Major developed countries on Saturday succeeded in foisting, in the final G20 Leaders' Declaration from Buenos Aires, "reforms" at the World Trade Organization ostensibly to salvage the multilateral trading system from "falling short of its objectives", trade envoys told SUNS.

Despite the writing on the wall that the multilateral trading system is being subjected to trade wars launched by the United States for pursuing its "America First" trade policies, the G20 Sherpas meekly agreed to the US demand to shift the blame for the current crisis in global trade to the multilateral trading system and the WTO, said a trade envoy, who asked not to be quoted.

During the crucial negotiations among the Sherpas of the 19-member G20 in Buenos Aires on 30 November, the developing countries, especially South Africa and India among others, resisted the use of the term "reforms" at the WTO, and its negative effects on the developing and poorest countries, said a trade envoy, who asked not to be quoted.

Food is the axis of the civil society report on the SDGs in Nepal, where “transnational corporations are grabbing land, monopolizing seeds and food markets, and marginalizing small holder farmers more”. As visible evidence, “now in Nepal packed foods are common not only in the urban townships but also in remote and hard to reach areas, replacing indigenous food consumption patterns. Farmers rely heavily on seed markets rather than preserving their own seeds, which was common practices in Nepal even a few years back.”

Food quality is degrading as farmers are using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. This creates health problems, and even when food availability has improved, the supply is inadequate to meet the surging food demand. Cereal import dependency has been rising, while Nepal's capacity to export food has been falling. This can also be linked with the huge out-migration among youth for work in foreign lands in the absence of opportunities in the country.

In the United Kingdom, a consultation process coordinated by the UK network of Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) concludes that “inequality is projected to rise in the coming years”. Paradoxically, the unemployment rate is reaching an historical low, but “at the same time, tax and social security cuts introduced since 2012 have had a particularly severe effect on people on lower incomes. Black and ethnic minority households, families with at least one disabled member, and lone parents (who are overwhelmingly women) have suffered disproportionately”.

A member of the network, Just Fair, led the drafting of the civil society chapter on SDG 10 on the reduction of inequality at the national level and highlights the fact that, thanks to the Equality Act of 2010, “authorities gather and transparently report useful disaggregated data”. Yet, successive governments have failed to implement this Act. The duty is in force in Scotland since April 2018, Wales has the power to follow suit, some councils are voluntarily implementing it and 78 Members of Parliament from five different parties are calling on the government to bring the duty into effect.

The third annual Synthesis Report of the voluntary national reviews (VNRs) is now available. The report was coordinated by the Division for Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The third annual Synthesis Report of the voluntary national reviews (VNRs) is now available. The 'Voluntary National Reviews 2018: Synthesis Report' synthesizes some of the findings of the 46 VNRs presented at the HLPF in July 2018. The report was coordinated by the Division for Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

A strong and dynamic World Health Organisation (WHO) is critical for the achievement of the SDGs, especially SDG 3 on health and well-being. The WHO constitution mandates the organization "to act as the directing and co-ordinating authority on international health work”. However, its ability to fulfil this mandate is circumscribed by the nature of its financial resources. WHO’s biennial budget for 2018-2019 is US$ 4.42 billion, 2 just over a quarter of the total sales of the top-selling medicine Humira (Adalimumab) in 2016 (US$ 16.08 billion).

In part this is because many of the organization’s donors share the view that WHO may not need a huge budget to carry out its constitutional mandate, which mainly consists of setting norms and standards in the area of public health. However, a large part of the organization’s spending in 2016-2017 went to activities related to service delivery rather than to norms and standard setting. For example, US$ 1.16 billion (25.67%) was spent on its polio eradication programme.

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