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Global Risks Report 2020: US, China trade war unsettles the world

The Global Risks Report 2020, published annually by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has indicated that from its survey, economic confrontations between major powers is the biggest risk facing the globe currently, while young people believe climate change present the biggest risk.

A “global risk”, in the context of the report, is defined as an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, it can cause significant negative impact for several countries or industries within the next 10 years. The survey was conducted from 5 September to 22 October 2019, among the World Economic Forum’s multi-stakeholder communities (including the Global Shapers Community, comprising of young people), the professional networks of its Advisory Board, and members of the Institute of Risk Management.

The survey focused on short-term risks, which is confined to the year ahead, as well as the long terms risks, focusing on the coming 10 years. When the survey was carried out respondents were asked to assess whether the risks associated with 40 current issues would increase or decrease in 2020 compared to 2019. Respondents were also given the option to name any other issue(s), not included in the 40 risks listed that they expect to be a source of increased risk in 2020.

According to the report, in the short term risks, the global economy is at risk of stagnation owing to rising trade barriers, lower investment and high debt that are straining economies around the world. “The margins for monetary and fiscal stimuli are narrower than before the 2008–2009 financial crisis, creating uncertainty about how well countercyclical policies will work,” the report indicated. The report noted that global trade, which for decades has been an engine for growth, is slowing down.

World Trade Organization (WTO) data for the first three quarters of 2019 shows that total world merchandise trade decreased by 2.9 percent from the previous year, it decreased in the world’s top ten traders, according to the report, further indicating that reduced trade volumes are largely the result of what the WTO has called “historically high levels of trade restrictions”.

The potential result, the report said, according to the IMF, could be global growth slowing by 0.8 percentage points in 2020, should the United States and China uphold existing tariffs or implement new ones. “While progress was made in late 2019 between the United States and China towards a trade agreement, the effects of having turned trade from an instrument of cooperation to a weapon of rivalry may persist,” he report observed.

Recent editions of the Global Risks Report warned of downward pressure on the global economy from macroeconomic fragilities and financial inequality. These pressures continued to intensify in 2019, increasing the risk of economic stagnation. Low trade barriers, fiscal prudence and strong global investment—once seen as fundamentals for economic growth—are fraying as leaders advance nationalist policies.

 The margins for monetary and fiscal stimuli are also narrower than before the 2008–2009 financial crisis, creating uncertainty about how well countercyclical policies will work. A challenging economic climate may persist this year: according to the Global Risks Perception Survey, members of the multi-stakeholder community see “economic confrontations” and “domestic political polarization” as the top risks in 2020. Amid this darkening economic outlook, citizens’ discontent has hardened with systems that have failed to promote advancement.

Disapproval of how governments are addressing profound economic and social issues has sparked protests throughout the world, potentially weakening the ability of governments to take decisive action should a downturn occur. Without economic and social stability, countries could lack the financial resources, fiscal margin, political capital or social support needed to confront key global risks.

CLIMATE CHANGE FEARS PUT IN PERSPECTIVE

The survey, carried both on multi-stakeholders and Global shapers (a network of emerging young leaders around the world affiliated to World Economic Forum) concluded that in the long term risks, expected to happen in the next 10 years, climate change present the biggest risks. Extreme weather; Climate action failure; Natural disaster; Biodiversity loss; Human-made environmental disasters all featured in the top 5 in terms of likelihood.

The report indicate that Climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than many expected. “The last five years are on track to be the warmest on record, natural disasters are becoming more intense and more frequent, and last year witnessed unprecedented extreme weather throughout the world,” the report said.

“Alarmingly, global temperatures are on track to increase by at least 3°C towards the end of the century—twice what climate experts have warned is the limit to avoid the most severe economic, social and environmental consequences.” The near-term impacts of climate change add up to a planetary emergency that will include loss of life, social and geopolitical tensions and negative economic impacts, the report said.

For the first time in the history of the Global Risks Perception Survey, environmental concerns dominate the top long-term risks by likelihood among members of the World Economic Forum’s multi-stakeholder community; three of the top five risks by impact are also environmental.  “Failure of climate change mitigation and adaption” is the number one risk by impact and number two by likelihood over the next 10 years, according to our survey. Members of the Global Shapers Community—the Forum’s younger constituents—show even more concern, ranking environmental issues as the top risks in both the short and long terms.

The Forum’s multi-stakeholder network rate “biodiversity loss” as the second most impactful and third most likely risk for the next decade. The current rate of extinction is tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10 million years—and it is accelerating. Biodiversity loss has critical implications for humanity, from the collapse of food and health systems to the disruption of entire supply chains.

The report recognise that for the future of climate change mitigation, 2020 is a critical year, indicating that it presents the first opportunity for nations to revise their national plans to tackle climate change as set out under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, and to close the gap between what they have pledged and what is needed. “An increasing number of governments are announcing long-term net-zero emissions goals and showing more interest in tackling outstanding challenges in developing potential low carbon solutions,” the report said.  

“These include creating a low-carbon hydrogen supply chain at scale; reducing emissions through carbon capture, use and storage; managing the intermittency of renewables with grid-scale storage solutions; electrifying domestic and commercial heating; better recycling of electric car batteries; and mapping out the future availability of the raw materials needed to support the transition. 


The report contended that achieving significant change in the near term will depend on greater commitment from major emitters, noting that failure to seize 2020’s opportunity to mitigate climate change will have three main consequences. First, transition risks will increase. Further delay in reducing emissions will make it harder to achieve carbon budget goals: companies and markets will ultimately be forced to adjust more rapidly, which could lead to higher costs, greater economic disruptions, or draconian interventions from panicked policy-makers that imperil macroeconomic and financial instability.

Communities will also suffer if jobs are lost without well-thought-through and equitable transition plans in place. Over 40 central banks and supervisors are already examining how climate risks can be integrated into their economic and financial activities.
According to the report, The Bank of England has warned that corporations in incumbent “dirty” industries can expect to go bankrupt if they fail to understand the risk of their business models becoming obsolete as investment flees to net-zero-emission alternatives.

The Financial Stability Board’s Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures announced recommendations in 2017 that have driven boardroom discussions regarding financial exposures and transition strategies. “Now supported by almost 900 companies, assessing financial risk of climate change is becoming more mainstreamed.

Governments are also moving towards mandatory disclosure of climate risks by listed companies,” the report said. The investor community is also responding to climate risk, according to the report, with a recent notable development being the launch of the UN-convened Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit

Short-Term Risk Outlook

*Risks expected to increase in 2020

Economic confrontations
Domestic political polarization
Extreme heat waves
Destruction of natural ecosystems
Cyberattacks: infrastructure
Protectionism on trade/investment
Populist and nativist agendas
Cyberattacks: theft of money/data
Recession in a major economy
Uncontrolled fires

Long-Term Risk Outlook

*Top 10 risks by likelihood and impact over the next 10 years

Extreme weather
Climate action failure
Natural disaster
Biodiversity loss
Human-made environmental disasters
Data fraud or theft
Cyberattacks
Water crises
Global governance failure
Assets bubble

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.

In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.

“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.

“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.

However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”

Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.

“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.

Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.

Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.

The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.

Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.

“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.

However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.

Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.

“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.

While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.

He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.

According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.

“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.

Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.

“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.

He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.

“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.

He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.

Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.

Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.

Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.

To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.

Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.

“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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