A new vision for the global trading system must encompass equitable access to the benefits of trade for all of society, and some nations have signalled support in this regard.
Reforms to trade policy could have a meaningful impact on domestic economic inequality if a range of concrete steps are taken.
The WTO, and trade policy and practice more generally, can be reframed to reflect the notion of economic justice, and the time to make this shift is now.
Divides and discrimination within countries along the lines of race, ethnicity, gender and Indigenous identity have resulted in longstanding social, economic and political challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has further laid bare the stark inequalities among societal groups.
Yet resistance and restorative action have spread too. Social movements for racial justice in the United States have inspired similar initiatives in other countries. The #MeToo movement spotlighted sexual abuse and harassment and catalysed broader conversations about women’s participation in economic, social and political life. Meanwhile, some governments are coming to terms with their historical and current treatment of Indigenous peoples.
In this context, a new vision for the global trading system must encompass equitable access to the benefits of trade for all sections of society. This is an important aspect of building support for trade, as emerging research indicates that minority groups are often either negatively affected by trade shocks or do not have equitable access to the opportunities it provides.
Some countries have signalled support in this regard. For the first time, the US’s trade agenda includes the goal of racial equity. Canada, Chile and New Zealand signed a Global Trade and Gender Arrangement in August 2020. The relationship between trade and the rights of Indigenous peoples has been increasingly recognized in international economic agreements, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
Understanding the problem
The effect of trade on inequalities between countries is well covered in economic literature. Differential trade impacts within countries among different income groups, between small and large firms, and on labour is well studied and discussed.
The effects of trade on different societal groups within countries – whether based on race, ethnicity, nationality, Indigenous identity or gender – has received less attention. This may be because domestic policies are considered the most direct way to tackle these inequalities. However, trade constitutes 58% of global GDP and is an important aspect of economic empowerment. And, while domestic policies can help with inequities created by trade if properly designed, reforms to trade policy could also have a meaningful impact on domestic economic inequality if a range of concrete steps are taken.
Developing and implementing inclusive policy
Better policymaking begins with better data. Governments should understand the industries that underserved populations are most likely to own and work in or rely on for inputs and final products. For instance, in 2016, minority-owned businesses represented 19% of US firms, but only 12.8% of US manufacturing firms. Governments should examine tariff lines to determine if they are discriminatory against those sectors that have a disproportionate representation of minority businesses and workers.
Underrepresented groups must be actively invited to participate in developing trade policy and negotiating positions. The advantages of such engagement were apparent in the provisions for Indigenous peoples in Canada’s trade agreements, for instance. New Zealand has carved out exceptions in their agreements to respect commitments made to Māori.
Trade agreements can also improve labour standards and remove discrimination against minority, migrant and female workers through labour chapters. These should include commitments by advanced economies to support and build capacity for the implementation of the necessary domestic reforms by trading partners.
Technical assistance and capacity building efforts that often accompany trade agreements must take into account equity considerations. Organizations should actively measure impacts of their initiatives on women and minority groups.
Inclusive trade in practice
Businesses also have an important role to play in enabling inclusive trade. Many have stepped up to publicly support movements for minority rights and inclusion. Investments in minority businesses can help raise the overall wellbeing of underserved communities. Supplier diversity programmes can support women-owned, minority-owned and Indigenous businesses to meet procurement standards, access financing and comply with export and import requirements.
Access to trade finance for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) could result in major gains for those underrepresented groups and for the broader economy. The IFC estimates that 70% of women-owned formal MSMEs in developing countries are unserved (or underserved) by financial institutions, with an estimated funding gap of $285 billion.
New technologies and digitalization can also make trade more inclusive – whether by enabling MSMEs to connect and transact with international buyers, providing natural language processing for translation, or automating trade processes that might otherwise lend themselves to discriminatory practices.
Public-private partnership for economic inclusion
Active engagement by all stakeholders at all stages of the process – from research, consultation and policy development to implementation and capacity-building – will be essential in realising a truly inclusive approach to trade.
