Is UAE Leading the Way for Concentrated Solar Power in GCC?

By Sania Aziz Rahman
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, May 9 2019 – In April 2019, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published a report on a “roadmap to 2050” in terms of renewable energy.

The report highlighted the possibility that by 2050, about 86 percent of the world’s power demands could be met by renewable power. It also highlighted that 50 percent of global electricity production could be provided via renewable energy sources.

What could this mean for the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)?

First of all, there seems to be a massive shift in the region’s policies towards economics, and subsequently, technology. The UAE for one has initiated the Vision 2021 programme, which includes sustainability as one of the country’s major goals – and seems to be taking it quite seriously.

The country has set a target of achieving 30 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy by 2030. That might not be as ambitious as Denmark – a country that has slightly lesser GDP than the UAE, but has still set a goal to achieve 50 percent of its energy from wind power.

Still, the UAE is leading in the region, especially when it comes to concentrated solar power (CSP) technology. The UAE was, until recently, the only country to have that technology in the GCC.

CSP refers to a type of solar technology that uses giant mirrors to direct sunlight on to a receiver, which converts it into heat. There are several types of such mirrors, they can parabolic troughs or rounded dishes, or power towers.

Concentrated solar power can be a lot more effective than solar photovoltaic (PV) technology. This is because PV uses solar panels that
can only work when there is sunlight, meaning electricity can only be generated as long as sunlight falls on the panels.

CSP on the other hand, stores the sunlight as heat, which can be used at a later time, and even when there is no sunlight. In effect, CSP works like any other thermal power plant.

The only difference is that the heating material for all other thermal power plants is fossil fuels like oil and natural gas. In nuclear power plants, the heating agent is usually uranium.

Susan Kraemer, news editor for, an international network for CSP research, told IPS that, “(CSP) has a built-in advantage over PV, which is that as a thermal power source, it can store its solar energy cost effectively in large tanks of molten salts and therefor is a form of solar able to deliver its solar energy round the clock, not just while the sun shines.”

A solar farm made up of PV panels would have to add a battery, to provide dispatchable energy like CSP.” The batteries, Kraemer said, have a limited cycle life, and would have to be changed regularly, whereas CSP as thermal storage can be recycled indefinitely.

However, CSP does come with one disadvantage. It is more expensive than PV technology.

“The added complexity makes CSP more expensive to build than PV. However, some value in combining the two, to get both advantages: CSP is cheapest night time solar and PV for cheapest daytime solar.”

The UAE was the first from the GCC countries to get CSP technology, and is currently the only country in the GCC to have actual electricity generation through this. The UAE has had CSP since 2013 – with an installed capacity of 100 MW and electricity generation of 261 GWh.

The UAE seems to be pioneering the development of CSP within the GCC countries, with one of biggest investments being the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai. It boasts to be the world’s largest single site solar park – and aims to achieve 1000 MW capacity by 2020 and 5000 MW by 2030.

The owner of this park is Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA). It will, DEWA claims, have both PV and CSP technology, along with a research centre, and a solar powered water desalination plant.

It is difficult to gauge exactly how many homes this can power because solar megawatts depend on the amount of sunlight it receives, and the angle at which the receiver is set.

However, some statistics can help. For example, Masdar states that its 10 MW and 1MW solar power plant and rooftop panels can power 500 homes for a year. How does this compare to other countries in the world?

Worldwide, there are only 19 countries to have installed capacity for concentrated solar power. Below is a comparison of the countries.

Saudi Arabia only recently acquired this technology in 2018 – although it has not produced any power. Its installed capacity stands at 50 MW.

Meanwhile, the other GCC countries are either in process of developing CSP or considering CSP options. Kuwait completed its first CSP power plant in May 2018, while Oman will have its first CSP run electricity grid by 2023.

Helsinn and Mundipharma China Pharmaceutical together announce the launch of ALOXI® IV in China and a Co-Detailing collaboration in Shanghai

Helsinn and Mundipharma China Pharmaceutical together announce the launch of ALOXI IV in China and a Co–Detailing collaboration in Shanghai

Lugano, Switzerland, and Beijing, China, May 9, 2019: Helsinn Group, a Swiss pharmaceutical group focused on building quality cancer care products, and Mundipharma China Pharmaceutical, the Chinese market leader of pain management, today announce the availability of ALOXI IV in China.

