Diplomatic Briefing

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Commentary: Three-Quarters of Hungry Are Rural Poor

Climate change, associated with a four-fold increase in natural disasters in the last decade, and the growth of world population, which is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, pose new challenges for aid initiatives like those of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Three-quarters of the more than one billion hungry people in the world are poor farmers. The WFP report titled Climate Change and Hunger: Responding to the Challenge says that “By 2050, the number of people at risk of hunger as a result of climate change is expected to increase by 10 to 20 percent more than would be expected without climate change.” When global population reaches over nine billion in 2050 it will be even more difficult to meet nutritional needs, creating a new vicious circle of poverty to be solved. The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2009, a report by FAO and the WFP, says that of the 1.02 billion hungry people in the world today, 642 million are in the Asia-Pacific region, 265 million in sub-Saharan Africa, 53 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, 42 million in the Middle East and North Africa, and 15 million in industrialised countries.


Commentary: CLIMATE CHANGE: History Was Not Made

There is no Copenhagen climate treaty. History was not made here and no deal was sealed. After two years of intense negotiations by 193 countries, what is abundantly clear is the enormous divide between the rich and poor countries. Poor countries want deep cuts in emissions by the industrialised world, and the latter continue to resist significant cuts and legally binding targets. Despite the enormous pressures, high expectations and last minute efforts by 128 heads of state, all that emerged is a vague agreement of sorts called the “Copenhagen Accord”. “Sealing the deal” on a new climate treaty has been postponed for at least a year.


Commentary: Climate Change

The midpoint of a conference on climate change in which tremendous hope has been invested; unsurprising then that demonstrations of popular desire for decisive action against global warming took place around the world. Candlelight vigils were held in 139 countries Saturday, halfway through the Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In Copenhagen itself, in Halmtorvet near the site of a parallel conference organised by civil society, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) held the Flood for Climate Justice. Some 5,000 people, many clad in blue plastic ponchos, surged through the streets bearing signs calling for “Climate Justice Now” before merging with a march of 100,000 people. Protesters praised Tuvalu, the South Pacific island state for proposing the stiffer 1.5 degree target so many believe will be necessary to avoid ecological and social catastrophe.


Commentary: Trilateral Treaty of the South

Negotiations to form a trade alliance between countries of Africa, Asia and South America stepped up to a political level when ministers discussed the issue, giving the initiative a further boost. The idea of establishing a preferential trade agreement between India, the five countries of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) and the four full members of South America’s Mercosur trade bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) was first discussed formally at technical meetings in 2007. Now it is no longer an idea, but a reality.


Commentary: Global Challenges Require Innovative Partnerships

South-South trade has grown by an average 13.4 percent per year since 1995, reaching 2.4 trillion dollars, and equivalent to 20 percent of world trade in 2007. Forty percent of global trade now originates from emerging market and developing countries. During the same period, the share of African exports to elsewhere in the South increased by an average of seven percent per year. Combined annual African exports to India and China rose to about 40 billion dollars. Total outgoing flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) from developing nations hit a record 253 billion dollars in 2007, constituting about one-eighth of the world total. More than 40 percent of developing country FDI is invested in the 49 economically vulnerable least developed countries (LDCs).


Newsline: Ashton pledges “quiet diplomacy”

Baroness Catherine Ashton, the surprise choice as the European Union’s foreign policy chief, rejected accusations that she was unqualified for the job because of her lack of foreign policy experience and her once prominent role in a radical British anti-nuclear movement. In her first major public appearance since her nomination on November 19, Lady Ashton acknowledged that she had been “a little surprised” by her selection, but said her belief in “quiet diplomacy”, consensus-building and advocacy would serve her well in the future. Her nomination is subject to approval from the European parliament, which will not hold formal hearings until January.


Newsline: Trinidad warns SA on Fake visas

The High Commission for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago warned against fraudulent visas circulating in South Africa and other African countries. It called on travel agencies to register with the commission to protect their clients. The commission asked the public to liaise directly with it, or only with travel agencies registered with it, when applying for visas to enter the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.