Weekly Roundup | Top international development headlines

Weekly Roundup | Top international development headlines

Our Ocean Conference, earthquake damage in Türkiye estimated to exceed $34 billion and the Horn of Africa drought enters a sixth failed rainy season. Here is what you missed from last week’s headlines in the international development sector.

Our Ocean Conference: EU announces €816.5 million worth of commitments to protect the ocean

At the Our Ocean Conference in Panama, the EU is confirming its strong engagement for international ocean governance by announcing 39 commitments for action for the year 2023. These actions will be funded by €816.5 million. This is one of the biggest amounts ever announced by the EU since the start of the Our Ocean conferences in 2014.

At the Our Ocean Conference, the EU is taking commitments for action covering all themes of this event: Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), marine pollution, climate change, sustainable fisheries, sustainable blue economies, and maritime security. In addition to the commitments, the EU is also joining the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Action Alliance.

Earthquake damage in Türkiye estimated to exceed $34 billion: World Bank disaster assessment report

The two very large earthquakes of February 6 caused an estimated $34.2 billion in direct physical damages in Türkiye, the equivalent of 4% of the country’s 2021 GDP, according to a World Bank rapid damage assessment report released. The report also acknowledges that recovery and reconstruction costs will be much larger, potentially twice as large, and that GDP losses associated with economic disruptions will also add to the cost of the earthquakes.

Continued aftershocks will also likely add to this damage estimate over time, says the report, which has been prepared to help inform the early response of the World Bank Group and its partners and to support government planning for recovery and reconstruction in Türkiye.

The February 6 earthquakes of 7.8 and 7.5 magnitudes, followed by more than 7,500 aftershocks and two additional earthquakes, have resulted in the largest such disaster to hit the country in over 80 years, and have inflicted the heaviest damage in 11 provinces in southern Türkiye. These regions have some of the highest poverty rates in Türkiye and also host more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees, which is almost 50% of the total Syrian refugee population in Türkiye.

As the Horn of Africa drought enters a sixth failed rainy season, UNHCR calls for urgent assistance

As the Horn of Africa enters its sixth consecutive rainy season with no rain, displacement continues to climb as millions from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya struggle to survive amid scarce water sources, hunger, insecurity, and conflict.

With no immediate end in sight to one of the longest and most severe droughts on record, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is appealing for US$ 137 million to provide life-saving aid to 3.3 million refugees and internally displaced people who have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety and assistance, as well as affected local host communities.

While famine has so far been averted in Somalia, mostly due to a stepped-up humanitarian response, people continue to battle life-threatening food and water shortages resulting from massive losses of harvests, livestock, and income. Local commodity prices also remain at an all-time high, out of reach for many. The dangerous confluence of climate and conflict in the region is worsening an already dire humanitarian situation.

DevelopmentAid Editorials

Homelessness statistics in the world: causes and facts

In almost every city on the planet, people can be observed sleeping on the streets, on park benches or elsewhere. This is because homelessness affects people of all ages, sexes, races, and backgrounds, and is among the most obvious examples of poverty, prejudice, and inequality.

Although hard to track, the number of homeless people increases each year, with few countries being an exception to that. The United Nations has documented that there are around 1.6 billion people residing in poor housing worldwide, with around 15 million being forcibly evicted each year.

Surprisingly, living in a rich country or healthy economy is no guarantee to being “homelessness immune”. This article presents homelessness statistics around the globe, describing countries where most homeless people live, and the nations with the highest and lowest homelessness rates. But first, let’s explore the causes of homelessness.

Read the full article.

Human Freedom Index 2022: World state of liberty significantly downgraded

Over 94% of the world’s population live in jurisdictions that witnessed a decrease in human freedom in 2020 compared to 2019, the recently published Human Freedom Index 2022 has highlighted. It also noted that freedom was not equally distributed around the world. Switzerland tops the list of countries with the highest level of freedom, while the country with the lowest level was the Syrian Arab Republic.

The annual Human Freedom Index (HFI) measures the state of freedom in 165 countries against a wide range of factors such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, property rights, rule of law, and regulations that affect economic activity. It uses a scoring system to rank countries based on their overall freedom score, with 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.

Fig.2.The Human Freedom Index 2022

Source: Cato Institute 

Read the full article.

U.S. launches new program to facilitate refugee resettlement

The U.S. Department of State has launched a new private sponsorship program that seeks to recruit 10,000 Americans to take in at least 5,000 refugees in the first year of the program. The new program, the Welcome Corps, will help refugees entering the country through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) to integrate into their new communities.

The first refugees from sub-Saharan Africa, who have waited years for a long-term solution, should be arriving in April 2023 and many will be hosted by private sponsors in the first few months of the Welcome Corps program.

For the program to run as planned, the Welcome Corps will provide guidance for ordinary Americans to directly assist refugee resettlement through private sponsorship. Sponsors must collect at least US$2,275 in cash and in-kind contribution for each newly arrived refugee. This will cover housing costs and address the initial basic needs of the displaced person until s/he finds a job. The long-term goal is for refugees to become self-sufficient and autonomous as quickly as possible.

Read the full article.

