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DGI Brief - Sep 19, 2016

Happy Monday to all. Today's top 5 global issues news are about #USA, #Syria, #Turkey #Indonesia and #Africa:

- USA: Scientists & forestry official report trees across all US states are dying at alarming rates due to drought & subsequent wildfires but also because of increasing amounts of insects & new diseases due to global warming. Hawaii has been hit with rapid ohi’a death disease that is wiping out its ohi’a trees & threatening the entire native ecosystem. In California’s Sierra Nevada, over 66 million trees have died due to drought that weakens their systems to outbreaks like the Sudden Oak Death disease. Across America, bark & mountain pine beetles – usually stopped by cold & wet winters - are devouring & killing forests from British Columbia, across the Rockies & to the Yukon border, areas never affected before. Why it matters: trees are one of our best defense against climate change – they store carbon, but also create & protect whole ecosystems by providing clean water, food for most birds & mammals & protecting critical snowpack. We must do our utmost to protect & help them adapt.

- SYRIA’s government declared the very fragile week ceasefire as failed on Monday with all sides culpable for a dozens of violations & of course blaming each other. Both US & Russia have indicated willingness to extend the deal, but it seems the parties on the ground quickly returned to violence. Why it matters: Unbelievably, the Syrian government was not capable of granting the permits necessary for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Aleppo. Up to the last moment of the ceasefire, aid trucks were positioned at the Turkish-Syrian border. The fanatical quest for power at the expense of hundreds of thousands innocent people. There are no words to describe just how despicable …

- Reports are surfacing that TURKEY is blocking the resettlement of thousands of refugees to third countries because they have university degrees, claiming that “the most vulnerable need to be helped before others”. They oppose the idea that countries granting asylum are cherry-picking the most educated refugees & leave the rest behind for Turkey to deal with. Why it matters: Aside from being appalling, refusing resettlement is a violation of international law. Even if we supposed that Turkey may be making a point, it is not, because Turkey is not allowing access to legal work for the vast majority of refugees, forcing those university-educated ones it so vehemently wants to keep to resort to manual labor in black market economies.

- INDONESIA: Harvard & Columbia university researchers have attributed the deaths of over 100,000 people across Southeast Asia to the toxic haze from the massive 2015 fires in Indonesia – most of them set to clear land for palm oil & pulpwood production. Researchers found about 92,000 premature deaths by cardiovascular & (less so) respiratory disease in Indonesia, and about 6,500 & 2,200 in Malaysia & Singapore respectively. Why it matters: The data can serve to pressure more serious enforcement of deforestation measures. We know that the fires are disastrous for the environment in terms of global warming, but we now have a direct link to a human cost. Worryingly, the study has focused on adult mortality rates & suggests more research is needed to understand the effects on children. Will the Indonesia government do more to protect its citizens?

- The latest McKinsey report “Lions on the move II: Realizing the potential of AFRICA’s economies” lists 400 African companies with earning revenues of $1 billion or more. Another 300 earn >$500,000. According to the report 300 of the top earning companies are in South Africa, 133 in North Africa, 56 in Nigeria, 43 in Southern Africa, 40 in West Africa, 25 in East Africa & 19 in Central Africa. Not surprisingly, there is an accelerated growth for economies not related to oil production, generating 40% of African GDP that have seen annual growth of 4.4% in 2010-15. Why it matters: IMF projects Africa to be the world’s 2nd –fastest growing region overall with fastest population, youth, urbanization and technological change rates. These are important markers for growth: consumer markets, private sector, industrial & services development & business supply chains. However, succeeding in these opportunity markets largely depends on understanding the geopolitics, demographics & very localized challenges. The high-potential sectors (growth, profitability & low consolidation) are: wholesale & retail, food & agri-processing, health care, financial services, construction & light manufacturing.

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