Friday, February 18, 2011

Global Ocean Pollution and Food Security Vulnerability- the new threat or opportunities?

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity-

his summary is prepared by the External Affairs Department of the World Bank. All material is taken directly from published and copyright wire service stories and newspaper articles. The daily summary and other news can be found on the World Bank’s external website at For inquiries call (202) 473-7660 or send a written request to the News Bureau.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Today’s Headlines:
  • UN Sounds Alarm On Ocean Pollution
  • Nigeria Halts Transmission Of Guinea Worm
  • Last UN Troops In Sierra Leone Handover
  • Central Asia Particularly Vulnerable To Rising Food Prices
  • Op-Ed: A Monetary Regime For A Multipolar World
UN Sounds Alarm On Ocean Pollution. “Tons of throw-away plastic and massive runoff from chemical fertilizer are choking the world's oceans, the UN warned Thursday. Taken together, the two sources of pollution threaten biodiversity, harm water quality, poison fish stocks and undermine coastal tourism, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) said in its annual Year Book 2011 report….

            Only better waste management and a coordinated shift towards cleaner engines of economic growth can insure the future health of the planet's aquatic commons, it said. ‘The phosphorus fertilizer and marine plastic stories bring into sharp focus the urgent need ... to catalyze a global transition to a resource-efficient Green Economy,’ UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said….” [Agence France Presse/Factiva]

            Daily Nation writes that “…many governments are reluctant to cut down on use of plastics for fear of losing crucial revenue…..Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda have outlawed the manufacture and import of plastic bags which are damaging to the environment…. [But] of the five East African Community members, only Rwanda has successfully banned all plastic bags and replaced them with paper bags….” [Daily Nation (Kenya)]

            The Standard adds that “…UNEP says phosphorus demand has been rising steadily as the population increases in the developing world.The UNEP Year Book 2011 launched Thursday in Nairobi says an estimated 35 countries produce phosphate rocks. The top ten countries that have the largest reserves of phosphate rocks are Algeria, China, Israel, Jordan, Russia, South Africa, Syria and the US. New phosphate mines have been commissioned in Australia, Peru and Saudi Arabia and companies are looking farther afield, including on the seabed off the coast of Namibia, the book reports. At current consumption rates, the book shows, these stocks could last 300 to 400 years….” [The Standard (Kenya)]
Nigeria Halts Transmission Of Guinea Worm. “Nigeria has halted transmission of Guinea worm disease, bringing closer the moment when a disease is eradicated from the planet for just the second time in history, former US President Jimmy Carter said on Thursday. Just 1,800 cases of the painful disease remain and 94 percent of those are in South Sudan, which last month voted to secede from Sudan in the aftermath of a long civil war. Scattered cases have also been found in eastern Mali and western Ethiopia, while Ghana is likely to announce soon that that it has halted transmission entirely….” [Reuters/Factiva]

            AP reports that “…it's a dramatic drop from the 3.5 million cases in 20 nations that were reported when the Atlanta-based Carter Center's eradication program began in 1986.

            Guinea worm disease occurs when people drink water contaminated with worm larvae. Over a year, the worm can grow to the size of a 3-foot long spaghetti noodle. Then they very slowly emerge through the skin, often causing searing, debilitating pain for months. The disease, however, is usually not fatal. There is no vaccine or medicine for the parasite. Infection is prevented by filtering water and educating people how to avoid the disease….” [Associated Press/Factiva]

            The Canadian Press adds that “…in Nigeria, which once reported 650,000 cases of the disease, Guinea worm was once such a scourge locals even had a nickname for it: ‘The impoverisher.’ Now it and neighbouring Niger haven't had a case of the disease since late 2008, health officials said.
            Carter warned that regional instability can delay efforts to eradicate the disease. He said violence could hamper efforts by the more than 10,000 volunteers fighting the disease…. Carter said his efforts to stamp out diseases taught him to have confidence in local residents to lead the fight….” [The Canadian Press]
Last UN Troops In Sierra Leone Handover. “The last contingent of UN troops in Sierra Leone handed over to the national police force on Thursday, ending the peacekeepers' 12-year involvement with the West African state. The 150 Mongolian troops have been responsible for protecting the UN backed Special Court for Sierra Leone since it was set up in 2002….

            UNAMSIL, the UN peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone, numbered 17,368 at its height in 2002. In 2006, it was scaled down to a new administrative mission….” [Agence France Presse/Factiva]
            Reuters adds that “…nine years after the end of hostilities in Sierra Leone, and two decades since the beginning of the diamond-fuelled conflict, the country is considered a successful example of international intervention…. A joint undertaking between the UN and the government of Sierra Leone, the Special Court has operated at a substantially lower cost than other international justice mechanisms.
            However, a number of its key targets died before verdicts were reached. The handover of the court's security from UN troops to Sierra Leonean police comes as its final prosecution, the case against Charles Taylor, has reached its final stages….” [Reuters/Factiva]

