#UN; #DigitalEconomy; #SustainableDevelopment; #Covid19
UN, Aug 27 (Canadian-Media): A UN task force set up to look into the risks and benefits of the digital economy, has concluded that it could have a transformational impact on sustainable development, and empower citizens, both as taxpayers and investors.
Statisticians in Turkmenistan process data for analysis. Image credit: World Bank
The report, “People’s Money: Harnessing Digitalization to Finance a Sustainable Future”, was released by the UN Secretary-General’s Task Force on Digital Finance on Wednesday.
The Task Force, led by UN development chief Achim Steiner, and made up of senior figures from the tech sector, financial institutions, governments, and UN bodies, was set up by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in 2018, to improve understanding of the benefits and risks of the fast-moving financial technology (fintech) and digital finance sectors.
The initiative is part of the UN chief’s strategy to support financing for the 2030 Agenda, the UN’s blueprint for a better future, for people and the planet. The financing needs for the Agenda, Mr. Guterres said in 2018, are in the order of between $5 and $7 trillion per year. The shift to digital, conclude the authors of the People’s Money report, could provide the means to meet those projected costs.
“Digital technologies, which are revolutionizing financial markets, can be a game-changer in meeting our shared objectives”, said Mr. Guterres in response to the launch of the report. “The Task Force on Digital Financing of the Sustainable Development Goals provides leadership to harness the digital revolution.”
The COVID-19 acceleration effect
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the popularity of digital tools has grown rapidly, and demonstrates the potential of digital finance to provide relief for millions around the world, support businesses and protect jobs and livelihoods.
Speaking to UN News, Mr. Steiner outlined the acceleration effect of the pandemic. “Things that we anticipated would happen over the next few years, have happened in weeks. The pandemic has allowed governments to see the importance of overcoming traditional limitations, and identifying and reaching the most vulnerable.”
Examples include digital cash transfers, which have helped millions of people in Pakistan, the connection of schools to broadband, and governments and parliaments connecting remotely in ways that are now common practice, he added.
The widespread adoption of smartphones, continued Mr. Steiner, puts powerful digital tools in the hands of more than a billion people, allowing them to work, socialize, and manage their finances. He emphasized the importance of remodelling the financial system, to underscore the fact that the trillions of dollars’ worth of investment flowing around the world, ultimately come from ordinary people.
“Citizens are the owners of this wealth, which is made up of pensions, and savings. The Task Force was keen to bring back the notion that the citizen is at the centre of the economy. Citizens need greater transparency, and to have a say over where their pension contributions go. And, as well as returns for investors, we also need to see public purpose benefits. Digital finance is a significant opportunity for citizens to re-engage, because this is a way to address major challenges, such as climate change.”
Digitalization is a choice
The report identifies five ways for harnessing digitalization, which cover much of global finance. Firstly, the huge amounts of money flowing around the world needs to be invested in a way that supports the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. Public finances need to be more effective and accountable. Savings need to be invested for long-term development projects, using digital tools. And there needs to be more financing for small and medium-sized businesses, which are crucial for generating employment and income.
A key message of the report is that digitalization, and the way that it is used, is a choice, not an inevitability. There are considerable digital risks, such as increased exclusion, discrimination and inequalities. The five action areas point the way for governments to use digitalization for good.
#UN; #ILO; #HumanRights; #ILO'sDecentWorkAgenda
Geneva/ILO, Aug 9 (Canadian-Media): The International Labour Organization (ILO) is devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, pursuing its founding mission that social justice is essential to universal and lasting peace.
Image credit: ILO
Only tripartite U.N. agency, the ILO brings together governments, employers and workers representatives of 187 member States , to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
Today, the ILO's Decent Work agenda helps advance the economic and working conditions that give all workers, employers and governments a stake in lasting peace, prosperity and progress.
Four strategic objectives at the heart of the Decent Work agenda
USDeptOfState; #COVID19PrivateSectorEngagement&PartnershipFund; #Covid19Response
U.S. Department of State, Aug 5 (Canadian-Media): A new COVID-19 Private Sector Engagement & Partnership Fund of $10 million is being launched by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to promote the ongoing response efforts to help global vulnerable overcome the devastation inflicted by this deadly virus, U.S. Department of State said.
Image credit: Twitter handle
Besides strengthening private sector efforts to respond to the economic impacts of the virus, the Fund will also help create innovative private sector solutions to mitigate the secondary impacts of COVID-19 in developing countries. The most promising of these solutions would then be seed-funded within the context of Department of State and USAID global programming.
With this announcement, a notice of funding opportunity to the private sector is being issued by the Department of State to highlight approaches, products, and ideas in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that have the potential to scale.
