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Billionaire fortunes grew by $2.5 billion a day last year
by Oxfam, George Washington University, Bloomberg
4:03pm 21st Jan, 2019
21 January 2019
Billionaire fortunes grew by $2.5 billion a day last year as poorest saw their wealth fall, reports Oxfam International.
Billionaire fortunes increased by 12 percent last year - or $2.5 billion a day - while the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity saw their wealth decline by 11 percent, reveals a new report from Oxfam today. The report is being launched as political and business leaders gather for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Public Good or Private Wealth shows the growing gap between rich and poor is undermining the fight against poverty, damaging our economies and fuelling public anger across the globe. It reveals how governments are exacerbating inequality by underfunding public services, such as healthcare and education, on the one hand, while under taxing corporations and the wealthy, and failing to clamp down on tax dodging, on the other. It also finds that women and girls are hardest hit by rising economic inequality.
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said: The size of your bank account should not dictate how many years your children spend in school, or how long you live - yet this is the reality in too many countries across the globe. While corporations and the super-rich enjoy low tax bills, millions of girls are denied a decent education and women are dying for lack of maternity care.
The report reveals that the number of billionaires has almost doubled since the financial crisis, with a new billionaire created every two days between 2017 and 2018, yet wealthy individuals and corporations are paying lower rates of tax than they have in decades.
Getting the richest one percent to pay just 0.5 percent extra tax on their wealth could raise more money than it would cost to educate the 262 million children out of school and provide healthcare that would save the lives of 3.3 million people.
Just four cents in every dollar of tax revenue collected globally came from taxes on wealth such as inheritance or property in 2015. These types of tax have been reduced or eliminated in many rich countries and are barely implemented in the developing world.
Tax rates for wealthy individuals and corporations have also been cut dramatically. For example, the top rate of personal income tax in rich countries fell from 62 percent in 1970 to just 38 percent in 2013. The average rate in poor countries is just 28 percent.
In some countries, such as Brazil, the poorest 10 percent of society are now paying a higher proportion of their incomes in tax than the richest 10 percent.
At the same time, public services are suffering from chronic underfunding or being outsourced to private companies that exclude the poorest people. In many countries a decent education or quality healthcare has become a luxury only the rich can afford. Every day 10,000 people die because they lack access to affordable healthcare.
In developing countries, a child from a poor family is twice as likely to die before the age of five than a child from a rich family. In countries like Kenya a child from a rich family will spend twice as long in education as one from a poor family.
Cutting taxes on wealth predominantly benefits men who own 50 percent more wealth than women globally, and control over 86 percent of corporations.
Conversely, when public services are neglected poor women and girls suffer most. Girls are pulled out of school first when the money isn't available to pay fees, and women clock up hours of unpaid work looking after sick relatives when healthcare systems fail.
Oxfam estimates that if all the unpaid care work carried out by women across the globe was done by a single company it would have an annual turnover of $10 trillion - 43 times that of Apple, the world's biggest company.
People across the globe are angry and frustrated. Governments must now deliver real change by ensuring corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of tax and investing this money in free healthcare and education that meets the needs of everyone - including women and girls whose needs are so often overlooked. Governments can build a brighter future for everyone - not just a privileged few, added Byanyima.
Jan. 2019
Human rights and the 2030 Agenda, by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
It has been exactly 1,111 (one thousand one hundred and eleven) days since January 1 2016, when the Sustainable Development Goals officially came into force. It was a moment of shared hope, as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks to achieve durable and truly inclusive development for all.
The world came together with a realisation that it was time to fully address inequality; the inequality which results from the persistence of biting and systemic discrimination, and leads to development that is unequal, unsustainable, and generates instability.
Time to face the economic and social turmoil, which helped to generate today's threats to our planet, as well as pose great risks to political and social harmony within and among States.
The 2030 Agenda sets an ambitious objective: a model of more equitable and sustainable development that puts people at its centre and is explicitly grounded in all human rights - including the right to development.
The overarching commitment of Member States to "leave no-one behind" demands that we address inequalities and that we clearly identify, and eliminate, all forms of discrimination. This includes structural inequalities between social groups, which frequently flare into conflict and force people to flee their homes.
