ROSEN, GLOBALLY RESPECTED INVESTOR COUNSEL, Encourages Silverback Therapeutics, Inc. Investors with Losses to Secure Counsel Before Important Deadline in Securities Class Action – SBTX

NEW YORK, Nov. 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — WHY: Rosen Law Firm, a global investor rights law firm, reminds purchasers of the securities of Silverback Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: SBTX): (1) pursuant and/or traceable to the registration statement and prospectus issued in connection with the Company's December 3, 2020 initial public offering ("IPO"); and/or (2) between December 3, 2020 and September 10, 2021, inclusive (the "Class Period"), of the important January 4, 2022 lead plaintiff deadline.

SO WHAT: If you purchased Silverback securities you may be entitled to compensation without payment of any out of pocket fees or costs through a contingency fee arrangement.

WHAT TO DO NEXT: To join the Silverback class action, go to http://www.rosenlegal.com/cases–register–2200.html or call Phillip Kim, Esq. toll–free at 866–767–3653 or email pkim@rosenlegal.com or cases@rosenlegal.com for information on the class action. A class action lawsuit has already been filed. If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff, you must move the Court no later than January 4, 2022. A lead plaintiff is a representative party acting on behalf of other class members in directing the litigation.

WHY ROSEN LAW: We encourage investors to select qualified counsel with a track record of success in leadership roles. Often, firms issuing notices do not have comparable experience, resources or any meaningful peer recognition. Many of these firms do not actually litigate securities class actions. Be wise in selecting counsel. The Rosen Law Firm represents investors throughout the globe, concentrating its practice in securities class actions and shareholder derivative litigation. Rosen Law Firm has achieved the largest ever securities class action settlement against a Chinese Company. Rosen Law Firm was Ranked No. 1 by ISS Securities Class Action Services for number of securities class action settlements in 2017. The firm has been ranked in the top 4 each year since 2013 and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for investors. In 2019 alone the firm secured over $438 million for investors. In 2020, founding partner Laurence Rosen was named by law360 as a Titan of Plaintiffs' Bar. Many of the firm's attorneys have been recognized by Lawdragon and Super Lawyers.

DETAILS OF THE CASE: According to the lawsuit, the IPO documents featured and defendants throughout the Class Period made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) Silverback's lead product candidate SBT6050 (a TLR8 agonist linker–payload conjugated to a HER2–directed monoclonal antibody that targets tumors, such as breast, gastric, and non–small cell lung cancers) was less effective than the Company had represented to investors; (2) accordingly, the Company had overstated SBT6050's commercial and/or clinical prospects; and (3) as a result, the IPO documents and defendants' public statements throughout the Class Period were materially false and/or misleading and failed to state information required to be stated therein. When the true details entered the market, the lawsuit claims that investors suffered damages.

To join the Silverback class action, go to http://www.rosenlegal.com/cases–register–2200.html or call Phillip Kim, Esq. toll–free at 866–767–3653 or email pkim@rosenlegal.com or cases@rosenlegal.com for information on the class action.

No Class Has Been Certified. Until a class is certified, you are not represented by counsel unless you retain one. You may select counsel of your choice. You may also remain an absent class member and do nothing at this point. An investor's ability to share in any potential future recovery is not dependent upon serving as lead plaintiff.

Follow us for updates on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the–rosen–law–firm, on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rosen_firm or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosenlawfirm/.

Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

———————————————–

Contact Information:

Laurence Rosen, Esq.
Phillip Kim, Esq.
The Rosen Law Firm, P.A.
275 Madison Avenue, 40th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 686–1060
Toll Free: (866) 767–3653
Fax: (212) 202–3827
lrosen@rosenlegal.com
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cases@rosenlegal.com
www.rosenlegal.com


Information on the total number of voting rights and shares

REGULATED INFORMATION

Information on the total number of voting rights and shares

Mont–Saint–Guibert (Belgium), November 26, 2021, 10:30 pm CET / 4:30 pm ET "" In accordance with article 15 of the Law of 2 May 2007 on the disclosure of large shareholdings, Nyxoah SA (Euronext Brussels and Nasdaq: NYXH) publishes the belowinformation following the exercise of subscription rights and the issue of new shares.