This is Helsinn's first cancer supportive care product to be launched in the Chinese market, and for which Mundipharma China Pharmaceutical has exclusive marketing, promotion and sales rights. This product was approved by the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) in November 2018.

The launch of ALOXI IV in China, has also seen the initiation of a long co–detailing collaboration with Helsinn Pharmaceuticals (Beijing) Co., Ltd. in the municipality of Shanghai for ALOXI IV and other future cancer care products in the Chinese market.
Andrea Meoli, Helsinn Group Chief Commercial Officer, commented: "ALOXI IV is the first cancer supportive care product that we make available to Chinese patients. Since its launch in the other countries, ALOXI has been effectively used for the prevention of CINV, helping to define the standard of care for the condition, and we are delighted that it is now becoming available to patients in China. We are pleased to be collaborating with Mundipharma China Pharmaceutical, a strategic partner, in introducing this product in China and co–detailing it in Shanghai and thereby helping patients in China to benefit from this treatment option."

"The Launch of ALOXI IV identifies expansion of strategic cooperation between Helsinn and Mundipharma China Pharmaceutical." Said Peter Wang, General Manager, Mundipharma Pharmaceutical Greater China, "I believe there will be more CINV products with cutting–edge technologies to be brought into China market through the joint efforts of both sides, which will benefit more Chinese cancer patients."


About ALOXI (palonosetron HCI)

For China:

ALOXI injection 0.25 mg/5 ml was approved on November 8th, 2018 in China and is indicated in adults for the prevention of acute nausea and vomiting associated with highly emetogenic cancer chemotherapy, and prevention of acute and delayed nausea and vomiting associated with moderately emetogenic cancer chemotherapy. It is also indicated in pediatric patients aged 1 month to less than 17 years for the prevention of acute nausea and vomiting associated with emetogenic cancer chemotherapy, including highly emetogenic cancer chemotherapy.

About the Helsinn Group

Helsinn is a privately owned pharmaceutical group with an extensive portfolio of marketed cancer care products and a robust drug development pipeline. Since 1976, Helsinn has been improving the everyday lives of patients, guided by core family values of respect, integrity and quality. The Group works across pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and nutritional supplements and has expertise in research, development, manufacture and the commercialization of therapeutic and supportive care products for cancer, pain and inflammation and gastroenterology. In 2016, Helsinn created the Helsinn Investment Fund to support early–stage investment opportunities in areas of unmet patient need. The company is headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland, with operating subsidiaries in Switzerland, Ireland, the U.S., Monaco, and China, as well as a product presence in approximately 190 countries globally.

To learn more about Helsinn Group please visit

About Mundipharma China Pharmaceutical

Mundipharma China Pharmaceutical was established in the year of 1993 and has been dedicated to the organic growth of the pain segment in China for decades. "Bring More to Life" is our aspiration; caring for lives and serving the society is our social responsibilities. Innovation, patient–centric, and entrepreneurship are in our DNAs.

In the future, Mundipharma China will continue to explore in pain management field and expand its business into new fields, including CINV, transplantation immunology, oncology, respiratory, consumer health and etc. We'll make unremitting efforts to providing innovative products and fulfilling our social responsibilities, ultimately to realize our vision of "Bring More to Life".

For more information, please refer to:

For more information:

Helsinn Group Media Contact:

Paola Bonvicini

Group Head of Communication

Lugano, Switzerland

Tel: +41 (0) 91 985 21 21

Email: Info–

For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Vimeo.

Mundipharma China Pharmaceutical Contact:

Kylie Gao,

PR Director

Beijing, China

Tel: +86(10) 6563 6785


We have Stolen His Land. Now We Must Steal His Limb

Tito Zungu, Airplane (South Africa, 1970).

By Vijay Prashad
May 9 2019 (IPS-Partners)

(Tricontinental) – When the late South African artist Tito Zungu wanted to depict the world of the migrant labourer, he settled on the envelope. It was by infrequent letters that the migrant would be able to be in touch with family – letters dictated to professional letter writers at one end, which would be read out by professional letter readers at the other. With pencil and coloured pens, Zungu drew airplanes and boats as well as transistor radios on these envelopes – images that showed how the migrants moved and how they sought some entertainment.

