Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Corruption Perceptions Index - "If not us, then who?" "If not our generation, then whose generation?"

Transparency International publishes since 1995 the Corruption Perception Index, a statistical tool based on the data gathered by a number of international organizations to monitor the phenomenon of corruption in the public administrations of  countries around the world. The organizations uses the following main sources to compile is statistical index.
1. African Development Bank Governance Ratings 2013
2. Bertelsmann Foundation Sustainable Governance Indicators 2014 
3. Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index 2014 
4. Economist Intelligence Unit Country Risk Ratings 2014 
5. Freedom House Nations in Transit 2013 
6. Global Insight Country Risk Ratings 2014 
7. IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2014 
8. Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Asian Intelligence 2014 
9. Political Risk Services International Country Risk Guide 2014 
10. World Bank - Country Policy and Institutional Assessment 2013 
11. World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey (EOS) 2014 
12. World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2014

The Index page contains a section entitled TRUE STORIES: behind the numbers of the corruption perceptions index 2014 with information on cases where organizations and citizens from countries like Honduras, Indonesia and the Tcezk Re This video talks about students in Indonesia fighting corruption in public schools and the title of the post is inspired to the words of one of the student interviewed.

Interactive map with values downloadable from the website of Transparency International. The website contains also interesting infographics

Monday, 20 April 2015

BRICS Development Bank maybe operative by the end of 2015

Since 2009 the BRICS countries, the most important emerging economies, started to meet every year to discuss and cooperate on global economic, political and social issues. The last summit held in Brasil in the city of Fortaleza last July 2014 set the scene for the creation of the BRICS Development Bank and the Bank should be fully operational by the end of 2015. The establishing agreement will enter into force once the BRICS countries will have deposited the instruments of acceptance, ratification or approval have been deposited, in accordance with Article 48 of the same agreement available at the following address. We believe that a decision on the launch of financing the first project will be made by the end of the year (2015). We have set this goal before us, but of course no one can give a 100-percent guarantee that this will be accomplished,” said Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak (pictured on the right). 

Population and economic power of BRICS economies
Basic excerpt from the Agreement of the Bank

  • Purpose (Art.1) The Bank shall mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. To fulfill its purpose, the Bank shall support public or private projects through loans, guarantees, equity participation and other financial instruments. It shall also cooperate with international organizations and other financial entities, and provide technical assistance for projects to be supported by the Bank.

  • Functions (Art. 3 Annex containing the Articles to the Agreement)

To fulfill its purpose, the Bank is authorized to exercise the following functions:

 (i) to utilize resources at its disposal to support infrastructure and sustainable development projects, public or private, in the BRICS and other emerging market economies and developing countries, through the provision of loans, guarantees, equity participation and other financial instruments; 

 (ii) to cooperate as the Bank may deem appropriate, within its mandate, with international organizations, as well as national entities whether public or private, in particular with international financial institutions and national development banks; 

 (iii) to provide technical assistance for the preparation and implementation of infrastructure and sustainable development projects to be supported by the Bank; 

 (iv) to support infrastructure and sustainable development projects involving more than one country;

 (v) to establish, or be entrusted with the administration, of Special Funds which are designed to serve its purpose.

  • Headquarters (Art. 4 Annex containing the Articles to the Agreement)
a) The Bank has its headquarters in Shanghai.

b) The Bank may establish offices necessary for the performance of its functions. The first regional office shall be in Johannesburg.


Political aspects (excerpt from Guardian post)

The bank will rival the US- and European-led World Bank and its private lending affiliate, the International Finance Corporation, which have dominated development finance since the second world war. The Brics bank is positioned as a financial institution that will provide developing countries with alternative funding minus the punishing strings attached to World Bank lending, which strip recipient countries of the power to make their own policies. It also promises to make lending processes for developing countries faster, simpler and cheaper.

Developing countries have long failed to get industrial nations to either give them a bigger say in decision-making at the World Bank and IMF, or to get these institutions to ease up on punishing and inappropriate structural adjustment programmes (that wealthy countries themselves would never implement in their own economies) in return for funding. The new bank and the contingency fund are therefore the first real and practical attempts by developing countries to create a monetary, development-finance and trade alternative to the IMF, World Bank and the dominance of the US dollar.