  • Share capital: EUR 4,427,369.69
  • Total number of securities carrying voting rights: 25,772,359 (all ordinary shares)
  • Total number of voting rights (= denominator): 25,772,359 (all relating to ordinary shares)
  • Number of rights to subscribe to securities carrying voting rights not yet issued:
    • 105 "2016 ESOP Warrants" issued on November 3, 2016, entitling their holders to subscribe to a total number of 52,500 securities carrying voting rights (all ordinary shares);
    • 100 "2018 ESOP Warrants" issued on December 12, 2018, entitling their holders to subscribe to a total number of 50,000 securities carrying voting rights (all ordinary shares);
    • 490,500 "2020 ESOP Warrants" issued on February 21, 2020, entitling their holders to subscribe to a total number of 490,500 securities carrying voting rights (all ordinary shares); and
    • 1,400,000 "2021 ESOP Warrants" issued on September 8, 2021, entitling their holders to subscribe to a total number of 1,400,000 securities carrying voting rights (all ordinary shares).

*

* *

For further information, please contact:

Nyxoah
Jeremy Feffer, VP IR and Corporate Communications
jeremy.feffer@nyxoah.com
+1 917 749 1494

Gilmartin Group
Vivian Cervantes
IR@nyxoah.com

Attachment


Growing Amazon Deforestation a Grave Threat to Global Climate

Brazil has a "green future," announced Environment Minister Joaquim Leite and Vice-President Hamilton Mourão, in a videoconference presentation from Brasilia at the Glasgow climate summit, in an attempt to shore up Brazil’s credibility, damaged by Amazon deforestation. The two officials concealed the fact that deforestation in the Amazon rose by 21.9 percent last year. CREDIT: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil-Fotos Públicas

Brazil has a “green future,” announced Environment Minister Joaquim Leite and Vice-President Hamilton Mourão, in a videoconference presentation from Brasilia at the Glasgow climate summit, in an attempt to shore up Brazil’s credibility, damaged by Amazon deforestation. The two officials concealed the fact that deforestation in the Amazon rose by 21.9 percent last year. CREDIT: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil-Fotos Públicas

By Mario Osava
RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 26 2021 – For three weeks, the Brazilian government concealed the fact that deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest increased by nearly 22 percent last year, accentuating a trend that threatens to derail efforts to curb global warming.

The report by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) based on the data for the year covering August 2020 to July 2021 is dated Oct. 27, but the government did not release it until Thursday, Nov. 18.

It thus prevented the disaster from further undermining the credibility of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s government, already damaged by almost three years of anti-environmental policies and actions, ahead of and during the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the climate change convention, held in Glasgow, Scotland from Oct. 31 to Nov. 13.Brazil had managed to reduce Amazon deforestation since the 2004 total of 27,772 square kilometers. A concerted effort by environmental agencies reduced the total to 4,571 square kilometers in 2012. This shows that it is possible, but it depends on political will and adequate management.

INPE’s Satellite Monitoring of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon Project (Prodes) recorded 13,235 square kilometers of deforestation, 21.97 percent more than in the previous period and almost three times the 2012 total of 4,571 square kilometers.

The so-called Legal Amazon, a region covering 5.01 million square kilometers in Brazil, has already lost about 17 percent of its forest cover. In a similar sized area the forests were degraded, i.e. some species were cut down and biodiversity and biomass were reduced, according to the non-governmental Amazon Institute of People and the Environment (IMAZON).

Carlos Nobre, one of the country’s leading climatologists and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says the world’s largest tropical forest is approaching irreversible degradation in a process of “savannization” (the gradual transition of tropical rainforest into savanna).

The point of no return is a 20 to 25 percent deforestation rate, estimates Nobre, a researcher at the Institute of Advanced Studies of the University of São Paulo and a member of the Brazilian and U.S. national academies of sciences.

Reaching that point would be a disaster for the planet. Amazon forests and soils store carbon equivalent to five years of global emissions, experts calculate. Forest collapse would release a large part of these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

A similar risk comes from the permafrost, a layer of frozen subsoil beneath the Arctic and Greenland ice, for example, which is beginning to thaw in the face of global warming.

This is another gigantic carbon store that, if released, would seriously undermine the attempt to limit the increase in the Earth’s temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius this century.

The Amazon rainforest, an immense biome spread over eight South American countries plus the territory of French Guiana, is therefore key in the search for solutions to the climate crisis.

