#UN; #GlobalBusiness; Covid19Pandemic; #GreenerEconomy
Geneva, Jun 19 (Canadian-Media): Jobs, livelihoods and the well-being of workers, families and businesses across the globe, continue to take a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic; with micro, small and medium enterprises in particular, suffering the dire economic consequences, according to a new policy brief released by the UN on Friday, UNHCR reports said.
Factory workers in an assembly line in Cambodia. Image credit: ILO/Marcel Crozet
“The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world of work upside down”, said Secretary-General António Guterres. “Every worker, every business and every corner of the globe has been affected. Hundreds of millions of jobs have been lost”.
Vulnerable groups are particularly affected, including informal workers, young people, women, persons with disabilities, refugees and migrants, highlights the World of Work and COVID-19 .
The report reveals the disproportionate and devastating impact on young people, raising the possibility of an entire so-called “lockdown generation”, which will likely emerge with fewer skills and smaller pay packets.
In addition to young women, who are at particular risk, this also threatens to increase inequalities, both within and between countries.
“Women have been especially hard hit – working in many of the most critically affected sectors, while also carrying the greatest burden of increasing levels of unpaid care work”, stated the UN chief. “Young people, persons with disabilities, and so many others, are facing tremendous difficulties”.
Meanwhile, high levels of informal work coupled with inadequate fiscal support for equal social protections, leave developing and fragile economies in the lurch, least able to cope.
A reset to the past is not an option, the report spells out, endorsing a recovery that tackles underlying deficits in social protection, unpaid care work, labor rights protection and risks associated with new technologies.
“It is time for a coordinated global, regional and national effort to create decent work for all as the foundation of a green, inclusive and resilient recovery”, stressed the world’s top diplomat.
Against this backdrop, World of Work lays out a three-phased response, which recommends, in the short-term, keeping businesses open and jobs available. It contends that interventions be built on existing structures, while steering activity towards sustainable ‘green’ development.
Without compromising the health of workers or becoming less vigilant in the battle to contain the virus, the second phase focuses on the medium term and encourages a structured restart of economies and a return to work.
“Protecting health does not mean keeping enterprises and economic activity locked down”, the report advises.
And the final phase considers the long-term, pushing for the creation of decent jobs that support a green, resilient recovery and an inclusive future of work, that invests in social protections and increasing formalization of the workforce.
Pre-pandemic fears over existing challenges, such as new technologies, demographic changes, climate change and globalization, were already fueling anxiety the world over, the report argues.
COVID-19 is exacerbating this unease by triggering unemployment, growing poverty, the tearing of the social fabric, together with political and economic destabilization.
“This crisis in the world of work is adding fuel to an already burning fire of discontent and anxiety”, asserted the UN chief.
While the world cannot go backwards to pre-COVID days, it can proactively shape a “new, better, normal” in moving forward, according to the report.
A glance at the key numbers
• Some 1.25 billion workers are employed in high-risk economic sectors, such food and accommodation; retail and wholesale; business services and administration; and manufacturing.• While almost one in five young people are out of work through COVID, those employed have had their hours cut by 23 per cent.
• Women are disproportionately employed in the worst-affected sectors, including caring professions, where they make up between 60-70 per cent.
• Informal economy workers, who often lack social protection, suffered a 60 per cent drop in earnings in the first month of the crisis, alone.
• By mid-May, 94 per cent of the world’s workers were living in countries suffering workplace closures.
“The world of work cannot and should not look the same after this crisis”, he upheld. “It is time for a coordinated global, regional and national effort to create decent work for all as the foundation of a green, inclusive and resilient recovery”.
#UN; #GlobalBusiness; #Covid19Impact; #DevelopingCountries
Geneva, Jun 17 (Canadian-Media): Trade in many developing countries is expected to take a “nosedive” in the second quarter of 2020, owing to the unprecedented effects of the coronavirus pandemic, UN economists said on Tuesday, UN reports said.