The mere presence of a Brics bank that does not adhere to the structural adjustment philosophy of the World Bank and IMF could strengthen the hands of African governments to produce more independent – and relevant – national development policies, rather than the “one size fits all” approach enforced by traditional lenders.
The mere presence of a Brics bank that does not adhere to the structural adjustment philosophy of the World Bank and IMF could strengthen the hands of African governments to produce more independent – and relevant – national development policies, rather than the “one size fits all” approach enforced by traditional lenders. The Brics bank could also help Africans to secure better investment deals in their negotiations with traditional multilateral banks and the private sector. However, there is no guarantee that a Brics bank would not attach conditions as onerous as those of the World Bank or other development banks – or that it would prioritise the development and infrastructure policies important to African economies, rather than just the Brics economies. Most current development banks in individual states, such as the Brazilian development bank, lend at market rates to African countries. Headquarters

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The commercialisation of agriculture of the oil of Cacay in Colombia has the potential to boost economic development in a number of provinces

After reading an interesting post on the Bloomberg website entitled In-jungle-long-known-for-cocaine-a-rare-nut-is-now-all-the-rage, I would like to gather further information about the cacay or inchi tree (the species changes name according to the area of origin). A plant populating the base of the Andes Mountains in Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia and adjacent Amazonian lowlands.
Kahai SAS is the first Colombian company to commercialise the plant and the following video provides information on the potentials of the plant production


Information on the plant 

Plant growth is rapid, and fruiting can start after four to five years. A ten-year-old tree can yield 100-250 kg of nuts per year. The nuts are easily separated from the thin shell and, when dried and roasted, can be safely stored for a long time in sealed plastic bags. They have a pleasant flavour resembling hazel nut and are eaten raw, roasted, fried or ground as a drink or sweet. Crushed nuts and milk are used to feed weaned children. The nuts contain edible oil (up to 50 percent), starch and protein, and they have a calorific value of 585 kcal per 100 g. The oil is rich in linoleic acid (34.4 percent).
The tree is also grown as a shade tree for coffee and cacao in Colombia. Oil from the shells, nuts and bark latex are used as an illuminant, while both nuts and oil are an excellent cure for pulmonary complaints and dermatitis. There seems to be good potential for development of the crop, in Colombia for example, where there is a shortfall between existing production of edible oil and domestic demand. Provenance surveys and trials are required for improved performance and to establish priority areas in the forest for genetic conservation (information excerpt from FAO website.

The plant has the potential to fulfill various tasks

  • Reforestation
  • Conversion of illicit crops
  • Protection of biodiversity and Promotion of sustainable development
  • Complement other plantations of local farmers 
  • Oil use remunerative in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical sectors
  • Food and drinks production
  • Bio fuel.

Monday, 13 April 2015

On 23 April Port Harcourt in in Nigeria will pass the baton to Incheon in Korea as new Word Book Capital for 2015

United Nations promote literacy and lifelong education in particular through the work of UNESCO, the specialized agency devoted to educational, scientific and cultural development.

The Agency established the International Literacy Prizes to award each year worthy institutions and organizations that work to leverage literacy worldwide. In addition, in collaboration with the International Publishers Associations (IPA-UIE), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the International Booksellers Federation (IBF), UNESCO noominates each year since 2001 a city as World Book Capital to support the dissemination of books as the most effective tool for the promotion of knowledge and means of preserving it. 

The idea took form during the 31st session of the General Conference (the assembly gathering all member states of UNESCO) in Paris, the headquarters of the Organization on 10 October 2001 under the sponsorship of Spain, Benin, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Lithuania, Mexico, Philippines, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Tunisia and United Kingdom with the vote of Resolution 29.

Next 23 April, Incheon 인천시 in Korea, nominated in 2013,  will become the new World Book Capital.The Korean city follows in the order

Madrid (Spain) 2001,
Alexandria (Egypt) in 2002
New Delhi (India) in 2003,
Antwerp (Belgium) for 2004,
Montreal (Canada) for 2005,
Turin (Italy) for 2006,
Bogota (Colombia) for 2007,
Amsterdam (the Netherlands) for 2008,
Beirut (Lebanon) for 2009,
Ljubljana (Slovenia) for 2010,
Buenos Aires (Argentina) for 2011,
Yerevan (Armenia) for 2012,
Bangkok (Thailand) for 2013, and
Port Harcourt (Nigeria) for 2014 .

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Ufa in Russia holding 7th Summit of the BRICS countries and the one of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states

The city of Ufa, capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, also known as Bashkiria, part of the Russian Federation will host next July the Summits of the BRICS and SCO member states.

