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globalisation

Globalisation is defined as the breaking down of geographical, financial, trade and information barriers that exist between different countries which should create more opportunities for everyone in a modern world of instant communications. And the process appears irreversible. But while people in the richer countries in the North are able to take advantage of globalisation, too often, people in poor countries in the South are left marginalised in what can only be described as GLOBAL-ISOLATION.

Everywhere we turn in the North there are reminders that we live in a global village. On supermarket shelves are products from all over the world as a visit to Walmart, Tesco or Carrefour will underline. Then through the medium of television we can watch 'The Simpsons' from the US, 'Neighbours' from Australia or watch round the clock global news from the BBC, CNN, Sky or Al Jazeera based in Qatar, all of which adds to the view that English is the unofficial global language. Then, having booked a foreign holiday, packed our suitcases and flown to another part of the global village, we are met everywhere by international brands such as BP, HSBC, Moet & Chandon, BMW, Microsoft, Nike, Coca-Cola and Johnnie Walker all of which underlines the fact that we live in just1WORLD!

But in the South the situation is very different. There the global village is literally the village you live in because the nearest village is probably several miles away and difficult to get to over a rutted, overgrown track. Often there, people witness at first hand the problem of global warming as the creeping footprint of the desert expands relentlessly southwards devouring their pastures. People living here are more likely to view global companies as making mega-profits from their own natural resources but doing little to aid local people in their struggle to make ends meet whilst paying as little tax as possible on their profits. As for news, local gossip is hard to beat. The advent of the mobile phone though now allows people even here to keep in touch with family and friends not just in the countryside and towns but across the world.

Thanks to a combination of the dismantling of trade barriers and the desire for well-made and ever cheaper goods, globalisation has played a large part in raising living standards in high and middle income countries in the last 30 years. However, for one or more of the following reasons, globalisation has barely touched the world's poorest countries:-
most people living there are subsistence farmers living on <$1.25 per day,
electricity supplies are often either not available or eccentric,
AIDS is decimating many in the professional classes,
illiteracy is widespread,
impure water and inadequate sanitation spread diseases
whilst incompetent and corrupt governments stifle enterprise and fail to invest in public services.

Conflicts, too, rage in many poor nations which largely tend to be ignored by the outside world. Caught up in the middle of them people can suffer unimaginable hell on earth as rampaging militias raid towns and villages at random killing anyone who opposes them and often raping the women and plundering food, clothing, money and weapons leaving nothing but devastated lives in their wake.

But here, in these catastrophic situations, also lies danger for the North. For one country's war becomes another's asylum seekers, one country's illicit crop growing becomes another's drug problem, one country's terrorist threat becomes another's security problem and one country's excruciating poverty nurtures young economic migrants determined to access a better life in a rich country - at any cost.

This interconnectivity means that all the world's nations are affected in one way or another by what is happening in poverty-stricken countries. Surely, then, it is time for constructive engagement, partnership and co-operation between nations in what former US President Bill Clinton would call 'sharing the benefits and shrinking the burdens.' For that is the real challenge for globalisation as we move further into the 21st century.

At a time when we can send a controlled space probe, the Philae lander, on a journey of 3.75bn miles lasting 10 years, to reach comet 67P out near the orbit of Jupiter, in order to test soil samples which will give scientists a clue to the formation of the solar system, surely it is ridiculous that millions of families living on our planet are still dirt poor and still cannot access safe water/proper sanitation, enough food nor a functioning education or health system. This situation is surely morally indefensible and should be an ongoing concern for all of us in the rich world. But the remedy needs concerted action as well as a radical approach.

More than 50 years on from gaining independence it can be said that most governments in sub-Saharan African have failed their peoples. And there is nothing to suggest that things are going to change any time soon as most African governments are firmly in control of their own destiny. For after 175 years of independence life in countries like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua in Central America is still a challenge for most of the inhabitants. So if we in the North really want to 'Make Poverty History' it is time to tackle this gross inertia across the developing world and, as a carrot, offer poor countries a new radical 'Partnership for Progress.'

This new approach would see rich countries partnering one-to-one with governments in poor countries with the aim of setting about to provide the basics of life to all inhabitants. To be truly effective, however, there needs to be a realisation that this will need an equal partnership with 50:50 input. Into this partnership rich nations would bring finance and technical expertise whilst poor countries would supply the manpower and authority to get things done. In so doing, in no way would rich countries seek to change the culture of the country insisting only that development has to be made nationwide.

