Adagio Therapeutics Provides Update for ADG20 COVID-19 Antibody Program and Reports Third Quarter 2021 Financial Results

FDA Feedback Supports Planned Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Submission for ADG20 for Prevention of COVID–19; Interim Clinical Data Package from EVADE Prevention Trial to Support EUA Submission Expected in Second Quarter 2022

Enrollment Progressing in ADG20 STAMP Trial for Treatment of COVID–19; Planned Interim Efficacy Analysis Expected in Second Quarter 2022 to Support Potential EUA Submission

WALTHAM, Mass., Nov. 15, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Adagio Therapeutics, Inc., (Nasdaq: ADGI) a clinical–stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of antibody–based solutions for infectious diseases with pandemic potential, today provided an update on its lead COVID–19 antibody program, ADG20, and reported third quarter 2021 financial results. ADG20 is an investigational monoclonal antibody product candidate designed to provide broad and potent neutralizing activity against SARS–CoV–2, including variants of concern, for the prevention and treatment of COVID–19.

"ADG20 continues to be the only monoclonal antibody in late–stage development that has the potential to offer a unique combination of potency, breadth of neutralization across known SARS–CoV–2 variants of concern as well as additional SARS–like viruses with pandemic potential, and durable protection against COVID–19 for up to one year. Further, our single injection delivery avoids the inconveniences associated with IV administration or multiple injections," said Lynn Connolly, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer of Adagio. "The world continues to face a host of challenges in fully addressing the COVID–19 crisis. Alternatives or supplements to vaccines for the prevention of COVID–19 are needed for immunocompromised individuals and those who remain hesitant to receive a vaccine or to vaccinate their children. Certain patient populations may not be ideal candidates for emerging oral treatment options due to adherence concerns, comorbidities or possible drug interactions. Based on its combined attributes, ADG20 has the potential to be a differentiated alternative for the prevention and treatment of COVID–19 that may address the needs of these populations, and our commitment to its advancement is unwavering."

"We've made significant progress over the course of 2021, and 2022 is set to be a landmark year for Adagio as we prepare for potential EUA submissions for ADG20 for the prevention and treatment of COVID–19," said Tillman Gerngross, Ph.D., co–founder and chief executive officer of Adagio. "We recently received clear feedback from the FDA on a strategy to submit an EUA for ADG20 for the prevention of COVID–19, and have initiated efforts to expand our clinical program to additional patient subsets, including immunocompromised individuals and children. Our commercial–readiness efforts are well underway and with a strong balance sheet, we are ready to move quickly to enable access to individuals in need of COVID–19 prevention and treatment options, if authorization and/or approval is granted."

ADG20 COVID–19 Program Updates

Prevention
Adagio continues to enroll adult and adolescent participants in its ongoing, global Phase 3 EVADE clinical trial evaluating ADG20 as a prevention for COVID–19 in both the pre–exposure and recent exposure settings.

  • Adagio has received feedback from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a data package needed and a pathway for an EUA submission for the pre–exposure prevention of COVID–19
  • Adagio anticipates that the data package to support an EUA for ADG20 will be available in the second quarter of 2022 followed by expected submission to the FDA in the third quarter of 2022
  • Adagio plans to add a new cohort in EVADE to evaluate ADG20 as a preventative option in immunocompromised individuals, with enrollment expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022
  • Adagio also plans to initiate a trial evaluating ADG20 as a vaccine supplement
  • Following discussion with the FDA, Adagio has aligned on a plan to evaluate ADG20 as a preventative option in the pediatric population, with a trial in individuals between two and 11 years of age expected to be initiated by mid–year 2022

Treatment
Adagio continues to enroll patients in its ongoing, global Phase 2/3 STAMP clinical trial evaluating ADG20 as a treatment for COVID–19.

  • Adagio is planning to modify the trial design in order to expand the at–risk patient population eligible for enrollment in STAMP
  • Based on current enrollment, Adagio anticipates reaching the Phase 2 independent data monitoring committee evaluation in the first quarter of 2022 and the interim efficacy analysis in the second quarter of 2022 to potentially support a subsequent EUA submission