Evolution of the deforested area in the Brazilian Amazon since 1988, with its ups and downs and an upward tendency in the last nine years. Policies to crack down on environmental crimes by strengthened public agencies were successful between 2004 and 2012. Graphic: INPE

Evolution of the deforested area in the Brazilian Amazon since 1988, with its ups and downs and an upward tendency in the last nine years. Policies to crack down on environmental crimes by strengthened public agencies were successful between 2004 and 2012. Graphic: INPE

Brazil, which accounts for 60 percent of the biome, plays a decisive role. And that is why it is the obvious target of the measure announced by the European Commission, which, with the expected approval of the European Parliament, aims to ban the import of agricultural products associated with deforestation or forest degradation.

The Commission, the executive body of the 27-nation European Union, does not distinguish between legal and illegal deforestation. It requires exporters to certify the exemption of their products by means of tracing suppliers.

Brazil is a leading agricultural exporter that is in the sights of environmentalists and leaders who, for commercial or environmental reasons, want to preserve the world’s remaining forests.

The 75 percent increase in Amazon deforestation in the nearly three years of the Bolsonaro administration exacerbates Brazil’s vulnerability to environmentally motivated trade restrictions.

This was the likely reason for a shift in the attitude of the governmental delegation in Glasgow during COP26.

Unexpectedly, Brazil adhered to the commitment to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030, a measure that affects cattle ranching, which accounts for 71.8 percent of the country’s emissions of this greenhouse gas.

As the world’s largest exporter of beef, which brought in 8.4 billion dollars for two million tons in 2020, Brazil had previously rejected proposals targeting methane, a gas at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide in global warming.

Brazil also pledged to eliminate deforestation by 2028, two years ahead of the target, and stopped obstructing agreements such as the carbon market, in a totally different stance from the one it had taken in the previous two years.

The threat of trade barriers and the attempt to improve the government’s international reputation are behind the new attitude. The new ministers of Foreign Affairs, Carlos França, and Environment, Joaquim Leite, in office since April and June, respectively, are trying to mitigate the damage caused by their anti-diplomatic and anti-environmental predecessors.

But the new data on Amazon deforestation and the delay in its disclosure unleashed a new backlash.

President Jair Bolsonaro stated that the Amazon has kept its forests intact since 1500 and does not suffer from fires because it is humid, in a Nov. 15 speech during the Invest Brazil Forum, held in Dubai to attract capital to the country. He made this claim when he already knew that in the last year deforestation had grown by almost 22 percent. CREDIT: Alan Santos/PR-Fotos Públicas

President Jair Bolsonaro stated that the Amazon has kept its forests intact since 1500 and does not suffer from fires because it is humid, in a Nov. 15 speech during the Invest Brazil Forum, held in Dubai to attract capital to the country. He made this claim when he already knew that in the last year deforestation had grown by almost 22 percent. CREDIT: Alan Santos/PR-Fotos Públicas

Leite claimed not to have had prior knowledge of the INPE report, difficult to believe from a member of a government known for using fake news and disinformation. He announced that the government would take a “forceful” stance against environmental crimes in the Amazon, commenting on the “unacceptable” new deforestation figures.

Together with the Minister of Justice and Public Security Anderson Torres, who has the Federal Police under his administration, he promised to mobilize the necessary forces to combat illegal deforestation.

The reaction is tardy and of doubtful success, given the contrary stance taken by the president and the deactivation of the environmental bodies by the previous minister, Ricardo Salles, who defended illegal loggers against police action.

The former minister stripped the two institutes executing environmental policy, one for inspection and the other for biodiversity protection and management of conservation units, of resources and specialists. He also appointed unqualified people, such as military police, to command these bodies.

President Bolsonaro abolished councils and other mechanisms for public participation in environmental management, as in other sectors, and encouraged several illegal activities in the Amazon, such as “garimpo” (informal mining) and the invasion of indigenous areas and public lands.

The result could only be an increase in the deforestation and forest fires that spread the destruction in the last two years. The smoke from the “slash-and-burn” clearing technique polluted the air in cities more than 1,000 kilometers away.

Bolsonaro, however, declared on Nov. 15 in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, that fires do not occur in the Amazon due to the humidity of the rainforest and that 90 percent of the region remains “the same as in 1500,” when the Portuguese arrived in Brazil.