Around the time that Zungu drew on envelopes, the great South African musician Hugh Masekela turned his attention to the migrant miners. His song, written in 1971, Stimela: The Coal Train captured the great damage done to the people of Africa by migration and mining (Stimela is the Nguni word for train).

There is a train, Masekela sings, that comes from Namibia and Malawai, from Zambia and Mozambique. It is full of conscripted labour, people who come to work in Johannesburg’s gold mines. ‘For almost no pay’, these miners go ‘deep down in the belly of the earth’. The ‘evasive stone’ does little for the miners, their pay low, their food terrible, their homes ‘flea-ridden’. And then these miners dream, but their dreams drift into the awfulness of reality,

They think about the loved ones they may never see again
Because they might have already been forcibly removed
From where they last left them.

The wealth goes elsewhere. It is no coincidence that the English named their new coin the ‘Guinea’ in 1663 – a reference to Africa’s western coast (which was in turn was named this way by the Portuguese and Spanish to honour the great commercial city Djenné – now in central Mali). English money is shaped by plunder from Africa. This was the situation in the 17th century and it remains the situation – in large measure – today.

Naeem Mohaiemen, ‘Do not fear/I will arrange a procession/soldiers will march past carrying flowers not guns/only for you/my love’ (after Shahid Kadri), 2017.

Silence is not the mood of the miners. They have fought against the theft of their labour from the days of colonialism into these neo-colonial times. Their protests have been fierce, and the reaction to them has been deadly. The attack on the miners at Marikana (South Africa) in 2012 is emblematic, but it is also quite ordinary.

Miners – like landless workers – are familiar with gunfire and teargas, from one end of Africa (Marikana, South Africa) to the other (Jerada, Morocco). But state violence and the violence of corporations does not stop the miners and the landless workers. In South Africa, an election was held on Wednesday, 9 May, where the miners and landless workers lined up to vote (resulted are expected on 11 May). Many of them are part of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and of the Abahlali baseMjondolo – the ramparts of the working-class in the country. Despite the expected victory of the African National Congress – whose hold over the electorate has not slipped in the post-apartheid period since 1994 – tens of thousands of landless workers put in their ballot for the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP), a new formation in the country. They emerged after the Marikana massacre, whose platinum mine was owned by Lonmin – a firm that had on its board of director Cyril Ramaphosa, the current leader of the African National Congress. Whether it is in South Africa or Zambia, Sudan or Ghana, the landless workers on the continent – against incredible odds – continue to struggle for more of the surplus, to battle for a future.

From Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research comes our Dossier no. 16, Resource Sovereignty: The Agenda for Africa’s Exit from the State of Plunder. This dossier takes up the themes of resource theft and resource sovereignty. To understand these themes, we turned to Gyekye Tanoh, head of the Political Economy Unit at the Third World Network (Africa), based in Accra (Ghana). Gyeke’s interview is rich and rewarding. He takes us through a journey of the plunder on the continent – from the theft of surplus value from the landless workers to the various forms of deeply corrupt theft of resources through illicit financial flows, by repatriation of profits, through mispricing and by deflation of the value of the raw materials removed from the continent. He offers a shocking piece of data from a recent Bank of Ghana report – of the $5.2 billion worth of gold exported by foreign-owned mining firms from Ghana, the government received only $68.6 million in royalty payments and only $18.7 million in corporate income taxes. That’s 1.7% of the value of the gold – the price of which inflates as soon as it leaves Ghana’s shores. Furthermore, the return to the communities that live above the gold is a mere 0.11%. Those who mine the gold get the least return from it.

Capitalism’s scandalous mining behaviour camouflages its plunder behind the discourse of ‘good governance’. The claim made is that it is not the foreign-owned mining firms (many of them Canadian, for which see our Briefing no. 1), but the corrupt elite in Africa that is responsible for the enduring poverty. No doubt corruption of any sort is a drag on the lives of the landless workers. This corruption, Gyeke explains, is symptomatic of the structure of the world economy. From many countries on the continent, debt servicing payments – often for odious debts – are larger than the sum of money pocketed by government officials and local elites.

