A reflection on the positive developments the world has seen in 2016

By David Hooson

 Every year, December encourages us all to look back on the year as it comes to a close. In 2016 perhaps more than ever, upsetting events have dominated and can naturally dominate our memories of the year. However, there were also plenty of positive events this year, as well as things that can give us hope that the world is still progressing towards peace and understanding between all people. Let’s recall just a few of these positive developments.

The Paris Agreement on tackling climate change, which was drafted at the end of 2015, was signed in April and came into effect in November. As the most comprehensive international agreement on climate change, with the most international signatories, it has been hailed as a historic step towards tackling the environmental challenges of the future.

The terrorist group Boko Haram, one of the greatest threats to peace and security in West Africa in recent years, was further weakened this year and now appears to be on the brink of total extinction. The January release of 1,000 women held hostage was a big moment, and a further 600 people have been freed in December. The group are still holding many of the Chibok schoolgirls they kidnapped in 2014, but some have been returned to their families throughout this year.

The 52-year conflict in Colombia, in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed and millions displaced, was resolved with a peace deal between the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group. Negotiations had been ongoing for four years, and the first draft of the deal was rejected by a referendum in October. However, a revised peace agreement was signed by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leaders in November and the Colombian Congress voted to approve the deal. President Santos was also presented with this year’s Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts to bring peace to his country.

In June, the United Nations’ 47-member Human Rights Council voted to appoint an independent expert on LGBT rights to monitor violence and discrimination against LGBT people globally. Past attempts to make progress on LGBT issues at the UN have been frustrated or defeated by opposition from countries where the law actively discriminates against LGBT people, so this decision represents a significant breakthrough. An attempt to overturn the decision through the UN General Assembly was defeated in November, giving this new role an even more solid basis to campaign for an end to violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals.

The Council of Europe’s ‘Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence’ – known as the Istanbul Convention – was finally ratified by 22 countries, having been signed five years ago. In some of these countries, the Convention is now the strongest protection women have against gender-based violence, sexual violence and domestic abuse. The UK is now in the process of becoming the 23rd country to ratify the Convention.

In stark contrast to divisive media rhetoric and concerning hate crime statistics, refugees from Syria arriving in Wales were warmly welcomed by local communities. The number of refugees allowed into the country is determined by the UK Government, but Local Authorities across Wales have been more than willing to help families and individuals fleeing violence, with refugees being settled all across Wales.

Examples of refugees being welcomed:

Aberystwyth

Wrexham

There will be many challenges for the international community to address in 2017, some new and some continuing, but stories like these should give us hope that we can and will continue to make progress. Hopefully next year the stories of hope and progress will dominate, and 2017 will keep the world on track towards a peaceful future of justice and equality for all.

The EU Referendum – A Welsh Debate

Georgia Marks

The rapidly approaching  EU Referendum is a highly discussed topic in the UK, currently dividing our public. On 8th June the WCIA held an event in the old library to aid the understanding of what it would mean for Britain both if we choose to leave or remain in the European Union. The insightful event featured three panels which consisted of three speakers. Although I came to the event with the view that we should remain in the EU, it was overall, a well-informed debate that will prove helpful for those whose minds are still undecided.

The first panel of the evening discussed society and law. Dr Jo Hunt established the framework for EU laws, expressing that they could be seen as both a straitjacket in terms of the restrictions put in place, but also that there is value in these laws such as the communication that we have with other countries. She then established that EU law is made by EU treaties which set out the scope for those institutions that have been given competence to act. The member states work together to make the legislation. In my opinion, surely this legislation is fair to the EU member states if they all participate in the creation of these laws. The European Commission proposes the legislation and it must gain approval from elected members of European Parliament. There is also increased involvement of our national parliament which has been strengthened slightly by February agreements. In terms of how this affects Wales, Dr Hunt stated that the Welsh Assembly have some say in relation to these laws and can be involved in the enactment of indirect legislation if it is relevant to the devolved nation. EU law is supreme, so national laws must not run contrary to EU law. For Wales, Hunt expressed that EU law could be seen as holding restrictions, however the framework provides for expansion.