Among the first tasks should be to ensure that supplies of food are adequate and guaranteed. Experts suggest that, on average, three times more food could be produced in the developing world if farmers had access to essential inputs: improved seeds, fertilisers, irrigation. At the same time encouragement should be given to families to place their plots of land into local co-operatives which would lead to larger fields, increased mechanisation, greater harvests whilst freeing-up children to go to school.

Steps should also be taken to source and secure water supplies, improve sanitation and encourage good hygiene. It is reckoned that every US$1 spent on water, sanitation and hygiene in the developing world gives a return of US$9 - mainly through better health. It is also vital to work for good health and plans should be developed that seek to establish medical facilities throughout the entire country as soon as enough nurses and doctors can be found or trained. Education is vital and initially plans should be drawn up to ensure that ALL children have access to free primary school education and eventually secondary schooling.

Infrastructure, too, should be upgraded so that good transport and communications can be established which would allow food supplies to be easily moved around the country in emergencies. Power shortages should also be tackled. Every family should be able to register their own home and plot of land. Having a fixed address also allows families to borrow money to improve their homes/smallholdings as well as alerting the authorities to where schools and medical facilities are needed. In this way, by giving people the 'basic tools', this 'Partnership for Progress' will help to unlock the potential of the entire nation.

But corruption too will need to be tackled if funds invested in these ambitious partnerships are going to be used to deliver maximum results. In order to remove this blight the president/prime minister should set an example by setting up an independent body with power to investigate anyone at any time including himself/ herself and all government ministers/civil servants. This will reassure the people and any would be international investors that the government is working earnestly for the good of the country. A free press, too, would further help expose corrupt practices whilst helping to keep the government on its toes. At the same time of the rule of law must be inviolate.

At the same time governments should strive to reduce wasteful bureaucracy and to free up the economy. In his book ‘The Mystery of Capital’ Hernando de Soto relates his experience in trying to set-up a small garment workshop in Peru. Getting a group of his students together, they set to work to find and complete all the necessary documents that were needed to set up a small business on the edge of Lima. After many days of painstaking work and bus journeys to numerous government departments, they finally managed to register the business as a legal entity after 9 months. And the cost of establishing this one man operation - over US$1,200 (£950) or about 30 times the average monthly wage. Is it any surprise then that most businessmen/women in developing countries find it too time consuming and expensive to register thus losing the advantages of becoming a legal entity which include being able to borrow money to expand. Setting up businesses is vital for jobs which in turn will grow the economy whilst bureaucracy like this is ludicrous and needs to be rewritten in user friendly terms.

Fledgling businesses/entrepreneurs/ordinary people need access to loans which often can be difficult to find. To this end banks and microcredit institutions should be encouraged to expand throughout the country.

All of this will not be readily achieved and there will be countless times when these 'Partnerships for Progress' will be questioned as to how effective they are. But the two sides should stick with their promises and in time the tide will be seen to be turning. And then, at last, some of the world's most deserving people will be able to look forward to a life less dull and onerous.

Sadly, though, it seems there is more chance of finding life on another planet than any constructive collaboration of this kind happening!

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UNITED NATIONS 2030 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

To replace the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, in 2015, the UN adopted the Agenda for Sustainable Development. In doing so they set down no less than 17 goals and 169 targets to be achieved by 2030. In adopting these goals and targets the UN set out a supremely ambitious and transformational vision. It envisages a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and want, where all life can thrive; a world free of fear and violence; a world with universal literacy; a world with equitable and universal access to quality education at all levels, to health care and social protection, where physical, mental and social well-being are assured; a world with universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation and where there is improved hygiene and where food is sufficient, safe, affordable and nutritious; a world where human habitats are safe, resilient and sustainable and where there is universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy. The new Goals and targets became effective in January 1, 2016.

GOAL 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere

GOAL 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

GOAL 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

GOAL 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

GOAL 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

GOAL 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

GOAL 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

GOAL 8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

GOAL 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation

GOAL 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

GOAL 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

GOAL 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

GOAL 13 Tale urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

GOAL 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

GOAL 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

GOAL 16 Promote peaceful an inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions for all

GOAL 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

GAOL 18 Promote effective, accountable and transparent government and ensure justice and the rule of law applies to all

Sadly this 18th Goal, and fundamentally the most important of all in speeding up development, was omitted from the final version at the insistence of African leaders. Wonder why!

For more on the UN www.una-uk.org

 
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