We highly recommend this interview with Gyekye. It is filled with insights that bear serious reflection and further debate and discussion.

Residents from Lesetlheng village in South Africa’s North West Province celebrating outside the Constitutional Court after it set aside the High Court interdict evicting them from their farm land. Ihsaan Haffejee, 2018.

So much plunder, so much poverty. The weapons that the poor wield today are their ballot papers, their running shoes and their organisations. The ballot papers allow them – if they have the right – to exercise their vote. This right is being slowly eviscerated by money, fake news and voter suppression. The running shoes allow them to migrate to ever distant shores, but as the walls grow more dangerous around the West, these shoes are less and less useful. Finally, the landless workers have the weapon of organisation, to form political platforms that amplify their class interests. But these are weaker these days, fighting to shift the tide of history. It is the guns of money that are first turned on them. It is what killed Berta Cácares in Honduras in 2016. It is what threatens the lives of those who stay firm against plunder: people like Francia Márquez, a leader in the fight against illegal gold mining in Colombia (who survived an assassination attempt on 4 May). Francia Márquez won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2018 for her work against the extraction sector, the same award given to Berta Cáceres in 2015, the year before she was assassinated.

In 1899, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague pledged to end war, to create ‘a real and lasting peace’. Since 1899, there have been hundreds of attempts to use negotiation to end war, with the formation of the United Nations to provide an institutional space for negotiation rather than war. Wars come now with frightening regularity. US warships are on their way to the coast of Iran. The US threatens Venezuela with war. Trade wars are on between the US and China, an issue discussed by economist Prabhat Patnaik in our seventh dossier. The high-minded aspirations of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and of the UN remains, but it is cheapened by the need of powerful and rich countries to exercise their dominion by boycotts and bombardments.

The escalation of pressure on Iran – by sanctions and threats of war – should chill the heart of any sensitive person (my column documents these threats, and the impact of sanctions on Iran). War against Iran will inflame the region that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Hindu Kush Mountains. It is to be avoided. But wars are not irrational. They are used by powerful states to exercise dominion, to send a message to the landless workers that they must bend their heads and go into the mines without making too much noise.

Colonel Ewart Grogan, a British officer and settler-colonial leader in Kenya, said of the Kikuyu, ‘We have stolen his land. Now we must steal his limbs’. What Grogan meant was that having stolen the land of the Kikuyu peoples, they must now be converted into labourers. But the crucial word here is ‘stolen’. To steal requires force. It is by war that the world is made, and it is by war that the unequal power relations are maintained.

IBFD Africa Tax Symposium Comes to South Africa

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, May 09, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — IBFD is pleased to announce that its 5th Africa Tax Symposium will be held from 29–31 May at the Hotel Spier, in Stellenbosch, South Africa. An annual initiative of the autonomous think tank the IBFD Centre for Studies in African Taxation (CSAT), the Africa Tax Symposium offers a platform for ongoing discussion about international tax developments and issues as they relate to Africa.

The three–day symposium will provide a world–class original programme covering the most pertinent international tax issues of the day within the African context. Prominent speakers from Africa and around the world will explore recent developments in international taxation, such as the impact of the Multilateral Instrument on bilateral tax treaties within Africa, challenges of the digital economy in an African taxation context, transfer pricing and indirect tax challenges in Africa, global exchange of information and tax transparency in the post–BEPS era, and much more.

"We look forward to welcoming tax professionals from around the world to engage in a stimulating series of discussions on issues of the utmost importance to both international and African taxation", said Belema Obuoforibo, Director of the IBFD Knowledge Centre. "IBFD remains committed to building expertise in the region, and we are excited to share our experience and knowledge in the field of international taxation, with a unique, special focus on Africa."

To register and learn more about the topics, speakers and programme, please visit the IBFD website.

