Sustainable Development

Climate Policy Brief 24, July 2020

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.

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SC Webinar Series: Energy for sustainable development in Africa in the post-COVID19 world – looking for the New Normal

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.

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SouthViews No. 192, 6 April 2020

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.

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Investment Policy Brief 19, March 2020

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.

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Research Paper 102, February 2020

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.

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Western Indian Ocean Regional Meeting of the HLP on the Sustainable Ocean Economy Report

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.

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SouthViews No. 189, 17 January 2020

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…)

SouthViews No. 187, 11 October 2019

The Importance of “Developing National Ecosystems for South-South and Triangular Cooperation to Achieve Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development” – on the occasion of launching the publication

By Yuefen LI

To maximize the benefits of South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTrC), it would be imperative to have an effective “national ecosystem” – an institutional framework at national level. Over the years, the pace of institutional improvements in conducting SSTrC by Southern countries has lagged far behind the fast expansion of SSTrC in size, making it a constraint for unleashing the full potential of SSTrC. On 26 September 2019, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the South Centre and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) launched the joint publication entitled “Developing National Ecosystems for South-South and Triangular Cooperation to Achieve Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development” on the side lines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. It discusses how to strengthen national ecosystems to promote SSTrC. The concept of national ecosystem advocates a bottom-up and incremental approach. It emphasizes that the national ecosystem is not meant to be prescriptive or a one size fits all model. Developing an effective national ecosystem for SSTrC requires understanding of the national realities and objectives and takes time, effort, commitments and financing. (more…)

Statement, September 2019

South Centre Statement to the United Nations High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development

Four years after its adoption, Agenda 2030, “Transforming Our World,” the United Nations’ (UN) most recent and most ambitious development agenda, is off-track. Various estimates of the spending needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) range from $1 to $3 trillion. Domestically mobilized resources are critical to achieve these goals. A main source of the inadequate scale of public revenues are shortfalls in corporate tax collection, which are largely explained by international corporations hosted by or doing businesses in developing countries that take advantage of facilities offered by the international tax standards and practices to avoid full payment of taxes in those countries. A substantive global reform process involving a variety of multilateral platforms is underway.  The question is not whether the system of global tax standards and practices will change, but in what direction it will change.  Drawing lessons from the developing country context will be critical if the ongoing process of global tax reform will benefit developing countries and achieve substantial success in generating the income needed to effectively attain the SDGs.

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Research Paper 98, September 2019

Developing Country Coalitions in Multilateral Negotiations: Addressing Key Issues and Priorities of the Global South Agenda

By Adriano José Timossi

The recent increasing and unprecedented attacks on multilateralism and its institutions as well as the growing dangers of weakening international cooperation are regrettably leading to an enormous setback in the history of the international system. These developments could reverse decades of collective efforts to establish a more stable, equitable and inclusive path of development and social justice for all. An immediate impact is that international negotiations, which have increasingly become important for developing countries over the past decades, are now becoming even more complex.  If the resurging path of unilateralism and protectionism adopted by some powerful countries is maintained, the risks of further deterioration grow even larger. The instabilities of the contemporary world pose serious risks to the achievement of the longstanding development goals of the Global South such as poverty eradication, the South’s ability to successfully address emerging challenges such as climate change, and to overall global stability, a pattern not seen since the Second World War. In this context, developing countries’ negotiating coalitions such as the Group of 77 (G77) + China and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), while respecting and adapting to the differences that might emerge within these large groups, need to remain together and ensure that their coalitions are preserved and strengthened. Working collectively will improve negotiating capacity and leverage and increase bargaining power of developing countries in the multilateral negotiations in order to get more balanced outcomes.

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LDC REEEI

Least Developed Countries Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative for Sustainable Development (LDC REEEI)

The Least Developed Countries Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative for Sustainable Development (LDC REEEI) recognizes that while the energy challenges facing least developed countries (LDCs) are enormous so too are the opportunities. LDCs will work together to embark on transformative action, set their own course, and take charge of their own future though pioneering a model of energy and development that is in accordance with what both people and the planet need. The   LDC REEEI can make a major contribution towards a future that delivers on aspirations for 100% energy access, renewable energy and best practices in energy efficiency and use – and in so doing provide leadership to help place us on path to a cleaner, fairer and more prosperous world for all. The climate action summit to be held in New York on 23 September, offers an opportunity to explore ways of supporting LDCs to implement REEEI. The South Centre is supporting LDCs’ efforts in this challenging journey.

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SouthViews No. 183, 12 July 2019

BAPA+40 is an Impetus to the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

By Yuefen LI

The United Nations Second High-level Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40) not only gave an impetus to the further expansion of South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTrC) but also to the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Currently, the main task is how to implement the outcome document of BAPA+40. (more…)

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