countries.
By Michael Jacobs
While the situation in Ukraine and its effect on the Russian and European economies have been the subject of countless news stories and op-eds for several months, the implications for the former soviet countries in Central Asia have largely been ignored. One of these countries in particular, Tajikistan, may face the most severe and direct consequences of a Russian economic slow-down. This outcome looks increasingly likely as falling oil prices amplify the negative impact of economic sanctions in energy-dependent Russia.
Tajikistan, however much it may depend on the Russian economy now, isn’t waiting around to find out what would happen if the Russian economy falters. Tajikistan recently accepted an offer of $6 billion in new investments from China over the next 3 years, which is part of a larger Chinese push into Central Asia. China may use this investment to build oil refineries and has already built numerous cement factories in Tajikistan in recent years as Chinese workers have contributed to a construction boom in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe. These cement factories have also led to some speculation that in the future China may look to fund the completion of the controversial Rogun Dam, which began construction in 1976 and saw work suspended in 2012. The graphs below illustrate Tajikistan’s dependence on Russia as well as the magnitude of China’s recent investments. As a note, comparisons with China’s investment assume $2 billion are invested each year ($6 billion total investment divided evenly over 3 years).
1. Tajikistan is the Most Remittance-Dependent Country in the World
Last week I was among the 700 participants from 160 countries gathered in Baku, Azerbaijan with for the First Global Forum on Youth Policies. Government officials, U.N. representatives, experts, practitioners and young people deliberated policy matters of the world’s youth — a demographic that constitutes a quarter of the global population and represents the largest generation in human history.
The forum, a first of its kind, was co-convened by several parties including the Office of the U.N. Envoy on Youth, UNESCO, UNDP and the Council of Europe to deliberate national and global youth policy: why they matter, what elements they should contain and issues they should address, how they should be implemented.
Why? It is (or should be) a no-brainer. More than 85 percent of our young people live in developing countries, emerging economies and fragile states. Without question, their fate is highly consequential to the landscape and trajectory of international economics, politics and security. At a time when inequality within and between nations is untenable, Magdy Martínez-Solimán, U.N. assistant secretary-general and former Spanish deputy minister for youth, lauded the ability of youth policies to promote inclusion.
“A national youth policy is essential as a social investment that provides opportunity, protects the most vulnerable of our young citizens, and strengthens the community,” she said. “It makes societies more equal.”
Read the full post from CSIS senior associate, Nicole Goldin, on Devex.
U.S. Development Policy/International Organizations
- Ahead of this weekend’s G20 summit, World Trade Organization (WTO) members India and the United States agreed to extend a “peace clause” to 2017 allowing India to maintain its food subsidy program. The deal ends a WTO stand-off on trade facilitation that supporters describe as the biggest crisis the organization has faced in its two decade history. Implementation of the trade facilitation agreement would add $1 trillion to the global economy
- Multilateral banks jointly backed G20 plans for the Global Infrastructure Initiative, a global hub that would share information to help match investors with projects. The Australia-led initiative comes on the heels of the formation of the Chinese led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) set to launch in 2015.
- USAID is drafting new internal policy prohibiting future covert, democracy-promotion efforts in hostile foreign countries that reject USAID funds. Recent USAID off-the-books democracy-promotion in Cuba prompted internal review and a critical response from Senators Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
Leaders gathered for the APEC Summit in Beijing this week, but much of the action took place on the sidelines of the official meetings.