Our Sponsors:
Platinum Sponsor: Bureau van Dijk
Gold Sponsor: DLA Piper
Silver Sponsor: Africa Industry Tax Association

Supported by:
Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators
IFA 2022 Annual Conference
International Fiscal Association South Africa
UCT Tax Unit for Fiscal Research
West African Tax Administration Forum

Contact information: Sorrel Hidding, Head of Marketing: +31 (0)61–332 5049 or

About IBFD
IBFD is a leading international provider of cross–border tax expertise, with a long–standing history of supporting and contributing to tax research and academic activities. As an independent foundation, IBFD utilizes its global network of tax experts and its Knowledge Centre to serve Fortune 500 companies, governments, international consultancy firms and tax advisors. Headquartered in Amsterdam, IBFD has regional offices in Beijing, Washington and Kuala Lumpur. IBFD's Library and Information Centre is widely regarded as the world's leading research facility in the field of international and comparative taxation.

Renowned as the leading expertise portal in the field of cross–border taxation and legislation, IBFD's powerful Tax Research Platform allows tax practitioners around the world to access a wealth of reliable and valuable content, enabling faster and more effective work.

IBFD's complete coverage further includes courses, journals and books, and a Master's in International Tax Law (in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam). IBFD also offers government consultancy and individual client research services.

About CSAT
The Centre for Studies in African Taxation (CSAT) is an integral part of IBFD, an independent non–profit foundation. Consequently, CSAT is fully autonomous. CSAT's objectives are to study and provide well–researched opinions on taxation in Africa, encourage research by Africans for Africa and find practical solutions that work within an African context.

These objectives serve CSAT's goal to improve Africa's capacity to collect the tax revenue needed to fund development programmes, run essential services and achieve sustainable economic growth. This goal is in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2015, particularly Goal 17: "Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development".

As Fathers Die, Kashmir’s Children Become Breadwinners

A 2009 study found that almost 250,000 children worked in auto repair stores, brick klins, as domestic labourers, and as carpet weavers and sozni embroiderers in Jammu and Kashmir. Credit: Umer Asif/IPS 

By Umar Manzoor Shah
 SRINAGAR, India-administered Jammu and Kashmir, May 9 2019 – Mubeen Ahmad was nine years old when his mother sold him into service to a mechanic for the petty sum of few thousand Indian rupees. His mother had found it hard to support the family after his father, a labourer, was killed during one of the anti-India protests in Jammu and Kashmir in 2008.

So Ahmad learnt how to repair deflated tyres and erratic car engines instead of attending school. “I was made to work amid the freezing cold during winters and there was no one to whom I could have narrated my ordeal,” the 20-year-old, who now owns a shop in Srinagar, the state’s capital, tells IPS.

Rights activist Aijaz Mir tells IPS that children like Ahmad can be found on almost every street in Kashmir as a majority of homes here have lost their sole bread winners because of the ongoing conflict in the region.

Jammu and Kashmir, a northern Indian state known for its picturesque tourist resorts and majestic mountains, has long been embroiled in a violent secessionist movement.
The seven-decade dispute over Kashmir has become a humanitarian nightmare. It is the cause of wars and conflicts between nuclear rivals Pakistan and India, and remains the reason for an ongoing armed rebellion against New Delhi’s rule.

The Kashmir dispute is the oldest unresolved disagreement on the United Nation’s agenda.
Over the last 30 years, an estimated 100,000 people—including civilians, militants, and army personnel— have died in the region as the armed struggle for freedom from Indian rule continues.

“Nobody talks about this dark and dreadful side of the conflict which is consuming our children in hordes. We have found that the families of the victims too don’t want to send them to school because there is no one who could earn at their dwellings,” Mir tells IPS.

In 2018 alone there were 614 incidents of violence in the state, resulting in the deaths of 257 militants, 91 security forces and 38 civilians.

Both India and Pakistan have gone to war over the territory twice, in 1947 and 1965, and fought a smaller-scale conflict in 1999 and again in February when a Kashmiri militant rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a convoy of Indian paramilitary forces, killing at least 40 soldiers in the worst attack in the region in three decades.

As recently as Monday, May 6, violence disrupted the ongoing elections as militants hurled grenades at polling stations in the southern part of the state.

Violence and death are a part of life here, but children are the silent sufferers in this bloody conflict.