Dr Hywel Ceri Jones put forward the case to remain in the European Union. He stated that the UK is safer and more through membership, particularly with the threats of terrorism currently plaguing society. He highlighted the importance of standing together to increase peace and reconciliation. Although our membership in the EU means that our sovereignty is to be sacrificed, Jones emphasised that this sacrifice was for the greater good. Those, like Jones, who want to remain in the EU, have an interest in being a full and active member in a strategic security membership. This a sound view, to be part of a group greater than just the United Kingdom will ensure higher levels of security, as we are part of a collective that are able to fight threats to our safety together by sharing strategy. Jones also discussed the unprecedented challenges to security, stating that the EU is a huge institution and it would be foolish to throw our membership away as we are not strong enough without it; British power has an added weight because of our membership in the EU. I completely agree with the statements made, as although the UK wields a lot of power, to stand alone would be detrimental, when we do not have enough influence to stand alone. Jones emphasised the point above by providing examples of how the EU affects Wales. Firstly, in terms of climate change, the global agreement last year was strongly led by the European Union and we need to be in the EU to implement these policies. This is a very strong example due to the increase in concern we have collectively as a society to the horror of climate change. Secondly, the EU provides protection for people of disabilities. To leave the EU, as Jones highlighted, will lead to higher debts and higher cuts in public spending. The leave vision was expressed as a “go it alone” vision, which may potentially ‘do away’ with the European Convention on Human Rights. This may create a Britain that would regard issues and rights for disabled people as unimportant. For example, the 2000 EU directive provides protection for disabled people in terms of employment. Jones concluded by stating that we are safer and more secure in the European Union, as we have a stronger voice and are better equipped to tackle global problems. In my opinion this is one of the most important reasons why we should stay in the EU.

David Rowlands for the leave campaign established that we have had basic rights and freedoms before our membership in the EU, most notably because of the frameworks laid by the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. In terms of our justice system, Rowlands stated that in the past thirty years there have been far-reaching changes. The Supreme Court is not its namesake at all, also European arrest warrants are not observed in all EU countries. Jones also emphasised that EU law sacrifices the supremacy of UK law, further reducing British sovereignty. As the EU is a higher power, surely this is an appropriate measure as it seeks to bring all member states in line with one another. Rowlands went on to express that Britain protects human rights and not the EU, so if we were to leave, there would be no question as to the preservation of our human rights. Rowlands concluded by stating that if our presence in the European Union means that we are losing sovereignty, to swap national law for EU law, simply put, would be foolish.

Within the Q&A session, Dr Jones questioned Rowlands regarding his stance on the Paris climate change deal. Rowlands responded by stating that he thought that climate change is cyclical and that the world was not warming. This of course shocked the audience and also the other leave campaigners on the other two panels as climate change ought not to be lightly dismissed.

The next panel looked at internal and international relationships. Dr Rachel Minto put forward the neutral argument in terms of the referendum. Firstly, she established that there are many different internal relationships that will be affected by the referendum. Additionally, she expressed that it may have an effect on the internal dynamics of the UK. Northern Ireland and Scotland are pro EU whereas Wales is split, so the nations may not vote in the same way, offering an uncertain narrative to the future of the UK.  Minto elaborated on this uncertain narrative, stating that if Scotland is pulled out of the EU against their will then this could constitute a second independence referendum. This could lead to Wales becoming the junior partner in the UK. Secondly, Dr Minto established that internationally there is both public and political discussion surrounding security and global issues in which Wales is under the “UK umbrella.” She concluded by saying that the referendum brings two big constitutional debates in which the EU and devolution are intertwined.