Many container ports, like this one in New York City, have seen a decline in activity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Image credit: UN News/Daniel Dickinson
In a new report from UN trade and development body, UNCTAD, it highlighted data showing that the value of international trade in goods has declined by about five per cent between January and March.
Worrying as that is, commerce is expected to plummet further - by a staggering 27 per cent - from April to the end of June.
Worse than 2008 crisis
To put it into perspective, this is even worse than the near 25 per cent contraction in world trade in the aftermath of the 2008-9 financial crisis, from which the global economy has yet to recover fully.
COVID-19 has severely hit markets in developing and developed countries alike, continuing the bad run observed in the first quarter, UNCTAD said.
South Asia, Middle East, worst hit, some ‘signs of recovery
Impact of COVID-19 on imports and exports of major trading economies, January-May 2020.
But trade data shows that in April, the steepest decline in exports was in poorer countries in South Asia and the Middle East.
On the other hand, East Asian and Pacific nations experienced the smallest export shock – and some have even shown “signs of recovery”, according to UNCTAD’s Global Trade Update.
Other key findings show that while the pandemic has caused trade in the automotive and energy sectors to collapse, trade of medical products related to COVID-19 more than doubled in April.
20% decline through 2020
On the basis of ongoing economic uncertainty, UNCTAD expects a decline of around 20 per cent for 2020.
This is in line with the World Trade Organization (WTO), which believes that the decline in international trade will be between 13 and 32 per cent this year.
Biggest economies lagging
Based on key country indicators such as Purchasing Manager Indices (PMI), UNCTAD noted that they “signal further deterioration of international trade in the second quarter”.
PMI above 50, indicates an expansion of the export orders compared to the previous month, while anything below 50 represents a contraction; 50 indicates no change.
By way of example, it cited poor export orders in China (33.5 in April, 35.8 in May) the U.S (35.3 in April, 39.5 in May) and Europe (13.6 in April – an all-time low – and 31.9 in May.
#UN; #InternationalDayofFamilyRemittances; #IFAD
Geneva, Jun 14 (Canadian-Media): Marking International Day of Family Remittances, The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has released a message appealing for “people everywhere” to support migrants, at a time when remittances – the money migrants send home to support their families – have fallen by more than $100 billion, causing hunger, lost schooling and deteriorating health, for tens of millions of families, UN reports said.
It is estimated that family remittances – the money sent back by migrant workers to their relatives – support 800 million people worldwide. Image credit: IFAD
In his message, Mr. Guterres recognized the determination of the 200 million migrants who regularly send money home, and 800 million families, in communities throughout the developing world, who depend on those resources.
Following a record $554 billion sent home by migrants in 2019, The World Bank estimated, in April, that the economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown, would cause the “sharpest decline in remittances in recent history”, and projected a fall of 19.7 per cent. Millions of migrant workers have lost their jobs, pushing dependent families below the poverty line.
In order to help migrants, “engines of the global economy”, who make “crucial contributions to well-being across the world”, the UN chief called for a reduction in remittance transfer costs, financial services for migrants and their families – particularly in rural areas – and the promotion of financial inclusion for a more secure and stable future. Such measures are proposed in the UN’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, described my Mr. Guterres as a “key platform for action”.
Migrants facing 'socio-economic crisis'
At the beginning of June, Mr. Guterres launched a UN policy briefing on the protection of “people on the move”, in which he referred to the “socio-economic crisis” facing migrants, especially those working in the informal sector who have no access to protection schemes, and the drop in remittances which, he said equates to “nearly three-quarters of all official development assistance that is no longer being sent back home to the 800 million people who depend on it.”
The UN chief also called for human dignity to be upheld in the face of the crisis, suggesting that lessons can be learned from those countries which have implemented travel restrictions and border controls while respecting international principles on refugee protection.
On 16 June, from 9:30 to 11:30 Eastern Standard Time, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is hosting a virtual observance event for the International Day of Family Remittances: Supporting Remittance Families Build Resilience in Times of Crisis.
