The UN trade facilitation agency has said global trade is set to hit a record high of $32 trillion for 2022, but inflation has reversed some of the gains made in recent months. The global growth turned negative during the second half of 2022, UNCTAD added. "Trade in goods and services is expected to reach $25 trillion and $7 trillion, respectively, by the end of the year. The downturn began in the third quarter of the year, with goods trading about one percent lower than from March to May," the UN agency said. Although services increased by 1.3 percent in the third quarter, both goods and services are expected to fall in value in the run-up to the end of the year, according to the latest global trade update of UNCTAD. Demand for foreign goods proved resilient through 2022, with trade volumes overall increasing by three percent. Trade volumes of east Asian economies have shown resilience, while South-South trade lagged during the third quarter. Read more: Bangladesh govt aims to increase money supply over next two fiscals Overall, geopolitical frictions, persisting inflation, and lower global demand are expected to negatively affect global trade during 2023, UNCTAD said.
Around 360 crore people currently face inadequate access to water at least a month per year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its State of Global Water Resources 2021 report published on Tuesday. The figure is projected to increase to more than 5 billion by 2050. The report assesses the effects of climate, environmental and societal change on the Earth's water resources. Its aim is to support the monitoring and management of global freshwater resources in an era of growing demand and limited supplies. It shows that due to the influence of climate change and a La Nina event (period cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific), the year 2021 witnessed large areas of the globe recording drier than normal conditions. Compared with the 30-year hydrological average, the area with below-average streamflow last year was approximately two times larger than the above-average area. Read: World’s largest active volcano Mauna Loa erupts in Hawaii Between 2001 and 2018, the interagency mechanism United Nations Water reported that 74 percent of all natural disasters were water-related. The recent 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) has urged governments to further integrate water into adaptation efforts. It was the first time that water has been referenced in a COP outcome document in recognition of its critical importance. According to WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, though the impacts of climate change are often felt through water -- such as more intense and frequent droughts, more extreme flooding, more erratic seasonal rainfall and accelerated melting of glaciers -- there is still insufficient understanding of changes in the distribution, quantity and quality of freshwater resources. Read: World population at 8 billion: What new challenges will it create? The WMO report aims to fill this knowledge gap, which would be helpful in providing universal access in the next five years to early warnings of hazards, such as floods and droughts, he said.
A U.N. nuclear watchdog team set off on an urgent mission Monday to safeguard the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant at the heart of fighting in Ukraine, a long-awaited trip the world hopes will help avoid a radioactive catastrophe. The stakes couldn't be higher for the International Atomic Energy Agency experts who will visit the plant in a country where the 1986 Chernobyl disaster spewed radiation throughout the region, shocking the world and intensifying a global push away from nuclear energy. “Without an exaggeration, this mission will be the hardest in the history of IAEA," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. Underscoring the urgency, Ukraine and Russia again accused each other of shelling the wider region around the nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, which was briefly knocked offline last week. The dangers are so high that officials have begun handing out anti-radiation iodine tablets to nearby residents. Also read: Russia, Ukraine trade claims of nuclear plant attacks To avoid a disaster, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi has sought access for months to the Zaporizhzhia plant, which Russian forces have occupied since the early days of the six-month-old war. Ukrainian nuclear workers have been operating the plant. “The day has come,” Grossi tweeted Monday, adding that the Vienna-based IAEA’s “Support and Assistance Mission ... is now on its way.” Ukraine's Foreign Ministry spokesman said the team, which Grossi heads, was scheduled to arrive in Kyiv on Monday. In April, Grossi had headed an IAEA mission to Chernobyl, which Russian forces occupied earlier in the war. The IAEA said that its team will “undertake urgent safeguards activities,” assess damage, determine the functionality of the plant's safety and security systems and evaluate the control room staff's working conditions. Ukraine's nuclear energy agency, Energoatom, warned Monday of Russian attempts to cover up their military use of the plant. “The occupiers, preparing for the arrival of the IAEA mission, increased pressure on the personnel ... to prevent them from disclosing evidence of the occupiers’ crimes at the plant and its use as a military base,” Energoatom said, adding that four plant workers were wounded in Russian shelling of the city where they live. Also read: Ukraine, Russia trade more blame on threats to nuclear plant Ukraine accused Russia of new rocket and artillery strikes at or near the plant, intensifying fears that the fighting could cause a massive radiation leak. So far, radiation levels at the facility, which has six reactors, have been reported to be normal. Ukraine has alleged that Russia is essentially holding the plant hostage, storing weapons there and launching attacks from around it, while Moscow accuses Ukraine of recklessly firing on the facility. World leaders have called on the Russians to demilitarize the plant. Satellite images provided by Maxar Technologies on Monday showed armored personnel carriers on a road near the reactors, damage to a building's roof also near the reactors, and brush fires burning nearby. Ukraine reported more Russian shelling in Nikopol, across the Dnieper River from the nuclear power plant, with one person killed and five wounded. Relentless shelling has hit the city for weeks. In Enerhodar, a few kilometers from the plant, the city’s Ukrainian mayor, Dmytro Orlov, blamed Russian shelling for wounding at least 10 residents. Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minister, said in Stockholm that he expects the IAEA mission to produce “a clear statement of facts, of violation of all nuclear, of nuclear safety protocols." He added, "We know that Russia is putting not only Ukraine, but also the entire world at threat at the risk of nuclear accident." In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia will ensure the IAEA mission's security, and he called on other countries to “raise pressure on the Ukrainian side to force it to stop threatening the European continent by shelling the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and surrounding areas.” Over the weekend, Energoatom painted an ominous picture of the threats at the plant by issuing a map forecasting where radiation could spread if a leak occurred. Elsewhere on the battlefield, the Ukraine military claimed it had breached Russia’s first line of defense near Kherson just north of the Crimea, the peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Such an advance would represent a strategic breakthrough — if confirmed. Kherson is the biggest Ukrainian city that the Russians now occupy, and reports about Ukrainian forces preparing for a counteroffensive in the region have circulated for weeks. For its part, Russia's Defense Ministry said its forces had inflicted heavy personnel and military equipment losses on Ukrainian troops trying to attack in three directions in Ukraine's southern Kherson and Mykoaiv regions, the state news agency Tass reported. Residents reported explosions Monday at a Kherson-area bridge over the Dnieper River that is a critical Russian supply line, and Russian news reports spoke of air defense systems activating repeatedly in the city, with nighttime explosions in the sky Monday night. Russian-installed officials, citing Ukrainian rocket strikes, announced the evacuation of residents of nearby Nova Kakhovka — a city that Kyiv’s forces frequently target — from their workplaces to bomb shelters on Monday. In another Kherson region city, Berislav, Russian news agencies reported that Ukrainian shelling had damaged a church, a school and other buildings. But in a war rife with claims and counterclaims that are hard to verify independently, the Moscow-appointed regional leader of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, dismissed the Ukrainian assertion of an offensive in the Kherson region as false. He said Ukrainian forces have suffered heavy losses in the area. And Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, cautioned against “super-sensational announcements” about a counteroffensive. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reacted to speculation about whether his forces had launched a major counteroffensive in southern Ukraine by asking in his nightly video address Monday, “Anyone want to know what our plans are? You won’t hear specifics from any truly responsible person. Because this is war.” In the eastern Donetsk region, eight civilians were reported killed and seven wounded. Russian forces struck the cities of Sloviansk and Kostyantynivka overnight and the region's Ukrainian governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, urged residents to evacuate immediately.
A full 90 percent of the Earth's topsoil is likely to be at risk by 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN. To protect soil globally and help farmers, the UN agency Wednesday said the equivalent of one soccer pitch of earth erodes every five seconds. It also takes around a thousand years to create just a few centimetres of topsoil and to help restore lands. So, the UN agency is calling for more action by countries and partners who signed up to the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) over the last decade. The five key actions that the FAO called for tasked civilians, governments and international institutions with taking greater action to monitor and care for the soil. Also read: Most vulnerable now paying more for less food: FAO One achievement of the GSP has been the partnership with farmers and local governments to enhance soil health. Programmes were initiated to improve the amount of organic matter in the soil by adopting practices such as using cover crops, crop rotation and agroforestry, the FAO said. Costa Rica and Mexico signed up to these pilot schemes and trained farmers in the use of best practices which included using cover crops that prevent erosion, crop rotation and tree planting. Also, the GSP expanded data collection in the form of digital soil mapping. This technology informs policymakers of relevant soil conditions and empowers them to make informed decisions on managing soil degradation. Campaigns, such as International Year of Soils and World Soil Day were designed to raise youth awareness of soils and increase participation in preventing further degradation. Also read: FAO keen to work for modernisation of agriculture sector While the work of the GSP represents the efforts of non-state partners to promote sustainable soil practices, state policymakers are necessary actors in implementing a sustainable soil policy, the FAO said.
