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UN OBSERVANCE: World Tourism Day – September 27

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Over the past six decades, tourism has experienced continued expansion and diversification, and it has become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world, benefiting destinations and communities worldwide.

International tourist arrivals worldwide have grown from 25 million in 1950 to nearly 1.2 billion in 2015!

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Similarly, international tourism revenues earned by destinations around the world have grown from 2 billion US dollars in 1950 to 1260 trillion in 2015. The sector represents an estimated 10% of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally.

This growth over the second half of the 20th century and the 21st is due to the fact that access to tourism has progressively expanded thanks to the recognition of the right to holidays in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the improved adoption of labour rights in many countries and the growing middle class worldwide.

As the United Nations General Assembly affirmed when announcing the adoption of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, tourism can contribute to all the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – and each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Not only does the sector spearhead growth, it also improves the quality of people’s lives. It can bolster environmental protection, champion diverse cultural heritage, and strengthen peace in the world. beach1

In this spirit, World Tourism Day 2017 presents a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision-makers and the international community, while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change.

Join us in celebrating this special day! #WTD2017 #IY2017 #TravelEnjoyRespect #SDGs

Celebrate World Tourism Day by taking the pledge to #TravelEnjoyRespect

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UN Observance: International Day of Peace – September 21st

international day of peace (Earth map furnished by NASA)

In 2016 the global economy lost $14.3 trillion to violence and conflict in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms (Global Peace Index 2017). This is equivalent to 12.6 percent of the world Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or 12.6 percent of everything the world produces and consumes!

Join GFDD on September 21st to help commemorate the International Day of Peace.

The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

The theme for 2017 is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”

The theme honors the spirit of TOGETHER, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life. TOGETHER unites the organizations of the United Nations System, the 193 Member States of the United Nations, the private sector, civil society, academic institutions and individual citizens in a global partnership in support of diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants. It was initiated during the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016.

“In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbors as ‘the other’. Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people — and societies — from achieving their full potential.” He added, “Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope.”

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This year, the International Day of Peace will focus on engaging and mobilizing people throughout the world to show support for refugees and migrants. Its messages will be shared with communities hosting refugees and migrants as well as people concerned that refugees and migrants may bring physical and economic insecurity to their lives.

The Day will highlight solidarity with refugees and migrants and showcase the shared benefits of migration to economies and nations, while also acknowledging legitimate concerns of host communities. Ultimately, it will be about bringing people together and reminding them of their common humanity.

Young people will have a vital role to play. For example, they can volunteer to welcome and help refugees and migrants in their communities. They can also extend the hand of friendship to young refugees and migrants who they might meet in their classrooms and neighborhoods.

To find out what events will be taking place in your area please check out this virtual map:

http://internationaldayofpeace.org/event-map/

Why Impact Investment Can Be an Effective Tool for Social Development

jenna_headshotBy GRT Guest Blogger Jenna Giandoni, GFDD Fellow and Author of Impact Investing in the Dominican Republic

In April of this year, the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development organized and moderated the panel, Why Impact Investment Can Be an Effective Tool for Social Development, at the World Bank Group/IMF Civil Society Policy Forum. As a keynote speaker, I had the honor of presenting my research on impact investing conducted in the Dominican Republic. In November, while visiting the Dominican Republic, we will be fortunate enough to present the findings for audiences not only interested in understanding the world of impact investing but also who have the intention of applying this information that has the potential to advance economic development in an environmentally and socially sound way.

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Through my research and continued profession in the international development and renewable energy sectors, I continue to promote impact investments and the necessity for implementing a triple bottom line approach. Impact investing and the role this investment strategy should play in developing countries, specifically the Dominican Republic, is a concept that could significantly alter the fate of not only individuals in developing countries but of the country at a macroeconomic level, as well. The highlighted companies in my research were identified through outreach while working as a Fellow in the Dominican Republic. The businesses represent a larger array of companies that could benefit from impact investments, primarily operating in the environmental sector, a sector widely neglected in traditional investment strategy. These businesses serve as a glimpse into the world of renewable energy and sustainable agriculture in the Dominican Republic, while offering insight into the potential of impact investing throughout the country and the globe.

With that said, let us briefly examine impact investing. According to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), impact investing includes “investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return”. Marguerite H. Griffin of Northern Trust further categorizes impact investors into three categories: impact first, investment first, and catalyst first. Essentially, impact first investors are driven by maximization of impact, whereas investment first investors are primarily interested in market-rate or premium returns on their investment. Catalyst first investors are investors who seek to give or invest in collaborations to build the impact investing industry and infrastructure.

Because of the expected US$30 trillion transfer of wealth expected over the next several decades into the hands of those who have a different approach to investing compared to their predecessors, impact investing is receiving far more attention in order to prepare for this transfer of wealth and ideology. Fortunately, impact funds provide market rate returns and above as measured against comparative non-impact investment funds.

Impact investments are not only receiving attention in developed countries. Many organizations such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have begun to make impact investments in developing countries such as the Dominican Republic. The IFC issued 5-year 10.5% Taino Bonds in December 2012, representing the first domestic placement by an international triple-A rated issuer in the Dominican Republic. Again in 2016, the IFC issued 6.5 year 8.75% Taino Bonds to assist the development of microenterprises. Other organizations and financial institutions, such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), have stated their intent to follow suit with future investments in Latin American and Caribbean nations, specifically in the environmental sector. Environmental entrepreneurs, such as those operating in sustainable agriculture, ecotourism, and renewable energy, can all have a positive impact on the environment. These businesses have an environmental focus incorporated into their business model, recognizing the severity of climate change, and have a desire to minimize the environmental effects associated with human activity.