His vice-president, General Hamilton Mourão, acknowledged that “deforestation in the Amazon is real, the INPE data leave no doubt.” His unusual disagreement with the president arises from his experience in presiding over the National Council of the Legal Amazon, which proposes and coordinates actions in the region.

Brazil had managed to reduce Amazon deforestation since the 2004 total of 27,772 square kilometers. A concerted effort by environmental agencies reduced the total to 4,571 square kilometers in 2012. This shows that it is possible, but it depends on political will and adequate management.

 

Gender, Education and Drop Outs

By Jan Lundius
STOCKHOLM / ROME, Nov 26 2021 – While COVID 19 is keeping the world and news media in its constant grip and national politics often come to the forefront, it might be easy to forget urgent and nevertheless related matters. One is how global education has suffered and how children and youngsters have been forced to cope with a different reality. This aspect like so many other of human existence is gendered and while addressing education it is relevant to talk about changing gender roles as well.

Wonder Woman, DC Comics

The global plight of girls and young women has for several years been rightly emphasized. However, this focus may overshadow a phenomenon that increasingly is occurring in both developed and developing countries – boys are increasingly dropping out from schools, while young men to a higher degree than young women are not attracted by higher education. A recent article in the magazine The Atlantic pointed out that US colleges and universities currently enroll six women for every four men, a gender gap that is getting wider with every year.

The phenomenon is far from unique to USA. All over the world, more women than men are currently entering tertiary education. In all OECD countries with available data, women have a higher degree frequency than men. The average is currently 72 percent among women and 61 percent among men and everywhere the gap is widening. Several reasons have been put forward for this trend, most common is to emphasize that young men might value connections and contacts more than higher education, while female students usually view education as more than a means to make money. It has been found that more young women than men assume that education is an essential part of their development and personal independence, something that generally has been related to the clearing away of barriers to women’s education and an opening up for their access to professions requiring advanced higher education. Women are increasingly competing with men for advanced professions. Skills are becoming more crucial than gender. Still, the gender gap in remuneration continues to persist.

However, the connection between gender and education continues to be complicated. In several countries, the importance of gender roles is more pronounced in schooling at first – and secondary levels, than at the tertiary one. Economic concerns tend to be decisive for children’s schooling. Even if poor parents don’t pay school fees, money is spent on transportation, textbooks and clothing. Since schooling could mean that a girl will spend less time helping at home, a poor family might consider sending her to school as detrimental to its well-being. To a higher degree than boys, responsibilities like, cooking, cleaning and taking care of sick parents and babysitting siblings, still tend to fall on girls.

Furthermore, schools may be far from home and if lessons take place in the evenings, roads, schools and homes may have limited, or no electricity and light at all. All over the world, girls and boys are harassed and abused on their way to school and girls are disproportionately targeted. The school might also be a place of discomfort and danger, and not only fellow students but even teachers may behave like predators. A situation worsened in conflict and crisis-affected areas. Schools are often targeted by rebel groups; education suffers, schools stop functioning. During such, and other, emergencies, gender is an important factor. In several areas, schools providing education for girls are particularly targeted and refugee girls are half as likely to be in school as boys in the same situation.

Some poor parents may assume that it is not worth the effort and loss of earnings to educate their daughters – they might be married off to a man who will take responsibility for them. It is thus common that poor parents consent that their daughters marry before they reach the age of 18, explaining that this will protect them from harm and social stigma. However, an uneducated child bride is more likely to experience early pregnancy, undernourishment, domestic violence, and pregnancy complications. Furthermore, she will generally, due to dependency on her spouse’s whims and needs, as well as lack of education, be unable to gain financial independence. Girls’ lack of schooling is detrimental to national growth and general health. Providing efficient and free education to girls benefit the entire society, fomenting not only equality and general well-being – child marriage rates decline, but family health also improves, while child and maternal mortality rates fall, and child stunting drops.

In developing countries drop-outs from school tend to be most common among girls and early marriages and pregnancy are the main reasons for this. Teen mothers may find it impossible to continue their schooling due to lack of daycare, while other young women may decide that it is preferable to leave school and start a family early. If they lack a spouse and/or support of a family it is even harder for them to continue an education and survival becomes their main goal. If opportunities in the labour market, not the least in the “informal” sector, are attainable any desperate person may choose those earnings which in the short term are preferable to a continued investment in schooling.

