Pathways for leapfrogging to reconcile development and climate change imperatives in Africa
By Smail Khennas and Youba Sokona
A just energy transition toward low carbon emissions pathways is increasingly a priority not only to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change but also for achieving more sustainable economic and social development of the African continent. Fortunately, to optimize its energy mix for development according to sustainability criteria, Africa can take advantage of a rapid energy transition, thanks to its huge and largely untapped renewable energy potential and its abundance of a less polluting fossil fuel, namely, natural gas. Moreover, the fact that most of the infrastructure for energy systems in Africa is not yet built, particularly in sub-Saharan countries, offers these countries a good opportunity for leapfrogging. This Policy Brief explores guiding principles and pathways for a low carbon energy transition, including leapfrogging opportunities, energy system design and social innovation.
Webinar Series: Energy for sustainable development in Africa in the post-COVID19 world – looking for the New Normal
Webinar 2: Sustainable Energy for Africa: transition through growth. How to boost output, improve access and reduce impact on the nature and society? Technologies, scenarios, strategies, sources of finance and business models.
Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, has generally low levels of socio-economic development and energy usage. The COVID-19 outbreak and its consequent economic downturn present additional challenges and pose questions requiring urgent answers. Success of the pandemic measures depend upon, among other elements, on a strategic vision reflecting current situation and future uncertainties; and aligning interests of all stakeholders. In order to build such strategic vision, we have invited leading experts in our webinars to facilitate information gathering and to generate ideas for further work on strategies development and stakeholders’ engagement necessary for the continent’s energy transition in the post-COVID-19 world.
Will post COVID-19 pandemic lead to a climate compatible, more just, resilient and sustainable society?
By Youba Sokona
As a result of the economic shutdown and physical lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, greenhouse gas emissions, in particular CO2, have decreased and air pollution levels have seriously dropped. However, the temporary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the pandemic is not to be celebrated as it is not a result of deliberate climate and sustainable development policy. People who are the most vulnerable, most marginalized, and least empowered are the hardest hit by both COVID-19 and climate change. Both crises require robust scientific, evidence-based, accurate information in order to inform adequate policies and actions. They are global in nature and as such need global participation at all levels as well as strong international cooperation and transparency for their resolution.
The adverse human rights impact of economic inequality
By Blerim Mustafa
Increasing economic inequality is a defining challenge of our time. Economic growth can often be disproportionate and unequal, adversely affecting marginalized and disadvantaged groups in society. Economic inequality has had adverse economic, social and political impacts for social stability and cohesion, political participation, poverty reduction, as well as the enjoyment of human rights. The realization of human rights cannot be separated from broader questions of economic and social justice.
Flirting with the Private Sector: The GCF Private Sector Facility — achievements, challenges and constraints in engaging the private sector
By Rajesh Eralil, Mariama Williams and Dianyi Li
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is committed to include the private sector as both driver and beneficiary of climate action. It envisions in particular the inclusion of not only large enterprises, but puts much emphasis on the cooperation with micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in developing countries. This paper evaluates the state of play of the GCF work with the private sector and its MSMEs. It finds that the fund’s success in stimulating private sector engagement has been underwhelming and imbalanced. To begin with, only a minority of GCF projects are in fact private and a considerable amount of these projects operate through multilateral and other public institutions. GCF’s private sector projects show on top of that a strong bias towards energy access and generation, while only little funding goes to adaptation. Attempts to include MSMEs in developing countries have moreover been largely unsuccessful, although MSMEs constitute an important pillar of developing countries’ economies. It is suggested that there is a need for a bottom-up approach when dealing with the private sector in developing countries, including a more sustained and sustainable focus on MSMEs, including capacity building of MSME networks.
The ISDS Reform Process: The missing development agenda
By Nicolás M. Perrone
The foreign direct investment (FDI) governance agenda is centred on the reform of international investment agreements (IIAs) and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). The proliferation of IIAs and ISDS has contributed to narrowing the FDI agenda. A key policy question is whether this fragmented approach remains consistent with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Current FDI discussions point at the need for a holistic approach in this policy area, quite the opposite of a regime primarily aimed to protect foreign investors through treaty standards and international arbitration. The realisation of the SDGs depends on multi-stakeholder partnerships to combat poverty and provide clean water and energy to the world population. Crucially, these partnerships will require more cooperation and coordination than IIAs and ISDS can promote and nurture.