Businesses and civil society organizations have an opportunity to voice support for government action through the World Trade Organization on these issues in the runup to the 12th Ministerial Conference. Moreover, governments can work with the private sector and civil society organizations to create programs like trade finance guarantees targeting underserved populations.
What is the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact summit?
It’s an annual meeting featuring top examples of public-private cooperation and Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies being used to develop the sustainable development agenda.
It runs alongside the United Nations General Assembly, which this year features a one-day climate summit. This is timely given rising public fears – and citizen action – over weather conditions, pollution, ocean health and dwindling wildlife. It also reflects the understanding of the growing business case for action.
The UN’s Strategic Development Goals and the Paris Agreement provide the architecture for resolving many of these challenges. But to achieve this, we need to change the patterns of production, operation and consumption.
The World Economic Forum’s work is key, with the summit offering the opportunity to debate, discuss and engage on these issues at a global policy level.
International trade has done yeoman’s work in lifting millions out of poverty, driving economic growth and encouraging economic integration that reduced incentives for armed conflict between nations. There are green shoots that make the current moment an ideal time for trade to address domestic socio-economic divides.
We believe that the World Trade Organization, and trade policy and practice more generally, can be reframed to reflect the notion of economic justice and that the time to make this shift is now.
Read the Global Future Council on Trade and Investment paper on “International Trade and Economic Justice” here.
Hadi Khatib on AMEInfo of 18 September 2021 came up with this deep statement on the anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs that is long, as is the one curing it
The anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs is long, as is the one curing it
A research report on the mental health challenges and wellbeing of entrepreneurs due to COVID-19 in the MENA region revealed anxiety has several facets in the minds of these leaders. But all of these insecurities have cures.
55% of startup founders said that raising investment has caused the most stress.
More than 95% of entrepreneurs view co-founders as family members and/or friends.
Research finds that entrepreneurs are happier than people in jobs.
EMPWR, a UAE-based digital media agency dedicated to mental health and an exclusive mental health partner for WAMDA and Microsoft for startups, published a research report on the mental health challenges and wellbeing of entrepreneurs due to COVID-19 in the MENA region.
The research indicated that startup founders undergo higher levels of stress than the rest of the region, with twice the likelihood of developing depression issues.
55% of startup founders said that raising investment has caused the most stress; the pandemic was the second most-cited reason cited by 33.7% of respondents. 44.2% spend at least 2 hours a week trying to de-stress.
Other insights, uncovered by the report, include:
A good relationship between co-founders can help startups navigate the pandemic-hit market. More than 95% of entrepreneurs view co-founders as family members and/or friends
Many entrepreneurs live well below their means to fund their ventures, leading to stress that is detrimental to their health
With only 2% of healthcare budgets in the MENA region currently spent on addressing mental health, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young entrepreneurs and achievers could lead to an economic burden of $1 trillion, by 2030, according to the report.
EMPWR’s MENA partners shared special offers on their mental health services for the region’s entrepreneur community.
From Saudi Arabia:
Labayh is offering the technology ecosystem a 20% discount on their online mental health services for 2 months. Promo code: empwr, with the offer valid until October 29.
O7 Therapy are offering 50% off their online mental health services, for 50 Entrepreneurs in the MENA region. Promo code: Entrepreneur50, valid until December 1, 2021.
From the UAE:
My Wellbeing Lab is offering 20 one-on-one coaching sessions to entrepreneurs that wish to be coached and helped; alongside unlimited access for any entrepreneur to their “Discovery Lab”, a platform that gives entrepreneurs and leaders insights into their mental wellbeing as well as their teams. Promo code: MWL21.
Takalam is offering 10% off for 3 months. Promo code: Impact.
Mindtales is offering the MENA ecosystem 50% off their services for one month. Their App can be downloaded here.
H.A.D Consultants is offering 20 one on one coaching sessions to entrepreneurs. Promo code: HAD_SME01.
Nafas, a meditation app focused on reducing stress, anxiety, and help with insomnia, is offering access to its platform. Register as a user via this link to redeem benefits.
