DGI Brief - Oct 4, 2016
- Since the withdrawal of foreign troops, AFGHANISTAN has been facing crises at every front – from political instability, weak economy, law & order, to corruption, rising unemployment, displacement, ethnic divide etc. This week, international donors & Afghan government meet in Brussels to discuss the situation. Why it matters: It is suggested that the war economy helped Afghanistan’s rapid growth – estimated 200,000 Afghans lost jobs with the withdrawal. As the international community, we are guilty of not properly analyzing the consequences of the drawdown. The humanitarian crisis that is brewing with almost 2 million people displaced as winter approaches & insecurity rises. I understand funds are dwindling everywhere, but there is still plenty money available – we just have to spend it more effectively.
- HAITI: Hurricane Matthew slammed the small island nation on Tuesday, bringing everything that a Category 4 power storm can bring – death, destruction by heavy rainfall & 130 mph winds, flooding, power outages, overwhelmed hospitals… Why it matters: Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the region, struggling with economy, weak state structures including healthcare & education, while facing political turmoil, a cholera outbreak & still feebly attempting to recover from the devastating earthquake of 2010. Extreme weather events will have to become part of standard development planning, otherwise the country won’t ever reach its incredible potential.
- THAILAND’s authorities detained the 19-year-old HONG KONG pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong on arrival to Bangkok to give a talk at a university. Wong rose to prominence as he spearheaded massive pro-democracy, pro-Hong Kong self-determination, anti-China protests. It is yet unclear whether Thai authorities acted at the request of China, or it was part of their own crackdown on any form of dissent? Why it matters: Neither scenario is comforting – Thailand’s zero tolerance for dissent creates unbearably stifling atmosphere for young Thais, while China’s forcing its regional neighbors to do their bidding would be a terrifying proposition, given the size of such a bully. When will they learn that ideas cannot be imprisoned!
- UK: Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Tuesday that Britain will trigger the exit process from the European Union as early as start of 2017. The same day, the British pound traded at the lowest level seen since 1985, and low not just against the dollar, but against all major currencies including the Euro. Why it matters: No one really knows what UK’s exit from the EU will bring, & this is leaving the markets volatile, investors nervous. The sharp fall of the pound has actually been bringing profits & rising shares for multinationals that operate in dollars, but this isn’t sustainable. Growth is projected to be a painfully slow 1.1% for 2017.
- WORLD: European Union lawmakers voted today 610 to 38 with 31 abstentions for the 28 EU nations to ratify the COP21 – Paris climate change agreement – as a bloc. EU accounts for 12% of global emissions. Why it matters: As early as this Friday, the COP21 will enter into force globally as the simultaneous ratification by 28 EU nations fulfills the threshold that at least 55 countries accounting for at least 55% of global emissions adopt it. The EU took swift collective measures as approving the deal domestically was stalling. I’m glad EU understands the urgency – we all need to take collective action for our collective future.
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