Baroness Julie Smith introduced her remain argument by stating that those who want to leave are under the illusion that the EU is undemocratic and that Westminster is the model we should look too. Understandably if we are to stay in the EU then there is room for improvement, it would be wrong to see Westminster as the ideal. Smith continued. saying that internal relations would be affected in the medium to long-term and that we should not exaggerate an immediate Scottish referendum. However, an immediate effect of Brexit would be a hard EU border for Northern Ireland, so free movement across the UK would likely end. Smith also highlighted that the potential for a second Scottish referendum could result in Wales also initiating an independence referendum. Although this is not guaranteed, I agree that it ought not to be lightly dismissed as it could drastically alter the continuation of the UK as we now know it. Baroness Smith expressed that it is better to be a part of the UK with the European Union. Internationally, Smith emphasised that the EU give the UK major influence, with issues concerning our importance if we are to leave. Smith noted Obama and Clinton have claimed that British influence in the world will diminish if we are to leave the EU and that we would have to re-establish relations for trading and for our place in the world. This is a very important reason as to why we should stay in the EU as losing our international influence will result in spending a lot of time and resources in order to regain our power in which we already have as a member of the EU. Could such time and resources not be better spent in initiating further reform within the EU itself?

Alex Moscovici provided the audience with what he described as a “less conventional” leave argument; the EU pushes an austerity agenda. Although he believes that there are some benefits to stay in the EU, he feels that the benefits of leaving are greater. One of his main points was about accountability; if we leave the EU, we will be able to hold our politicians to account without them trying to blame the EU. In terms of the continuation of the UK, Moscovici expressed that the UK will never survive out of fear of what the Scottish believe, yet the SNP are losing influence so could this help the UK to thrive. In terms of the UK and Ireland, he thinks that we do not need the EU to stop the violence, but we may need them for the borders. In my opinion this a fair point of view as we do not need a great institution to stop violence if we are a collective within UK, but the issues of borders will increase if we leave. He concluded by stating that the EU should be about making our own laws while still being amicable with our neighbours and that to say that either result is perfect would be silly. Moscovi’s argument is the most convincing of the leave arguments, perhaps because it is not one that is regularly put forward, so is more insightful.

In the Q&A session, a member of the audience asked whether the result of the referendum will be damaging to relations between the UK and other countries. Dr Minto stated that the G7 summit established that relations will be something that Britain will need to look into. Moscovici expressed the view that relations have already been damaged due to dishonest information, also in terms of the comments of the USA. Smith appeared to be in agreement by highlighting that the referendum has been unenlightening in that there is insufficient trust and respect. She also expressed that if we are to remain then we need to work on these relations. I agree with the statement that the referendum has been damaging on an international scale, but I also think on an internal scale in terms of the public and politicians due to dishonest information being published. How is the public expected to be properly educated on the referendum if we do not have enough information to guide us?

The final panel reviewed the effect on jobs and the economy. Ed Poole provided the audience with a neutral context, stating that the 2014-2020 EU budget saw a reduction for the first time in its history. The UK have always contributed to the EU, with our contribution being the second largest, yet our share is one of the smallest, with the UK making £9.8 billion in 2014 in the EU. Poole stated that the position of Wales is divergent. Wales receives a net beneficiary of £245 million per year, but Brexit will have a significant impact on Welsh policy.

Lord Dafydd Wigley started off his remain argument by stating that if we pull down the building blocks of the EU then it will be detrimental. He supported his statement with the example that companies from the USA and Japan are in the UK to export to the EU and the benefits of this type of business would decrease if we leave. In terms of agriculture, 90% of our exports will go to the EU and if we leave the EU we would face a tariff barrier between 40% and 70%. According to Brexit, European funding will be made up by Westminster, but Wigley was told that was going to keep the money instead, so we cannot trust Westminster with these funds. Economically, some things have to be done on a European level, in which we should play a positive part according to Lord Wigley. Lord Wigley provides a sound and well-informed argument, particularly looking at how leaving will affect Wales. So I think to remain, will be healthier for our economy, particularly in terms of trade.

Berwyn Davies provided us with the leave argument. He started off by stating that there is no such thing as European money and that it is simply the taxpayer’s money. This is a fair statement to make, but we have to make some sort of contribution to be a part of such a large institution; however, that should mean that we get more back from the EU if we contribute so much. He went on to say that the EU takes a large proportion of our exports and that this trade will not go away if we leave as we will go via the world trade rules where there is no critical difference in rate. Davies highlighted a key issue that the EU and UK do not want the same things. Personally I find this hard to swallow as if we did not share common goals then why would we have joined the EU? Davies continued by stating that the UK has created more jobs than the rest of the EU combined over the years of its membership. This is a fair point however, as we could use this to help other countries as we provide an example of a prosperous European country, and if we help other countries to improve then this will no longer be an issue. Davies concluded that it is better to take control of ourselves.