Bashkiria/Republic of Bashkortostan

BRICs: The acronym of of BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China] was first cited in 2002 by Goldman Sachs, the American multinational investment banking firm, to outline the growing importance at global level of the emerging market economies in particular from the Eurasian region (Reference to the Global Economics Paper No. 66, “The World Needs Better Economic BRICs”). The paper compared the economies of the emerging countries  with those of the G7 group (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States  The European Union) stressing the need to involve countries, like China, in the talks on world politics and economy made by the western powers. Already in 2002 China GDP surpassed the one combined of Canada and Italy.The table below shows how the relevance of the BRIC countries in the global economy has further grown in 2013.

World Bank GDP dollar estimates for2013 derived from purchasing power parity (PPP) calculations. 


The BRIC group expanded then in September 2010 when at a Foreign Ministers meeting in New York it was agreed to invite also South Africa (29th most important global economy in 2013 according to World Bank statistics). 
The one running in Ufa is the 7th summit of a series started in 2009. The first was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on June 16, 2009; the second in Brasilia on 15 April 2010, the third in Sanya, China on 14 April 2011, the fourth in New Delhi, India on 29 March 2012,  the fifth in Durban and the 6th in Fortaleza and Brasilia in Brasil.

 While the concept “BRICS” was first created to refer to the investment opportunities of the rising emerging economies, the leaders’ meetings transcend the financial context to embrace a wide range of summit-level issues relating to global governance, such as development, peace and security, energy and climate change, and social issues. 
The BRICS mechanism also aims at contributing significantly to the development of humanity and establishing a more equitable and fair world.

SCO - Shangai Cooperation Organization
Official logo of SCO
The city will also host the summit of the SCO member states.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation creation of which was proclaimed on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan that joined the Organisation in 2001. The main goals of the SCO are strengthening mutual confidence and good-neighbourly relations among the member countries; promoting effective cooperation in politics, trade and economy, science and technology, culture as well as education, energy, transportation, tourism, environmental protection and other fields; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region, moving towards the establishment of a new, democratic, just and rational political and economic international order. 


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

United Nations Global Road Safety Week - 23–29 April, 2015

The week dedicated to Global Road Safety supports and promotes initiatives to inform the general public on the victims of car accidents at global level. The phenomenon hits in particular the poorest population and it is further heavy in developing countries.

“the statistics are horrendous, said Stephen Karing. “Every year more than 1.2 million people die in road crashes around the world and 65 per cent of these deaths are pedestrians who do not own cars.” In addition, according to Karingi, sixty-five percent of deaths involve pedestrians - 35% of these, are innocent children. “This level of road carnage imposes huge economic costs – constituting about 1-3 percent of GDP in most countries. Unfortunately, the majority of these deaths – 70% occur in developing countries,” he adds. “Closer to us,” Karingi says, “the figures for our continent (Africa) are worse.” Road crashes are the second leading cause of death for the 5 to 44 age group in African countries. In our region where 50 per cent of the population is below the age of 16, road crashes exact a heavy toll on the continent's younger members and robs Africa of its future human capital.”

 “Sadly, for Africa, most of those affected by road traffic crashes are people who will never be able to afford a car – these are pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transportation.” “Estimates suggest that the economic cost of road traffic accidents to African countries amounts to US$10 billion per year- which approaches two per cent of GNP,” he adds. Background: 

At the global level, the UN General Assembly, through Resolution 64/255 of 2nd March 2010, proclaimed 2011-2020 the Decade of Action for Road Safety. The Resolution requested WHO, the UN Regional Commissions, in cooperation with other partners and stakeholders, to prepare a plan of action for the Decade to support the implementation process. 

In response to the resolution, the UN Regional Commissions, under WHO’s leadership, and in collaboration with other UN bodies and development partners prepared a Global Plan of Action that was launched on 11th May 2011 to guide national responses to implementing the Decade. African road transport and safety experts, however, content that the global plan does not necessarily address the specific problems of Africa as it is global in nature.

The African Plan of Action is therefore informed by the global plan, but takes account of African perspectives.