On the outskirts of Srinagar, 13-year-old Shaista Akhtar is busy weaving designs on a traditional rug. It is 9 am and she will not be stopping her work to leave for school anytime soon.

Five years ago, Akhtar was was studying in grade 3 when her father—a carpenter by profession—was caught up in an attack by Islamist militants. It was the day her life changed.

The grenade that was meant for the army continent had missed its target, landing instead on the road Akhtar’s father was travelling on. He, and two others, died on the scene.

The death of her father is faintly imprinted in her mind and all she remembers of the time are the wails of her mother and two elder sisters.
After his death, her two elder sisters decided to quit their studies and began to work like their mother in order to support the family.

Akhtar was sent to a local weaver who taught her how create the tapestries unique to Kashmir’s colourful, traditional rugs and shawls. Two years later, by the time Akhtar was 10, she had learnt her trade.

“I earn almost INR 3500 [50 dollars] every month. The only satisfaction I derive out of my work is that I help my family to sustain. Otherwise, I yearn to go to the school, study sciences and mathematics along with other kids there,” she tells IPS.

But Akhtar’s story is not unique.
According to government figures, there are over 175,000 children actively involved in child labour in the state, which has a population of 12 million.

Mir says the actual number of child working could be much higher as government figures only reveal the reported cases and a majority of the child labour cases go unreported due to the fear of punishment.

An independent report titled “Socio Economic and Ethical dimensions of Child Labour in Kashmir” conducted in 2005 by Professor Fayaz Ahmad claimed that at the time there were more than 250,000 children in the state working in auto repair shops, brick klins, as domestic labourers, and as carpet weavers and sozni embroiderers.

One of the prime reasons for child labour was poverty, the report stated.

A 2009 study conducted by the Department of Sociology, University of Kashmir, reveals that about 66 percent of child labourers have only studied until the eighth grade. It further states that 9.2 percent of child labourers are between five and 10 years old, while 90 percent of them are between 11 and 14 years old.

The study also points out that once children start earning money, 80 percent of them stop attending school.

Inam-ul- Haq, 13, is one of those children who had to stop attending school to earn an income. He works as a helper at a roadside eatery in southern Kashmir, earning no more than 1500 INR (21 dollars) a month.

He began working to support his younger brother and bed-ridden, diabetic mother after his father died in the 2016 street protests. More than 90 civilians were killed during the six-month, anti-India protests.

“My mother is diabetic and younger brother a five year old kid. Who could have earned for them if not me?” Haq tells IPS, adding that even if his earnings are meagre, he is content that his family doesn’t starve or go to bed hungry.

In Kashmir, the 1986 Child Labour Act bans the employment of children below the age of 14. But according to Zahid Mushtaq, an editor at the local Srinagar newspaper, it is very rare that culprits are brought to book.

“The reason is simple. Family of the child and the child himself doesn’t testify in the court that he is working anywhere. In most of the cases, the victim is so poverty stricken that officials do not initiate action against the accused as it could cost the child his job,” Mushtaq says.

Mushatq also blames the lack of rehabilitation centres and failed government policies as being among the reasons for the spiralling number of cases of child labour here.  According to Mushatq, victims of violence are eligible for government’s financial assistance but the incredibly slow processing of these cases means that they gather dust as the victims suffer further.

For Akhtar, she knows that studying is the key to a good life. A life where she will be respected.

“I dream of becoming a teacher and teach kids English. As I am not studying at present, my life would remain as it is. There will be nothing good the world would offer to me.”

So instead she prays “that some help may descend from the heavens so that I wouldn’t have to earn and can go to school.”

—————————————–The Global Sustainability Network ( GSN ) is pursuing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 8 with a special emphasis on Goal 8.7 which ‘takes immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms’.

The origins of the GSN come from the endeavours of the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders signed on 2 December 2014. Religious leaders of various faiths, gathered to work together “to defend the dignity and freedom of the human being against the extreme forms of the globalization of indifference, such us exploitation, forced labour, prostitution, human trafficking” and so forth.

Aid Organisations Welcome New Development Chief

By Roger Hamilton-Martin
LONDON, May 9 2019 – International aid organisations have reacted positively to the appointment of new UK International Secretary of State for Development, Rory Stewart.

