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El mensaje no pudo haber sido más claro: “Nos enfrentamos a la amenaza muy real de una pandemia fulminante, sumamente mortífera, provocada por un patógeno respiratorio que podría matar de 50 a 80 millones de personas y liquidar casi 5% de la economía mundial. Una pandemia mundial de esa escala sería una catástrofe y desencadenaría caos, inestabilidad e inseguridad generalizadas”.

The Czech Republic has enjoyed steady economic growth, low inflation and low unemployment in recent years. Income inequality (Gini coefficient 0.25) is the third lowest among OECD countries. In 2018 the proportion of citizens at risk of income poverty (relative poverty - with an income of 60% or less of the national median) were about 10% of the population, while those in absolute poverty (‘materially deprived’) were 8% of the population. Older citizens (65+ years) are worse off than other age groups. In 2018, 10% of households with children (30% of which were single- adult households - single mother or single father) found themselves in income poverty. Furthermore, Czechia has one of the highest proportions of homeless people in the European Union (0.65 % of the population).

The potential of partnerships with the private sector dominated the narrative characterizing the initial phase of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In relation to SDG 2, a prominent multi-stakeholder platform is the Scaling Up Nutrition ‘Movement’. Laura Michéle and Kavya Chowdhry (FIAN International), Patti Rundall (IBFAN) and Stefano Prato (SID) explain that as documented by a multi-country study, this case exposes how interventions promoted by MSPs often do not address the social, cultural, economic and political determinants of malnutrition and rather emphasize short-term, technical interventions, owing to private sector influence in the context of a consensus driven process.

High individual and household debt, which accounts for a significant portion of private debt in most countries, has been associated with inequality, macroeconomic instability, unsustainable sovereign debt and financial crises.

This is one of the main conclusions highlighted by Mr Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of human rights, in his report to the UN Human Rights Council.

The UN has announced the launch of a Food Systems Summit in 2021. This is to be welcomed as the world urgently needs more inclusive and sustainable food systems tackling the challenges of climate change. Yet, the World Economic Forum, representing powerful companies, is expected to be behind the organization of the Summit, as strategic partner of the UN. In addition, the UN Secretary-General has appointed the current President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) as Special Envoy for the Summit.

Corporations in the global industrial food chain alone are the biggest drivers of ecological destruction and increasing hunger and malnutrition rates. And yet, the UN is turning to them to solve the world’s crises?! The UN should build instead on the successful innovations in democratic food governance. These are the result of the work of civil society organizations and social movements representing those most affected by hunger and malnutrition.

Apalancando la corrupción.

En el acuerdo de culpabilidad que puso fin oficialmente al mayor caso de corrupción juzgado por los tribunales estadounidenses, la empresa constructora brasileña Odebrecht admitió haber pagado entre 2001 y 2016 “aproximadamente 778 millones de dólares en sobornos, en asociación con más de 100 proyectos en 12 países, incluyendo Angola, Argentina, Brasil, Colombia, República Dominicana, Ecuador, Guatemala, México, Mozambique, Panamá, Perú y Venezuela”.

On 28 January 2020 the President of the General Assembly (PGA), Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, and the President of ECOSOC, Mona Juul announced a new initiative: “a high-level panel on international financial accountability, transparency and integrity (FACTI)”. This joint endeavour is framed as a means to target and recover assets for investment in the Sustainable Development Goals.

At present, the UN estimates the financing gap to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) totals a staggering $2.5 trillion. Proponents of a robust and strong agenda on tackling illicit financial flows (IFFs) suggest that this gap could in part be closed by addressing the various forms of illicit financial flows that divert or “rob” governments of vital public resources that could and should be invested in public goods to achieve the SDGs.

How to capture and manage big data? This is a question that will confront the 51st session of the UN Statistical Commission in March 2020 as they review the official reports. The four-year process of finalizing the global indicator framework to measure the 169 targets of the SDGs is drawing to a conclusion with the acceptance by the IAEG-SDGs of 8 additional indicators, 14 replacement indicators, 8 revised indicators and 6 deleted indicators. The framework has gone to the Commission for approval in March and the focus of different players in the data and statistics community is shifting to the management and use of data to influence and shape development policy agendas.

The year 2020 is starting with mass protests shaking a growing number of countries in various regions of the world. In Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, in Egypt and in Lebanon, millions of people are taking to the streets to demonstrate against the prevailing policies. The protests reflect growing discontent of people in different countries and regions with real and perceived injustices, rising inequalities and unjust adjustments and transition policies.

Governments mostly reacted with austerity policies to the massive increase in foreign debt and the deterioration in macroeconomic conditions. This was partly due to pressure from the financial markets, creditors, and international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which coupled the granting of loans to bridge payment difficulties with a reduction in public spending and a strict austerity- type adjustment conditions.

There is a great danger that the situation will deteriorate further in the years 2020-2021. In a comprehensive study, economists Isabel Ortiz and Matthew Cummins call global austerity policy "The New Normal" and predict a renaissance of the neoliberal Washington Consensus. In an alarming number of 130 countries, they forecast cuts in government spending and other austerity measures over the next two years. The regulatory and fiscal capacity of many governments (their policy space) will thus be considerably restricted - and thus also their ability to implement Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The implementation of the SDGs requires massive public investment in the areas of health and education, social security, infrastructure and climate protection. The vicious circle of foreign debt and austerity policies threatens many countries to move away from sustainability goals rather than achieve them by 2030.

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