Within the Q&A session, a member of the audience questioned the uncertainty that either result will bring. Davies expressed the view that there will be a risk of increasing strangulation of the economy and that if we want a free trade agreement then we should not be under the weight of European regulations. However, Lord Wigley rebutted these points by stating that the term ‘strangulation of regulations’ is false as some regulations ensure that unscrupulous employers do not undercut employees and that these regulations are creating the emergence of a social Europe. These regulations are improving other countries more than the UK in some cases, but we should not be so quick to criticise the fact that we live in a society with fair employment law. Another member of the audience questioned how remaining will benefit entrepreneurs. Lord Wigley stated that entrepreneurs already have the opportunity to export to other countries and that the frustration due to the regulations is understandable. He stated that he is aware of the challenges but it is better to trade in a level playing field provided by the EU. Poole shared agreement with Wigley and stated that there is a reason for a level playing field so that trading can compete, but also expressed that it is burdensome.  Davies stated that he thought that leaving the EU will provide entrepreneurs with the opportunity to pay the living wage as well as being able to trade freely.

The debates were, overall well-informed throughout the event, however, it is the belief of the author that we should remain in the EU for safety within society and in order to uphold our international influence. Although the EU is not all rainbows and sunshine, the referendum should push the UK into becoming an active player in its reform. To leave the EU would be foolish when it provides us with a level playing field in terms of trade. Regardless of my opinion, I urge you to vote. The referendum on Brexit is likely to be a once in a generation opportunity. Take control. Let your voice be heard. On Thursday June 23rd, vote.

We asked Wales’ party leaders 6 questions about global issues. Here’s how they responded Q1 of 6 / Gofynnom 6 chwestiwn i arweinwyr pleidiau Cymru ynglŷn â materion byd-eang. Dyma eu hatebion.

Cymraeg

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UKIP were invited to participate but did not submit responses to the questions by the deadline.


Q1. What are the 3 most important practical steps you will take to implement the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act?

Welsh Labour

An incoming Welsh Labour Government will
1. act to meet the obligations of this ground breaking law,
2. ensure public bodies meet their obligations
3. publish the Well Being indicators for Wales so we can measure progress.

Welsh Conservatives

Sustainability is a key aspect of this legislation and must be at the heart of all our initiatives. We will therefore work with Local Authorities and public bodies to share best practice in this instinct and ensure that our acts of today do not compromise tomorrow.

We will work to create a sustainable economy; supporting renewable initiatives such as the Tidal Bay Lagoon coming to Swansea Bay. This way we can create jobs and investment in green energy sources. We will help businesses become more energy efficient, helping them to become more cost effective whilst preserving energy. We will also implement incentives – not penalties – which will encourage families and businesses across Wales to take up more sustainable practices such as recycling.

Plaid Cymru

We welcome the commitment under the Future Generations Act to publish a range of indicators related to the seven wellbeing goals as part of the Annual Wellbeing report. We will include in this report figures for GNP as well the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare and the Human Development Index.

We will ensure that Wales plays its part in cutting carbon and contributing to the global aim of tackling climate change, through increasing renewable energy generation and investing in Wales’ biggest ever home energy efficiency programme. This will contribute to all the wellbeing goals.

We will ensure that Natural Resources Wales’ overriding purpose is to be an environmental champion, charged with ensuring that future generations have a strong natural environment and that our natural resources are used sustainably. This will contribute to achieving all the wellbeing goals as it has an effect on health, equality, cohesion etc.

Welsh Liberal Democrats

1) The Act requires national indicators to be used to measure progress towards the Wellbeing goals. There are some areas where there is a paucity of data; this needs to be addressed so that indicators are accurate and progress properly measured.

2) It is vital to ensure that statutory targets associated with indicators are ambitious enough and are met within specified timelines. The new Environment Bill targets an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We would go further, setting the target at net-zero emissions by 2050, and producing 100% of our electricity from renewables by 2025.