More recently, it has to a higher degree than before been noticed that gender roles might also be detrimental for boys’ education. Social change affects them as well as it affects girls. For example, in Mongolia poor families depending on cattle herding tend to take their boys out of school and as farm lands and rural economy evolves, families find it more economically rewarding to keep boys in farming, rather than sending them to school. In Mongolia, 65 percent of those children not finishing secondary school are boys and the trend continues, while female domination is reported in the entire education system.

In many poor countries, opportunities for jobs after graduation are limited, making alternative lifestyles more attractive, even if they might go against accepted values and behaviour. There is always an allure of rapidly and easily gained money through unskilled work and illicit activities, instead of dreary and unpaid schooling, combined with the risk of not obtaining a job answering to skills developed through education. Just like girls might be needed for household chores, boys and young men may be expected to support poor, often single-headed households with work that cannot be obstructed by schooling. Such a situation might in poor districts with an inadequately supported school system be worsened by violence in and around schools, making it untenable for youth to continue attending, while illicit activities may offer more attractive alternatives than staying in school. Predators are lurking to abuse and exploit boys – criminal gangs and militia recruit youngsters, supported by prevalent myths about male superiority and temerity.

Marginalized areas in both wealthy and poor nations suffer from boys dropping out of school and ending up in illicit activities, which make them prone to violence. Jamaica is for example struggling with boys from poor families increasingly dropping out of school, ending up in unemployment, idleness, reckless behaviour and even worse – criminality. In Jamaica, boys’ participation in secondary schooling is rapidly declining. At all levels, girls are outperforming boys and young women are more than twice as likely as young men to enter tertiary education.

It is in higher education that differences between young men’s and women’s attendance is becoming even more apparent than at first – and secondary levels. The latest OECD report on education states that the gap between female and male attendance at tertiary levels of education is with every year increasing with at least one percentage point. In 2020, overall education levels combined, enrollment rates were on average 7 percentage points higher for 20-24 year-old women than for men. The largest gap in this age group was found in Slovenia (20 percentage points) and the gap was at least 15 percentage points in Argentina, Israel and Poland. On average across OECD countries with available data, boys are more likely to repeat a grade than girls and represent 61 percent of the number of repeaters in lower secondary education.

These ratios are even wider in the Gulf Emirates, where boys are dropping out of secondary school at a rate of up to 20 percent in a single year. This while girls and young women surpass their male counterparts in attendance and outperform them at all levels and across all subjects. In the Emirates this tendency may be explained by the fact that men are privileged and may to a higher degree than women count upon good connections and general support. Even in a country like Saudi Arabia, the only Islamic country (so far – Afghanistan is moving in the same direction) that has a separate system of female education and where women’s access to the labour market is restricted, more than 60 percent of higher education graduates are women.

These are just a few examples of how education, both positively and negatively, is affected by gender and socioeconomic change. Equality is beneficent for any social system and while addressing an area like education the entire spectrum of gender and access must be taken into consideration, meaning that different needs and prerequisites for boys and girls must be part of the equation. Society is constantly changing and education changes in close symbiosis with it. Nevertheless, for the benefit of us all we must strive for guaranteeing that this change fosters equal rights and general well-being, something that will not be achieved if gender aspects are ignored.

Sources: Thompson, Derek (2021), “Colleges Have a Guy Problem,” The Atlantic, 14 September. https://www.unicef.org/education/girls-education and https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/education-at-a-glance_19991487

 


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UNESCO Member States Adopt Recommended Ethics for AI

The agreement outlines the biases that AI technologies can “embed and exacerbate” and their potential impact on “human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms, gender equality, democracy … and the environment and ecosystems.”

By SWAN
PARIS, Nov 26 2021 – The member states of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have agreed on a text of recommended ethics for artificial intelligence (AI) that states can apply on a “voluntary” basis.

The adopted text, which the agency calls “historic”, outlines the “common values and principles which will guide the construction of the necessary legal infrastructure to ensure the healthy development of AI,” UNESCO says.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. Credit: AM/SWAN

The text states that AI systems “should not be used for social scoring and mass surveillance purposes,” among other recommendations.

The organization’s 193 member states include countries, however, that are known to use AI and other technologies to carry out such surveillance, often targeting minorities and dissidents – including writers and artists. Governments and multinational companies have also used personal data and AI technology to infringe on privacy.

While such states and entities were not named, UNESCO officials acknowledged that the discussions leading up to the adopted text had included “difficult conversations”.