Central Asia Particularly Vulnerable To Rising Food Prices. “Central Asian states may have great difficulty weathering the soaring prices of food on the world market, the head of the World Bank said…. World Bank President Robert Zoellick said that Central Asia could be hit particularly hard because food prices there are already high and people already spend a disproportionate amount of their income for basic sustenance….The falling amount of remittances to the region may also compound the problem, he added….” [Trend News Agency (Azerbaijan)]

            The Times of Central Asia adds that “…prices on many grain crops have grown significantly. The price of wheat price jumped 75 percent from June 2010 to January 2011 in the world markets due to bad weather conditions in exporter countries. Especially notable wheat price growth became is such impoverished countries as Kyrgyzstan (54 percent), Bangladesh (45 percent) and Tajikistan (37 percent)….” [The Times of Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan)]

            In a separate article, The Times of Central Asia reports that “…UN experts predict that countries in Latin America and Africa, including Bolivia and Mozambique, are most at risk of food riots as prices advance…. UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Senior Economist and Grains Expert Abdolreza Abbassian said that… the low-income food deficit countries are on the front line of the current surge in world prices.  Other countries where expensive food imports may become a major burdeninclude Uganda, Mali, Niger and Somalia in Africa, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in Asia and Honduras, Guatemala, and Haiti in Latin America, he added….” [The Times of Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan)]
Op-Ed: A Monetary Regime For A Multipolar World. In an opinion piece published in the Financial Times, World Bank President Robert Zoellick wrote, “New agreements may be in short supply when finance ministers of the G20 leading economies meet this weekend in Paris. But their efforts to address the weaknesses of the international monetary system deserve close attention. The international economy is shifting to a new multipolarity….We need to modernise multilateralism to steer towards a new monetary system….

            A new framework can offer incentives to encourage old and new actors in the global economy…. The developed economies of the G7 have an interest in establishing an important norm: to maintain flexible exchange rates, without intervention, unless the group agrees special circumstances warrant action…. Now the G7 should issue a statement to reflect this agreement and set a standard for others.

            Most big emerging markets have been moving towards flexible exchange rates and autonomous monetary policies….But a number have struggled with ‘hot money’ flows. The G20 should support them by backing efforts of the IMF and World Bank to suggest ‘good practices’ that enable developing countries to manage these problems while remaining open to investment….The economies whose currencies constitute the reserve asset known as special drawing rights…should meet in an SDR forum with the IMF to review monetary and currency issues. This group should offer China the incentive to join the forum and eventually the SDR….Over time, other major internationalised currencies could be added to the SDR basket and forum….

            Within this new framework, the IMF should be a referee, able to blow the whistle on the appropriateness of external policies but not to impose penalties….Finally, the G20 should urge the IMF and WTO to consider the implications of the WTO's GATT Article 15, which in effect suggests that economies should not use exchange rate policies to take away the benefits of lower trade barriers. Its use would require a determination by the IMF….

            A framework to manage a monetary system in transition may be less headline-grabbing than sudden regime change, but it is a lot more realistic. Modernising the management of international monetary affairs could prove an important contribution to future growth. The time of powerful kings is long gone. But today's leaders still have the chance to stamp their mark on the monetary framework of tomorrow.” [Financial Times]
Also in This Edition, Briefly Noted Swaziland is slashing spending and struggling to pay civil servants as much-needed revenues from a regional customs pact plummet, fuelling unrest in Africa's last absolute monarchy. [Agence France Presse/Factiva]

            Polling stations have opened in Uganda where President Yoweri Museveni is hoping for re-election to extend his 25 years in office. Opposition leader Kizza Besigye is standing against him for the third time and has warned of protests if he is cheated of victory. [BBC News]

            Fewer than one in 10 of Kenya's urban dwellers can afford a mortgage, while rural incomes are too low for a mortgage market to develop, a central bank and World Bank study showed on Wednesday. [Reuters/Factiva]

            Over 20,000 people fled clashes last week between rebels and the army in south Sudan's troubled Jonglei state in which over 200 people died, Jonglei's State Education Minister Stephen Kuol said on Thursday. [Agence France Presse/Factiva]

            The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Swiss Re will issue a $100 million insurance policy in the Dominican Republic to protect the country against hurricanes and earthquakes, the IDB said on Thursday. [Reuters/Factiva]

            The Philippines' Aquino administration is looking for ways to mitigate the impact of rising prices of grains in the world market amid a World Bank warning that global grains prices have risen to dangerous levels that could adversely affect third world economies like the Philippines. [Philippine News Agency]
            Population in Myanmar's former city of Yangon has increased by three fold in nearly four decades hitting about 7 million, the local Eleven News quoted the port authority as reporting Friday. [Xinhua/Factiva]
            Egypt's prosecutor on Thursday ordered that Habib al-Adly, the former interior minister, Zuhair Garana, ex-tourism minister, and Ahmed al-Maghrabi, forming housing minister, Ahmed Ezz, a steel tycoon, be detained pending trial on suspicion of wasting public funds. [Financial Times]
            In a rare departure from his usual caution, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Thursday slammed moves to quell a wave of anti-government protests in Arab nations urging bold reforms, not repression. [Agence France Presse/Factiva]


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