The 2030 Agenda is a commitment to achieve greater international cooperation, for a more equitable international order. But above all, it is a promise extended to people previously locked out of development: the marginalized, disempowered and excluded communities - the millions of women; racial, religious and caste minorities; indigenous peoples; migrants; persons with disabilities; Roma; and the poor.
The Agenda set out concrete goals, targets and indicators to ensure the realization of the human rights vision of freedom from fear and want. It is a detailed plan to end poverty and secure justice and the rule of law, enabling the broadest possible public participation in decision-making, and securing access to essential economic and social rights - to food, health, education, water, housing, sanitation and others.
One thousand, one hundred and eleven days into the 2030 Agenda, are we succeeding in realizing this vision? Is the world meeting this great goal of leaving no-one behind?
On the one hand, there has been progress in some countries, and on some metrics. According to the 2018 SDG Progress Report, maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa has fallen by 37% since the year 2000, and mortality in children under five years old has been halved. According to UNICEF, South Asia has seen the largest decline in child marriage worldwide in the last decade, as a girl's risk of marrying before her 18th birthday has dropped by more than a third, from nearly 50 per cent to 30 per cent, and yet overall, we are not on track for 2030.
Many countries are still very far from achieving gender equality, which is both a goal and a driver of sustainable development - since almost always, it is women and girls who are farthest behind. Three years into the 2030 Agenda, women''s inequality remains powerfully entrenched in terms of political empowerment, economic opportunities, physical safety, equal pay and individual freedom of choice.
Conflicts are destroying people's lives, hopes and ability to earn a decent livelihood in the places they were born. 44,400 (forty-four thousand four hundred) people are forced to flee their homes every day because of conflict or persecution. Climate change is generating overwhelming environmental disasters, which devastate basic infrastructure and exacerbate tensions and conflicts.
After many years in which undernourishment and food insecurity has declined, the painful, ominous and almost entirely preventable number of people counted as "undernourished" rose from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016 - mainly due to conflicts, as well as drought and other climate-linked disasters.
815 million is 11% of humanity: in other words, one out of every nine women, men and children around the world is still going without sufficient food.
Young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. Although more children are in school, less than half of all children and adolescents worldwide meet minimum standards in reading and maths. Around the world, 93% of children live in environments where air pollution exceeds maximum guidelines. Close to 1 billion people lack access to electricity.
And economic inequalities continue to grow. More wealth is being produced than ever before in human history; globally, labour productivity grew by over 2% in 2017, the fastest growth registered since 2010. But this wealth is not being equitably shared. As the ILO has pointed out, the labour share of GDP has been falling for 25 years, and this trend has continued.
Everyone in this room has surely heard of the analysis by Oxfam, which asserted that 82% of all the wealth generated in 2016 went to the richest 1% of the global population, while the poorest half of humanity saw no change in their income leaving them even further behind.
With just 12 years left to 2030, we need a greater sense of urgency about achieving the Agenda's promise to the world's people. All the SDGs are attainable: the Agenda is a detailed, practical roadmap, and this year's High Level Political Forum is an important milestone along the road.
A "business as usual" approach will not take us in the promised direction. This journey requires immediate and accelerated action, including stronger partnerships between stakeholders at all levels to drive implementation of the SDGs.
Sometimes it takes great courage to be a political leader. It takes courage to embark on broad economic, social and political reforms on policies that will mean tremendous change, yet can also produce greater and more sustainable economic growth, increased social harmony, and more accountable, more effective governance.
Such policies may involve risking political capital, overturning entrenched interests by narrow elites, and upsetting dominant groups. But they pay dividends.
The human rights approach leads to development that is more powerful, more sustainable and more effective, because it promotes empowerment, inclusiveness and equal opportunities for all.
This frees the forces of innovation to devise the best and most appropriate approaches to technological change, a globalised economy and new environmental conditions.
It lifts the obstacles that so heavily and disproportionately burden our poorest and most marginalised communities.