Here’s what else has happened

Türkiye and Syria one month on: Nearly one month since two devastating earthquakes struck Türkiye and Syria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns of the urgent need for a sustainable short- and long-term response to the health and mental health and psychosocial needs to prevent a “second disaster”.

ILO: The ILO has welcomed plans by global leaders to present new commitments and partnerships to support Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to accelerate recovery and achieve sustainable development. The commitments are expected to be unveiled during the second part of the United Nations (UN) Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) that will take place in Doha, Qatar, from 5-9 March 2023.

Zero Discrimination Day: On Zero Discrimination Day 2023, commemorated on March 1, UNAIDS highlights the need to remove laws that criminalize people living with HIV and key populations. The 2023 theme, “Save lives: Decriminalize”, points to the positive impact on health and life outcomes when discriminatory and punitive laws are removed.

Afghanistan: Climate change and the economic downturn continue to fuel the crisis in Afghanistan, and there have been no “encouraging developments” toward getting girls back into classrooms, a senior UN official said. Ramiz Alakbarov, UN Deputy Special Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, updated journalists in New York on developments in a country where 28 million people now depend on aid to survive.

Six months on: The need for longer-term economic support for people who lost their homes, livelihoods, and livestock across Pakistan due to the catastrophic floods six months ago becomes pressing amid global and local economic turndown, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns.


Pace of reform toward equal rights for women falls to 20-year low

The global pace of reforms toward equal treatment of women under the law has slumped to a 20-year low, constituting a potential impediment to economic growth at a critical time for the global economy, a new World Bank report shows.

In 2022, the global average score on the World Bank’s Women, Business, and the Law index rose just half a point to 77.1—indicating women, on average, enjoy barely 77 percent of the legal rights that men do. At the current pace of reform, in many countries, a woman entering the workforce will retire before she will be able to gain the same rights as men, the report notes.

Plastic Pollution: New study finds at least €6.7 billion investment gap to meet Europe’s plastics recycling targets

The European Investment Bank (EIB) unveiled a new study titled “Cutting plastics pollution – Financial measures for a more circular value chain”. The study analyses the inefficiencies of the plastics value chain and their solutions. It examines ten root causes of the plastic waste problem and identifies investment opportunities and policy measures that will help address the world’s growing plastic crisis.

Plastic production, rapid consumption, and widespread discharge into the natural environment — both on land and at sea – have been rising exponentially over the past 70 years. The implementation of a fully circular economy in plastics is essential in the face of the ever-increasing complexity of the underlying compounds.

In the global context, the European Union is performing comparatively well in addressing plastic waste pollution and has set ambitious targets under the European Strategy for Plastics. Nevertheless, the report finds that an estimated investment gap of €6.7-8.6 billion must be closed to achieve Europe’s pledged goal of placing on the EU market each year 10 million tonnes (Mt) of plastic recyclates in final products by 2025. Achieving these targets requires substantial investment and a reliable end market for recycled content. The largest gaps in sorting and recycling are identified in EU cohesion regions, centered on Central and Eastern Europe and South-East Europe.

Number of children without critical social protection increasing globally – ILO and UNICEF

The number of children without access to social protection is increasing year-on-year, leaving them at risk of poverty, hunger and discrimination, according to a new report released by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF.

More than a billion reasons: The urgent need to build universal social protection for children warns that an additional 50 million children aged 0-15 missed out on a critical social protection provision – specifically, child benefits (paid in cash or tax credits) – between 2016 and 2020, driving up the total to 1.46 billion children under 15 globally.


The list of major upcoming events in development sector in March 2023

Keep up-to-date on key events about emerging funding strategies, environmental policies, climate change, technological development, labor standards, and energy issues in the development sector via our compiled list.

Track events hosted by reputable international organisations, donors, NGO’s and IFIs that bring together the biggest change-makers and stakeholders in international development cooperation.

Save the date to register and attend the upcoming events in March 2023.

Download the comprehensive schedule of major online events.

Executive Master in Advanced Studies in Humanitarian Action

📅 1 September 2023 – 31 October 2024

This Executive Master programme is a unique blended learning postgraduate course on humanitarian action, providing current and future humanitarian professionals with the managerial, theoretical and practical skills needed to optimise responses to humanitarian crises.

The programme has been developed in response to the growing need to understand, question and reform the humanitarian system. The programme offers evidence-based, cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural education in humanitarian action.

The Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian Action is a flexible and modular course, allowing students to choose from two options to organise their studies: either a 14-month consecutive course or a flexible 2-3 year course.

Link for Registration

Transforming Transportation 2023: Accelerating Toward Green and Inclusive Mobility

📅 14- 15 March 2023
Washington, DC, USA & Online

World Resources Institute, in collaboration with the World Bank, over two days of in-person events, March 14-15, to engage with high-level policymakers, hear from cutting-edge thinkers, and explore solutions for countries and cities around the world.

The 20th edition of Transforming Transportation will consider the current economic scenario, post-COVID recovery, and COP27 commitments as starting points to reimagine transport to make it more inclusive, safe, sustainable, and efficient for everyone. Guest speakers will address a range of critical topics, including decarbonizing mobility, resilient logistics, climate finance, accelerating innovation, and more.

Link for Registration