In a more and more climate change threatened world, Africa’s energy vision should be premised on moving from an energy landscape based on underdeveloped and carbon intense pathways to a modern, clean and decentralized energy system. This transition is a critical enabler of meaningful and endogenous socio-economic development. While the continent may face a broad set of challenges in achieving this vision, it has at the same time the opportunity to avoid the fossil fuel lock-in that many industrialized countries face and to take advantage of vast supplies of untapped energy resources and/or any stranded asset problem. The Africa Energy Transition Program in the making under the auspices of the African Energy Commission forms a continent-wide and coordinated approach in facilitating the required transformation for the realization of Africa’s development aspiration.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Developing Nations: Challenges and Road Map
By Sohail Asghar, Gulmina Rextina, Tanveer Ahmed & Manzoor Illahi Tamimy
Technological advancements and the amalgamation of several fields, including Advanced Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data Analytics, Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, and Internet of Things (IoT) have brought the world on the cusp of a Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR). This industrial revolution has the potential to sky rocket economic growth or on the other hand, cause countries to lag behind in terms of economic development if the potential of FIR is not exploited. A number of developed countries such as Germany, the UK and USA have put in place public policies that focus on implementing FIR in their respective countries. It is critical that developing countries also take steps to adapt FIR in order to take advantage of it as well as not be adversely affected by these technologies if not adopted. There are a number of reasons why developing countries are not able to fully implement FIR technologies such as lack of commitment, infrastructure and lack of skilled workers. The objective of this study is to identify the challenges and issues faced by the developing countries in the implementation of the FIR. This study proposes a strategic framework: “Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (CFIR)” for developing countries in order to face the challenges of FIR. Consequently, CFIR will work on establishing research labs for capacity building through collaboration and establishing technology-based incubation centers. CFIR will bring together an international network of governments, leading companies, civil society and experts to co-design and pilot innovative policy and governance frameworks.
Western Indian Ocean (WIO) Regional Meeting of the High Level Panel (HLP) on the Sustainable Ocean Economy Report
African countries called for action to address issues that are unique to Africa on ﬁsheries, climate change and ocean health and wealth and discussed an African position in preparation for the United Nations Ocean Conference 2020 and the 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference, at the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) regional meeting of the High Level Panel on the Sustainable Ocean Economy (HLP), Mombasa, Kenya, 2-3 December 2019. Trade ministers should reach agreement in WTO on fisheries’ subsidies, in response to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.6 mandate, which calls for States “by 2020, [to] prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, and eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiation.” South Centre provided inputs and guided a discussion on the issue of fisheries subsidies.
Enabling and Benefitting from Tax Avoidance: The Case of Canada in Africa’s Extractive Sector
By Alexander Ezenagu, PhD
The treatment of multinational entities as separate entities for tax purposes is incompatible with economic reality. As such, multinational entities are able to erode tax bases and shift profits to low tax jurisdictions. Due to the base erosion and profit shifting activities of multinational entities, African countries struggle to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to eradicate poverty, invest adequately in infrastructure and its industries, significantly reduce illicit financial flows and strengthen domestic resource mobilization – as they rely heavily on corporate taxation for a large part of their public revenue.
If African countries are to achieve their SDGs, there is an urgent need for a new international tax system that aligns where economic activities occur with where profits are taxed. A practical alternative is the unitary taxation of multinational entities. Unitary taxation treats multinational companies as a single entity, allocating the global profit to the jurisdictions where economic activities occur and value is created.
This article calls for the purposeful study of the unitary taxation approach to income allocation and serious consideration of its merits by the relevant supranational bodies. (more…)
The State of Play of Climate Finance – UNFCCC Funds and the $100 Billion Question
By Mariama Williams; editing support and data by Rajesh Eralil
Climate finance is key to achieving the ambitions set out in the Paris Agreement as well as in fulfilling the climate actions that developing countries have proposed to implement in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the key vehicles for implementing the agreement reached in Paris in 2015. However, there is much concern that the current flow of finance is inadequate to meet the expectations surrounding both the NDCs and the Paris Agreement. This brief presents quick snapshots of the state of play of climate finance of one dimension of the broad, complex and increasingly fragmented universe of climate finance. It focuses on the flow of climate finance that can be monitored and tracked under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the context of the developed countries’ collective goal of mobilizing US $100 billion annually to support developing countries’ climate actions. The issues on both the demand and supply side of climate finance flows are explored, with specific attention to the ebb and flows and achievements of the multilateral public funds. After highlighting some of the more serious challenges with the flow of climate finance, the brief ends with an overview of the key negotiating issues around future climate finance flows.
Collection of Resources on Climate Finance by the South Centre
This Collection contains various types of resources ranging from analytical & research papers, step-by-step guidance documents, short policy briefs, infographics, websites and digital tools dealing with the thematic area of climate finance that are all published after 2010. These resources are curated to support decision-makers and practitioners in finding, easily and in one place, practical resources to navigate the fast-changing and complex climate finance landscape. The resources focus specifically on International Climate Finance and multilateral financing mechanisms without going into detail on climate change & sectoral issues, national (public/private) climate financing and other financing mechanisms. For each resource, a short summary is provided to give the reader a snapshot of its content along with a link to access the full resource.