3) Public bodies must have the support and resources to fulfil their new wellbeing duty. This duty represents a significant change to the way many bodies work and they need to be supported through this change. It is also important that Public Service Boards are appropriately resourced to carry out their work.

Wales Green Party

1. Ensure the existence of real and reachable targets to give substance to the Act to make aspirations applications
2. Construct review mechanisms to make targets reachable in shortest possible timespans
3. Put in place participative democratic methods to consult with the public on achieving the intent behind the Act.

Join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Arweinwyr pleidiau Cymru

Rhoddwyd gwahoddiad i UKIP gymryd rhan ond ni dderbyniwyd ymatebion i’r cwestiynau erbyn y dyddiad cau.


C1. Beth yw’r 3 cam ymarferol pwysicaf y byddwch chi’n eu cymryd i roi Deddf Lles Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol ar waith?

Llafur Cymru

Bydd Llywodraeth Lafur Gymreig newydd yn
1. gweithredu i fodloni rhwymedigaethau’r gyfraith arloesol hon,
2. sicrhau fod cyrff cyhoeddus yn bodloni eu rhwymedigaethau
3. cyhoeddi dangosyddion Lles ar gyfer Cymru er mwyn gallu mesur cynnydd.

Ceidwadwyr Cymreig

Mae cynaliadwyedd yn agwedd allweddol o’r ddeddfwriaeth hon ac mae’n rhaid iddo fod wrth graidd ein mentrau. Byddwn felly’n gweithio gydag Awdurdodau Lleol a chyrff cyhoeddus i rannu arfer da yn hyn o beth a sicrhau nad yw deddfau heddiw yn peryglu yfory.

Byddwn yn gweithio i greu economi cynaliadwy; gan gefnogi mentrau adnewyddadwy fel y Morlyn Llanw sydd yn dod i Fae Abertawe. Drwy wneud hyn rydym yn creu swyddi ac yn buddsoddi mewn ffynonellau ynni gwyrdd. Byddwn yn helpu busnesau i ddefnyddio ynni yn fwy effeithlon, gan eu helpu i ddod yn fwy cost effeithiol tra’n cadw ynni. Byddwn hefyd yn rhoi mentrau ar waith – nid cosbau – a fydd yn annog teuluoedd a busnesau ar draws Cymru i ddechrau defnyddio arferion mwy cynaliadwy fel ailgylchu.

Plaid Cymru

Rydym yn croesawu’r ymrwymiad o dan Ddeddf Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol i gyhoeddi amrywiaeth o ddangosyddion sydd yn berthnasol i’r saith nod lles fel rhan o’r adroddiad Lles Blynyddol. Byddwn yn cynnwys ffigyrau ar gyfer CGC yn yr adroddiad hwn yn ogystal â’r Mynegai Lles Economaidd Cynaliadwy a’r Mynegai Datblygiad Dynol.

Byddwn yn sicrhau bod Cymru yn chwarae ei rhan o ran lleihau carbon a chyfrannu at y nod byd-eang o fynd i’r afael â newid hinsawdd, drwy gynyddu cynhyrchiant ynni adnewyddadwy a buddsoddi yn y rhaglen effeithlonrwydd ynni cartref mwyaf erioed yng Nghymru. Bydd hyn yn cyfrannu at yr holl nodau lles.

Byddwn yn sicrhau mai prif bwrpas Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru yw bod yn hyrwyddwr amgylcheddol, gyda’r cyfrifoldeb o sicrhau fod gan genedlaethau’r dyfodol amgylchedd naturiol cryf a bod ein hadnoddau naturiol yn cael eu defnyddio’n gynaliadwy. Bydd hyn yn cyfrannu at gyflawni’r nodau lles gan ei fod yn effeithio ar iechyd, cydraddoldeb, cydlyniad ac ati.

Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru

1. Mae’r Ddeddf yn gofyn am ddefnyddio dangosyddion cenedlaethol i fesur cynnydd tuag at y nodau Lles. Mae rhai meysydd lle mae prinder data; mae angen rhoi sylw i hyn fel bod y dangosyddion yn gywir a bod cynnydd yn cael ei fesur yn briodol.

