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 Tesco, Carrefour or Walmart 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, coronavirus notwithstanding, 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, Chanel, 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. 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 ubiquitous 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. However, in 2021, there is still a huge digital divide across the world as it is estimated that there are 3.5bn people - 40% of the global population - who don't have access to reliable broadband internet.
Countries in Africa with the lowest internet penetation are: South Sudan with only 7.9%, Eritrea 8.3%, Burundi 9.7%, Somalia 10.7% and Ethiopia 17.8%.
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 35 years. However, for one or more of the following reasons, globalisation
has barely touched the lives of ordinary people inhabiting the world's
Conflicts, too, rage in many poor nations which largely tend to be ignored by the outside world. Caught up in the middle of this drama people can suffer unimaginable hell on earth as rampaging militias raid towns and villages randomly 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.
in these catastrophic situations, also lies danger for the North.
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
into the third decade of 21st century.
More than 50 years on from gaining independence it can be said that most governments in sub-Saharan African have let their people down - big time. And, as most African governments are firmly in control of their own destiny, shamefully, there is nothing to suggest that things are going to change any time soon. 50 years wasted years may have happened in Africa but take a look over the Atlantic Ocean to Central America. Here, after 175 years of independence, life in countries like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua is still a challenge as inequality is pervasive. 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 best be done one-to-one and would see rich countries offering partnerships to governments in poor countries, e.g. Finland with Burundi, with the aim of setting about to provide the basics of life for all inhabitants. To be truly effective, however, there needs to be a realisation that this will need to be an equal partnership with 50:50 input. Into this partnership rich nations would bring finance and technical expertise whilst governments in poor countries would supply the manpower and authority to get things done as well as promising to become less profligate and autocratic. 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. Staying with health plans should also 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. Power shortages should also be tackled. Every family, too, should be able to register their own home and plot of land: having a fixed address 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 entire nations.
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 commission 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.
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 real and constructive collaboration of this kind happening!
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 fewer 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 and resilient 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 Take 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
GOAL 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