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Geopolitics threaten economic cooperation – WEF


Competition among nations to establish relative geopolitical power threatens to undermine the logic of global economic cooperation and potentially the entire international rule-based system, the World Economic Forum has indicated in its Global Risks report of 2015.

According to the Global Risks report, much of the interplay between economic and geopolitical interests plays out not in the trade arena but in the Bretton Woods institutions. Countries’ inability to agree on an institutionalised, closer coordination of macroeconomic policies to reduce global imbalances provides an interesting example. Some observers see the failure to mitigate these imbalances, combined with the return of strategic competition in an era defined by an erosion of trust, as raising a tail-risk possibility of undermining the Bretton Woods institutions themselves and the international rule-based system more generally.

These developments are reflected in the recent alternative structures being established by selected countries. Brazil, Russia, India and China in 2014 set up the New Development Bank,  the so-called BRICs Bank, which is intended to lend up to $34 billion globally, particularly for infrastructure  projects.

In the same year, together with 20 other countries, China created the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for the Asia-Pacific region. “Much as a retreat from global multilateralism is worrisome, stronger regional multilateralism is not necessarily a bad thing, as regional solutions to regional problems can be consistent with global governance structures; although economic integration is not often explicitly targeted, it binds nations more closely together politically.

While increased interdependencies have brought the world closer together, the Global Risks report, emphasises the flip side of the effects of this situation, as people’s lives become more complex and more difficult to manage while businesses, governments and individuals alike are forced to decide upon courses of action in an environment clouded by multiple layers of uncertainty; self interest stands to erode the rule based system and cooperation.

Faced with competing strategic needs and governments’ growing tendency to look inwards and prioritise their domestic producers and economies, and with an increased reliance on economic levers as a means to gain geopolitical influence, ‘the coming years could see competitive relationships between the major powers develop into trade and currency wars, requiring economic diplomacy.’

“While regional institutions and alternative structures have a role, global institutions must respond to pressure to better reflect the rising wealth and power of emerging economies. They remain the most promising means for competing powers to build strategic trust, which could minimize the detrimental effects of geo-economic competition on growth and prosperity,” says the report.

“The interconnections between geopolitics and economics are intensifying because states are making greater use of economic tools, from regional integration and trade treaties to protectionist policies and cross-border investments, to establish relative geopolitical power. This threatens to undermine the logic of global economic cooperation and potentially the entire international rule-based system,”

The fragility of societies is of increasing concern, fuelled by underlying economic, societal and environmental developments. A major driver of social fragility is rising socio-economic inequality within countries, although it is diminishing between countries. Among the members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the average income of the richest 10 percent has now grown to about nine times that of the poorest 10 percent. In other countries, the ratio Is even higher: for example, more than 25 times in Mexico.

According to the Global Risk Report, Geopolitical risks are back, as evidenced by the central node of the failure of national governance in the interconnections maps, and the strong linkages to interstate conflict and profound social instability, among others. With economies tied together on an unprecedented scale by financial and trade flows, analysts who contributed to the views in the Report, are concerned about the resurgence of the trend towards the interplay between geopolitics and economics.

While national governments in the past also made use of economic tools to increase their relative power, today’s strong economic ties arguably make this interplay more complex and therefore more difficult to navigate. This resurgence could have profound implications for the effectiveness of global governance mechanisms in other areas, from combating climate change to reaching an international solution for Internet governance. Even as nation states step up their efforts to maintain or expand power, urbanization is slowly but surely rebalancing the locus of power from national to city governments.

The data gathered for this report suggest that urbanization is a critical driver of profound social instability, failure of critical infrastructure, water crises, and the spread of infectious diseases. This will only be further exacerbated by an unprecedented transition from rural to urban areas: by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population – an estimated 6.3 billion people – will live in cities, with 80 percent in less developed regions. Rapid and unplanned urbanization in these regions has the potential to drive many risks. How effectively the world addresses global risks.

When confronted with political and economic volatility at home, countries often revert to protectionism under the guise of policies to reduce risk as evidenced by a recent OECD report showing that despite their professed commitment to free trade, G20 economies have increasingly reverted to protective measures since growth slowed in 2012 in the wake of the global financial crisis. Protectionism can take different forms. It can be related, for example, to the protection of strategic sectors, local content requirements in the case of external investment, or state bailout.

The 10 most likely global risks, the WEF says, are; interstate risks; extreme weather events; failure of national governance; state collapse or crisis; unemployment or underemployment; natural catastrophes; failure of climate change adaptation; water crises; data fraud or theft; and cyber-attacks.


Meanwhile, the risks that will have the biggest impacts are: water crises; the spread of infectious diseases; weapons of mass destruction; interstate conflict; failure of climate-change adaptation; energy price shocks; a breakdown in critical information infrastructure; fiscal crises; unemployment or underemployment; and biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.