International Day of Family Remittances
#UN; #EconomicShock; #Covid19Pandemic; #MankindExistenceAtRisk; #ClimateResilient
Geneva, Jun 12 (Canadian-Media): UN chief António Guterres, has warned of an “unparalleled economic shock”, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. So, going forward, can the private sector “build back better” to reorder the post-pandemic world, or, might the UN’s vision of a sustainable future be relegated to a low-priority aspiration? We put these questions to the CEO of one of the world’s largest conglomerates, who is working with the Organization, towards a better future, UN reports said.
A time-lapsed scene of a busy street at night in Bangkok, Thailand.
Image credit: Unsplash/Dan Freeman
Suphachai Chearavanont, is head of Thailand-based CP Group – one of the world’s largest conglomerates – and chairperson of UN Global Compact Thailand. With companies in 22 countries, across a wide range of sectors - from agriculture to automobiles, pharmaceuticals and property development - Mr. Chearavanont has an insider’s view of the huge changes, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, that are taking place across Asian economies.
CP Group has been a participant in the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest sustainability initiative, since 2003. This means the group has committed to aligning with ten Business Principles, on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. UN News spoke to Mr. Chearavanont in his office in Bangkok, and started by asking him if the impacts of the pandemic, are making it harder to stick to those commitments.
“The pandemic has of course had a big impact on the world, on Thailand, and on CP Group, even though we are not involved in the most heavily affected industries, such as those related to tourism or logistics. However, we are as committed to sustainable development as ever, if not more so: I think that COVID-19 is a reminder that we need to live sustainably and responsibly, and deal with the wellbeing and health aspects of how we live together, in a society.
Despite the terrible toll of this pandemic, the impact of climate change poses a much greater threat to the continued existence of mankind.
At the same time, we have been trying to help the public, and the Government, to cope, and setting up initiatives to address the concerns of employees. We have some 350,000 workers, and we told them that there would be no layoffs. In fact, we are hiring 20,000 delivery staff. This also helps us to ensure business continuity.”
Nevertheless, Southeast Asia is seeing a large increase in unemployment, and there is an ongoing discussion about the impact of automation on unemployment…“It is part of the responsibility of the private sector to not create more burdens for the public and the government: before we cut head count, we really need to look at other ways to cut costs, and weather the storm. There are many things that can be done before laying off people, even without government incentives and support. We need to take a long-term view, assess how long this period of uncertainty will last, and look at what we can do.
With every crisis comes opportunity, and this crisis could actually help business to transform, and come back better, and stronger. Leaders and managers can show that it is possible to maintain jobs and take care of employees, and that this is a perfect time to change the culture, move out of our comfort zones, and open up for positive change.”
Is a radical transformation needed, in the way that big business, and the global economy, operate?
“For us, an important element was aligning with the UN Global Compact’s Business Principles (operating in ways that, at a minimum, meet fundamental responsibilities in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption), and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (the UN’s blueprint to achieve a better future for all).
In our view, sustainability is about ensuring that people in a country prosper, so that we as a company can prosper. We’re not about just taking as much as we can, then closing down.
We’re aware that as a company, as an industry, and as consumers, we are consuming natural resources, and that we need to manage the waste that we produce, including food waste, plastic waste that ends up in the oceans, and our carbon footprint. We’re also aware of inequality, that opportunities for a good education, and a good job, are not distributed evenly.
This awareness leads to a belief in the need to do the right thing. There’s nothing to lose by doing it, and it helps you to learn more, and innovate. We need to be able to run our business with purpose, not only for profit. This is what sustainability means.
And if we don’t do this, we will end up paying for it, one way or another, whether it’s in terms of environmental issues, such as climate change, a more unequal society, or political instability. So why not be more inclusive?”
Do you think a fairer, more inclusive future is likely?
“Let’s just say that if all the companies listed on the major stock exchanges decided to announce targets for things like a neutral carbon footprint, or zero waste, by 2030, or even 2050…just by setting the targets, they would change the world.That’s because, whilst people can come to a realization that a change is necessary, many need to see someone set the example, in order to believe that it’s possible: if you can do it, then I can do it.
And if your company can be successful, and profitable, whilst demonstrating inclusivity, tackling the climate crisis, and addressing human rights issues, then so can mine.
So, the answer is yes. I’m an optimist, I think that we just have to continue to believe, and set the right example.”
Mr. Chearavanont is one of the speakers at the 2020 UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, which takes place on 15 and 16 June. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s summit, will be a virtual event, with plenaries and sessions featuring guest speakers across the world.
Marking 20 years since former Secretary-General Kofi Annan formerly launched the Global Compact, this year’s edition will focus on post-COVID economic recovery, and how to ensure that it leads to a socially just, low-carbon and climate resilient world, where no one is left behind.
#ILO; #Covid19Pandemic; #AirPollutionFalls; #GreenRecoveryFromCovid19; #GreenHouseGasEmissionsReduce; #HuamnTragedy;
New York, Jun 6 (Canadian-Media): The human tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought an unexpected positive outcome, ILO reports said.
With industries in lockdown for months and cars off the streets of our cities, we’ve witnessed dramatic falls in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions across the planet.
Meanwhile, disruptions to global foods systems have breathed new life into urban farming. In cities such as Bangkok and Paris lockdowns measures have pushed more city dwellers to grow fruit and vegetables in their homes. Singapore, which currently imports more than 90 per cent of its food, aims to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030, and has encouraged communities and social enterprises to engage in urban farming.
Urban farming. Image credit: © Gabriel Kamener, Sown Together
In several African countries social entrepreneurs, universities and individuals have developed eco-friendly and cost-effective products as part of the fight against the virus. For example, several prototypes of touch-less hand washing systems have been produced using recycled and/or reused materials generated by carpenters and welders. In addition, because of the tremendous growth in e-commerce and home delivery during the pandemic, leading packaging companies are researching the development of environmentally sustainable packaging.
Sustainable Packaging. Image credit: © michael davis-burchat
The northern Italian city of Milan – one of Europe’s most polluted cities and especially hard hit by the virus – is to transform 35km of streets into an experimental, citywide, network of cycling and walking spaces, to protect residents as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
The pandemic also prompted a number of companies to protect themselves from future shocks by integrating environmental and disaster risk management into their business planning and investing in sustainable supply chains.
However, as lockdowns ease across the world, we are already seeing pollution levels and greenhouse gas emissions rise, as countries attempt to go back to ‘business as usual’.
So, while the pandemic has shown the possibilities of making dramatic, positive changes to our environment in a short space of time, it has also exposed how easily the planet can sink back onto its previous destructive path.
Green recovery from COVID-19. Image credit: ILO
Prior to the pandemic, ILO studies showed that if patterns of global warming remained unchanged, by 2030 labour productivity equivalent to 80 million full time jobs could be lost because of heat stress.
In addition, changes in the natural environment due to climate change are likely to have a negative impact on an estimated 1.2 billion jobs (or 40 per cent of the global labour force) that are linked to ecosystems and the services they provide – including regulation of water systems, fertile soils or standing forests.
For all these reasons, leaders from government, industry, trade unions and civil society are calling for a post COVID-19 recovery that is not a return to business-as-usual. Rather, we need coherent and integrated responses so that we rebuild economies and societies that are more resilient to future shocks, and that are more sustainable and less damaging to human health, ecosystems and ultimately, jobs and incomes.
Through social dialogue, governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations have an important opportunity to forge a strong consensus and create broad-based support for a sustainable recovery that promotes employment creation, resilient enterprises and workplaces, and environmental sustainability.