Entrepreneurs’ mixed emotions
Entrepreneurs must grapple with uncertainty and being personally responsible for any decision they make. They likely have the longest working hours of any occupational group and need to rapidly develop expertise across all areas of management while managing day-to-day business.
Work on the economics of entrepreneurship traditionally assumed that entrepreneurs bear all the stresses and uncertainties in the hope that over the long term they can expect high financial rewards for their effort. It’s false.
2. Highly stressful, but…
High workload and work intensity, as well as financial problems facing their business, are at the top of the entrepreneurs’ stress list.
But some stressors have an upside. While they require more effort in the here and now, they may lead to positive consequences such as business growth in the long term. Some entrepreneurs appear to interpret their long working hours as a challenge and therefore turn them into a positive signal.
3. Autonomy is both good and bad
The autonomy that comes with being an entrepreneur can be a double-edged sword. Entrepreneurs can make decisions about when and what they work on – and with whom they work. But recent research into how entrepreneurs experience their autonomy suggests that, at times, they struggle profoundly with it. The sheer number of decisions to make and the uncertainty about what is the best way forward can be overwhelming.
4. An addictive mix
The evidence review confirms that, by any stretch of imagination, entrepreneurs’ work is highly demanding and challenging. This, along with the positive aspects of being their own boss coupled with an often competitive personality, can lead entrepreneurs to be so engaged with their work that it can become obsessive.
So the most critical skill of entrepreneurs is perhaps how they are able to manage themselves and allow time for recovery.
Stress management tips for entrepreneurs
Identify what the actual source of your stress is. Is it tight deadlines, procurement issues, raising capital, managing investors’ expectations, building a talented team, or delay in landing the first sale for your new startup business?
Even if numbering more than a few, break them down because unmanageable tasks look simpler when broken down into smaller segments. Then, list down how you plan to successfully tackle each issue. Meanwhile, exercising multiple times a week has been rated as one of the best tactics for managing stress.
Another technique for handling stress is to take a break. Rest as much as you can before going back to continue with the tasks. It’s also a good idea to reach out to friends, family, and social networks because they are likely to understand what you’re going through and offer words of wisdom and courage.
Stay away from energy-sapping junk food. Eating healthy keeps you fueled for the next challenge. Finally, get enough sleep, and power naps. Sleep helps your body and mind recover.
Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years of experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about them. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
FIOR Reports post By Becca Roberts on Smart Cities as to How Technology Is Helping To Rebuild War-Torn Regions could be made good use of in several of the MENA region’s broken and/or stagnating countries.
Smart Cities: How Technology Is Helping To Rebuild War-Torn Regions
The above image is of Part of the new Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan, which was built as part of extensive redevelopment efforts on the former Soviet territory. Image: Bojan Stojkovski / ZDNet
For more than three decades, the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has been at the center of much disagreement between the neighboring Caucasian states of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The city of Agdam once had a population of 30,000 but was hit hard by the conflict. Now it’s a ghost town.
Since it began in 1988, the conflict over the region has also produced more than a million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Now as Azerbaijan seeks to gradually rebuild the country hit by the struggle, authorities hope technology can play a central role in encouraging citizens to return to the region by creating smart cities and villages that offer better ways of life encourage.
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According to Anar Valiyev, urban planning expert and associate professor at ADA University in Baku, building new communities supported by digital amenities will make the region more attractive not only to returnees but also to those who have stayed in the region Conflict.
The first planning phase is followed by a pilot project in which a number of “smart villages” – referred to as Aghaly-1, Aghaly-2 and Aghaly-3 – are being built in the Zangilan region of Nagorno-Karabakh. More than 200 houses are being built here from innovative building materials such as recycled steel and precast concrete and connected to intelligent electricity, gas and waste disposal companies.
“Alternative energy sources are used for all residential buildings, social facilities, office buildings, restaurants, processing and production of agricultural products.”
Bridging a digital divide
Building new, digitally supported communities will also serve to bridge the gap between the Azerbaijani capital Baku and other urban and rural areas.
Such projects could also entice young Azerbaijanis to move to the Nagorno-Karabakh region in search of new opportunities. Eldar Hamza, 26, is one of them.
During the first Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Hamza’s family was evicted from the town of Fizouli, which had a population of around 17,000 before the war but became a ghost town after they escaped.
“I also believe that most of them will return to live here if there are opportunities for large companies to lay off workers in the area.”
Eldar Hamza, 26, now works as a tour operator in Baku after his family was displaced by the first Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The nearby city of Agdam is also being rebuilt. Before the conflict, the city had almost 30,000 residents. Now, like Fizouli, it is practically deserted.
“We are in the planning phase and are now designing various locations,” said Emin Huseynov, Azerbaijani economist and special representative in the Agdam district, opposite ZDNet. “But the most important [part] is the basic infrastructure that is being made now. When it’s done, we’ll start building the city. “
The development of smart cities should be a boon to Azerbaijan’s ICT industry, which is still in its infancy, and its oil-oriented economy.
In 2016, ICT was one of eleven economic sectors identified by the Azerbaijani authorities as being of strategic importance to the country. The country has now adopted a strategic roadmap for its development; However, according to a report by IPHR and Azerbaijan Internet Watch, the ICT sector represented only 1.6% of Azerbaijan’s total GDP in 2020.
“I think that the ICT sector will develop faster because the development of smart cities also requires faster development of information technology,” Valiyev told ZDNet Informatik und Systemtechnik.
There is also great interest in IT and agriculture. Dmitry Andrianov, founder of Baku-based tech magazine InfoCity, says the development of smart cities and smart villages in the liberated areas of Karabakh should prove to be an incentive for the advancement of the Azerbaijani technology sector and points to the growth of the young IoT startup Sumaks and agritech startup Kibrit.
“All of this helps to create sustainable demand for young IT specialists,” says Andrianov.
Published on 20 September 2021, in E&T, AJ Abdallah’s question of How will artificial intelligence power the cities of tomorrow?
How will artificial intelligence power the cities of tomorrow?
By AJ Abdallat, Beyond Limits
Achieving a decarbonised future will require efficiency-boosting measures that AI can help to identify and implement.
Artificial intelligence is taking the stage as smart cities become not just an idea for the future, but a present reality. Advanced technologies are at the forefront of this change, driving valuable strategies and optimising the industry across all operations. These technologies are quickly becoming the solution for fulfilling smart city and clean city initiatives, as well as net-zero commitments.
AI is becoming well integrated with the development of smart cities. A 2018 Gartner report forecast that AI would become a critical feature of 30 per cent of smart city applications by 2020, up from just 5 per cent a few years previously. Implementation of AI is rapidly being recognised as the not-so-secret ingredient helping major energy providers accomplish their lowest-carbon footprints yet, along with unparalleled sustainability and attractive profit margins.
What makes a city ‘smart’ is the collection and analysis of vast amounts of data across numerous sectors, from metropolitan development and utility allocation all the way down to manual functions like city services. Smart cities require the construction and maintenance of arrangements of sensors, equipment and other systems designed to create sustainability and efficiency.
Altering the strategy behind a city’s utilities operations is one of the major keys to making it smarter and more sustainable. AI solutions are already making significant strides where this is concerned. As the CEO of an AI company creating software for the utilities sector, the impact that advanced solutions are already having on the industry is something I’m very excited about.
One real-world example of AI powering smart city utilities is the Nvidia Metropolis platform, which uses intelligent video analytics to improve public services, logistics, and more. Nvidia describes it as being designed to: “create more sustainable cities, maintain infrastructure, and improve public services for residents and communities.” The company collects data from sensors and other IoT devices, city-wide, to provide insights that can lead to improvements in areas like disaster response, asset protection, supply forecasting and traffic management.
Another solution at the forefront of building smarter cities is a project led by Xcell Security House and Finance SA that aims to build the world’s first power plant guided by cognitive AI, driving utility development in West Africa. As the earliest implementation of an AI-powered plant from the ground up, it will employ advanced sensor-placement technology and techniques that embed knowledge and expertise into every part of the facility’s processes. Stakeholders will have streamlined access to facility-scale insights, creating a plant environment with greater risk mitigation as well as maximised efficiency and productivity.