Recent ADG20 Data Presentations at ISIRV–WHO and IDWeek2021

  • New in vitro data demonstrated retained neutralizing activity of ADG20 against a diverse panel of circulating SARS–CoV–2 variants, including the newly emerged Lambda, Mu and Delta plus variants. Notably, findings showed that ADG20 demonstrated potent neutralizing activity against all SARS–CoV–2 variants of concern tested, including those with reduced susceptibility to mAb products currently available under EUA or in late–stage development.
  • Data from a six–month evaluation in Adagio's Phase 1 healthy volunteer trial of ADG20 confirmed the extended half–life of ADG20, which approached 100 days based on data from the 300 mg intramuscular dose that was given as a single injection. In addition, an exploratory analysis showed that 50% serum virus neutralization titers at six months after a 300 mg intramuscular dose of ADG20 were similar to observed peak titers with the mRNA–1273 vaccine and exceeded those achieved with the AZD1222 vaccine series. ADG20 was well–tolerated with no study drug–related adverse events (AEs), serious AEs, or injection–site or hypersensitivity reactions reported through a minimum of three months follow–up across all cohorts.
  • To support dose selection for Adagio's global Phase 2/3 STAMP and EVADE clinical trials, the company modified an existing quantitative systems pharmacology whole–body physiologically–based pharmacokinetic (QSP/PBPK) model to better characterize the PK of extended half–life mAbs in serum and key sites of viral replication in the respiratory tract. Adagio's model adequately a priori predicted the observed ADG20 serum PK in non–human primates (NHPs) and humans. The model was further optimized based on data from Adagio's Phase 1 clinical trial and then applied for dose selection for STAMP and EVADE, ultimately informing selection of the 300 mg intramuscular dose for the trials.

Intellectual Property

On October 29, 2021, the United States Patent and Trademark Office mailed a notice of allowance to the company for a patent application that will provide patent protection for ADG20 in the U.S.

Third Quarter 2021 Financial Results

  • As of September 30, 2021, Adagio had cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of $666.3 million, which are expected to support the company's current operating plans into 2023.
  • Research & development expenses including in–process research and development for the third quarter of 2021 were $49.4 million.
  • Selling, general & administrative expenses for the third quarter of 2021 were $11.1 million.
  • Net loss for the third quarter was $60.4 million, or $0.98 per share.

About ADG20
ADG20, an investigational monoclonal antibody targeting the spike protein of SARS–CoV–2 and related coronaviruses, is advancing through global clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of COVID–19, the disease caused by SARS–CoV–2. ADG20 was designed and engineered to possess high potency and broad neutralization activity against SARS–CoV–2 and additional clade 1 sarbecoviruses by targeting a highly conserved epitope in the receptor binding domain. ADG20 was further engineered to provide an extended half–life for durable protection. ADG20 has demonstrated potent neutralizing activity against the original SARS–CoV–2 virus, all known SARS–CoV–2 variants of concern and additional SARS–like viruses in preclinical studies. ADG20 is administered in clinical trials by a single intramuscular injection. To date, ADG20 has been well–tolerated in a Phase 1 trial with no safety signals identified through a minimum of three months follow–up across all cohorts. ADG20 has not been approved for use in any country, and safety and efficacy have not yet been established.

About Adagio Therapeutics
Adagio (Nasdaq: ADGI) is a clinical–stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of antibody–based solutions for infectious diseases with pandemic potential, including COVID–19 and influenza. The company's portfolio of antibodies has been optimized using Adimab's industry–leading antibody engineering capabilities and is designed to provide patients and clinicians with the potential for a powerful combination of potency, breadth, durable protection (via half–life extension), manufacturability and affordability. Adagio's portfolio of SARS–CoV–2 antibodies includes multiple non–competing, broadly neutralizing antibodies with distinct binding epitopes, led by ADG20. Adagio has secured manufacturing capacity for the production of ADG20 with third–party contract manufacturers to support the completion of clinical trials and initial commercial launch, ensuring the potential for broad accessibility to people around the world. For more information, please visit www.adagiotx.com.

Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward–looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "anticipates," "believes," "expects," "intends," "projects," and "future" or similar expressions are intended to identify forward–looking statements. Forward–looking statements include statements concerning, among other things, the timing, progress and results of our preclinical studies and clinical trials of ADG20, including the timing of our planned EUA submissions, initiation, modification and completion of studies or trials and related preparatory work, the period during which the results of the trials will become available and our research and development programs; our ability to obtain and maintain regulatory approvals for, our product candidates; our ability to identify patients, including in specific populations, with the diseases treated by our product candidates and to enroll these patients in our clinical trials; our expectations regarding the scope of any approved indication for ADG20; and the benefits of our product candidates to patients; our manufacturing capabilities and strategy; and our ability to successfully commercialize our product candidates. We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations disclosed in our forward–looking statements and you should not place undue reliance on our forward–looking statements. These forward–looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from the results described in or implied by the forward–looking statements, including, without limitation, the impacts of the COVID–19 pandemic on our business, clinical trials and financial position, unexpected safety or efficacy data observed during preclinical studies or clinical trials, clinical trial site activation or enrollment rates that are lower than expected, changes in expected or existing competition, changes in the regulatory environment, and the uncertainties and timing of the regulatory approval process. Other factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward–looking statements in this press release are described under the heading "Risk Factors" in Adagio's Quarterly Report on Form 10–Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2021 and in Adagio's future reports to be filed with the SEC, including Adagio's Quarterly Report on Form 10–Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2021. Such risks may be amplified by the impacts of the COVID–19 pandemic. Forward–looking statements contained in this press release are made as of this date, and Adagio undertakes no duty to update such information except as required under applicable law.

Contacts:
Media Contact:
Dan Budwick, 1AB
Dan@1abmedia.com

Investor Contact:
Monique Allaire, THRUST Strategic Communications
monique@thrustsc.com


ADAGIO THERAPEUTICS, INC.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
(UNAUDITED)
(In thousands, except share and per share amounts)

September 30,
2021
December 31,
2020
Assets
Current assets:
Cash and cash equivalents $ 478,269 $ 114,988
Marketable securities 188,053 ""
Prepaid expenses and other current assets 13,833 2,394
Total current assets 680,155 117,382
Other non–current assets 6,115 ""
Total assets $ 686,270 $ 117,382
Liabilities, Convertible Preferred Stock and Stockholders' Equity (Deficit)
Current liabilities:
Accounts payable $ 17,564 $ 8,153
Accrued expenses 35,485 4,919
Total current liabilities 53,049 13,072
Early–exercise liability 8 11
Total liabilities 53,057 13,083
Commitments and contingencies
Convertible preferred stock (Series A, B and C) $0.0001 par value; no shares authorized, issued and outstanding at September 30, 2021; 12,647,934 shares authorized, issued and outstanding at December 31, 2020; aggregate liquidation preference of $0 and $169,900 at September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively "" 169,548
Stockholders' equity (deficit):
Preferred stock:
Undesignated preferred stock, $0.0001 par value; 10,000,000 shares authorized at September 30, 2021; no shares authorized at December 31, 2020; no shares issued and outstanding at September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020 "" ""
Common stock, $0.0001 par value; 1,000,000,000 shares authorized at September 30, 2021; 150,000,000 shares authorized at December 31, 2020; 111,251,660 shares issued and outstanding at September 30, 2021; 28,193,240 shares issued and 5,593,240 shares outstanding at December 31, 2020 5 1
Treasury stock, at cost; no shares and 22,600,000 shares at September 30, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively "" (85 )
Additional paid–in capital 842,272 154
Accumulated other comprehensive income 3 ""
Accumulated deficit (209,067 ) (65,319 )
Total stockholders' equity (deficit) 633,213 (65,249 )
Total liabilities, convertible preferred stock and stockholders' equity (deficit) $ 686,270 $ 117,382


ADAGIO THERAPEUTICS, INC.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS AND COMPREHENSIVE LOSS
(UNAUDITED)
(In thousands, except share and per share amounts)

Three Months
Ended
September 30,
Three Months
Ended
September 30,
Nine Months
Ended
September 30,
Period from
June 3, 2020
(Inception) to
September 30,
2021 2020 2021 2020
Operating expenses:
Research and development(1) $ 45,366 $ 7,251 $ 114,465 $ 7,299
Acquired in–process research and development(2) 4,000 39,915 7,500 39,915
Selling, general and administrative 11,052 842 21,853 892
Total operating expenses 60,418 48,008 143,818 48,106
Loss from operations (60,418 ) (48,008 ) (143,818 ) (48,106 )
Other income (expense):
Interest income 48 "" 80 ""
Other expense (5 ) "" (10 ) ""
Total other income (expense), net 43 "" 70 ""
Net loss (60,375 ) (48,008 ) (143,748 ) (48,106 )
Other comprehensive income (loss)
Unrealized gain on available–for–sale securities, net of tax 3 "" 3 ""
Comprehensive loss $ (60,372 ) $ (48,008 ) $ (143,745 ) $ (48,106 )
Net loss per share attributable to common stockholders, basic and diluted $ (0.98 ) $ (25.98 ) $ (7.06 ) $ (7.55 )
Weighted–average common shares outstanding, basic and diluted 61,297,086 1,847,826 20,346,771 6,375,000

(1) Includes related–party amounts of $1,826 and $2,261 for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2021, respectively, and $291 for both the three months ended September 30, 2020 and for the period from June 3, 2020 (inception) to September 30, 2020.
(2) Includes related–party amounts of $4,000 and $7,500 for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2021, respectively, and $39,915 for both the three months ended September 30, 2020 and for the period from June 3, 2020 (inception) to September 30, 2020.


Growing Digital Divide Threatens Recovery from Covid-19

Credit: EBRD

• EBRD Transition Report 2021-22 highlights growing gaps in the use of online services and digital skills since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic
• Investment returns on digital services are far higher in economies with greater digital skills
• A “brain drain” of digitally skilled workers is affecting some countries’ prospects

By Richard Porter
LONDON, Nov 15 2021 – A growing digital divide is emerging as a major threat to a robust recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The Bank’s Transition Report 2021-22 ‒ System Upgrade: Delivering the Digital Dividend reveals the increasing gap between economies that have stepped up their use of online and digital services and those that have fallen further behind.

The report focuses on the 38 economies in which the EBRD invests. The Bank found that, since the start of the pandemic, people who are wealthier, living in cities and more advanced economies are better able to order goods and services online, do their banking through the internet and work from home.

Elsewhere, large parts of the population remain excluded from these opportunities and are more at risk of losing their jobs as digital technology becomes more widely used. Furthermore, many economies in the EBRD regions are experiencing significant “brain drain”, as people with strong digital skills move abroad.

While highlighting the digital divide, the report also shows how much progress has been made on the provision and use of digital and online services since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

EBRD Chief Economist Beata Javorcik said: “In many countries, large parts of the economy, as well as schools and universities, went online in a matter of days when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The digitalisation process is destined to continue and will remain one of the key forces shaping our world. Yet there are large digital divides between the EBRD regions and the advanced economies, between the various economies in the EBRD regions and within individual economies. Addressing these divisions is vital to their success.”

Helping countries and clients with their transition to digital technology is one of three strategic priorities for the EBRD, along with tackling climate change and supporting economic inclusion.

The EBRD announced its new strategic approach on accelerating the digital transition setting out how it will use all the instruments at its disposal ‒ policy, investment and advisory activities ‒ to unleash the transformational power of digital technology in the economies where it invests.

A new index of digital transformation

The Transition Report 2021-22 introduces a new index of digital transformation as a way of assessing the divide between and within countries. In the economies where the EBRD operates, only Estonia scores in excess of the average of more developed economies. The index calculates a score based on 22 different measures of the availability and use of digital technologies.

Estonia’s index score of 92.2 is the highest in the EBRD regions. Turkmenistan’s is lowest, at 16.1, while Tajikistan’s is next, at 23.7. The quality of regulation and online access to government services is one of the main reasons for these low scores.

Among other EBRD investee economies, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco post low scores for digital skills, while Lithuania and Slovenia come in higher, alongside Estonia.

The key constraint on digital development is insufficient skills. There is evidence that more educated people in the EBRD regions have been improving their digital skills, catching up with the most developed nations. However, older people and those with lower levels of education and income are increasingly being left behind.

This is having an increasing impact as digital technologies are used more widely in all industries. Occupations that are more exposed to automation through the use of artificial intelligence have seen more job losses. Workers with fewer digital skills find it harder to adapt to new roles that become available.

The report also looks at the effect on economies and on financial services of investing in digital technologies.

On investment, it finds that the returns on digital-intensive capital are significantly higher in economies with stronger digital skills. A case study looking at high-speed broadband in Turkey shows that firms with better connectivity are more likely to export and introduce new products.

In Russia, smaller firms have increased staff numbers by about 19 per cent, on average, following the roll-out of 4G mobile technology.

Access to financial services for households and small businesses has been improved by the growth of digital finance. However, at the same time, banks have been reducing the number of physical branches.

And while some alternative finance platforms have emerged, they have been primarily focussed on debt rather than equity funding – unlike some more developed markets.

Beata Javorcik said: “The future is digital, and our task is to deliver the digital dividend as quickly and smoothly as possible. I firmly believe that with the right kind of digital transition, the economies of the EBRD regions will enjoy increased prosperity, better social outcomes and greater environmental sustainability.”