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The Dominican Republic, like man y developing countries, is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. USAID’s Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Report outlined the vulnerability of islands such as the Dominican Republic to climate change, serving as a warning for policy makers and the private sector that have historically neglected environmental considerations, especially in the business sector. The result of these impacts could have overwhelming effects on local populations and the international community. Hurricanes, for example, are expected to increase in the coming years as we have continued to witness in recent months. The journal, Nature, and the US Department of Energy further confirmed that stronger hurricanes in the Caribbean region are likely to grow even more intense as a result of global warming. As sea levels rise, areas that were once dry are now under water in the Dominican Republic and local fishermen observe the effects of climate change as they watch mangroves disappear and flooding increases. Additionally, inefficient farming practices throughout the country in relation to fertilizer usage affect the entire fishing industry as increased runoff into the waterway system kills coral reefs which protect smaller fish. Higher temperatures are also predicted in the Dominican Republic due to climate change and even the slightest changes in temperature could have drastic effects spanning across countless industries including but not limited to agriculture, energy, health, tourism, and infrastructure development.

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Fear not. It is not all doom and gloom. Impact investing provides a comprehensive solution to climate change. The businesses highlighted in my research include sustainable dairy, tilapia, and cacao businesses along with solar and wind farms. It is these types of businesses that have recognized a responsibility to maintain a balance in the ecosystem while not sacrificing financial gain. They are pioneers leading the way, carving in stone, shaping what will be the future of the business sector. For if we continue down the current destructive path, making investments with no consideration for social and environmental impact, we will truly become lost as a species. The world will survive, but it is our time to take responsibility and support these burgeoning businesses. The time is now to invest, impact invest.

Find out how here: Four Ways to Get Involved with Impact Investing

For investors, advisors, and fund managers: GIIN’s Impact Base

UN Day for South-South Cooperation 2017 – September 12, 2017

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Did you know? 

Over the course of 2016 In Burundi, through south-south cooperation, 39,000 yearly reproductive health consultations were enabled, 25 villages in Guinea-Bissau got access to solar energy and 1,000 adults, mostly women, attained functional literacy! And in Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic, 7,700 farmers’ agricultural yield improved through better irrigation structures! 

What is South-South cooperation? 

South-South cooperation is a manifestation of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South that contributes to their national well-being, their national and collective self-reliance and the attainment of internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

The history of south-south cooperation 

Depositphotos_163082008_l-2015The world has undergone a major economic and political transformation in the last two decades. The changes, particularly in the South, have been more rapid than at any time during a similar span in world history. Relationships within the South and between the South and the North have taken on entirely new dimensions. Key current issues such as the environment and climate change, energy and food security, global poverty, the linkage between growth and equity, and migration are today more global than North-South in nature. 

Many countries in the South have built up significant financial and technical capacities. They have begun to transfer some of these resources, on concessional and non-concessional terms, spreading the benefits of globalization more widely and building a broader foundation for sustainable economic growth. 

All these efforts were reaffirmed and extended in 2015 with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the UN General Assembly. 

2017 Observance 

On this United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation the UN will commemorate the adoption in 1978 of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (BAPA), and highlight the importance of South-South and triangular collaboration towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Later this year, the theme of the 2017 Global South-South Development Expo will be “South-South Cooperation in the Era of Economic, Social and Environmental Transformation: Road to the 40th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA+40)”. 

To find out more about this special day please visit the official website here: 

https://www.unsouthsouth.org/south-south-cooperation-day-2017/  

 

UN Observance: International Literacy Day – September 8

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International Literacy Day, celebrated annually on 8 September, is an opportunity for Governments, civil society and stakeholders to highlight improvements in world literacy rates, and reflect on the world’s remaining literacy challenges. The issue of literacy is a key component of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This year, International Literacy Day will be celebrated across the world under the theme of ‘Literacy in a digital world’.

e714c9b9-6175-4f03-a17e-fee2f28d97ebAt record speed, digital technologies are fundamentally changing the way people live, work, learn and socialize everywhere. They are giving new possibilities to people to improve all areas of their lives including access to information; knowledge management; networking; social services; industrial production, and mode of work. However, those who lack access to digital technologies and the knowledge, skills and competencies required to navigate them, can end up marginalized in increasingly digitally driven societies. Literacy is one such essential skill.

Just as knowledge, skills and competencies evolve in the digital world, so does what it means to be literate. In order to close the literacy skills gap and reduce inequalities, this year’s International Literacy Day will highlight the challenges and opportunities in promoting literacy in the digital world, a world where, despite progress, at least 750 million adults and 264 million out-of-school children still lack basic literacy skills.

Paris event:

On 8 September 2017 a global event will be organized at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, with the overall aim to look at what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies, and to explore effective literacy policies and programmes that can leverage the opportunities that the digital world provides.

The 2017 UNESCO International Literacy Prizes awards ceremony will also take place to recognize and reward excellent literacy practices from around the world in connection with this year’s theme and as a key target in Sustainable Development Goal 4.

International Literacy Day is devoted to better understanding the type of literacy required in a digital world to build more inclusive, equitable and sustainable societies.

(Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO)