A new report from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns the world’s food supply is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity. The report warns unsustainable agricultural practices, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, and other problems stemming from human activity are threatening the world’s food supply, with scientists noting an increased reliance on a few select crop types leaves global food supplies particularly vulnerable to disease outbreaks and climate change.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has picked Danish economist and environmentalist Inger Anderson to be the new head of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). Anderson currently heads the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and has previously served as the World Bank vice-president for the Middle East and North Africa and worked at the UN for 15 years on water and environment issues. Anderson succeeds Erik Solheim who resigned in November over his huge travel expenses.
With just over a month till the UK’s Brexit deadline of March 29th, UK NGOs are reportedly still unsure if they can continue to work with the EU’s humanitarian arm, ECHO. The UK’s development finance agency DfID made a commitment to underwrite new contracts UK NGOs signed with ECHO in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit in August of last year in an effort to encourage them to keep bidding for ECHO contracts, but the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit has led many NGOs to either stop or significantly scale bank their ECHO bidding.
A new report from the UK branch of the United Nations Association says the UK is already experiencing a ‘palpable decline’ in influence at the UN as a result of Brexit and that the UK’s influence would be in freefall were it not for the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of its gross national income on overseas aid. The report, which was conducted based on more than 40 interviews with current and former UN-based diplomats, suggests proposals by members of the Conservative Party to make drastic cuts to the UK’s foreign aid spending would only serve to weaken the UK’s standing on the world stage.
Lebanon has nominated investment banker Ziad Hayek for President of the World Bank, the first challenge to President Trump’s nominee, David Malpass. Hayek is secretary general of the high council for privatization and private-public partnerships in Lebanon, and has previously been chief executive of investment bank Lonbridge Associates, a consultant to the State Department and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
José Antonio Ocampo, a Colombian national who served as Undersecretary for Economic Affairs at the UN under Kofi Annan and was a candidate for president of the World Bank in 2012, is reportedly considering entering the race to replace the man who defeated him in 2012, Jim Yong Kim. While Ocampo has yet to make a decision on whether he will seek the role again, he told reporters he ran in 2012 ‘to raise a point… member nations should choose the best candidate for the job, and not just accept whoever is nominated by the U.S.”
While historically the US has always chosen the President of the World Bank, the Trump Administration’s ongoing hostility to multilateral institutions and US allies has raised the possibility that world leaders will break with precedent and elect a different candidate. Though commentators are skeptical the US’s allies on the World Bank will be willing to oppose Trump’s nominee, observers have begun to outline paths opponents of Trump’s policy could take to block his nominee.
Kaushik Basu, former Chief Economist of the World Bank, current Professor of Economics at Cornell University and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, is calling for the leadership of the World Bank to abandon the tradition of selecting the US’s nominee for President of the World Bank to protect the Bank’s work and the interests of the world’s poor. Basu’s comments come in the wake of the Trump Administration nominating David Malpass, someone Basu describes as ‘distinctly unsuited to the job.’
Catherine Weaver, associate professor and associate dean for students at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin and author of Hypocrisy Trap: the World Bank and the Poverty of Reform, argues that the election of Trump Administration nominee David Malpass as president of the World Bank will undermine the US’s long-term strategic interests, diminishing the US’s influence over the Bank and the influence of the Bank itself.
An overview of the main developments and talking points from the 2019 Australasian Aid Conference in Canberra, Australia this week.
USAID is reportedly considering a proposal to establish rapid ‘expeditionary development teams’ or RED teams to operate in environments which are unstable or have high-security risks. While RED Team officers would carry out development activities, they would also have training and expertise to enable them ‘to live and work in austere environments for extended periods of time and actively contribute to their own security and welfare.’
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is preparing its new six-year operational plan for rural development and food security for 2019-24. The plan will provide strategic guidance to ADB member countries on agriculture, natural resources, and rural development.