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DGI Brief - Sep 12, 2016

Happy Monday to everyone. Today's top 5 global issues news are about #Syria #USA #Afghanistan #Philippines and #Brazil:

- SYRIA: The deal, negotiated by US Secretary of State John Kerry & Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, requires rebel groups & the Syrian government to stop attacking each other & cooperate with US & Russian in defeating ISIS. The anti-government rebel groups also have to formally disassociate from al-Qaeda if they ever want to participate in peace-talks. Why this matters: there is no concrete political peace process to follow just yet & fighting reportedly lasted until the very last minute before the week-long ceasefire kicked in, but you know what, at least there will be a week of respite in violence & loss of life when humanitarian aid can get to people. It’s literally the least we can do, but every moment without raging war counts. That is if all sides observe the ceasefire.

- USA: The historic flooding in Louisiana has caused $15 billion in damages & the state requested additional $2 billion to the already pledged aid from the federal government. 80% of the over 110,000 homes & vehicles did not have insurance, primarily because the region never flooded in living memory. The federal government has already spent over $660 million through FEMA & given the scale of destruction decided to cover 90% of the recovery costs, leaving Louisiana to repay only 10% of the bailout package as opposed to the standard 25%. Why this matters: More frequent & extreme weather events in more places previously unaffected will continue due to rapidly increasing global warming. Disaster preparedness & resilience development are a crucial element of our climate change efforts. We cannot afford disasters of such magnitude more often – financially or in terms of human suffering & loss of life. There are plenty mitigation measures available, but we all need to get on board.

- AFGHANISTAN: For many complex & largely political reasons, Pakistan ordered the roughly 3 million Afghan refugees to obtain a machine-readable passport & a visa (deadline Nov 15), leave the country or become ‘subject to deportation’ for staying illegally. Estimated half of Afghans are not officially registered as refugees. Initially set for June, Pakistan granted a 6-month extension. Why this matters: Aid agencies in Afghanistan are beating the drum, warning of a new humanitarian crisis as about 600,000 Afghans are (forcibly) returning to a country they left at least a decade ago & that is still deeply engulfed in violent conflict – they have no ‘home’ to return to. Additionally, there are already 400,000 internally displaced people within Afghanistan. Neither the government nor aid groups have sufficient funding or staff to address these mass returns. And winter is coming…

- PHILIPPINES’ President Duterte publicized his intent to get American troops out of his country on Monday. The US military deployed to the southern Philippines in 2002 to train, advise & supply Filipino troops in their fight against the Abu Sayyaf militants (linked to al-Qaeda) terrorizing the region. President Duterte insisted “For as long we stay with America, we will never have peace in that land.” Why this matters: since coming into office, Duterte promised a new foreign policy less dependent on the US. The two countries have been very important allies, both as trade partners & in matters of regional security, but it seems the Philippines is now courting a different friend – China. Losing that relationship would be critical geopolitically. Power dynamics in the region would change drastically. Whether for good or bad depends on where you’re from. At stake are issues like the disputed South China Sea & North Korea’s aggression to name a few. Definitely worth keeping an eye out, in particular for multinationals doing business in Asia.

- Today, BRAZIL joined the likes of top global polluters USA & China and ratified the Paris agreement (COP21) to fight global warming. Brazil ranks as the top emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) in Latin America & 7th largest in the world, accounting for around 10-12% of global carbon pollution. It committed to cutting its emissions 37% by 2024 & 43% by 2030. Why this matters: For the COP21 to enter into force, 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions must ratify it. With Brazil, there are now 28 countries who ratified bringing the total percentage of global emissions covered to little over 5o%. Keep it going, world!

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