Presenting the agreement Nov. 25 at the organization’s headquarters in Paris, UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay said the initiative to have an AI ethics framework had been launched in 2018.

“I remember that many thought it would be extremely hard if not impossible to attain common ground among the 193 states … but after these years of work, we’ve been rewarded by this important victory for multilateralism,” Azoulay told journalists.

She pointed out that AI technology has been developing rapidly and that it entails a range of profound effects that comprise both advantages to humanity and wide-ranging risks. Because of such impact, a global accord with practical recommendations was necessary, based on input from experts around the world, Azoulay stressed.

The accord came during the 41st session of UNESCO’s General Conference, which took place Nov. 9 to 24 and included the adoption of “key agreements demonstrating renewed multilateral cooperation,” UNESCO said.

The text states that AI systems “should not be used for social scoring and mass surveillance purposes,” among other recommendations. The organization’s 193 member states include countries, however, that are known to use AI and other technologies to carry out such surveillance, often targeting minorities and dissidents – including writers and artists

While the accord does not provide a single definition of AI, the “ambition” is to address the features of AI that are of “central ethical relevance,” according to the text.

These are the features, or systems, that have “the capacity to process data and information in a way that resembles intelligent behaviour, and typically includes aspects of reasoning, learning, perception, prediction, planning or control,” it said.

While the systems are “delivering remarkable results in highly specialized fields such as cancer screening and building inclusive environments for people with disabilities”, they are equally creating new challenges and raising “fundamental ethical concerns,” UNESCO said.

The agreement outlines the biases that AI technologies can “embed and exacerbate” and their potential impact on “human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms, gender equality, democracy … and the environment and ecosystems.”

According to UNESCO, these types of technologies “are very invasive, they infringe on human rights and fundamental freedoms, and they are used in a broad way.”

The agreement stresses that when member states develop regulatory frameworks, they should “take into account that ultimate responsibility and accountability must always lie with natural or legal persons” – that is, humans – “and that AI systems should not be given legal personality” themselves.

“New technologies need to provide new means to advocate, defend and exercise human rights and not to infringe them,” the agreement says.

Among the long list of goals, UNESCO said that the accord aims to ensure that digital transformations contribute as well to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals” (a UN blueprint to achieve a “better and more sustainable future” for the world).

“We see increased gender and ethnic bias, significant threats to privacy, dignity and agency, dangers of mass surveillance, and increased use of unreliable AI technologies in law enforcement, to name a few. Until now, there were no universal standards to provide an answer to these issues,” UNESCO stated.

Regarding climate change, the text says that member states should make sure that AI favours methods that are resource- and energy-efficient, given the impact on the environment of storing huge amounts of data, which requires energy. It additionally asks governments to assess the direct and indirect environmental impact throughout the AI system life cycle.

On the issue of gender, the text says that member states “should ensure that the potential for digital technologies and artificial intelligence to contribute to achieving gender equality is fully maximized.”

It adds that states “must ensure that the human rights and fundamental freedoms of girls and women, and their safety and integrity are not violated at any stage of the AI system life cycle.”

Alessandra Sala, director of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science at Shutterstock and president of the non-profit organization Women in AI – who spoke at the presentation of the agreement – said that the text provides clear guidelines for the AI field, including on artistic, cultural and gender issues.

“It is a symbol of societal progress,” she said, emphasizing that understanding the ethics of AI was a shared “leadership responsibility” which should include women’s often “excluded voices”.

In answer to concerns raised by journalists about the future of the recommendations, which are essentially non-binding, UNESCO officials said that member states realize that the world “needs” this agreement and that it was a step in the right direction.

 

New Pan-African Payments System Provides Big Relief for African Traders

The launch of PAPSS will save $5 billion yearly and boost intra-African trade. Credit: Africa Renewal, United Nations

By Kingsley Ighobor
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 26 2021 – When Fidelis Adele, the CEO of Freetown-based Solid Graphics, a printing and communications company, needed to order some printing equipment from Nigeria in September, he paid an extra $165 on top of a $10,000 bank transfer to the seller. Yet it took three days for the money transferred in Sierra Leone to be credited to the beneficiary’s account in Nigeria.

“I paid $30 as transfer fee, $35 as SWIFT charges and another $100 bank charges,” Adele told Africa Renewal. SWIFT stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a global network that processes international payments.