2. Mae’n hanfodol sicrhau bod targedau statudol sy’n gysylltiedig â dangosyddion yn ddigon uchelgeisiol ac yn cael eu bodloni o fewn terfynau amser penodol. Mae’r Bil Amgylchedd newydd yn targedu gostyngiad o 85% mewn gollyngiadau nwy tŷ gwydr erbyn 2050. Byddem ni’n mynd yn bellach, gan osod y targed ar sero-net o ollyngiadau erbyn 2050, a chynhyrchu 100% o’n trydan o adnoddau adnewyddadwy erbyn 2025.

3. Mae’n rhaid i gyrff cyhoeddus gael y gefnogaeth a’r adnoddau i gyflawni eu dyletswydd lles newydd. Mae’r ddyletswydd hwn yn cynrychioli newid sylweddol i’r ffordd mae nifer o gyrff yn gweithio ac mae angen eu cefnogi drwy’r newid hwn. Mae hefyd yn bwysig fod gan Fyrddau’r Gwasanaethau Cyhoeddus yr adnoddau priodol i wneud eu gwaith.

Plaid Werdd Cymru

1.1.Sicrhau bodolaeth targedau gwir a chyraeddadwy i roi sylwedd i’r Ddeddf i wneud ceisiadau dyhead
2. Creu mecanweithiau adolygu i wneud targedau’n gyraeddadwy yn y rhychwant amser lleiaf posibl.
3. Rhoi dulliau democrataidd cyfranogol ar waith i ymgynghori gyda’r cyhoedd ar gyflawni’r bwriad y tu ôl i’r Ddeddf.

Beth ydych chi’n feddwl o’r safbwyntiau hyn? Ymunwch â’r drafodaeth ar Facebook neu Twitter.

 

Africa 2050: trends, hopes and fears for the future

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Event at the Temple of Peace, organised by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs

Roundtable discussion with:
Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB
Ambreena Manji, Professor of Land Law and Development at Cardiff University
Martha Musonza Holman, Founder of Love Zimbabwe
Chaired by: Fadhili Maghiya, Diaspora & Inclusion Officer, Sub-Saharan Advisory Panel
Report by: Lara Hirschhausen

Will Oxfam still be working in Africa in 2050?

This was the opening question to Oxfam’s Chief Executive Mark Goldring at a roundtable discussion organised by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs on the 24th of February.

Mark Goldring, the current CEO of Oxfam GB, had just returned from a visit to Ethiopia and offered an informative insight into the organisation’s current work on the continent. Referring to the devastating impacts of the current draught in Ethiopia, Mr. Goldring highlighted the necessity to recognise climate change as a major challenge faced by the developing world. He further spoke about conflict, unequal distribution of economic growth, and illicit money as major opponents to just development on the African continent. However, the Oxfam Chief Executive also emphasised that credit needs to be given to the advancements of African leaders. Positive examples of the improved conditions in many African nations do exist, such as the increase of democratically elected governments or the 2005 plea for the abolition of African debt and the increase in school enrolment thereafter.

Ambreena Manji, a lecturer at the Law Department of Cardiff University, commented on her research area of land tenure as a core issue that is holding back a more equitable development agenda in many African states. She elaborated further on the disputes that arise from land allocation being dominated by commercial interested rather than public interest, and how the promotion of a legal framework was at the core of just economic development.

Martha Musonza Holman, founder of the NGO Love Zimbabwe, spoke about current issues in her home country Zimbabwe, from which she had also just returned. She particularly emphasised the need to mobilise civil society both within the states, but also through the diaspora, to tackle corruption in the political leadership. As Zimbabwe is also currently suffering a draught, Martha pointed out the consequences of environmental change on the industrialised world that relies on food imports from African countries. As a teacher by training, she further endorsed the benefit and need for exchange programmes that allow African students to visit the United Kingdom.