The innovations in green and circular economies, and the positive changes we’ve seen in business and workplace practices, public policy and consumer attitudes during this crisis have shown that a sustainable post COVID-19 recovery is not mission impossible.
#ILO; #Covid19Lockdown; #DisabledWorkers; #SyracuseUniversity
Geneva, Jun 6 (Canadian-Media): Like many people in Geneva, I’m spending the COVID-19 lockdown outside my home country. Originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I have a masters in Cultural Foundations of Education with advanced studies in Disability Studies from Syracuse University, ILO reports said.
Image credit: ILO
I also have a suppressed immune system, so isolation during this crisis is vital to keep me healthy. There would have been many positive things about being back in Ethiopia right now, including my social support network. Nevertheless, working at the ILO headquarters in Switzerland also has benefits.
It’s got me thinking about the situation of persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis in both ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ countries, and how – if we make changes – things could be much better for all of us when the crisis ends.For one thing, I’m teleworking. It’s great that technology is making accessibility and inclusion a reality for some persons with disabilities. But those “some” are a minority.
Firehiwot Tadese, Disability Inclusion Intern – Gender, Equality and Diversity & ILO/AIDS Branc. Image credit: ILO
If I were in Ethiopia, I couldn’t telework because of limited access to technology and to the internet. Indeed, when it comes to accessing technology, most countries in the Global South, where more than 80 per cent of those with disabilities live, are being left behind.In Geneva, I also do my grocery shopping online, which wouldn’t be possible in Addis Ababa. In fact, it would be hard for me just to get to the shops because, even before the crisis, the public transportation system was largely inaccessible. With COVID-19 the situation would be worse because I would need to hold people’s hands to get in and out of buses and grasp handrails to use stairs, all of which would increase my risk of virus infection.
I also feel privileged because I have a job, and one that I feel passionate about. Most of the one billion persons with disabilities in the world don’t have jobs. If they do, they are likely to work in the informal economy. Forget about worrying what to buy online; they are worrying about just getting food on the table.People with disabilities are solution providers and co-creators during crises / Disability-rights activist and actor Marlee MatlinAs a woman with a disability, I know first-hand that discrimination and exclusion can happen because of both my gender and my disability.
In every part of the world, women with disabilities encounter even greater barriers to the labour market than their male counterparts. We don’t yet know for sure what impact the current crisis is having on the employment of persons with disabilities, but in previous crises they – especially women – were among those who lost their jobs first.
Furthermore, standard social protection measures do not usually cover people with disabilities adequately. When we talk about disability-specific social benefits, we see that only one per cent of persons with significant disabilities in low-income countries can access these.A new ILO brief, COVID-19 and the World of Work: Ensuring the inclusion of persons with disabilities at all stages of the response, highlights the way that the pre-existing inequalities facing people with disabilities also increases the threat to their lives and livelihoods posed by COVID-19.
At the same time, the brief also points out how the virus opens up a chance to change this. Post-pandemic, a ‘new normal’ can also be a “better normal” – in both developing and developed countries. But only if it fully includes and respects the opinions, needs and rights of persons with disabilities.As the ILO brief puts it, “It is an opportunity to reinforce the rights of persons with disabilities and enhance their inclusion in social and economic life… A more inclusive future of work is possible for all.
#Ottawa, #ImpactsOfCovid19; #WHO; #GlobalResponseToPandemic; #SharedResponsibility
Ottawa, June 2 (Canadian-Media): François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke on Jun 1 with his counterparts from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, and discussed the impacts of COVID-19, including the response of the World Health Organization(WHO), media reports said.
François-Philippe Champagne. Image credit: Facebook page
The ministers also discussed WHO's plans to conduct an independent review of the global response to the pandemic.
An agreement was reached by the ministers that a shared priority would ensure the stability of supply chains, as well as the procurement of personal protective equipment and medical supplies as well as to continue communicating and reiterated their commitment to the global response to COVID-19.
Other issues of shared concern, including the situation in Hong Kong were also discussed by them.