Lack of trust and low levels of digital skill constrain remote working

Richard Porter is Director of Communications at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

 


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Inequity in Funding: Africa’s Agripreneurs Pay a High Price for Start Up Finance

Groundnut farm in Torit, South Sudan. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS.

By External Source
Nov 15 2021 – Africa has pinned its hopes on agriculture for the creation of jobs and the resulting reduction of poverty. But its role is being stymied by the high cost of financing.

Limited investment, high interest rates and restricted support means African businesses are losing out to foreign competitors.

If we want to transform the continent’s food security and fortunes, then African Governments must help create an economic environment conducive to local investment by, for example, amortizing loan rates and driving billion dollar investments into the sector.

And all stakeholders—including government, donors, and the private sector— must work towards a more equitable and inclusive approach to build local investment for sustainable agricultural growth.

Agriculture in Africa is the sector that offers the greatest potential for poverty reduction and job creation, particularly among vulnerable rural populations and urban dwellers with limited job opportunities.

Dr. Mavis Owureku-Asare

To transform the continent’s food security and fortunes, African Governments should urge the mainstream banks to amortize loan rates and drive billion dollar investments into the sector. All stakeholders—including government, donors, and the private sector—must align and target their investments towards a more equitable and inclusive approach that will support the locals and lead to a sustainable growth in agriculture.

Agriculture today accounts for 23% of GDP in Sub Saharan Africa, and growth generated by agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be 11 times more effective in reducing poverty than GDP growth in other sectors—a vital multiplier given that 65% of the continent’s labor force is engaged in agriculture.

While an absolute increase in investment is essential, Africa has been the land of opportunity for foreign investors. African entrepreneurs are facing some of the world’s most challenging business conditions. The resources necessary to grow a business—such as finance, human and social capital, and infrastructure are less accessible in Africa. Finance, in particular, is costlier in Africa than in other parts of the world.

The most obvious of all the challenges, most African-led start-ups have difficulties in raising capital. Entrepreneurs and small business owners cannot easily access finance to expand business. They are usually faced with problems of collateral, high interest rates, extra bank charges, inability to evaluate financial proposals, limited financial knowledge, making it difficult for small businesses to access finance.

On the other hand, American venture capital and private equity is dominating Africa, but it’s mostly funding other foreign founders as native entrepreneurs struggle to raise financing. Some attribute the funding inequity to a mix of issues, including lack of experience with and understanding of the African market, general mistrust, and the tendency to fund companies based in the West that are operating in Africa.

For example, in Ghana, foreign businesses who borrow from their home countries assess 3-5% loans to do business in Ghana whereas the locals have to borrow at 23% to compete with these companies. Even with continental free trade these foreign businesses have about 20% advantage over local companies and startups who borrow from within. Even with efforts from the government to compel prevailing commercial banks to reduce loan rates, Ghanaian businesses and startups are still losing out with the implementation of continental free trade agreement.

Dr. Cedric Habiyaremye

Even though some agro-processing businesses registered with the Ghana Free Zone Authority and Ghana Investment Promotion Centre are exempt from income tax for ten years from paying duty on the importation of equipment, lowering interest rates will go a long way to solidify some of these interventions for startups who must borrow money to start a business.

Tax incentives alone cannot account for other challenges for the lack of infrastructure and problems faced in Ghana’s investment environment. The government should also address land acquisition challenges with local and traditional authorities who own most of the land in Ghana.

By having inequity in funding, Africa’s start-up environment is missing out on a lot of talent and losing out on building many great companies to transform the continent’s food systems.

To build the continent’s next start-up giants, a few things are needed; setting up SME help desks and developing relevant products for the emerging African entrepreneurs; government agencies should engage to provide credit support to help de-risk bank lending, reducing the need for collateral as well as the cost of borrowing; banks across the continent need to work with entrepreneurs to help them prepare viable business proposals in accordance with their lending rules.

Public-private partnerships are a strong pillar and a good support system for agribusiness start-ups to leverage. For example, a high-yielding economic opportunity in the agri-food systems sector needs numerous components: capacity development adapted to local entrepreneurs’ needs and labor markets opportunities; facilitation and mentorship in adequately accessing land, credit, and markets; and enhancing the opportunities for agripreneurs inclusion in policy and strategic debates.