The initial roundtable was followed by a lively QA session. The audience, which seemingly was made up of people involved with human rights or development organisations in Africa, raised a number of relevant questions. The event captured well the various issues and diverging opinions how to solve them. What role does China have to play in African development? And what are the risks, what the opportunities of Chinese investment in the continent? How is Climate Change hindering development? How can we ensure adequate mitigation as well as adaption strategies? Is there hope that these strategies can be used to lead to not only more environmentally, but also sociably, sustainable economic growth? Arguably, these are some of the big questions that our world has to address, and for Africa these challenges will be of crucial importance in order to determine its way over the next 50 years. While there is undoubtedly a lot of work left to be done, allowing for a dialogue that focuses on the needs of the citizens will hopefully form the core of it. You can see a detailed transcript of the event here.

Transforming our World: The 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda

Mark Bulmer, 2015 © Some rights reserved. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://bit.ly/20s863K

Mark Bulmer, 2015 © Some rights reserved. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://bit.ly/20s863K

Melanie Hawthorne, WCIA Volunteer

The United Nations Sustainable Development summit in New York on 25 -27 September 2015, agreed to 17 goals and 169 targets that build upon and develop from the eight Millennium Goals (MDG).  Broader in scope, the 15 year strategy of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) will include all 180 nations (both wealthy and poor) and not just focus on the developing nations as previously targeted by the MDG’s.

On November 4-6th, the DCF Uganda High-level Symposium will provide a first opportunity for a range of stakeholders to discuss development cooperation of the 2030 SD Agenda and explore ways to motivate, support and further shape cooperation as a critical means of implementation.

Initially, attention will be placed on what this means in terms of challenges and opportunities for development cooperation in Africa and the Symposium will focus on two overarching questions:

  1. How will the UN adapt development cooperation policies and interventions for implementing the SDGs?
  2. How will the UN monitor and review the impact of development cooperation in advancing the new sustainable development agenda.

The Symposium aims to bring to the table key issues related to ownership of the new global agenda, and will produce concrete evidence based policy guidance to be able to put into practice at international, regional, national and local level as part of the broader global partnership for sustainable development.

The report will be prepared in preparation for the 2016 meeting of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), the UN platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and will be the first HLPF after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Forum is expected to start effectively delivering on its mandates to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations on the Sustainable Development Agenda’s implementation and will meet from Monday, 11 July, to Wednesday, 20 July 2016, under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

*In order to informally contribute to the reflection, Major Groups and other Stakeholders were invited to provide their views and comments by completing an online questionnaire by 15 November 2015. Responses received will be made available on the website.

The Wales We Want

blog2As nations across the globe get to grips on how they will implement their own bottom up v’s top down policies through the framework guidelines, development cooperation is viewed as the main pillar of the global partnership for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Wales has a high profile in sustainable development and is recognised as being one of the first nations to take sustainable development seriously.

The Sustainable Development Charter managed by Cynnal Cymru/Sustain Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government encourages private, public and third sector organisations in Wales to become more resilient by using the principles of sustainable development – of improving decision making based on the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. Over 340 organisations have signed up on a voluntary basis and as more continue to do so as sustainable development continues to climb the agenda.

In April 2015, The Welsh Government passed into law The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act  that aims to improve the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales, and strengthen governance arrangements within public bodies to ensure that present needs are met without compromising the ability of future generations.

The legislation will place a statutory duty upon public bodies in Wales to adopt sustainable development as the central organising principle upon which all other organisational decisions are made and provide evidence on how this is implemented in practice.

The legislation identifies 7 key goals to improve the well-being of Wales:

  1. A Prosperous Wales
  2. A Resilient Wales
  3. A Healthier Wales
  4. A More equal Wales
  5. A Wales of Cohesive communities
  6. A Wales of Vibrant Culture and Thriving Welsh language
  7. A Globally responsible Wales

Delivered through Public Service Boards (PSB’s) and local wellbeing plans for all local authorities in order to improve wellbeing for people and their communities, Public bodies in Wales were asked to respond to the detailed draft guidance that aims to enable government bodies and agencies in responding to and complying with the statutory duties they are under as a result of the Act.   All public bodies are scheduled to commence statutory reporting on wellbeing indicators as from April 2017

These public Bodies include: Welsh Ministers, Local Authorities, Local Health Boards, Public Health Wales NHS Trust, Velindre NHS Trust, National Parks Authorities, Fire and Rescue Authorities, National Resources Wales, Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCW), Arts Council of Wales (ACW), Sports Council of Wales (SCW), National Library and the National Museum and Galleries Wales (NMGW).