The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) doubled down on its commitment to the world’s poorest rural communities in 2021, increasing support to reach 128 million small-scale farmers and vulnerable people, according to its annual report released from Rome on Thursday. The record level of support for world’s rural poor came amid rising challenges posed by climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic shocks. In the IFAD Annual Report 2021, IFAD detailed how its efforts successfully targeted those who needed it most: data released during 2021 revealed that 49 per cent of direct beneficiaries were women, while 22 per cent were youth. “We know that economic empowerment of women is the key to greater empowerment for all, while more than 600 million youth in rural areas globally need our help,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD. “These investments will ultimately help deliver greater food security, poverty reduction and economic resilience to their broader communities – that is, the people who produce a third of the world’s food but are too often left behind,” he said. Also read: Alvaro Lario to lead response to global food crisis as new IFAD President The annual report recaps the activities of the UN specialized agency and international finance institution, which mobilizes funds, technical expertise and other resources to combat poverty and hunger among the 3.4 billion people who live in rural areas of the developing world. With global hunger on the rise and climate change impacting agricultural output, IFAD’s role in ensuring global food security has never been more crucial. IFAD’s 177 Member States have recognised this by committing a record US$1.55 billion to the agency’s 2022-2024 core resources with the aim of doubling its impact by 2030. Some of those funds went last year to expanding IFAD’s COVID-19 response initiative – called the Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) – to help people survive pandemic-caused financial losses while also protecting the global food supply. As traditional markets were upended due to COVID-19-related supply chain and transportation disruption, the RPSF stepped in to provide small-scale farmers with seeds, fertilizer, access to liquidity and information. Support for digital services like e-marketing and e-money were also increased. Twenty million people have received support in 59 hard-hit countries through the RPSF so far in the past two years. The Annual Report 2021 also highlights IFAD’s efforts to expand its resource mobilisation by enlisting the participation of private sector partners. Also read: IFAD Member States to appoint next President July 7 This builds on IFAD’s A++ credit rating, attained in 2020, which has allowed the agency to pursue co-financing through partnerships and thereby complement its core three-year “replenishment” resources. In June 2021, IFAD also launched a Sustainable Development Finance Framework to guide engagement with institutional impact investors who focus on sustainable finance. Other milestones in 2021 for IFAD included continuing advocacy for rural people and for a transformation of food systems at major international events including the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and the UN Food Systems Summit. The initiatives laid out in 2021 are now serving as building blocks for IFAD’s stepped-up response to the crisis in 2022 prompted by war in Ukraine and the ensuing hike in food, fertilizer, energy and transport costs. IFAD’s dedicated response to the impacts of the war, called the Crisis Response Initiative, focuses on 22 priority countries in urgent need, and work is now under way in the six in the most critical state – Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Haiti, Mozambique, Somalia and Yemen. “Our mission is unwavering in the face of conflict, COVID-19 and climate shock: to transform rural economies and food systems, and to drive more sustainable and inclusive development for the most vulnerable small-scale farmers and their communities,” Houngbo said.
The number of people who had left Ukraine reached 1.45 million as Russia's war on Ukraine entered Day 10 Saturday, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The UN migration agency, citing figures from government ministries in countries where they arrived, said 787,300 of them went to Poland. Around 228,700 fled to Moldova, 144,700 to Hungary, 132,600 to Romania and 100,500 to Slovakia. Nationals of 138 countries crossed Ukraine's borders into neighbouring nations, the IOM said. Also read: Ukraine wants special tribunal to judge Putin The military offensive in Ukraine has destroyed civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties and forced people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance. In the first week, more than 1 million refugees from Ukraine crossed borders into neighbouring countries, and many more are on the move both inside and outside the country. As the situation continues to unfold, an estimated 4 million people may flee the country, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) In light of the emergency and paramount humanitarian needs of refugees from Ukraine, an inter-agency regional refugee response is being carried out, in support of refugee-hosting countries’ efforts, it says. The regional refugee response plan brings together the UN, NGO and other relevant partners and primarily focuses on supporting the host country governments to ensure safe access to the territory for refugees and third-country nationals fleeing from Ukraine, in line with international standards. It also focuses on the provision of critical protection services and humanitarian assistance, while displacement dynamics and needs continue to grow exponentially. Also read: Refugee count tops 1 million; Russians besiege Ukraine ports
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has underlined the need for enhanced global policy cooperation to provide decent work opportunities and foster sustainable business growth in "digital economy".
With rich countries snapping up supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, some parts of the world may have to rely on Chinese-developed shots to try to conquer the outbreak. The question: Will they work?
An author of a withdrawn World Health Organization report into Italy’s coronavirus response warned his bosses in May that people could die and the U.N. agency could suffer “catastrophic” reputational damage if it allowed political concerns to suppress the document, according to emails seen by The Associated Press.