To be sure, there are exciting steps in the right direction. Organizations like Food Systems for the Future are offering capital and wraparound services tailored to Agtech, Foodtech, and Innovative, scalable market businesses with a potential for increased profitability and nutrition impact in Sub Saharan Africa. In addition, Norrsken Foundation is building East Africa’s largest hub for entrepreneurship and innovation in Kigali, Rwanda, for education, innovation, and entrepreneurship—forming an ecosystem that enables entrepreneurs to build strong companies that solve local and global challenges. Google, The Tony Elumelu Foundation, and Seedstars World (to name a few) are also playing an active role in providing funding for these green entrepreneurs.

However, this challenge is still very far from being resolved on the entire continent.

There is a need to enable African entrepreneurs in the food systems to develop or enhance their business ideas and create a high-quality business plan to support the launch or growth of their agri-business.

Until then, agriculture will fail to live up to its potential for economic growth in Africa.

 

Dr. Mavis Owureku-Asare is a Food Scientist based in Ghana. She is The Head of Senior Research Scientist at the Biotechnology and Nuclear AaAgriculture Research Institute where She is leading research and providing solar drying technologies to reduce postharvest losses in the Tomato value chain. She is a Food Safety Consultant and a 2020 Aspen New voices fellow.

Dr. Cedric Habiyaremye is a Rwandan crop scientist, Research Associate at Washington State University, Research Lead at Food Systems for the Future Institute, and agricultural entrepreneur developing solutions for a zero-hunger and malnutrition-free world. He is a New Voices Senior Fellow at The Aspen Institute. www.CedricNotes.Com

 

Asian Staffers at UN Launch Network to Protect Rights & Fight Racism

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 15 2021 – The United Nations, which consists of 193 member states, has long been accused of discrimination against staffers who number over 315,000 and spread across 56 UN agencies and entities worldwide.

But most of these are deeply rooted system-wide. A wide-ranging staff survey, both in New York and Geneva last year, revealed that discrimination was based either on race, religion, gender or nationality.

Last year, the UN Secretariat in New York, faltered ingloriously, as it abruptly withdrew its own online survey on racism, in which it asked staffers to identify themselves either as “black, brown, white., mixed/multi-racial, and any other”.

But the most offensive of the categories listed in the UN survey was “yellow” – a widely condemned Western racist description of some Asians, including Japanese, Chinese and Koreans.

https://www.globalissues.org/news/2020/08/21/26749

The Asian Group at the UN, comprising over 50 member states, is one of the largest among regional groups in the world body, and UN staffers of Asian origin have now formed a UN Asia Network for Diversity and Inclusion (UN-ANDI).

Shihana Mohamed of Sri Lanka, a founding member, and one of the coordinators of UN-ANDI, told IPS: “Our mission is to work towards a culture in which inclusivity is integrated into all aspects of work and life in the Organization and diversity is the foundation of talent and productivity.”

“We believe that we all have the power to stop discrimination, eliminate oppression and bring an end to ignorance and indifference. We stand against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes and actions around the world and within the Organization,” said Mohamed, who is currently Human Resources Policies Officer at the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC).

“We strongly support all initiatives for promoting inclusion, justice, dignity, and combating racism and discrimination in all forms, inside and outside the United Nations.”

“We believe that our perspectives will enrich the discussions on any organizational culture-related issues and facilitate the journey towards the paradigm that is engrained in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, said Mohamed, who has more than 20 years of experience in the UN system, having previously worked at UNESCAP, UNDESA, UNOHRM and UNDPKO.

The other co-ordinators of UN-ANDI include Abul Hasnat Monjurul Kabir of Bangladesh (UN System Coordination Advisor/Team Leader, Gender Equality and Disability Inclusion in UN Women), Cirila Villaflores of the Philippines (Human Resources Associate, UNDP) and Xuejun Wen of China (Reviser, Chinese Translation Service, DGACM, UN Secretariat).

A zoom meeting of Asians last month. Credit: UN-ANDI

In a concept paper released recently, the Network says it welcomes Asian staff and affiliated personnel within the UN system — including diplomats, interns, consultants and former staff, who are either Asians or of Asian descent.

Meanwhile, a 2014 General Assembly Resolution, proclaiming the “International Decade for People of African Descent”, called upon Member States and international organizations to take action “to promote equality and inclusion of persons of African descent and to directly engage with persons of African descent for the purposes of doing so”.

The call for action resulted in the inauguration by staff members of the United Nations People of African Descent (UNPAD). One of its primary goals was “to establish a platform for the coordination of the engagement between the UN Administration and UN personnel of African descent, promoting equal inclusion, and facilitating access for persons of African descent in the UN system while increasing the visibility to the issues facing them.”