The consultation documents closes for submission on the 16th November 2015

Alongside the Consultation the proposed national indicators,  How do you measure a nation’s progress? will measure and capture wellbeing statistics in Wales and the deadline for consultation is the 19th January 2016.

Picture Hope in the Thorns (2007), Dan Foy © Some rights reserved. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://bit.ly/1WuB834

Lower the voting age in the EU referendum to 16

In 2016/17 the UK will come to the polls to make one of the biggest decisions of the past 50 years – should the UK stay in EU? But one group will be left out of this all-important vote, the group who will be most affected by this change, 16 and 17-year-olds. Having just turned 17 there is a high possibility that I will not be able to cast a vote in a 2016 election, denying my right to be heard.  And to paraphrase a young William Hague “Half of you won’t be here in 30 or 40 years’ time”, but others will have to live with consequences”.  As someone who would have to live with the consequences of a vote I only see it as fair that I should be able to have a say in the matter.

The main argument against giving 16 and 17 year olds the vote is that 16 or 17 year olds are too immature to make such important decisions. But where’s the evidence? Without resorting to clichés, we can leave school, start a job, or an apprenticeship and chose school subjects that will affect the rest of their lives. In the modern world we are given a lot of responsibilities so voting in elections isn’t too daunting.  In school as part of the Welsh Bac we are given lessons on politics and citizenship, giving all 16/17 year olds an understanding of the political system. And the internet allows young people a wide base of knowledge about international affairs. So it cannot be argued that maturity is a reason to stop us voting.

The work that many 16 and 17 year olds do is effected by the EU, and because of this we should be able to have a vote on matters that will regard our current or future careers. For example, Airbus employs over 100,000 people in the UK  including a large number of apprentices and young skilled workers. These jobs rely on the EU links between Britain and France, and leaving the EU could put the jobs at risk. The 12% of jobs linked with EU exports include a large percentage of under 18s who work in manufacturing and the construction industry. The voices of people whose jobs depend on this link will not be heard.

youngvotes

Giving votes to us for single elections isn’t a completely new idea. In the Scottish Referendum 16 and 17 year olds were given the right to vote.  I believe this was fair, as people who would be most affected by leaving the union got the right to vote. This gave young people a voice for their future for the first time in British history and has been seen as a resounding success by the majority of people. With a high turnout young people in Scotland showed that they were engaged in what was going on and then has allowed people to vote locally and at Holyrood. The Scottish example shows that we as young people are deserving of a vote in all UK elections – we are engaged and politically active. There is support from the SNP and Labour to allow 16/17 year olds to vote because they have a “tremendous vested interest in whether or not we stay in the EU or leave”.

In Austria the vote was given to 16 and 17 year olds to counter the effect of an aging population. The effect of an older population who often vote is that politicians tend to veer towards the “grey vote” aiming more polices towards older people. Young people’s votes could lead to more polices beneficial towards young people, for example, pressure to keep EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance).

All 16/17 year olds should be able to vote in the European election. These votes will have an effect on the rest of our lives. Without the vote, our opinions will not be heard by society and we will not be able to make a difference, even though we have an opinion. As Robert Frost said Thinking isn’t agreeing or disagreeing. That’s voting.
 

Climate Change – as viewed from Malaysia

Aaditya Rajaseharan

A flood-stricken family in Kota Tinggi.

Malaysia is a small but compact country located in South East Asia. It is divided into two parts: Peninsular Malaysia, the more urbanised region of the country, which includes the world famous Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Petronas Twin Towers and Sepang Formula One Circuit; and Eastern Malaysia which not only includes Sabah and Sarawak, two of the largest states in Malaysia, but also those that are populated by native Malaysians like the Kadazandusun, Kelabit and Ibanese people, who still practice their traditional beliefs today. Major cities like Kuching and Kota Kinabalu have very much become the soul of Eastern Malaysia.

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