Let me be clear: inequality is a human rights issue. And food, water, healthcare, education, housing and access to justice are not just commodities, for sale to the few - they are rights, to which all human beings are entitled.
Jan. 2019
Global leadership deficit leaves development goals neglected. (Reuters)
The world has made far too little progress on the global goals governments agreed in 2015 to end poverty and hunger and tackle climate change, with a rising tide of nationalism acting as a wrecking ball, architects of the goals said this week.
Helen Clark, a former New Zealand prime minister who headed the United Nations Development Programme from 2009-2017, said the foot-dragging on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - due to be met by 2030 - "has gone under the radar".
"There has been a lot of lip service but not enough action," she said on the sidelines of a debate on how to meet the 17 global goals, hosted by the Spanish government.
For example, the number of hungry people in the world has gone up three years in a row after falling, which Clark said was "undoubtedly related to climate change and displacement".
And on current estimates, close to half a billion people - would still be living in extreme poverty by 2030, she said.
Changes in the world's political landscape have also made the 2030 goals more elusive. Clark said the unity of the international community that had allowed the SDGs and Paris Agreement on climate change to be adopted in 2015 had been shattered by a shift to the political right in countries such as the United States and Brazil.
Sealing those deals would no longer be possible today because of the disruptive impact of the United States under President Donald Trump, she said. The U.S. leader has given notice he wants to pull out of the Paris accord on climate change, and refused to join a new global compact on migration.
"You've got a major country missing in action, and that takes the pressure off others to act, including China and India," Clark said. Both are still investing in coal-fired power plants despite signalling a shift away from dirty energy, she added.
Jeffrey Sachs, a U.S. economics professor who advised governments and the United Nations on the SDGs, said "nothing" had happened at the global level in the past three years. "Somehow we're trying to make a global change with no one in charge," he told the Madrid event.
Sachs, director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, blamed slow movement on the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on a dearth of leadership, the unfairness of the economic system, and the lack of a plan for putting the 2015 agenda into practice.
He pointed to the world's 2,200 billionaires whose wealth adds up to about $9 trillion, and called for a tax of at least 1 percent on the net worth of those individuals, which he said would raise close to $100 billion per year to get education to every child on the planet.
Both Sachs and Clark said the problem lay not with a lack of solutions to the world's ills - whether using clean energy or getting basic services to those in need - but governments abdication of responsibility towards citizens, many of whom are trying to push ahead.
Sachs said he believed change would eventually happen. The world will end up with wind and solar power as the basis of its energy system in the middle of the century, while everyone would be driving electric vehicles in 30 years, he said. "We're going to do the right thing at some point," he said. "It's obvious, but how hard it is to move!"
Jan. 2019
In response to the publication of the World Economic Forum's 2019 Global Risks Report, Greenpeace International Executive Director, Jennifer Morgan said:
From water crisis, to extreme weather events, to failures in climate change mitigation and adaptation, four of the top five most impactful threats identified in this year's influential WEF Global Risks report are related to climate. At the same time the report warns that the results of climate inaction are becoming increasingly clear.
Make no mistake we are in a climate emergency and that emergency must dominate next weeks annual World Economic Forum gathering in Davos.
Instead, the agenda only addresses climate change as one issue of many. The Davos elite are still pretending we have time to fix the climate crisis. We don't. We have already entered into a new phase of climate change, one in which the impacts are coming faster, with greater intensity, and where we must act immediately.
Last year's special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set out clearly that by 2030 we need to have averted the risk of crossing the 1.5 degrees global warming red line. Firing the starting gun on the race to the future, the IPCC outlined how we can win on climate, equity and economy, but only if we start now and together.
No global gathering should take place without those in attendance committing to do everything in their power to meet this opportunity to hold climate warming to below 1.5 degrees. Davos is only the first such gathering in 2019 but it is an opportunity too important to squander.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution could totally reimagine the way we approach solutions to the climate crisis. But only if this revolution is in service of solving climate change.
Change is complex, geopolitics are complex, the coming technological revolution will have a profound impact, but none of that should stop those who are culpable in failing to curb greenhouse gas emission from taking simple action now. As a demonstration of their intention they could commit to walk away from business associations if they fail to advocate for policies compatible with a 1.5 degree economy, and ensure the transition to this economy is fair so that communities and workers outside the top 1% benefit.