It is a comprehensive document containing five broad issues that will form the basis for the outcomes of the discussions:

 (i) Road Safety Management which concerns the institutional framework needed to implement road safety activities, and thereby sets the oversight of all other pillars;

(ii) Safer roads and mobility that deals with road development, the safety of all road users, especially pedestrians and other vulnerable users;

(iii) Safer vehicles which focuses on standards, entry and exit of vehicles into and from countries;

(iv) Safer drivers and other road users that addresses driver training, testing and licensing, driving permits and enforcement of the driving code, awareness and education of the public, and the development of a safety culture, and

(v) Post-crash response which deals with on site care, transport and trauma care of injured. The organizers hope that this will be endorsed by African countries through the African Union Conference of Ministers in charge of Transport and will thereafter serve as the guiding document to support the implementation of the Decade 2011-2020 in Africa. The conference is being convened by ECA; Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP); Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF); Government of Ethiopia; and International Road Federation (IRF) in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and the World Bank.

The point are further discussed in the following document

Read more at:

Saturday, 4 April 2015

WHO - 7th April World Health Day dedicated to safe food

On 7th April, the World Health Organization will celebrate the 2015 edition of the World Health Day.
This year the event will be dedicated to safe food.
The World Health Organization lists in 5 key points the knowledge and implementation of best practices to clean and store food to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases:

  • Access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health. 
  • Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances causes more than 200 diseases – ranging from diarrhoea to cancers. Foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases kill an estimated 2 million people annually, including many children. 
  • Food safety, nutrition and food security are inextricably linked. Unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, elderly and the sick. 
  • Foodborne diseases impede socioeconomic development by straining health care systems and harming national economies, tourism and trade.
  • Food supply chains now cross multiple national borders. Good collaboration between governments, producers and consumers helps ensure food safety.

Above you can see one of the posters published by WHO to inform the public on the importance to follow basic rules for the correct handling of food.

Food will also be the main theme of the upcoming universal exposition which will take place in Milan, Italy from next May 1 to October 31."Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" is the core theme of Expo Milano 2015. This common thread runs through all the events organized both within and outside the official Exhibition Site. Expo Milano 2015 will provide an opportunity to reflect upon, and seek solutions to, the contradictions of food production and unfair distribution around the world. On the one hand, there are still the hungry (approximately 870 million people were undernourished in the period 2010-2012) and, on the other, there are those who die from ailments linked to poor nutrition or too much food (approximately 2.8 million deaths from diseases related to obesity or to being overweight in the same period). In addition, about 1.3 billion tons of foods are wasted every year. For these reasons, it is essential to adopt conscious political choices, develop sustainable lifestyles, and use the best technology to create a balance between the availability and the consumption of resources.

Friday, 3 April 2015

United Nations 4th April - International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

On 8 December 2005, the General Assembly of the United Nations by adopting Resolution 60/97 declared that 4 April of each year shall be observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

It called for continued efforts by States, with the assistance of the United Nations and relevant organizations, to foster the establishment and development of national mine-action capacities in countries where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the civilian population, or an impediment to social and economic development at the national and local levels. 

 The 2015 theme 'More than Mines' takes into account the types of explosive threats faced by the United Nations and its members and brings attention to the fact that disposing of explosive hazards is only one part of UN mine action work. Landmines are not the only explosive hazards that pose a danger to civilians living in conflict and post-conflict settings; unexploded bombs, grenades, unsecured weapons and ammunition and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) also kill, injure and block access to healthcare, education and development. In Afghanistan, IEDs now kill ten times more civilians than landmines. The nature of conflict has also changed, with an increased role of non-state actors and fewer stable peace agreements creating a more complex – and dangerous – environment for humanitarians. 'More than Mines' highlights the changes that are taking place in the world and how the United Nations and its civil society partners working in mine action have adapted to meet today’s challenges. The adaptation is crucial to keep humanitarian priorities central and respond to the needs of the people and countries afflicted by warfare

Video Message of UN Secretary-General on the occasion of 2015 International Mine Awareness Day

Fourteen United Nations departments, programmes, funds and agencies are involved in mine action to varying degrees, in accordance with their mandates, areas of expertise and comparative advantages. These are: the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), the Department of Disarmament Affairs (DDA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues (OSAGI), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank,. They coordinate their activities in the context of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group for Mine Action (IACG-MA), chaired by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations at the Principals’ level and by the Director of UNMAS at the working-level. All mentioned departments, programmes, funds and agencies are members of the IACG-MA, except for the World Bank which acts as an observer. (data excerpt from the "Mine action and effective coordination: The UN Inter-Agency Policy.)

Click on the front page picture to access the report