This opportunity would facilitate the Department of State and USAID to connect potential private sector partners with the appropriate domestic offices and overseas missions to leverage synergies between private sector and the U.S. government to scale and deliver results.
As of the time of this announcement, a commitment had been made by the Department of State and USAID of more than $1.6 billion for the global COVID-19 response since the emergence of the outbreak.
#CanadaUSLandBorder; #LegerMarketingPoll; #CanadaPrefersClosedBorder; #CBSA
Ottawa, Aug 3 (Canadian-Media): Once wide open, Canada-U.S. land border which closed on March 21 to non-essential traffic, would remain shut until at least Aug. 21. affecting the lives of many people on both sides, media reports said.
Peace Arch US-Canada Border. Image credit: Wikipedia
Although Canadians can still fly to the U.S., but Canada prohibits United States (U.S.) visitors from entering via all modes of transport.
The border closure agreement between Canada and the U.S. is reviewed every 30 days.
CBC News has learnt from several experts in different fields that they predict the border won't reopen until sometime next year due to the continuous surge of COVID-19 in many US states.
"It doesn't seem to be getting any better in the U.S.," said U.S. Immigration lawyer Len Saunders, whose office sits close to the Canadian border in Blaine, Wash. He believes the border could stay closed for another six months.
"There's really no reason why the Canadian government, at this point, would want to open it up and subject Canadians to an increased rate of COVID infections," CBC News reported.
According to the Leger Marketing poll 1,500 Canadians were asked last month if they thought the Canada-U.S. border should reopen at the end of July, 86 percent of respondents said they were opposed to the idea.
"As long as Canadians don't feel safe, then why force open that border when there's no strong political logic to doing it?" said Moshe Lander, a professor at Concordia University in Montreal, reported by CBC News.
He predicts a possible border reopening in middle to late 2021, subject to the virus being under control at that point.
Travel restrictions were recently loosened by the federal government to allow Americans to visit immediate family in Canada, including dependent children, spouses and common-law partners.
Couples who have lived together for at least one year qualify as common-law and this should be further proved with documentation showing a shared address.
Some separated couples who don't meet the criteria have opted to tie the knot.
Canadians can fly to the U.S. to get married, or both partners can travel to the Peace Arch border crossing between B.C. and Washington state.
A shared Canada-U.S. park is the neutral zone in the border crossing.
Although the Canadian section of the park is closed, Canadians can still enter the U.S. section of the park for the day to visit with their American partner or even get married.
Americans are allowed to drive through Canada to Alaska for essential reasons, such as for work or to return home. However, they're not to make unnecessary stops along the way.
The CBSA introduced stricter rules on Friday for Americans driving to Alaska.
They must enter Canada through one of five designated border crossings and hang a CBSA-issued tag from their car's rear view mirror that lays out the purpose and rules of their trip.
Before exiting Canada for Alaska, drivers must check in once again with the CBSA.
#Microsoft; #TikTok; #US; #ByteDance; #Security; #Transparency
New York, Aug 3 (Canadian-Media): Following a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and United States (US) President Donald Trump, Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the US, Official Microsoft blog said.
Microsoft. Image credit: Twitter handle
Microsoft added that it is committed to complete security review while acquiring TikTok and will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance and added that it aims to complete these discussions no later than September 15, 2020.
ByteDance. Image credit: Twitter handle
During this process, Microsoft said it looks forward to continuing dialogue with the US Government, including with the President.
Over the weekend, ByteDance released a statement on Chinese social media, saying the firm faces all kinds of “complex and unimaginable difficulties,” alluding to the U.S.-China trade tensions, plus cultural differences.
After the acquisition of TikTok services, Microsoft said it may invite other American investors to participate on a minority basis in this purchase.
The building of operating model for the TikTok service would be based on transparency to users as well as appropriate security oversight by governments in these countries, said Microsoft.
TikTok. Image credit: Twitter handle
TikTok company said Sunday that its U.S. user data is stored in the U.S., with strict controls on employee access, and its biggest investors come from the U.S.
"We are committed to protecting our users' privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform," a TikTok spokesperson said.
Among other measures, Microsoft said that it would ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the US.
Microsoft added that any US data currently stored or backed-up outside the US would be deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred.
"Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President's concerns. It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury," Microsoft said in a statement.
The announcement followed when Trump said on Friday that he would soon ban TikTok in the United States.
"The President, when he makes his decision, will make sure that everything we have done drives us as close to zero risk for the American people," Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State said. "That's the mission set that he laid out for all of us when we get — we began to evaluate this now several months back. We're closing in on a solution. And I think you will see the president's announcement shortly," CBC News reported.