Currently, there are also other interest groups such as UN Globe for LGBTQ community and UN Feminist Network for women and gender parity in the UN system.

http://www.ipsnews.net/2020/08/racism-un-practice-preach/

Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, a former Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations (1996-2001), told IPS raising awareness is important, but raising one’s voice is more important. He described a recent zoom meeting as a landmark event with Asian staffers meeting publicly for the first time as a group.

“You have to raise your voice, you have to speak up loudly as an Asian, as a member of this network, and in a focused way to speak up whenever there is an opportunity or create an opportunity to speak up,” he said, while addressing the Group last month.

“That is what we need— attention, global attention– that is what I believe is important for us to remember”.

The African group’s power comes from their solidarity as a group — wherever they are, as civil society, as staff, as member states, and they are very solidly together, and they are supportive of each other, said Chowdhury, a former UN Under-Secretary=General and High Representative of the UN (2002-2007).

He pointed out that the African network also includes ambassadors and other diplomats. “That is a very wonderful example for us, the Asians, to follow because staff members can do only so much.”

“But member States’ understanding and support to their objective, their demands, their needs, their frustrations are essential. So, Asian network should make an effort to reach out to the ambassadors or diplomats and start telling them about this network, tell them that we need your support, we need you to back us up when the moment comes in the 5th Committee most of the time or in some occasions in their “umbrella” statements in the General Assembly,” he advised.

But “we need to say that this should apply to the Asian staff members also. That way we will be able to raise our voice and make ourselves heard very well and that that is very important.”

“As you approached me, you should approach also the former staff members from Asia who are available in New York. It is better to consult them and to get to learn from their experience, from their energy, from their ideas”, he declared.

According to the 2021 annual report of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC A/76/30), the largest number of unrepresented (17) and underrepresented (8) countries in the UN system were in the Asia and the Pacific region (para. 148).

In 10 or more organizations with no formal guidelines for geographical distribution, staff were not represented from 64 countries and among them, 25 countries were from the Asia. Twelve countries did not have staff in 15 of the organizations, with seven of these countries from Asia and the Pacific (para. 155).

At the recent zoom meeting, Akiko Yuge of Japan, a former Assistant Administrator of the UNDP, said: “As the world advances towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, countries, communities, and people in the Asia and the Pacific region have shown remarkable progress, success, and resilience.”

Their local knowledge and wisdom, resourcefulness, and innovation have certainly promoted the SDGs in many ways.

“The great diversity and wealth of backgrounds, cultures, and abilities in our region make us stronger and creative. This is indeed the power and strength of Asia and the Pacific nations and people”.

“As we build back better, let us maximize this power of diversity while ensuring inclusion of every person in our society and economy”, said Yuge who has served in UNDP offices in Thailand, Indonesia, and Bhutan, and also travelled to many countries in the Asia and the Pacific region.

Xuejun Wen, Coordinator of UN-ANDI/Reviser, Chinese Translation Service, DGACM, UN Secretariat, New York, said inequality and racism have long been problems in human history and the pandemic has seen them become more acute and apparent. That has led to the founding of UN-ANDI.

“It is a very very young network, but we have started to see a great deal of interest in it, because many of us as Asians have experienced or seen the impact and harm that unfair practices have brought on us. The problems will not be solved overnight, but we believe that a thousand-mile journey is composed of a great many single steps. Every tiny effort will count”.

Cirila Villaflores, Coordinator of UN-ANDI/ Human Resources Associate, UNDP, New York, said UN-UN-ANDI believes in the sharing of human experiences which reveal the dynamism and complexity of human nature.

“Any social or cultural discrimination in our basic personal rights on the grounds as indicated in the UN charter is incompatible with our calling to love what is true and good. UN-ANDI serves as a platform to freely exchange such ideas in order to grow and learn to cherish what is right”

Yuan Lin, UN-ANDI member/ Information Systems Officer, MONUSCO, Goma Office, Democratic Republic of Congo said “UN-ANDI provides an excellent platform to bring voices to the UN staff of Asian heritage. It allows many of the talented and hard-working UN colleagues from Asian member states and background to address organizational matters that are relevant to them.”

Purna Sen, Visiting Professor at London Metropolitan University and the former Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson on Addressing Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Discrimination, said beyond cultural and regional representation, the UN-ANDI has a key role to play to become a trusted route through which issues that are troubling the UN are addressed increasingly, responsively.