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People with Disabilities Face Barriers to Political Participation in Botswana

23rd February 2024

Individuals challenged by disabilities encounter formidable obstacles when endeavoring to partake in political processes within the context of Botswana. Political involvement, a cornerstone of democratic governance, empowers citizens to shape the legislative landscape that impacts their daily existence. Despite Botswana’s reputation for upholding democratic ideals, recent insights unveil a troubling reality – those with disabilities find themselves marginalized in the realm of politics, contending with substantial barriers obstructing the exercise of their democratic liberties.

A recent inquiry in Botswana unveiled a panorama where individuals with disabilities confront hurdles in navigating the political arena, their involvement often restricted to the basic act of voting. Voices emerged from the study, underscoring the critical necessity of fostering environments that are accessible and welcoming, affording individuals with disabilities the active engagement they rightfully deserve in political processes. Noteworthy was the account of a participant grappling with physical impairments, shedding light on the glaring absence of ramps at polling stations and the urgent call for enhanced support mechanisms to ensure an equitable electoral participation.

The echoes reverberating from these narratives serve as poignant reminders of the entrenched obstacles impeding the full integration of individuals with disabilities into the democratic tapestry. The inaccessibility of polling stations and the glaring absence of provisions tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities loom large as formidable barricades to their political engagement. Particularly pronounced is the plight of those grappling with severe impairments and intellectual challenges, who face even steeper hurdles in seizing political participation opportunities, often grappling with feelings of isolation and exclusion from the political discourse.

Calls for decisive action cascade forth, urging the establishment of more inclusive and accessible political ecosystems that embrace individuals with disabilities in Botswana. Government bodies and concerned stakeholders are urged to prioritize the enactment of laws and policies designed to safeguard the political rights of individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, initiatives geared towards enhancing awareness and education on political processes and rights for this segment of society must be spearheaded, alongside the adoption of inclusive measures within political institutions and party structures.

By dismantling these barriers and nurturing a political landscape that is truly inclusive, Botswana can earnestly uphold its democratic ethos and afford every citizen, including those with disabilities, a substantive opportunity to partake in the political fabric of the nation.

 

 

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Neo Kirchway- Defying the odds

23rd February 2024

In the heartwarming tale of Neo Kirchway, a beacon of inspiration emerges, shining brightly amid life’s adversities.

Defying the constraints of destiny, Neo Kirchway, a resilient Motswana soul now thriving in the United States, stands tall despite the absence of her lower limbs. With unwavering determination, she tends to her cherished family – a loving husband and four children – engaging in the daily symphony of household tasks with remarkable grace.

Neo’s indomitable spirit traces back to the fateful year of 1994, a time when medical intervention called for the amputation of her curled legs. Embracing this pivotal juncture with unwavering courage and the blessing of her mother, she ventured forth into a world adorned with prosthetic legs, eager to script a tale of triumph.

Venturing beyond borders, Neo’s journey led her to the embrace of the United States, where serendipity intertwined her fate with that of her soulmate, Garrett Kirchway. Together, this harmonious duo navigates the ebbs and flows of life, their bond fortified by unwavering love and unyielding support.

In a bid to illuminate paths and embolden hearts, Neo leverages the digital realm, crafting a sanctuary of empowerment on her YouTube channel. Brimming with authenticity and raw emotion, her videos chronicle the tapestry of her daily life, serving as a testament to resilience and the unwavering human spirit.

Amidst the digital cosmos, Neo, affectionately known as “KirchBaby,” reigns supreme, a luminary in the hearts of 658,000 enraptured subscribers. Through her captivating content, she not only navigates the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, and childcare but also dances with celestial grace, a testament to her boundless spirit and unyielding zest for life.

In the cathedral of Neo Kirchway’s narrative, resilience reigns supreme, echoing a universal truth – that amidst life’s gales, the human spirit, when kindled by hope and fortitude, emerges as a beacon of light, illuminating even the darkest of paths.

 

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Inequalities Faced by Individuals with Disabilities

22nd February 2024

The government’s efforts to integrate individuals with disabilities in Botswana society are being hampered by budgetary constraints. Those with disabilities face inequalities in budgetary allocations in the health and education sectors. For instance, it is reported that the government allocates higher budgetary funds to the general health sector, while marginal allocations are proposed for the development and implementation of the National Primary Health Care guidelines and Standards for those with Disabilities. This shows that in terms of budgetary solutions, the government’s proposed initiatives in improving the health and well-being of those with disabilities remain futile as there is not enough money going towards disability-specific health programs. On the other hand, limited budgetary allocations to the Special Education Unit also are a primary contributor to the inequalities faced by children with disabilities. The government only provides for the employment of 15 teachers with qualifications in special education despite the large numbers of children with intellectual disabilities that are in need of special education throughout Botswana. Such disproportional allocation of resources inhibits the capacity to provide affordable and accessible assisted technology and residential support services for those with disabilities. Given the fact that a different amount of resources have been availed to the education and health sectors, the general understanding is that the government is not doing enough to ensure that adequate resources are distributed to disability-specific programs and facilities such as barrier-free environments, residential homes, and special education schools for children with disabilities.

 

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