These are just two of many emerging applications of AI in smart city development. When applying AI, the sector also stands to achieve greater cost and operational efficiencies in several key areas such as predictive maintenance, load forecasting/optimisation, grid reliability, energy theft prevention and renewable resource optimisation.
When discussing energy efficiency, many factors enter the picture, including the impact of environmental factors as commonplace as temperature and humidity levels. Historically, experienced human operators were best equipped to identify efficiency-boosting adjustments. Today, cognitive AI is making moves to encode that human knowledge and expertise across providers’ entire operations, delivering recommendations at a moment’s notice. Explainable AI creates the trust necessary for operators, engineers and stakeholders to solve acute issues quickly. The system’s shrewd situational awareness helps detect, foresee and solve problems, even when circumstances are in constant flux – scenarios as critical as an entire city’s water and power supply.
AI is already playing a principal role in supporting the move towards smarter cities by helping entire sectors get closer to efficiency and net-zero objectives. Achieving a decarbonised future will require more resourceful processes that boost efficiency and reduce waste. AI for utilities can elevate productivity, yielding more attention around resource consumption, and hastening the adoption of renewable, carbon-friendly strategies on a global scale.
According to a report from IDC, smart city technology spending across the globe reached $80 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow to $135 billion by 2021. It is imperative that companies, industries, and other entities looking to participate in this important stage of digital transformation seek out industrial-grade AI companies with software that provides holistic, organisation/sector/city-wide insights through sensor placement technology and data collection techniques.
Governments at every level, as well as public and private organisations, are facilitating technological implementation and digital transformation. Private and public partnerships have become a major mechanism by which cities can adopt technology that makes them smarter. The best course of action is to embrace AI that blends knowledge-based reasoning with advanced digitalisation techniques, helping stakeholders distinguish unanticipated scenarios and make tough choices.
Choosing the most dynamic form of AI to transform the utilities sector will contribute remarkably to the development of smart cities. Enhanced communication, strengthened collaboration, increased fuel savings and decreased waste will help companies – particularly in high-value industries – to increase their profits. Indelible process improvements, like streamlined operational capacities where all facilities function more efficiently in harmony, are the future of smart city technology.
Climate TRACE Lifts The Veil On Oil & Gas Emissions by Deborah Gordon & Frances Reulandposted by RMI could be considered an eye-opener for those petro economies of the MENA, whilst the planet seems to be more and more inclined to opt for decent life sustainability. Let us see:
Climate TRACE Lifts The Veil On Oil & Gas Emissions
When it comes to climate, oil and gas are the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The production and refining processes for oil and gas account for about one-tenth of human-made greenhouse gases (GHGs), making the sector one of the world’s largest emitters. But it is far less clear where in the world these emissions actually come from, which parts of the supply chain are responsible for them, and how much they shift over time. This climate-critical sector has historically been too opaque, making it difficult to create credible climate pledges and nearly impossible to take immediate and meaningful action to mitigate emissions.
Driven by satellites, remote sensing, and advanced applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Climate TRACE identifies when and where greenhouse gases are emitted. This enables leaders to pinpoint and prioritize specific decarbonization efforts to yield the greatest reductions. This level of focus is critical, as we have just nine years to halve emissions and stay on track to hold global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
Informing Effective Climate Action
The intelligence gathered from Climate TRACE fills critical knowledge gaps for all countries that rely on the patchwork system of country self-reporting. This self-reported data serves as the basis for most existing emissions inventories, such as the country-level emissions data submitted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The intelligence collected by TRACE is particularly relevant to the more than 100 countries that currently lack access to comprehensive, recent emissions data.
RMI is a proud member of the TRACE coalition and has been particularly focused on helping to make emissions from the global oil and gas sector visible, starting at the country level. Our latest analysis reveals several key insights that can help policymakers identify the right actions to pursue today.
In both production and refining, the top 15 countries in each category account for over 70 percent of emissions.