Adele did not attempt to use financial services companies such as Western Union or MoneyGram because the “exchange rate for those companies is just bad.”

The other option would have been to fly to Lagos, a three-hour journey, carrying the physical cash along. “I have done that a few times,” he said, “but it is not cost-effective unless it’s a huge amount, and it is risky.”

Traders across Africa experience similar ordeal paying for goods or services across borders. In the process they lose valuable time and money.

This cumbersome and time-consuming process “costs us [Africans] about $5 billion in [money transfer] charges each year,” according to Benedict Oramah, President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), who said, in an interview with Africa Renewal: “We are a poor continent. We shouldn’t waste money like that.”

Payment system launched

To address the situation, Afreximbank has partnered with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to launch the Pan-African Payments and Settlement Systems (PAPSS), a platform that facilitates instant cross-border payments in local currencies between countries.

Kingsley Ighobor

The PAPSS has been piloted successfully in the six countries that make up the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ)—Nigeria, the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and Guinea. Because of its multi-currency and bi-lingual makeup, WAMZ is considered a microcosm of the continent.

On using WAMZ for the pilot, Prof. Oramah says: “The six WAMZ countries have different currencies. One of the countries is Francophone and the others are Anglophone. You have a big economy like Nigeria and then you have smaller economies. So, anything that can go wrong in other parts of Africa would have gone wrong in the WAMZ, and we will have been able to address it during the piloting phase.”

The operational rollout of PAPSS was announced at the end of September, meaning that countries’ central banks, which will be the clearing agents, can now coordinate with Afreximbank, which is the main clearing agent and provider of settlement guarantees and overdraft facilities.

Afreximbank doled out $500 million to service West Africa and intends to provide a further $3 billion for an Africa-wide PAPSS operation.

Analysts expect African traders, especially those in West Africa, to begin to take advantage of the platform by the end of 2021.

Oramah, who is based in Cairo, Egypt, explains the hurdles faced by African traders in personal terms: “I want to transfer money to Nigeria from Egypt. It goes through a corresponding bank in a country outside of Africa before it arrives in Nigeria. I pay charges before the person in Nigeria gets it.

“And it takes time. Sometimes it takes weeks. So, we [Afreximbank] calculated how much that costs the continent—forget about the time—it costs Africans $5 billion yearly.

“Also, if I am in Egypt, and I want to watch my favourite Nollywood movies, I probably have to remit in US dollars. But the PAPSS changes that for you. All you need do is pay the Nigerian producer in Nigerian Naira.”

The CEO of PAPSS Mike Ogbalu says that during the piloting phase in West Africa, bank accounts in different countries were debited and credited within 10 seconds. He has assured of a robust technology that can handle large transactions.

How PAPSS works

Sending money using the PAPSS is a five-step process:

    • The first step is when an individual issues a payment instruction to their local bank or payment service provider.
    • Second, the bank or the payment service provider sends the instructions to PAPSS.
    • Third, PAPSS validates the payment instruction.
    • Fourth, upon successful validation, PAPSS will forward the instruction to the beneficiary’s bank or payment service provider.
    • Lastly, the bank or payment service provide pays the transferred funds, in local currency, to the beneficiary.

In announcing the rollout of PAPSS, Afreximbank says that by “simplifying cross-border transactions and reducing the dependency on hard currencies for these transactions, PAPSS is set to boost intra-African trade significantly.”

Intra-African trade is currently at a meager 17 per cent.

The PAPSS is also expected to lead to increases in value addition to products, jobs creation and more earnings for traders.

Wamkele Mene, the Secretary-General of AfCFTA Secretariat, said PAPSS will lead to efficient cross-border trade transactions and put Africa on a new economic trajectory.

“There are 42 currencies in Africa. We want to make sure that a trader in Ghana can transfer Ghanaian cedi to a counterpart in Kenya who will receive Kenyan shillings,” Mene told Africa Renewal in an earlier interview.

Adele agrees that PAPSS will help his business. “If I can take the Leones to a bank here [in Sierra Leone] and pay for printing products in Nigeria, and the money is instantly deposited in the beneficiary’s account in Nigeria, that would be extraordinary,” he says.

Until briefed by Africa Renewal, Adele was not aware of the PAPSS, underscoring the communication challenge of raising intra-African traders’ awareness about the platform.