* IPCC Summary (34pp):
Dec. 2018
In 2019 - 132 million people across the world will need urgent humanitarian assistance, by Mark Lowcock - UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Today, We are launching the authoritative Global Humanitarian Overview 2019 (GHO), which outlines what the humanitarian and donor communities must do to assist and protect the world's most vulnerable crisis-affected people.
In 2019, nearly 132 million people in 42 countries will require humanitarian assistance and protection. The United Nations and humanitarian partner organizations aim to assist nearly 94 million of the most vulnerable among these people.
The total funding needed for the Global Humanitarian response plans this year, including Syria, is expected to be comparable to the 2018 requirements of $25 billion.
The humanitarian situation in some places, such as in Burkina Faso and Senegal, has begun to stabilize. But a number of crises require a scale-up in the response. The crisis in Yemen has worsened dramatically, and we will need to provide assistance to 15 million people in the country in 2019. In Afghanistan, where the situation had been expected to improve this year, needs have instead increased because of drought, political instability and returning refugees.
Next year, humanitarian funding requirements will be dominated by eight crises: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The funding reflects what is required to alleviate horrific suffering and assist communities to build their resilience and begin to move beyond protracted or recurring crises.
The Global Humanitarian Overview is the world's most comprehensive, evidence-based assessment of global humanitarian needs, response and requirements. It is based on detailed analysis of data, extensive assessments, and consultations with the humanitarian organizations and the other stakeholders in each affected country.
Since taking up my post as UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator last year, I have travelled to 18 countries and seen first-hand how the humanitarian community remains incredibly effective at alleviating suffering.
In 2019, as in preceding years, the principal driver of human suffering is protracted armed conflict and the mass displacement it generates.
We have seen little political progress in addressing the underlying problems of humanitarian crises, principally poverty, development and governance failures and the impacts of climate change. In 2018, 94 per cent of funding received has been for responses to crises lasting longer than five years.
The average length of Humanitarian Response Plans - the individual country plans which make up the global GHO - have increased from five years in 2014 to more than nine in 2018. Large, protracted crises command the majority of need. Between 2014 and 2018, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Syria accounted for 55 per cent of all funding received.
Humanitarian costs are also high because the services that humanitarians provide are more comprehensive than ever. In many places, we have become the default providers of basic services.
This year the funding we received from donors towards humanitarian appeals enabled us to protect and save tens of millions of lives.
Each month for instance, humanitarians are reaching 8 million Yemenis with food assistance, and 5.4 million people in Syria with supplies, medical assistance and protection. Aid workers continue to do all they can to assist people in need, even amid mounting threats to their safety.
Our assistance is more efficient, effective and accountable than ever. But humanitarian need does not look set to decrease any time soon, and given that, we must not only address immediate critical needs but foster action to reduce them. We must shift from response to prevention and early action to prevent large-scale crises. This can not only save lives but also significantly reduces response costs.
Tens of millions of people across the globe need assistance to survive. The bottom line is that the most efficient and effective way to respond right now to the needs of the 94 million most vulnerable people is swift and generous support for the Global Humanitarian Overview.
* Access the Global Humanitarian Overview 2019 (80pp):
Dec. 2018
Projected Food Assistance needs for May 2019 - Famine Early Warning Systems Network
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. This brief summarizes FEWS NET's most forward-looking analysis of projected emergency food assistance needs in FEWS NET coverage countries to May 2019.
The projected size of each country's acutely food insecure population is compared to last year and the recent five-year average. Countries where external emergency food assistance needs are anticipated are identified.
Across 46 countries, at least 83 million people will require emergency food assistance in 2019. The largest food security emergency will continue to be in Yemen, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, and Sudan. South Sudan, Yemen, and Nigeria will continue to face a risk of Famine.
* Projected Food Assistance needs for May 2019:
* This map represents the number of people who are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity or worse across 28 countries in May 2019:
* FAO GIEWS (12/18): 40 Countries requiring external food assistance:

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