The path to global decarbonization starts with knowing where emissions come from. Just 15 top production countries and 15 top refining countries account for the lion’s share of oil and gas sector emissions. Several countries, including the United States and Russia, pollute doubly, emitting massive amounts of GHGs from both oil and gas production and refining. Others are top emitters in terms of production or refining, but not both, as shown in the two figures below.
Each country can focus its GHG reduction strategies on where it emits most (production, refining, or both). This will be critical when it comes to tracing and reducing emissions from petroleum supply chains.
Self-reporting today is wholly inadequate — many top oil and gas emitters don’t even track their emissions.
Overall, emissions from the large, intensive oil and gas sector are poorly accounted for. Among the world’s top countries that submit regular GHG inventories, emissions from oil and gas production and refining may collectively be around double the amount in recent UNFCCC reports. Further, it is likely that over 1 billion additional tons of CO2 equivalent per year—more than the annual emissions of the 100 lowest-emitting countries combined—have gone uncounted by nations that aren’t required to report their oil and gas emissions regularly.
This is, in part, a result of haphazard accounting and convoluted reporting in current inventories. For example, several high-emitting oil and gas operations, such as surface processing, hydrogen production, and catalyst regeneration, are not reported uniformly in country inventories. This leads to missing or hidden emissions.
Furthermore, reporting requirements vary among different countries due to historic UNFCCC designations, resulting in inadequate country assessments of global oil and gas emissions. Some countries (designated as “Annex 1” nations) typically submit regular inventories on a two-year delay. Other countries (non-Annex 1) are not subject to the same guidelines and don’t report regularly. This hodgepodge approach makes it difficult to carefully track emissions trajectories and obtain up-to-date information to make informed climate decisions.
Of the top countries for global oil and gas production and refining, fewer than half are required to regularly inventory and report sector-specific emissions (see Figure 2).
Drilling down to the level of oil and gas assets and operations reveals further opportunities to reduce emissions.
While quantifying and differentiating country-level emissions is critical, expanding transparency beyond national data reveals new opportunities to slash GHG emissions. Even within a country, the climate intensity of oil and gas can vary markedly. In the United States, for example, a barrel of heavy oil from California can be 10 times dirtier than a barrel of low-leak light oil from Texas. The same holds true for gas production and oil refining. But this emissions gap can be significantly narrowed through available operational improvements.
Greater visibility on oil and gas assets and operations offers insights that countries can use to submit more accurate emissions inventories and climate pledges. As the granularity of TRACE data improves over time, decision makers will be able to pinpoint emissions from specific sites and operations, both in the oil and gas industry and in other high-emitting sectors. With this climate intelligence, we can quickly cut oil and gas sector emissions as we strive to meet global climate and sustainable development goals.
Bringing Transparency to COP26
To chart a clean energy transition, we must bring transparency to emissions-intensive sectors like oil and gas. For production and refining, the Climate TRACE platform bolsters accountability that is currently lacking when countries self-report their emissions. The platform also offers all countries access to reliable, accurate, and timely emissions data across all sectors of their economies.
This data is especially important as world leaders head into climate negotiations at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November. With the launch of Climate TRACE, every country’s leaders can now inform their decisions with data that reflects current emissions trends, rather than outdated or incomplete estimates. Bringing transparency to emissions will be critical to prioritizing the most meaningful, timely, solutions—after all, we have no time to waste.
Originally posted on Jayson Casper: Man walking past voting wall, Marrakesh, Morocco For the first time in his life, Rachid Imounan cast a vote—and overturned Morocco’s Islamist-oriented government. He is not alone. Turnout surged to 50 percent as liberals routed the Justice and Development Party (PJD), which led the North African nation’s parliament the past…
Originally posted on MENA Solidarity Network: By Anzar Atrar and David Karvala At 4 am on Saturday 21 August, Spanish authorities took Mohamed Abdellah —along with around 30 other Algerians— from the migrant custody centre in Barcelona and deported him. This was bad news for all of them, of course. But Abdellah, an Algerian anti-corruption…
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