Oramah notes, however, that a campaign is underway to market and promote the PAPSS, hoping that by the end of the year African traders will be informed enough to use the system.

Source: Africa Renewal, which reports on, and examines, the many different aspects of the UN’s involvement in Africa, especially within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

 


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School Meals Coalition Hopes to Provide a Meal to Every Child

School meals have a host of benefits, including improving enrollments and preventing malnutrition. Now the School Meals Coalition plans to recruit local food producers to assist in the programme. Credit: Bill Wegener/Unsplash

By Naureen Hossain
United Nations, Nov 26 2021 – Meals at schools not only give each child a nutritious meal but increase enrolments, among other benefits.

This emerged at a recent launch of the School Meals Coalition, a new initiative that aims to give every child a nutritious meal by 2030 through bolstering health and nutrition programmes. The coalition comprises over 60 countries and 55 partners dedicated to restoring, improving and up-scaling meal programs and food systems. Among their partners are UN agencies UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP), UN Nutrition, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and UNESCO.

In the briefing, the speakers identified School Meals Coalition’s primary goals to restore school meal programmes to the status before the COVID-19 pandemic and reach children in vulnerable areas who have not accessed these plans before. The member countries’ political leaders have come together to support this “important initiative”, according to the permanent representative of Finland to the United Nations, Jukka Salovaara.

“School meals are so much more than just a plate of food. It’s really an opportunity to transform communities, improve education, and food systems globally,” he said.

School meal programmes are a significant safety net for children and their communities. As one of the primary means for children to get healthy meals, they help combat poverty and malnutrition. Their impact on education is seen in increased engagement from students. They also serve as incentives for families to send their children, especially girls, to schools, thus supporting children’s rights to education, nutrition and well-being.

“We see documented jumps of 9 to 12 per cent in enrollment increases just because the meals are present,” WFP Director of School-Based Programmes Carmen Burbano said. “So, these are really important instruments to bring [children] to school.”

The programmes would also provide opportunities for sustainable development practices and transformations in food systems. One key strategy is to promote and maintain home-grown school meal programmes, recruiting local farmers and markets to provide food supplies. Investing in school meal programmes, especially through domestic spending, has proven to increase coverage. In low-income countries, the number of children receiving school meals increased by 36 percent when their governments increased the budgets for these programs.

A WFP study found that at the beginning of 2020, over 380 million children globally received meals through school meal programmes. The closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic effectively disrupted those programmes, depriving 370 million children of what was effectively their main meal for the day. While there have been marked improvements since schools re-opened worldwide, with 238 million children accessing the school meals, there are still 150 million children that don’t have access.

The School Meals Coalition aims to close this gap through a system of collaboration between member countries and their partners. Among their initiatives will be a monitoring and accountability mechanism that is being developed by the WFP and its partners, which will be used to follow the coalition’s accomplishments, and a peer-to-peer information-sharing network, spearheaded by the German government, between members and partners that will use findings to influence their programme output.

Even before the pandemic, school meal programmes did not reach the most vulnerable children, 73 million, who could not access these programmes. Reaching children that have fallen through the cracks can be challenging, but it is significantly more difficult in countries affected by conflict or environmental disruptions.

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and the World Food Programme (WFP) earlier signed a memorandum of understanding to feed children in protracted crises.

At the signing, WFP Assistant Executive Director, Valerie Guarnieri said: “Simply put, sick children cannot attend school and hungry children cannot learn. It is essential we invest more in the health and nutrition of young learners, particularly girls.”

ECW Director, Yasmine Sherif said a feeding scheme made a massive difference in children’s lives.

“For many children and youth in crisis-affected countries, a meal at school may be the only food they eat all day and can be an important incentive for families to send and keep girls and boys in school. It is also essential for a young person to actually focus and learn,” she said.

The coalition plans to find ways to break the barriers to enable children to reach school or look for alternative learning pathways to reach children who could not physically attend school.

The factors that can prevent children from fully attending schools, such as poverty, complexity in family lives, or conflict, have only been exacerbated over the last nearly two years, thanks mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic. As more schools open worldwide, the restoration of school meal programmes is expected to provide much-needed support for children and their communities in turn.

“This is a very urgent and timely priority,” said Head of the Sustainable Development Unit of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations, Olivier Richard. “Because school meals are very important for the recovery of our societies from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To learn more about the School Meal Coalitions, you can follow their page.

 


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