Acknowledging that neither racism nor sexual harassment should exist inside the UN, the Secretary-General has acknowledged that they both do. UN-ANDI can aspire to offer support, advice and succor to those so harmed and advise the SG on how to address these issues in ways that build upon the experiences of survivors, said Sen.

 


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What Governments Should Learn from The Climate Activists

Georgina Wabano and her mother cooking traditional food for school children in Peawanuck, ON, December 18, 2019. : © 2019 Daron Donahue

By Shantha Rau Barriga
Nov 15 2021 – “Nothing about us without us” – that was the call from the indigenous rights advocate Ghazali Ohorella from the Alifuru people in the Maluku Islands, Indonesia during a panel at the climate summit in Glasgow.

This plea was echoed by many activists from groups marginalized by systemic oppression whom I met at COP26: young activists, women, people with disabilities, older people, refugees, people from the Global South – all of whom are the most affected but have contributed the least to the climate crisis.

These experts spoke firsthand of the impacts of the climate crisis on their communities, the ongoing struggle to have their voices heard, and the concrete actions needed to solve this existential crisis which affects us all.

Worldwide, women farmers make up nearly half of the agricultural labor force, and produce up to 80 percent of food crops in developing nations yet, in many countries, women have less access to resources, such as land rights, credit, markets, education and technology

Instead of shutting out these voices, governments should listen and learn from them.

The slogan I heard from Ohorella has long been used by disability rights advocates and the session reminded me of the negotiations toward the UN treaty on the rights of people with disabilities, which was adopted in 2006.

During that process, I saw firsthand the benefits of inclusion. Governments came to respect and recognize the expertise of people with lived disability experience, which led to major advancements on their rights. It also resulted in changed mindsets, where people with disabilities were no longer seen as objects of charity, but holders of rights.

Fifteen years later, climate activists at COP spoke about the disconnect between the knowledge held by those with lived experience and the governments seated at the table making decisions on their behalf. Activists like Gabriele Peters from British Columbia and Ayakha Melithafa from South Africa urged world leaders to work with them and learn from them.

We should listen to and incorporate this know-how to build the kind of systems change we need to respond to the climate crisis, with equity. For example, involving women in local forest management has had positive effects for both livelihoods and conservation. This is already happening in Indonesia and Brazil.

Worldwide, women farmers make up nearly half of the agricultural labor force, and produce up to 80 percent of food crops in developing nations yet, in many countries, women have less access to resources, such as land rights, credit, markets, education and technology.

By leveling the playing field through legal reforms, targeted investments, and increased women’s meaningful participation, according to Project Drawdown, a resource for climate solutions, farm yields will rise and there is less pressure to deforest. Ensuring that women are included in the design and implementation of climate planning would heighten chances of success.

Overall, lands securely held and managed by Indigenous peoples also have lower rates of deforestation than comparable areas, evidencing their successful forest management practices. Advancing the rights of marginalized groups – an urgency in and of itself – has major climate benefits for the planet.

Not every impact of climate change can be solved with new technologies. Front line communities with deep knowledge of their lands are also carrying out successful adaptation strategies. In Australia, first responders are learning from aboriginal people, who lower the risk of bushfires by reducing fuel levels on the forest floor. In Mexico, farmers hit by increasingly long droughts and diminishing crop yields are developing groundbreaking solutions to restore degraded land to productivity.

In Canada, some First Nations maintain strong traditional food sharing networks that have helped address climate-driven loss of food through sharing harvests with at-risk members of the community, while others have built up community science programs that monitor climate change impacts on their environment.

Frontline communities are also developing healing practices to process grief caused by the permanent loss or alteration of ecological features that once sustained livelihoods and cultural practices. Artists are also leading the movement from artistic expression to policy change. As the climate crisis increasingly takes a toll on mental health, particularly among youth, we should support the arts, culture, and healing advanced by climate and environmental justice and Indigenous rights movements.

Meaningful participation in decision-making processes that affect citizens’ lives is not only a demand, it’s a right. While the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement recognize the importance of participation, including “a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach” for adaptation, states (and COP organizers) aren’t meeting these requirements. For Indigenous people, their free, prior, and informed consent is required for implementation to be successful.

As Ridhima Pandey, a youth climate activist from India, told us this week: “If we really want to treat the climate crisis as a crisis, it’s really important for the governments, organizations and activists to all come together, to start taking concrete action.”

Wise words from a 14-year old. Will governments listen?

Excerpt:

Shantha Rau Barriga is the disability rights director and the lead on Strategy Development at Human Rights Watch