Stewart was appointed by UK Prime Minister Theresa May on 1 May in a cabinet reshuffle that saw him switched out from his position as the UK’s Minister for Prisons. As Secretary of State, Stewart will run the Department for International Development (DfID).

The DfID administers an annual budget of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI), or around £14bn, covering UK international aid for education, health, social services, water supply and sanitation, government and civil society initiatives, environmental protection and humanitarian assistance.

Christian Aid’s head of UK advocacy Tom Viita said that “any modern DfID Secretary needs to understand the issues of climate change, conflict and international diplomacy and thankfully Rory Stewart has an excellent grasp of these crucial subjects.

“The first item on his to-do list must be the global climate emergency that is affecting the world’s poor from Mozambique to Myanmar.”

In remarks on the day of his appointment, Stewart reflected this concern, stating that “of course there is… a “climate emergency.” Ice shelves are melting at ten times their predicted rate. 39 million acres of tropical forests were lost in 2017 alone, and we risk losing more than a third of the species on earth by 2050.”

Stewart said the government “must be radical on the environment because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s popular.”

Brazilian firefighters responding to storm-ravaged Mozambique

“I would argue that spending, not 7%, not 1%, but 0.7% of your GDP on that kind of issue really makes a difference, not just to the planet but to you and me,” he said.

Christine Allen, Director of Catholic aid agency CAFOD, said it was “an incredibly important time” for Stewart to be joining DFID, given the many global crises currently being faced by aid agencies.

“We’re looking forward to working with him to help tackle the fundamental causes of poverty, inequality and climate degradation,” she added.

Meanwhile an Oxfam spokesperson said Stewart “has a strong track record on foreign affairs,” and that the organisation is “hopeful that, as International Development Secretary, [he] will play a key role in maintaining Britain’s world-leading role in the fight to end poverty.”

Stewart brings significant experience in international affairs to the role, in particular the Middle East. The son of diplomat Brian Stewart, he was briefly commissioned as a second lieutenant in the British Army in 1991, before joining the Foreign Office. He served in the British Embassy in Indonesia from 1997-1999, and at 26 was appointed the British Representative to Montenegro.

Between 2000 and 2002, Stewart walked on foot across Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Nepal, a journey of 6000 miles. His walk across Afghanistan shortly after the US invasion is described in his book, The Places in Between.

He subsequently worked for the UK government’s administration of Iraq following the invasion in 2003. Stewart has written in criticism of the Iraq invasion and occupation, noting in 2013 that “I still find the scale of our failure astonishing.”

Stewart lived in Kabul from 2006-2008. There he founded the Turquoise Mountain, a non-profit investing in Afghanistan’s traditional crafts to preserve cultural heritage and create economic opportunities in the country.

He left Afghanistan to return to the UK and enter politics, and was elected the Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border in May 2010 – shortly after Brad Pitt’s film company bought the rights to tell the story of his life in a biopic.

Stewart takes over at DfID from Penny Mordaunt MP, who was given the role of Secretary of State for Defence. The cabinet reshuffle was triggered by the sacking of Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who was accused by the Prime Minister of leaking information to the press from a meeting of the National Security Council.

The leak, made to the Telegraph, concerned UK government plans to involve Chinese state company Huawei in the UK’s proposed 5G communications network.

Stewart previously served briefly as a Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and as a joint Minister of State for the Department for International Development.

Other UK aid agencies also welcomed Stewart’s appointment. Nigel Harris, CEO for Christian poverty charity Tearfund, told IPS that Stewart is taking on his role “at a pivotal moment – a time when it is vital to strengthen the UK’s relationship with the rest of the world.”

The Director of Islamic Relief UK, Tufail Hussain, said Stewart “is a strong supporter of UK aid.” The charity this week launched its Ramadan Appeal with DfID’s support, which will see £2m of the total funds raised for the appeal matched by the UK Government. The money will go towards helping people in Ethiopia to access water.

While Stewart has stated he is committed to the role, he has expressed even higher ambitions. Only days after his appointment, he said “yes” when asked if he would declare his candidacy to replace Prime Minister Theresa May if she leaves her role as Prime Minister, an eventuality that appears increasingly likely.